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Another kind of Romance: Birthright Israel for young Americans?

Jewish young adults are extended all-expenses paid trips to Israel.  Are the US funders and Israeli politicians planning to create the next generations of American Zionists?

Kiera Feldman, a Brooklyn-based journalist, published in The nation this August 4, 2013: The Romance of Birthright Israel

A baptized child of intermarriage, I traveled on an Israel Experts Birthright trip in February 2010 that promised “serious programs for serious people who want to have fun!”

It felt more like a Zionist summer camp for young professionals.

We sang campfire songs, used nicknames that ended in “Dawg” and made lunchtime dares to eat unsavory concoctions.

Lawyers, corporate strategists, a personal trainer—my Birthright tour mates were twentysomethings with grown-up jobs and responsibilities everyone seemed glad to leave behind. For 10 days, we basked in a second adolescence.

  • Israel
How Birthright Israel Works its Magic

As if according to some divine script, my crush was soon requited, and when the lights went down in the fake Bedouin tent, I got my mifgash on. “I love it,”

Harold Grinspoon, a member of the Birthright Israel board, told me upon hearing of my romance. “You have a nice interaction with a Jewish person—that’s great.” An octogenarian philanthropist who made his money in real estate, Grinspoon rattled off high intermarriage numbers and low Jewish birthrates. “We’re really in trouble as Jews,” he said sadly.

Birthright’s boosters seem strangely unaware of the tribe’s more visible woes, the 44-year- illegal occupation of Palestinian lands and the racism and legal discrimination that underpins Israel’s ethnocracy. If the former was kept nearly invisible on my Birthright trip, the latter was laid uncommonly bare.

Our guide was Shachar Peleg-Efroni, a second-generation secular kibbutznik. Several times a day he said things like, “Arabs are those who originated from Saudi Arabia.”

Everything we saw out the tour bus window was “in the Bible,” reinforcing Zionist claims to the land. He used “Palestinian” interchangeably with “terrorist.” Driving through northern Israel, Shachar gave a lesson in “Judaization,” the government’s term for settlement policy.

Passing through an Israeli-Arab town, he called our attention to a litter-strewn road (perhaps the result of inequities in municipal funding, which escaped mention) and then pointed to a neat ring of state-subsidized Jewish towns. “Judaization,” he explained, was necessary “to keep them from spreading.” My American crush and I exchanged a knowing look.

From my notes on Day 8:

“Israel just went in and cleaned Gaza,” Shachar said of Operation Cast Lead, which had taken place a year earlier, as we drove south to an organic farm along the border. There, the Israeli proprietor explained that his low-hanging trellises were Thai worker–sized and invited us to nibble the dangling strawberries. “Thank you, Thai worker!” he instructed us to say when a laborer walked by.

En route to the next stop on the itinerary, Shachar pointed to tin shacks—Bedouin villages—and jovially detailed the government’s Bedouin home-demolition campaign, saying the IDF needed to “kick them away.” We arrived at our far more picturesque “Bedouin Dessert [sic] Village Experience” and rode camels into the sunset. A man named Mohammed served coffee and played a familiar tune on the oud: “Hava Nagila.”

To varying degrees, Birthrighters from an array of other trips have recounted similar experiences. “Don’t go to the Arab Quarter, because they will throw acid on your face,”Max Geller recalls his Birthright guide saying in 2006.

Geller’s trip also featured AwesomeSeminar.com’s Neil Lazarus, a pro-Israel advocacy trainer who says he’s delivered presentations since Birthright’s inception. (“When the Palestinians kill Israeli men, women and children,” Lazarus says in one online video, “they celebrate, and they give out sweets in the streets.”) Lazarus’s take-home was, according to Geller, “Arabs want to kill you.”

Jared Malsin went on a 2007 Birthright trip where IDF soldiers role-played a checkpoint. “The message was every single Palestinian is a threat until proven otherwise,” he recalls.

Ella Rose Chary recalls a Birthright activity in 2009 in which soldiers described sending neighbors to knock on the doors of suspected militants, an illegal use of civilians as human shields. “I might die if I go up there,” one soldier said to his new friends. “What should we do?”

