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Birthright Unplugged`s Winter 2011 Communiqué •

Birthright Unplugged Communiqué
Winter, 2011

Dear Friends of Birthright Unplugged,

We are writing to you to let you know what’s on the horizon for Birthright Unplugged, update you on some of our alums’ work, and also make our ever-popular annual donations pitch!!

On the Horizon
We are currently working in partnership with Palestinian LGBTQ organizations on a delegation of U.S. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Queer (LGBTQ) community leaders. This delegation was imagined earlier this year when Palestinian leaders in the LGBTQ movement toured the U.S. to share their work and stories and educate against Israeli Pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is an Israeli and Zionist effort to shift public perceptions of Israel as an Apartheid state and occupying power to a liberal, gay-friendly state, in contrast with allegedly intolerant and homophobic Palestinian and Arab societies. (For more information on anti-pinkwashing campaigns, check out The idea behind this delegation is for leaders in U.S. LGBTQ communities to spend time in Palestine meeting with those most directly affected by Israel’s policies, so that they can contribute to organizing against Pinkwashing campaigns that are increasingly targeting their own communities in the States.

This winter we are also planning an Unplugged trip with a group primarily composed of students and professors. Finally, we are currently in conversation with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government regarding taking a group of their graduate students on a trip to Palestine this Spring.

In terms of our Re-Plugged program, we are in conversation with the Yaffa Center in Balata Refugee Camp about a trip for youth in coordination with the Camp’s media program that would support their youth filmmakers project. The idea is for the youth to travel to their destroyed villages, shoot footage, and then work at the Center in the Camp on completing related film projects. This is exciting for us as it is an opportunity to support the Center’s ongoing programming and is a project which would continue well past our actual travel together. We’ll keep you posted on all of this as it develops!

Some Alumni Work and Reflections
In addition, many of our alums are, as always, busy putting what they learned to work. Below are two examples:

• Matt, ’11 Birthright Unplugged Alum, Boston College student

Matt recently contributed his writing to this online site:
and his photography as well to a promotional video for an important Palestinian village reconstruction project described below, called Rebuilding to Remain. These are a few examples of the wide-ranging ways our alums find to make contributions to Palestinian-led initiatives and campaigns:

Families from the West Bank village of Al Aqaba ask your help to build colorful, eco-friendly homes on the land they own. 97% of the village is under demolition order by the Israeli Army. Families in Al Aqaba want to build their homes now because otherwise their village will cease to exist. Rebuilding To Remain supports funding construction of affordable, eco-friendly homes when banks do not provide financing by both spreading out and reducing the risk of demolition: many donors, many advocates. Al Aqaba Villager`s Cooperative Assembly will match your contributions, up to $13,000/home. If a home is demolished, the remaining mortgage loan is forgiven. Together, let`s share the risk and build advocacy to make them safe.

To find out more, go to

• Nova, ’07 Birthright Unplugged alum, Philly BDS,

`I stepped foot in Palestine in 2007 unprepared for the visceral contrast of what I was told my whole life to what Palestinians live with every day. After growing up in a Zionist framework, it was overwhelming to dismantle the lies, relearn the history, and figure out what to do with a deepened understanding of the Palestinian struggle. But Birthright Unplugged made this process possible--and turned it into a moment to join together and pick up the pieces on the way to action. On my Birthright Unplugged trip, we met inspiring community leaders, stayed with welcoming families, and witnessed harsh occupation in towns, cities, and a refugee camp. After my Birthright Unplugged trip, I volunteered with the International Women`s Peace Service (IWPS) for 2 months before returning to the U.S. and eventually moving to Philadelphia to strengthen my work in supporting the Palestinian struggle.

“I work with Philly BDS, which is a new coalition in Philadelphia working to support Palestinians` movement for sovereignty and human rights (

In the first month after our campaign launch, our flashdance video went viral in 2010 (,

What can you do? Go to our website and sign onto our Call to Action:

Questions? Email us at

A word from Palestine…
It’s almost impossible to escape the word Occupy in its most recent usage. Our friends at the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) are aware of this as well and we want to call your attention to the way they are contextualizing the 99% Occupy Together movement with the Occupation of Palestine:

BNC Statement: Occupy Wall Street not Palestine!

The Occupy Wall Street movement and its counterparts across the US, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere are — at least partially — inspired by the Arab Spring for democracy and social justice. Leaders of the Arab popular revolts tell us that they, in turn, were largely inspired by our own, decades-old struggle against Israel’s occupation of our land, its system of discrimination that matches the UN’s definition of apartheid, and its denial of the right of Palestinian refugees to return home.

We call upon all the spreading social movements of the world to think critically when considering their attitude towards the Israeli ‘social justice’ protests, which have almost completely ignored the key issue at the heart of all of the problems faced by ordinary Palestinians and even Israelis: Israel’s costly system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid over the Palestinian people. Without putting an end to that multi-tiered Israeli system of oppression, our entire region will never enjoy a comprehensive and lasting peace, one that is based on justice and human rights.

To read the statement in its entirety:

It’s that time of year…
Finally, we want to thank you for your continuous and generous support. Many thanks to those of you who have made your annual contributions – we are extremely grateful for these donations, which are sustaining and allow us to keep the focus of our work on justice rather than fundraising. For those who have not yet done so, we hope you will consider making a donation, no matter how small (and, of course, no matter how large!). As you know, we rely mostly on individual donations to do our work. To donate to Birthright Unplugged, please visit us at:

With all our best,

Dunya & Heike
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