dismantling birthright propaganda beams

by tobybee

I just discovered, via the facebook page of the Jewish Boat to Gaza, a tumblr, entitled Tinfoil Yarmulke, written by a woman currently undertaking a Birthright Trip in Israel. Why that name for the tumbler? Well, apparently a ‘tinfoil yarmulke’ in this incarnation is

A protective head-covering worn by non-devout Jews to deflect the propaganda beams of Birthright Israel.

It looks like this is going to be a really interesting journey with this woman – she’s calling out the sexism, heteronormativity, religious exclusivity, and racism of the trip and the other members of her group. And really, any blog that opens with

I am about to embark on an entirely free trip to the State of Israel, paid for by the Israeli government and Jewish philanthropists around the world, via Birthright Israel. Are there strings attached? You betcha. But I’ll take my free trip anyway, because I’m that much of a Jew.

is my kind of blog.

[If, like me, you’re into vaguely off-colour jokes (including Hitler jokes), you should check this out. I found it via someone on twitter last night – sorry, I can’t remember who to give this the proper credit.]

On another post, written while she was in Zurich airport, she writes

I don’t have a complicated relationship with my nose.

Take your index finger.  Crook it.  Hold it up to your face.  That’s my nose.  So be it.  My glasses have never fallen off, and… okay, well I guess that’s the only practical advantage I can think of.  But my glasses have never fallen off!

I do have a complicated relationship with other people’s noses.  In particular, the surgically modified specimens common to Jews from Long Island.  The fixed nose represents a whole lot more to me than the template hook nose, including a whole mess of issues of identity and perceived community and self-hate.  Some day (maybe on this trip) I will work out exactly what I mean by that.  For now, I’m just introducing a classic from my archives.

Several years ago I received the following Facebook message from Eric D.  Eric was the founder of the university group I led.  I had met him exactly once.

From: Eric D.
Subject: a random thought

Liz—I’m a very honest and open person, and it takes people a little aback at first, but in the end they accept it about me.

I was looking at your pictures, and, you know something? You’re pretty cute. You really are. And you know something else? (Here comes the honesty:) You would look even cuter with just a touch of plastic surgery. My wife had it done, and she’s never looked back. Your twenties is a period where you should be dating like crazy, figuring out exactly the type of individual you want to spend the rest of your life with. You deserve to feel self-confident about your looks, not listing yourself in your profile as “Jewish…look at me.” I personally think you’re an amazing person, so I really do hope you take this the right way. Just know you’ve got a fan and friend in your corner…you can hit me later.


There really is nothing to be said here.

Bloody hell hey! But I do love that while sitting in transit in Zurich airport, presumably rather tired, this was what she thought about… I reckon this is one blog to keep an eye on over the coming days…