Though I’ve spent the past two days back from the Holy Land in a jetlagged and mostly-sleep-filled haze, I have also been trying to ruminate on an incredible trip. Many of my fellow travelers kept blogs and have been writing more extensively about their experiences, but (not to discredit their writing) I’ve been avoiding their sites so that when I sat down to write my own thoughts they would be purely my own.

I’m going to start with some background:

I just got back from a week long trip to Israel put on by a group called Project Interchange, which is a division of the American Jewish Committee. The trip was offered to two groups: students of campus media studies, and California student leaders (who may be in student government or coordinators of student groups). I went as part of the Campus Media group.

This was an all-expenses paid trip funded by AJC, which is in turn funded by private donors and organizations. For an editor of a news publication, taking the trip rose some questions about ethics and legality. I spoke to my former newspaper advisor, my current newspaper advisor, the Director of Student Activities at Evergreen, the Student Press Law Center, my friends and fellow editors, and of course, the entirety of the Cooper Point Journal staff. I vowed not to go on the trip if the entire group did not reach consensus on the decision. If one person strongly believed that it was unethical to take the free trip, I would not attend.

All members approved, however, and we all agreed that it would be an excellent learning opportunity, even if it was one-sided and propagandizing. It may even help me understand Evergreen’s divestment and BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movements. Other writers volunteered to cover stories for our paper that involved Israel or BDS, just in case my bias got in the way of accurate reporting in the future.

I was heartened by that response and accepted the invitation. Incidentally, the Student Press Law Center said that it was unethical to take a free trip to cover a specific story, but it was not unethical if the trip was for the purpose of learning, rather than reporting.

And with that, I embarked on this journey barely one month later. Coming soon: detailed accounts and analysis of experiences during the trip.


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