* * *

A new era is dawning for Birthright. What began as an identity booster has become an ideology machine, pumping out not only Jewish baby-makers but defenders of Israel. Or that’s the hope.

With the relentless siege of Gaza, the interminable occupation, the ever-expanding settlements, the onslaught of anti-Arab Knesset legislation, Israel has earned its new status as an international pariah.

Meanwhile, the rise of J Street, the liberal pro-Israel lobby group, suggests that the American Jewish center is inching leftward along generational lines, and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement is gaining traction among young activists.

In the wake of Operation Cast Lead, Republican pollster Frank Luntz found that Jewish college students are “not standing up for Israel”; he calls the results “horrifying.” Enter Birthright.

In the words of CEO Gidi Mark, Birthright trains participants to “go back to anti-Zionists on their campuses and say to them, ‘Don’t tell me what you saw on CNN—I was there.’”

In May 2010, Hillel president Wayne Firestone denounced campus divestment campaigns for seeking to “delegitimize and demonize Israel,” declaring Birthright alumni to be “the only way to combat these efforts.”

In November, at an assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, Bronfman shared the cheerful news that half of all pro-Israel activists on college campuses had been on Birthright. “Many of our Birthright alumni come back and are ready and eager to be advocates for Israel,” Susie Gelman, a Birthright board member and funder, told me. “In the current atmosphere, it takes on even more of a significant role than could’ve been anticipated when Birthright began.”

At a recent Birthright open bar night dubbed “Zionism Is Humanitarianism,” I approached Steinhardt and mentioned that I’d had a Birthright boyfriend throughout last spring. “Is he the man of your dreams?” Steinhardt asked. “Is he here in New York?” No and no, I answered. “Well, a few months of pleasure is wonderful!” he exclaimed. Later, from the stage, Steinhardt promised a free honeymoon to anyone who met that night and tied the knot within a year.

Alumni often assure me that Birthright is just a fun heritage trip. Funders and officials, too, reiterate Birthright’s “apolitical” nature.

In January, J Street announced it would sponsor a Birthright trip. Shortly thereafter, Birthright said a miscommunication had occurred—as a “political” organization, J Street was ineligible. Yet a Birthright trip run by AIPAC, the far more conservative Israel lobby group, has been renewed for years.

Very few trip providers offer sessions with Palestinian citizens of Israel.

My trip, advertised as “pluralist,” met an Israeli-Arab computer programmer who spoke briefly about legal discrimination against minorities, followed by an Israeli-Arab teenager who called herself “pro-Israel.”  When I asked her thoughts on the Palestinian right of return, she giggled, consulted with a Birthright activity leader, and said, “I don’t think it’s the right time for them to come back.” My requests for a full list of Israeli-Arab groups on Birthright itineraries were declined.

Since its inception, Birthright has been funded by an illustrious and varied lot; most of them just happen to share hawkish Israel politics.

In 1998, during his first term as prime minister, Netanyahu gave the initial guarantee of Israeli government funding.

By 2000, when the first Birthright trips were under way, at least 8 funders were trustees of AIPAC’s think-tank spinoff, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—including Steinhardt and Bronfman. And Casino magnate Adelson.

Adelson is Birthright’s largest donor, staunchly opposes a two-state solution. He once famously broke with AIPAC—for not being conservative enough. Other notables: oil billionaire Lynn Schusterman, a Birthright founding funder, 35-year AIPAC veteran and the purse for many “pro-Israel” youth initiatives such as the Israel on Campus Coalition, which combats “the worrisome rise in anti-Israel activities”.

Diamond baron and settlement construction impresario Lev Leviev.

Slim-Fast billionaire 
S. Daniel Abraham, a member of the AIPAC board; and neoconservative philanthropist Roger Hertog, emeritus chair of the Manhattan Institute.

Then there’s donor Marc Rich, a founding Birthright board member, the billionaire oil trader controversially pardoned by President Clinton; throughout his business dealings, Rich gathered intelligence for the Mossad.

Several Birthright donors, including family foundations operated by the Gottesmans, Grinspoons, Steinhardts and Schustermans, have also financially supported illegal Jewish settlements.

In 2008, for example, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation gave $25,000 to Ein Prat, a school in the settlement of Kfar Adumim.

