Birthright? Travelogue of an American Radical in Israel / Palestine

Nani Ferreira-Mathews (Author)


Publisher: On Our Own Authority!
Format: Book
Binding: pb
Pages: 144
Released: April 24, 2018
ISBN-13: 9780990641872

In 2013, author-activist Nani Ferreira-Mathews participated in a popular free ten-day “birthright” tour of Israel offered by the Taglit-Birthright organization in an effort to explore and reconnect with her Jewish heritage. This day-to-day account of the daily programs, activities, and dating games—as well as the tour guides’ stubborn refusal to discuss or even acknowledge Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories—reveals an agenda animated by racism, heterosexism, colonialism, and militaristic nationalism.

Drawing upon her experience as a person of both indigenous Hawaiian and Jewish heritage, Ferreira-Mathews interrogates the meaning of “birthright” within a settler-colonialist nation, where national identity is so fundamentally entangled with the systematic displacement of native peoples.

"This is an important work of honesty and self-examination, deeply needed within Jewish communities around issues of Israel and its role in the US. If Zionism is defended as a legitimate or viable concept, then it should be open to vigorous criticism, and this book is an important part of a new wave of critiques of the Birthright program in particular. Together with the Jewish National Fund, the Israeli military, and Israeli historiography in general, Birthright and other core Israeli and Zionist institutions are being demystified, making possible a higher degree of accountability. This is a work of complexity, intersectionality and truth-telling, part of a growing and necessary dialogue about Jewish identity and which side of history Jewish individuals and communities choose to identify with." —Jesse Benjamin, Kennesaw State University.

Nani Ferreira-Mathews is a freelance journalist, independent musician, and activist currently living in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2011, she was an organizer during the most radical days of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. As an independent scholar, she has an interest in communal decision-making practices and communication styles. She has studied squats, communes, and intentional communities in North America, Europe, South America, and the Middle East.

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