The number of young American Jews participating on the rite-of-passage Birthright trip to Israel has almost halved in recent months, amid widespread disengagement with Israel as a reaction to the government’s policies.
A Ha’aretz investigation, taking figures from five key trip providers, revealed drops in take-up figures ranging from 20 percent to 50 percent for its winter season. Similar drops have been seen in the past, but only during spells of conflict in Israel.
American Jewish millennials have increasingly voiced their disapproval at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and asylum-seekers, with several mid-tour walkouts this summer, accusing organisers of whitewashing the realities of the occupation.
Last week, more than 1,500 American Jewish university students called on Birthright organisers to include meetings with at least one Palestinian activist on the nine-day trip, in order to give “a full and nuanced picture of the challenges Israel faces”.
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