In a phone interview, Robert Aronson, president of the Birthright foundation, maintained that he simply wants the trip to be “the opening of a door” to Jewish communal life. But should that doorway lead to political engagement, Aronson hopes it will be through right-wing Zionist groups such as AIPAC and Stand With Us, whose members have been known to target Jewish anti-occupation activists with Nazi slurs and pepper spray.

What about “Students for Justice in Palestine? “No, that one I probably wouldn’t list,” Aronson laughed. Soon, his humor evaporated. He ended the interview when I asked why the organization encouraged Birthrighters to patronize settlement businesses, as was done on my trip. “Not my issue,” Aronson said. “I never answer to political questions.”

Birthright tour providers are allowed to take tourists anywhere between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.

Mark, the CEO, explained that “as an apolitical organization,” Birthright does not concern itself with the Green Line, the internationally recognized border separating Israel proper from the illegally occupied West Bank. “If security allows it, we allow for our participants to see the beginnings of where the nation started.”

Theoretically, a visit to a Palestinian town in the West Bank would be within the boundaries of acceptability—but Chazan said no trip provider has done it. Birthright funders and officials see Palestinians as best avoided, for “security” reasons. On my trip, we were given maps of Israel that referred to the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”—biblical terminology typically favored by settlers and their sympathizers.

“I trust that they’re doing the right thing,” Jewish Federations president Jerry Silverman told me, when asked about Birthright’s support of settlements. Such was the predominant sentiment of the funders on this matter, and on the overt racism expressed on some trips: Birthright, like Israel itself, can do no wrong.

Exchange: Birthright Israel’s Jewish Journey

The House of Rothschild

I wrote about the Rothschild and other financial and industrial houses in England and the USA. It is good to keep reminding the readers of how their lives are run and by whom. https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/privately-owned-federal-reserve-bank-how-the-rothschild-family-controlled-the-printing-of-the-dollars/

The Rothschild family combined with the Dutch House of Orange to found Bank of Amsterdam in the early 1600’s as the world’s first private central bank.

Dean Henderson posted this July 9, 2013 (selected as one of the top posts on wordpress.com.)

Annunaki-Statues-Hybrids

Prince William of Orange married into the English House of Windsor, taking King James II’s daughter Mary as his bride.  The Orange Order Brotherhood, which more recently fomented Northern Ireland Protestant violence, put William III on the English throne and ruled both Holland and Britain.  In 1694 William III teamed up with the Rothschild to launch the Bank of England.

The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street– as the Bank of England is known- is surrounded by thirty foot walls.  Three floors beneath it, the third largest stock of gold bullion in the world is stored.  The biggest hoard lies beneath the Rothschild-controlled Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

According to the excellent movie The Money Masters, much of this gold was confiscated from now-empty vaults at Fort Knox as collateral on US debt obligations to the Eight Families Federal Reserve crowd.

This financial mafia further consolidated its control over the world’s gold stock when 200 million ounces of the stuff belonging to the Bank of Nova Scotia was recovered from beneath the carnage of the World Trade Center. 

One day after its November 1, 2001 recovery, New York Mayor Rudy Guliani laid off hundreds of rescue workers at Ground Zero.  A short time later he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth and named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year”.

The daily London gold “fixing” occurs at the N. M. Rothschild Bank in the City of London.  Here, five of the Eight Families-linked banks unilaterally decide what the price of gold will be each morning.  Kleinwort Benson’s Sharps Pixley subsidiary is one of five firms.  Another is Mocatta Metals (a favorite conduit for Israeli Mossad financing).  It is majority-owned by Standard Chartered– the Cecil Rhodes-founded bank whose Dubai branch wired Mohammed Atta the funds he needed to carry out the 911 operation.

According to British MP Michael Meacher in an article for The Guardian, Omar Saeed Sheikh- the man who beheaded US journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002- was a British MI-6 agent.  He says it was Omar Saeed Sheikh who- at the behest of Pakistani ISI General Mahmood Ahmed- wired the $100,000 to Mohammed Atta from Standard Chartered’s Dubai branch before 911.

Meacher’s claim has been corroborated by Dennis Lomel– director of FBI’s financial crimes unit- and by an October 11, 2001 article in The Times of India.

