Since Extend began in 2013, serious discussion about the lack of opportunities to visit the West Bank and meet Palestinian leaders have taken center stage in American Jewish political life, from Birthright walkoffs last summer to J Street’s announcement of new trips to the region this week. We’re glad this critical need is being acknowledged, and believe Extend's model of open, engaged conversation with a wide range of Palestinian voices in the Occupied Territories is one on which our community can build.
In that spirit, we are thrilled to release our new report, Educating Ourselves: Five Years in the West Bank with Extend. Our report profiles 8 young American Jews whose Extend experience shaped their work as emerging journalists, rabbis, policymakers, and civil society leaders. These 8 Extend alumni represent a fraction of Extend’s impact: since 2013, Extend has brought 300 participants on 24 programs to the West Bank to engage with more than 40 Palestinian and Israeli partner organizations.
While Birthright and other well-funded American Jewish organizations have chosen to ignore Palestinian voices and the injustice of the occupation, Extend has filled the critical need to introduce young American Jews to these challenging realities. That’s why Extend has been endorsed by key American, Israeli, and Palestinian leaders: thinkers like Peter Beinart and Gideon Levy, Israeli anti-occupation leaders such as Breaking the Silence director Avner Gvaryahu and Member of Knesset Mossi Raz, and leaders of the Palestinian human rights movement such as Iyad Burnat and Combatants for Peace co-founder Souli Khatib.