Each year for as long as I can remember, I've been invited to go to Israel for free, to see the country: the discos of Haifa! The towers of Tel Aviv! The horrible, horrible weather! Sometimes this solicitation comes from the government or the foreign ministry or its tourist bureau; sometimes from various nonprofits, or sometimes from the Emergency Committee for Israel. It makes a lot of sense, of course: you go over, you see some beautiful countryside, you meet some nice people—and suddenly you feel personally interested and even invested (if you aren't already) in the future of Israel. And then you're all like: Palestine? What Palestine? So this year's solicitation comes today from an outfit called Stand With Us, which has produced some nice anti-flotilla propaganda. (Remember last year? When Israeli soldiers boarded aid boats bound for Gaza and killed nine passengers, inflaming Turkey-Israel tensions?) They also opposed the Tony Kushner honorary degree at CUNY recently, and are "disappointed" by Obama's recent speech on Israel. They've also published a pamphlet called "The Nazi Roots of Middle Eastern Anti-Semitism." And they run a website called Librarians4Fairness! And many others! What I can't find anywhere, which is odd for a nonprofit based in Los Angeles, is an annual report.
This is how the solicitation goes. Usually they're a little more formal, when they come from the state's agencies directly. This one's personalized… ish!
My Name is [REDACTED], I'm a student at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa Israel.
I'm a big fan of your blog http://www.theawl.com/ and I would like a few minutes of your time to tell you about the "Once in a lifetime 2.0" project.
My Fellow students and I are representing the StandWithUs fellowship, a public diplomacy leadership program that trains selected students to advocate Israel.
StandWithUs is a non-profit organization which ensures that Israel is accurately portrayed and justly represented on college campuses, in the media, and in communities around the world. http://www.standwithus.co.il/ .
As a part of this project I would like to offer a once in a life time opportunity for famous bloggers and influential media people, like yourself, to experience the real Israel in a ten day trip that would take place on August 21st, 2011 to the Holy Land! All expenses paid!
Our Visitors will experience the reality of being an Israeli, whether it's through cultural diversity, exquisite food, technology and progress, security and the holy sites that only Israel can offer.
All you have to do is fill out the attached form and agree to document your trip to the "Jewel of the Middle east"- Israel on your blog.
Please find attached our project one pager, that will be able to explain more about us and our project!
Also please check out our Facebook page-
We are looking forward to hearing from you, and we will be happy to show you around Israel, from the Golan Heights in the north through Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem to the Dead Sea.
But do we get to see the checkpoints???
Well I do love free trips! The application is really easy! They just want to know a few things.
What do you know and what have you heard about Israel? :
What is your personal opinion about what you heard? :
Why are you interested in joining us for the "Once in A Lifetime 2.0" experience? :
In a few words tell us about yourself and about your blog/activity:
What's most interesting to me is: who goes on these trips? I do need a vacation….