Midland Bank subsidiary Samuel Montagu is a third London gold “fixer”.  In 1999 Midland, headquartered in cocaine-money infested Panama, was bought by the British oligarchy-controlled HSBC- the old Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corporation opium laundry and now the world’s second largest bank.

Midland is partially owned by the Kuwaiti al-Sabah monarchy.  The other two gold fixers are Johnson Matthey and N. M. Rothschild, both of which have interlocking boards with Anglo-American and HSBC.

Anglo-American is the world’s third largest mining company.  It is controlled by the Rothschilds and South Africa’s Oppenheimer family.  It owns both Engelhardt– which enjoys a near monopoly in global gold refining- and the DeBeers diamond monopoly.

The current De Beers chairman is Nicky Oppenheimer.  De Beers was indicted in 1994 for price-fixing by the US Justice Department.  To this day, company officials do not set foot on US soil for fear they may be nabbed by US authorities.

The Rothschilds also control BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, the two biggest global miners, as well as Royal Dutch/Shell, BP and Bank of America.

As Bank of England Deputy Governor George Blunden put it, “Fear is what makes the bank’s powers so acceptable.  The bank is able to exert its influence when people are dependent on us and fear losing their privileges or when they are frightened.”

Mayer Amschel Rothschild sold the British government German Hessian mercenaries to fight against American Revolutionaries, diverting the proceeds to his brother Nathan in London, where N.M. (Nathan and Mayer) Rothschild & Sons was established.  Mayer was a serious student of Cabala and launched his fortune on money embezzled from William IX- royal administrator of the Hesse-Kassel region and a prominent Freemason.

Rothschild-controlled Barings bankrolled the Chinese opium and African slave trades.  It financed the Louisiana Purchase.

When several states defaulted on its loans, Barings bribed Daniel Webster to make speeches stressing the virtues of loan repayment.  The states held their ground, so the House of Rothschild cut off the money spigot in 1842, plunging the US into a deep depression.

It was often said that the wealth of the Rothschilds depended on the bankruptcy of nations.  Mayer Amschel Rothschild once said, “I care not who controls a nation’s political affairs, so long as I control her currency”.

War also enhanced the Rothschild family fortune.

The House of Rothschild financed the Prussian War, the Crimean War and the British attempt to seize the Suez Canal from the French.  Nathan Rothschild made a huge financial bet on Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, while also funding the Duke of Wellington’s peninsular campaign against Napoleon.  Both the Mexican War and the Civil War were goldmines for the family.

A Rothschild family biography mentions a London meeting where an “international banking syndicate” decided to pit the American North against the South as part of a “divide and conquer” strategy.  German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck once stated, “The division of the United States into federations of equal force was decided long before the Civil War.  These bankers were afraid that the United States…would upset their financial domination over the world.  The voice of the Rothschilds prevailed.

Rothschild biographer Derek Wilson says the family was the official European banker to the US government via the Federal Reserve-precursor Bank of the United States.  Family biographer Niall Ferguson notes a “substantial and unexplained gap” in Rothschild correspondence from 1854-1860.  He says all copies of outgoing letters written by the London Rothschilds during this Civil War period “were destroyed at the orders of successive partners”.

French and British troops had, at the height of the Civil War, encircled the US.  The British sent 11,000 troops to Crown-controlled Canada, which gave safe harbor to Confederate agents.  France’s Napoleon III installed Austrian Hapsburg family member Archduke Maximilian as his puppet emperor in Mexico, where French troops massed on the Texas border.

Only an 11th-hour deployment of two Russian warship fleets by US ally Czar Alexander II in 1863 saved the United States from re-colonization.  That same year the Chicago Tribune blasted, “Belmont (August Belmont was a US Rothschild agent and had a Triple Crown horse race named in his honor) and the Rothschilds…who have been buying up Confederate war bonds.

President Abraham Lincoln- now aware of the Eight Families-controlled Bank of the United States plot- countered by issuing Greenbacks from the US Treasury.  The London bankers were fuming.  Salmon Rothschild stated derisively of President Lincoln, “He rejects all forms of compromise.  He has the appearance of a peasant and can only tell barroom stories.”

