A recent Slate article drew harsh criticism for suggesting that an Israeli organization that sponsors a 10-day free trip to Israel for young Jewish people is partially to blame for the recent death of an American lone soldier serving in the Israel Defense Force.
Max Steinberg, 24, first visited Israel on a trip sponsored by Birthright two years ago. Upon his return, he told his parents that he was going to serve in the IDF, which they supported. On Monday, Steinberg was killed.
The day before his funeral, Slate senior editor Allison Benedikt wrote this piece arguing that Birthright propaganda is partially responsible for Steinberg's death. She wrote: "You spend hundreds of millions of dollars to convince young Jews that they are deeply connected to a country that desperately needs their support? This is what you get," she wrote.
Izzy Ezagui, an American, also went on one of these sponsored trips, joined the IDF and had his arm blown off during battle. He told host Marc Lamont Hill what he has to say to Benedikt about her piece:
You tried to twist Max’s sacrifice from something heroic into something pathetic and weak. ... On [Steinberg's] behalf -- and I have far more right to speak on his behalf -- I say shame on you. No, Birthright is not responsible for Max’s death, the same way it's not responsible for the loss of my arm. Yes, I went on Birthright. Yes, I met soldiers and I fell in love with their humanity. Yes, I volunteered for the army, but that is where I’ve always belonged.
He said that what he and Steinberg share with all the other volunteers that chose to serve in the IDF is that they were "lucky" and "privileged to protect the one and only Jewish state."
Watch the full conversation about why young Americans fight for Israel below: