Birthright Israel has been offering free educational trips to Jewish youths since 1999. The purpose is to help Jewish young adults from around the world reconnect with their Jewish roots.
The European Union must have thought this was a great idea — as they are offering free flights and accommodations to young European photographers for a one-week visit to “Palestine.” They call it the EU Photo Marathon, and it is open to those aged 21-35.
The lucky European photographers — selected from candidates who submit portfolios along with their application forms — will join young Palestinian photographers and tour areas across the “West Bank.” Their aim, as stated on the website, is “to capture different aspects of Palestinian life. The group will visit communities and places where the EU and its Member States have been working to support the Palestinian people.”
So I guess they will not be visiting Jewish communities. After all, many of these people believe those communities should be razed and the Jews there sent packing.
I cannot wait to see what photographs will come out of this week-long event. Will they have someone throw rocks at IDF soldiers or taunt them in the way made famous by the Tamimi family? That would surely produce some excellent images of the “occupation army” at work. Maybe Ahed Tamimi, the most well known of the clan, will be on hand to show the eager Europeans how it is done.
Or perhaps they will photograph Jewish members of left-wing NGOs joining Arabs in trying to claim all of this land as their own.
I wonder if they will photograph the extravagant castle-like home that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas built for himself with foreign humanitarian aid, the fancy high-rises in Ramallah, or the modern indoor mall in Hebron selling luxury goods.
On the other hand, the organizing committee may prefer, instead, to take the photographers to poverty stricken neighborhoods for photo ops to help maintain the impression that the Arabs in the Palestinian Authority are all suffering terribly under Israeli oppression — and that it is all Israel’s fault.
In addition to their portfolios, candidates for the trip must include a letter expressing their reasons for applying, and how they intend to use the material for propaganda purposes afterward: “Please include your motivation behind your participation and the means to be employed to ensure a wide dissemination of the outcome of this visit in Europe.”
I would love to read the motivation letters. Would we see overt or covert Jew-hatred (disguised as hatred of Israel in the latter case)? Perhaps it will be more about love for the underdog, in this case, the poor Arabs who have not been successful in getting rid of the Jews — and who justify terrorism, incitement, and hate education as a response to Israel’s existence.
As Matan Peleg, CEO of Im Tirtzu, said, “This is yet another instance in which the European Union is using the hard-earned taxes of its citizens in order to slander and delegitimize Israel. Instead, the EU should be asking what happened to the millions of Euros they gave to the Palestinian Authority, other than going toward paying the salaries of terrorists.”
Sheri Oz is a retired psychotherapist, now dedicating her time to exploring the mutual interactions between domestic and regional politics and Israeli society.