Lincoln was soon assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who was whisked away from Ford Theatre by members of a secret society known as Knights of the Golden Circle.  Booth’s granddaughter later wrote This One Mad Act, in which she details Booth’s contacts with “mysterious Europeans” just before the Lincoln assassination.

Baron Jacob Rothschild was equally flattering towards the US citizenry.  He once commented to US Minister to Belgium Henry Sanford on the over half a million Americans who died during the Civil War, “When your patient is desperately sick, you try desperate measures, even to bloodletting.”

Salmon and Jacob were merely carrying forth a family tradition.  A few generations earlier Mayer Amschel Rothschild bragged of his investment strategy, “When the streets of Paris are running in blood, I buy”.

Mayer Rothschild’s sons were known as the Frankfurt Five.  Amschel ran the family’s Frankfurt bank with his father, while Nathan ran London operations.  Youngest son Jacob set up shop in Paris, while Salomon ran the Vienna branch and Karl the branch in Naples.  Author Frederick Morton estimates that by 1850, the Rothschilds were worth over $10 billion.  The old axiom “money begets more money” certainly holds true.

Researchers believe that the Rothschild fortune today exceeds $100 trillion.

The Warburgs, Kuhn Loebs, Goldman Sachs, Schiffs and Rothschilds have intermarried into one big happy banking family.  The Warburg family- which controls Deutsche Bank and Banque Paribas- tied up with the Rothschilds in 1814 in Hamburg, while Kuhn Loeb powerhouse Jacob Schiff shared quarters with Rothschilds in 1785.  Schiff immigrated to America in 1865.  He joined forces with Abraham Kuhn and married Solomon Loeb’s daughter.  Loeb and Kuhn married each others sisters and the Kuhn Loeb dynasty was consummated.  Felix Warburg married Jacob Schiff’s daughter.

Two Goldman daughters married two sons of the Sachs family, creating Goldman Sachs.  In 1806 Nathan Rothschild married the oldest daughter of Levi Barent Cohen, a leading financier in London.  The Cohen family was now part of the club.

Today the Rothschild’s control a far-flung financial empire, which includes majority stakes in nearly all the world’s central banks.  The Edmond de Rothschild clan owns the Banque Privee SA in Lugano, Switzerland and the Rothschild Bank AG of Zurich.  The family of Jacob Lord Rothschild owns the powerful Rothschild Italia in Milan.  They are members of the exclusive Club of the Isles, which provides capital for George Soros’ Quantum Fund NV.  Quantum made a killing in 1998-1999 destroying the currencies of Thailand, Indonesia and Russia.  Soros was a major shareholder in George W. Bush’s Harken Energy.

Quantum NV handles $11-14 billion in assets and operates from the Dutch island of Curacao, in the shadow of massive Royal Dutch/Shell and Exxon Mobil refineries.  Curacao was recently cited by an OECD Task Force on Money Laundering as a major drug money laundering nation.  The Club of Isles group which funds Quantum is led by the Rothschilds and includes Queen Elizabeth II and other wealthy European aristocrats and Black Nobility.

Fugitive Swiss financier and Mossad cutout Marc Rich, whose business interests were recently taken over by the Russian mafia Alfa Group, is also part of the Soros network.  Rich was pardoned by President Clinton as he exited the White House.

Ties to drug money are nothing new to the Rothschilds. 

N. M. Rothschild & Sons was at the epicenter of the BCCI scandal, but escaped the limelight when a warehouse full of documents conveniently burned to the ground around the time the Rothschild-controlled Bank of England shut BCCI down.  The Rothschild’s Bank of America provided the seed money to launch BCCI.

Perhaps the largest repository for Rothschild wealth today is Rothschilds Continuation Holdings AG- a secretive Swiss bank holding company.  By the late 1990s, scions of the Rothschild global empire were Barons Guy and Elie de Rothschild in France and Lord Jacob and Sir Evelyn Rothschild in Britain.  Evelyn is chairman of the Economist.

If we wish we make the world a better place and to usher in a new consciousness, we must study, discuss and expose the source of global warfare, depopulation schemes, oil-addiction, drug addiction, poverty and environmental degradation.

The head of the serpent is the House of Rothschild.

Dean Henderson is the author of four books: Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve & Stickin’ it to the Matrix. You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @ www.deanhenderson.wordpress.com


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