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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

'Birthright Palestine' aims to bring Palestinians home

Date: 11 / 03 / 2008  Time:  12:06
Bethlehem Ma'an

A Palestinian teenager from Duheisha refugee camp near Bethlehem has launched a new program calling itself "Birthright Palestine," mimicking Israeli program of the same name.

Nineteen-year-old Ahmad Lahham, a business administration student at Bethlehem University, launched a website for the program with the aim of contacting first generation Palestinians born in the Diaspora and encouraging them to visit their historic homeland.

The Israeli-government backed Taglit-Birthright Israel project, which offers free trips to Israel for Jewish youths around the world, has been one of the many tools Israel has used to promote its cause.

Birthright Palestine seeks to do the same for the Palestinian national struggle.

Israeli media, including the Jerusalem Post and the Hebrew-language Maariv, have brought a surge in attention to the new project.

In the Palestinian version, Palestinians from the Diaspora would visit Palestine and learn firsthand about the suffering of their compatriots living under Israeli occupation. The idea is to organize trips not just to the occupied territories but also historically Palestinian cities within Israel's 1949 borders, such as Acre and Haifa.

Ahmad Lahham, said saw no difference between Duheisha camp and Haifa or Acre, highlighting that the Israelis spend vast sums of money to bring Jews to Palestine. He added that so far five people have registered to visit Palestine, and that due to lack of experience the group plans to host no more than 30 people at this initial stage.

Among other objectives, the project aims to strengthen Palestinian unity and further the struggle for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in the territories captured by the Zionist forces in 1948.

Maariv reported that the Israeli Brithright program has succeeded in bringing 160,000 Jewish youths from all over the world to visit Israel in the last ten years.

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