In 2013, author-activist Nani Ferreira-Mathews participated in a popular free ten-day “birthright” tour of Israel offered by the Taglit-Birthright organization in an effort to explore and reconnect with her Jewish heritage. This day-to-day account of the programs, activities, and dating games—as well as the tour guides’ stubborn refusal to discuss or even acknowledge Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories—reveals an agenda animated by racism, heterosexism, colonialism, and militaristic nationalism.
Drawing upon her experience as a person of both indigenous Hawaiian and Jewish heritage, Ferreira-Mathews interrogates the meaning of “birthright” within a settler-colonialist nation, where national identity is so fundamentally entangled with the systematic displacement of native peoples.
“This is a work of complexity, intersectionality, and truth-telling, part of a growing and necessary dialogue about Jewish identity and which side of history Jewish individuals and communities choose to identify with.”
— Jesse Benjamin, Kennesaw State University
“Today, more and more young Jews are waking up to the reality of Israel’s mounting human rights abuses, bearing witness to the continuing history of Palestinian dispossession, and standing in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and equality. … Mathews’s book is a vital part of this ongoing legacy of young Jewish awakening.”
— Ben Lorber, Jewish Voice for Peace
Nani Ferreira-Mathews is a freelance journalist, independent musician, and activist currently living in Baltimore, Maryland. In 2011, she was an organizer during the most radical days of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York City. As an independent scholar, she has an interest in communal decision-making practices and communication styles. She has studied squats, communes, and intentional communities in North America, Europe, South America, and the Middle East.
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