Victory Statement: Georgetown University Students Block Funding for itrek Trip to Israel
March 09 2022

We, a coalition of graduate and undergraduate students at Georgetown University, are pleased to declare that we successfully blocked $30,000 of student funding from financing a trip to Israel with the pro-Israel organization, itrek, and fully cut the trip’s institutional links to Georgetown University and the university's Graduate Student Government (GradGov), in line with BDS principles of academic boycott.

Students learned of this trip in January, when GradGov senators were about to vote on and approve a budget that would earmark a fifth ($30,000) of the GradGov budget for the trip. The GradGov budget is sourced from tuition fees paid by all students enrolled in Georgetown University programs and represented in GradGov. itrek finances $250,000 for this one-week trip for 50-100 Georgetown graduate students, and that does not include flight costs.

Our opposition to the trip was based primarily on:

  1. The use of $30,000 of student tuition funds to subsidize a trip for GradGov senators.
  2. The nature of the partnering pro-Israel organization, itrek, whose purpose is to whitewash the Occupation of Palestine.
  3. The destination of the trip to an Apartheid state that enforces military rule on millions of Palestinians and occupies their land.

After learning about the trip, we began to voice our opposition through several avenues: email, public forums and private conversations with GradGov senators. Over the span of just a week, the opposition to the trip and its financing became too grand to ignore. In this way, we forced the hand of the Georgetown University administration, which had not previously been in opposition to the trip. The administration decided to end all Georgetown University funding and ties to the trip. While we are pleased with this outcome, we continue to highlight our principled opposition to this trip, which is currently taking place in a private capacity at the time of this statement's release.

itrek (or International Trek) is an organization that is explicitly pro-Israel and has previously received money from the Israeli government. By introducing American graduate and professional students to Israeli leaders in technology, business, law and more, itrek, whose former name was “Israel & Co.,” seeks to benefit the state of Israel. Their loose itinerary control allows student leaders to plan their own itineraries. So on a more liberal itrek trip – for instance the non-Georgetown itrek that is currently taking place – students meet a Palestinian Authority figure, spend half a day in Bethlehem and half a day in Ramallah, in addition to seven days in Israeli-controlled territory, including the occupied Golan Heights. Palestinians are aware of these trips and are speaking out against them.

We reject the narrative promoted by even the most liberal of itrek trips. There are no "both sides" in Palestine. There is the Israeli occupation, which has most recently taken the lives of Yamen Jaffal and Kareem Qawasmi. There is continued Israeli settlement expansion, which forcibly expels Palestinians, takes away their lands and demolishes their homes. There is Israeli Apartheid, which dictates the lives of millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, at the mercy of the Israeli military and settlers. There is the Israeli siege on Gaza, which murdered hundreds of Palestinians who participated in the Great March of Return. There is the racist Israeli Nation-State Law, which declares Israel an exclusively Jewish state. There is a reality of asymmetry, the reality of a power dynamic that the government of the United States enforces through its funding of the Israeli Occupation.

We hope that what happened here at Georgetown University can serve as a model for students at other universities who wish to contest itrek trips. We urge you to use your power as students to demand that your university represents you. We urge you to convince your peers to reject Apartheid. We urge you to reject itrek.

In Solidarity.

Read more