20% of the participants, including myself, all had left the program. This was due to many reasons. Staff and participants are toxic, there is absolutely no space for opinions that disagree with whatever is mainstream. If you dare have a different opinion be ready for the bullying that comes with this!
Besides that, the staff does not understand the antisemitism that diaspora Jews experience. They believe that Jews are oppressors and that hatred towards Jews/israel is “due to the conflict”. If you experience antisemitism in the diaspora this is not a place where you will feel safe or comfortable.
In one of my placements I worked with Arab children who on multiple occasions made their hatred towards Jews very clear to me. One of the children there grabbed my Star of David necklace and said “this is a dog” to me. He also had pro hamas and pro terrorism content on his TikTok account. I continued going to this placement until I just couldn’t handle it anymore.
The program staff expected me to keep going even though I made it clear that these experiences are traumatic for me and I felt that the environment was unsafe and that I didn’t belong there. The program staff gas lit me about this and argued with me about how I should continue going. Dana Talmi, the program founder, told another participant that my experience wasn’t antisemitic because it’s a “product of the conflict”. When this participant told her about the history of antisemitism, pogroms and expulsion in this land and about how Jews aren’t oppressors Dana had told her “that she didn’t agree with her interpretation of history”. So the founder is basically a conspiracy theorist who denies history and the oppression of Jews in their own homeland.
When I did stop going to this placement I was punished for my behavior. I was threatened with a contract breach and was told that any more problems could lead to my being kicked out of the program. Not to mention, if you do get kicked off the program you will lose your long term visa and will be “asked to leave” the country. AKA deportation.
We were treated as employees rather than people who came to Israel to volunteer out of the goodness of our heart.
This review hardly details the toxicity of this program. This program doesn’t do anything to better Israeli society or to critique it in a productive way. The blatant anti Zionism and anti israel rhetoric shared from staff, volunteer placements, and lecturers is not something that should be funded by Masa.