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I think it's wonderful that Melissa Weinman took the opportunity to visit Israel through the auspices of the Taglit Birthright organization. Experiences in foreign lands are tremendously enlightening. It's so heartening to learn that people all over the world want the same things for themselves and their families as we do in the U.S. such as freedom, prosperity, security, educational opportunity and good health.
My guess is that Taglit didn't expose its guests to the dark side of Israel, however. At least if they did, Melissa chose not to write about the fact that the Israelis simply moved into what was Palestine in 1948 and evicted the natives, much the same way we treated Native Americans.
Native Palestinians were driven out of their homes with no compensation. They were rounded up and put on "reservations." They never received compensation for their losses and they have not been allowed to return to their homes.
I don't deny the need for a Jewish homeland and Israel is a logical location for it. Sadly, however, the Israeli government has persecuted the Palestinian natives from the get-go. The Israelis have ignored United Nations Resolutions 194 and 242 for decades. Resolution 194 provides for the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the Israeli takeover of their country. Resolution 242 calls for Israel to return Palestinian lands taken in the 1967 war. This includes Gaza, the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Golan Heights.
The Israelis continue to build settlements in the West Bank, even in the face of Resolution 242. This has been a major stumbling block in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations facilitated by the U.S.
Melissa didn't mention the wall separating Israelis from Palestinians in her article. The Israeli apartheid approach to the Palestinians prohibits them from gaining in an economic sense. Palestinians are, for the most part, unable to reach places of employment through the Israeli checkpoints. There is little opportunity for "a better future" for the average Palestinian young adult.
I'm glad Melissa had an opportunity to visit Israel. I just can't let her rosy picture misrepresent burdens Israelis place upon the natives. We should expect better from survivors of the Holocaust.