Final Survey

We were given a final survey to fill out at the conclusion of the trip.  Here were my answers to the Open-ended questions:
1.  What, in your opinion are the goals of the [trip organizer]?
Goal 1) To create connections between young Jews and the state of Israel (to create a strong connection between Jewish identity and support for the state)
Goal 2) To create connections between trip participants (with an emphasis on heterosexual marriage bonds)
Goal 3) To serve the people of Israel through community service

2.  In your opinion, what part of [trip organizer] needs fixing the most?
[Trip organizer] needs to admit that forging a Jewish identity can create friction between a Jew and the State of Israel (diaspora Jews as well as Israeli Jews), and that this perspective is totally legitimate and merits further discussion.

3.  What was the one most significant "message" for you in the entire program? 
That we are free to practice any kind of Judaism we'd like, but that our identity is tied not only to ancient Israel but also to the modern state of Israel.

4.  Has this experience affected your Jewish identity? 
I feel that I have a greater understanding of pre-20th century Jewish history and how hard people fought to protect their traditions and their land.

Other Comments: 
Especially in the discussions of the political situation of Israel, I saw few examples what I think of as Judaism at its best: humanism, self-examination, and critical thinking, as well as a certain amount of egalitarianism.  I didn't see people in a deep existential crisis brooding over even the possibility that their state may be oppressing others.  Rather I felt defensiveness and I heard apologia which on occasion developed into an "us vs them" kind of narrative.  When certain group members reiterated this narrative it seemed as if their fires were only stoked.  It was a well-oiled propaganda machine where certain opinions were beyond the pale, or did not merit further discussion.  Perhaps on 2 or 3 occasions I heard soldiers speak critically, but that's it.  Perhaps it's almost insane for me to expect anything different from a Birthright sponsored trip?  And then perhaps I am a little bit insane, but also a little bit Jewish.

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