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Monday, June 12, 2017

The Zionist group Young Judaea has a gap-year Israel program for college credit.

Most of it looks very reasonable, with the kids volunteering at many places throughout the land.

But one part of the course, with three days of fact finding about the conflict, was prepared not by Young Judaea itself but by J-Street U.

It pretends to be even-handed but it includes a tour of Hebron by Breaking the Silence and the syllabus includes the implicit idea that the kids will be brainwashed with J-Street U ideology.

Here is the syllabus for this past year's program, filled with leading questions and implicit criticism of Israel's government, with pro-settlement Israelis subtly treated as the "other" and Breaking the Silence appearing to be moderate (with no discussion on how controversial the group is in Israel itself):

"Not everyone will come out a J-Street-er" - but clearly the program is expected to do exactly that. And the emphasis on "change" means that the message given to the kids is unequivocally anti-settlement.

I am told by a parent of one of the students who attended that the final roundtable with J-Street U students included "how great it is to have a space to dialogue with BDS".

When challenged on the contents, a Young Judaea representative wrote back to the parent:
We work with our academic partner, the American Jewish University in California, whose main responsibility is to ensure that we maintain the highest academic standards. To this end, we are audited on a rotating basis, with various members of their faculty reviewing our course materials. In fact, we are currently in the midst of such a review. It might be interesting for you to hear that the university has asked us to rebalance one of our core courses, as their evaluation suggests it is too heavily slanted to the right-wing in its Israeli politics.
I would love to see the criteria for such an evaluation.

The fact is that no printed curriculum can capture what actually happens in the trips. The heads of the program can accurately point to the fact that the students are meeting with Yishai Fleisher and Ari Zimmerman as well as BtS and anti-Israel activists. But the glue that holds it all together is J-Street U, which is ideologically biased against settlements and against the Israeli government, it is impossible to think that this part of the course is anything but anti-Israel propaganda. The only way to say for sure would be if the "debriefings" are recorded and supplied to interested parties. The printed materialc certainly don't mention that BDS is brought up as a legitimate voice on Israel's future.

It seems to me that including Breaking the Silence in any capacity, and praising BDS as just another viewpoint that contributes to a vibrant Zionist culture, is out of the pale.

I don't know how many parents sending their kids to this program are aware how much J-Street U (which is more to the left than J-Street is) is involved in this curriculum and how they are the main way for these young people to make up their minds about Israel, complete with "debriefings" to ensure that any right-wing comments are belittled and left-wing opinions amplified before students get a chance to think too much for themselves.

One of the members of the Board of Directors at Young Judaea, David Stone,  is associated with both J-Street and the leftist, George Soros-funded  New Israel Fund.

Young Judaea is a good organization, but something here is very rotten.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.


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