(April 18, 2018 / JNS) Michael Steinhardt, the co-founder and major supporter of Birthright Israel—a program that has brought more than 600,000 Jewish young adults from around the world to Israel for free 10-day heritage trips—gave the middle finger to a group of anti-Israel, anti-Birthright activists outside a gala Birthright celebration on April 15.
When Steinhardt arrived at a dinner in New York celebrating Birthright’s 18th anniversary, he was verbally accosted by more than 150 protesters, including members of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance, Democratic Socialists of America and Students for Justice in Palestine. He responded by extending his middle finger, in a gesture captured on film and going viral around the Jewish world.
The protest was led by “Return the Birthright,” a campaign calling on young Jews to boycott Birthright and support Palestinian claims to the land. Participants wrapped themselves in Jewish prayers shawls and read out the names of Palestinian villages that existed prior to Israel’s independence, as well as the names of 32 Gaza Palestinians who were killed in riots on the Gaza border in the last three weeks, most of whom have been identified as operatives for terror organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, also major funders of Birthright, recently announced that they were contributing an additional $70 million to the program. At the event, they were presented with the “Guardians of the Jewish Future” award.