(JNS) Continuing its protest, the umbrella organization J Street U has distributed a petition to its chapters on college campuses nationwide, calling for Palestinian speakers to be part of Hillel-led Birthright Israel trips. As of mid-October, J Street U chapters have submitted almost-identical petitions to their respective Hillel for Palestinian voices to be heard on the all-expense-paid trips. At Tufts, the J Street U chapter launched a petition which Sara Legasey and Rachel Eilbaum, the former and current Tufts Hillel Birthright coordinators, responded by telling the student-run Daily that although Birthright trips vary in itinerary, every Tufts Birthright trip features diverse narratives. “All of our trips have included Israeli Arab and/or Palestinian speakers, or encounters with another minority group in Israel,” said Legasey and Eilbaum. “Over the years, we have always brought a diverse array of narratives, including Palestinian narratives, into our Birthright trip educational program, and we will continue to do so.”
As of April 2018, there are 60 J Street U chapters nationwide. J Street U already offers trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories through a program called Ta Shema. J Street spokesperson Jessica Rosenblum did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
CAP: Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Aug. 18, 2014. This photo was published with a recent news report on a J Street-driven letter, in which 575 Jewish students stated that Birthright has a policy of not traveling to “the West Bank.” Photo by Flash90.