Sasson, Theodore, Michelle Shain, Shahar Hecht, Graham Wright, and Leonard Saxe. “Does Taglit-Birthright Israel Foster Long-Distance Nationalism?” Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 20.4 (2014): 438-54.
Taglit-Birthright Israel has brought hundreds of thousands of diaspora Jewish young adults on tours of Israel. Drawing on data from a large-scale program evaluation, we ask how the program affects participants’ feelings of homeland attachment and political views on contentious homeland issues. North Americans who traveled to Israel with Taglit between 2010 and 2012 were surveyed together with a comparison group of applicants to the program who did not participate. In multivariate analysis, Taglit sharply increases feelings of connection to Israel but has no effect on attitudes concerning the future of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The program modestly increases scores on a “favorability” scale and modestly increases opposition to a possible division of Jerusalem in a future peace deal. In contrast to Benedict Anderson’s theory of long-distance nationalism, the findings suggest that feelings of homeland connection can be fostered without triggering ethnonationalist attitudes associated with the political right.