Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Birth Wrong?

I was all prepared to be worked up into a righteous fury by this article, alleging that Birthright Israel has been essentially highjacked by a big-spending right-wing donor. Then I read it and, well, there's nothing there.

Now, Sheldon Adelson was not my favorite person to start with, and his apparent support for Bibi Netanyahu certainly doesn't help matters. But absent some (any!) proof that Adelson is subjecting Jews on Birthright to "hours of propaganda" in favor of hawkish, anti-Palestinian policies, I don't think there are any grounds to protest his donation. And in the entire article, not a whit of such evidence is provided, or even seriously alleged. All we get is vague concerns about the power of "mega-donors" to bend charitable organizations to their will. Which may be something to worry about, but which so far is not happening on Birthright (so far as has been presented).


PG said...

Haaretz, 8/13/07: 'An organizer for Taglit told Haaretz that Adelson shares his "clearly hawkish" views with program participants. "He talks with the participants about the dangers that Israel has to deal with and the risks from radical Islam.

'He passed out copies of a documentary on how Islam is spreading in the West."'

More biased sources claim that the documentary in question was "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West." It's a plausible claim, considering Adelson's funding of the Endowment for Middle East Truth and that group's support for the documentary.

Anonymous said...

But the Birthright funding is spread around to multiple trip organizers, each of which has great leeway in designing their trip (with the exception of basic itinerary and hotel requirements). Oranim (the largest of the organizers), for instance, has no interaction with Adelson. Rather, participants are given a lecture by Niel Lazarus (, which presents a balanced perspective.