Asked to respond to Danon's criticism, Birthright's vice president of international marketing, Doron Karni, told Anglo File the organization is a "non-political educational project" and "that participants tour the sites inside and outside the Green Line that have significant and appropriate educational value, provided there are no security issues."
A Taglit-Birthright tour visiting Israel in early July made a stop in a city that most of these groups have studiously avoided: Hebron. And this stop has raised questions about whether Birthright can travel beyond the so-called Green Line into the Israeli-occupied West Bank, with differing answers from American and Israeli Birthright officials.
...a video posted by the website Coteret showed a few dozen young Birthright participants hanging out on the stone steps leading up to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city...But according to the “safety and security” page on the Birthright website, Hebron falls outside the acceptable parameters of locations the groups are allowed to visit: “Our tours do not travel to or through areas of the West Bank, Gaza or East Jerusalem, other than the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.”
Reached for comment by the Forward, Gideon Mark, the Israeli-based CEO of Birthright, pointed to a parenthetical caveat added to the prohibition: “Changes are possible when permitted by the security authorities.” Mark said...he could recall no other Birthright group visiting Hebron...“Out of the 750 groups that we have this year, only one went,” Mark said. “If this is possible, everything is possible. But practically, this is the proportion of groups until today.” Asked why more groups don’t visit the West Bank, Mark said, referring to the many trip providers of Birthright: “You have to ask them. Trip organizers submit proposals. We see if there is some rationale, and we submit it to the security services.”
But Robert Aronson, head of the Birthright Israel Foundation, the enterprise’s American arm, did not share Mark’s opinion of what was permitted under Birthright rules. In an e-mail message to the Forward, Aronson stated simply that the trip was “clearly against Birthright policy.” Attempts to reach Aronson by phone for further comment were unsuccessful.
Nu, who do you or can you believe?