Eight Birthright participants who walked off their tours Sunday created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to cover their canceled flights and forfeited deposits.
The participants were on two separate trips, according to the GoFundMe page. Birthright didn’t approve of them deviating from their itinerary to meet with a Palestinian family that lived in East Jerusalem for more than 25 years and was being threatened with eviction, but they left anyway, after being told by their tour guide that they could be liable for the cost of their trip and their return flight.
For the first six days of the journey, the participants say they tried asking questions about the Occupation and “demanding a more detailed and accurate picture of the truth,” they say. In the statement, they wrote that a tour guide told them, “Birthright is curating a very specific truth that they want us to hear, a version of the truth that the Israeli government wants to tell and if we did not like it then we should leave the program and go find another narrative.”
Since leaving the trip, they’ve visited various families and communities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, learning about their experiences.
The group is looking to raise $10,000. Within the first 12 hours of the campaign, they had raised a little less than $1,500. The participants have been in touch with IfNotNow, an American-Jewish progressive activist group, which connected them with activists in the area and one of the families. The organization has been sharing the GoFundMe page.