Birthright Israel and #MeToo

This article was reported by Jewish Currents in partnership with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute, with support from the Puffin Foundation.

By Sarah Seltzer

As the #MeToo movement unfolded, Jewish Currents spoke with more than 50 Birthright Israel participants and staffers about their experiences with the often-fraught sexual and gender dynamics on the trips, uncovering the case above along with eight other alleged incidents of sexual misconduct ranging from verbal harassment to assault. The participants and staffers told us about a volatile mix of sex and alcohol that, as on college campuses, has the potential to turn toxic. In the cases of some incidents recounted to us, it did.

But many spoke of something more: a pervasive environment of sexual pressure that encourages Jews to meet, marry, and, someday, procreate with other Jews while being awed by the beauty and culture of Israel. This expectation is communicated before the trip even begins by official social media, and on the trips is expressed most directly around American women and Israeli soldiers.

… Our 13 interviews with 2016-2018 participants, other press reports, and a review of the Birthright and trip-provider social media indicate that the sexually pressurized environment hasn’t faded away.

In fact, this winter, hundreds of participants were treated to a speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu himself, who quipped, “Statistically, 187% of you will meet your future husband and wife on this visit, maybe here tonight.”

The complete article is available on Jewish Currents.