Who Has ‘Birthright’?As reported in the Southampton Press August 9, “The Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, the Jordan River and Tel Aviv are just some of the sights that can be seen” on free trips offered by the group Birthright Israel [“Hampton Synagogue Raised $250,000 For 80 Trips To Israel,” 27east.com, August 9].
It was not mentioned that not all of these locations are in the State of Israel. East Jerusalem and the West Bank of the Jordan are occupied territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war.
After U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, was denied entry to Israel last week unless she shut up about Israeli human rights violations, the issue of who has the “birthright” should have come into focus
American Jews are not unanimously supportive of Israel’s settler-colonial policy on the West Bank, where more than a half million Jewish residents live on that occupied territory. Jewish Voice for Peace is just one of the American Jewish organizations that oppose the occupation (jewishvoiceforpeace.org).
Not all Israelis are supportive of their government’s West Bank activities. The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (Btselem.org) recently reported: “Over the course of June 2019, settlers vandalized Palestinian property in at least 10 villages in the West Bank, burning some 1,800 trees and [destroying farm] fields, damaging at least 55 cars and spray-painting hate graffiti on buildings.”
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (icahd.org) has exposed the practice of destroying Palestinian homes on the West Bank, where permits for home construction cannot be obtained by Arabs. They report that, so far in 2019, 265 structures were demolished and 355 people were displaced. Since the occupation began in 1967, more than 49,000 people were displaced.
According to the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, the number of individuals forced to leave their homes during the 1947-48 Israeli War of Independence is estimated at 720,000. Most of them settled in refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
Where is their birthright?
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