Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Question: Are Jewish camps too pro-Israel? - by Jonathan Tobin

...Kids shouldn’t be sheltered from the truth about a difficult issue. But neither should they be entrusted to people who seek to undermine support for a Jewish state—period. Parents and camp administrations need to ensure that this insidious effort to undermine rather than supplement Jewish education is stopped in its tracks.

Activists with the group IfNotNow.
Credit: Facebook.
Jonathan S. Tobin..
04 June '18..

According to some young American Jews, it’s time to start telling kids the truth about Israel. Upset about what they consider to be a steady diet of pro-Israel propaganda that ignores the plight of the Palestinians, some who are employed as counselors at various camps have, with the help of the IfNotNow organization, launched an effort to use Jewish summer camps to begin educating their charges about the Palestinian narrative about the conflict. As far as they are concerned, camps and other Jewish institutions need to get on the right side of what they consider the great outrage of our time: indifference to the sins of the “occupation.”

And the place to start, they say, is by educating (or should I say, re-educating) Jewish campers.

Those promoting this effort have all the enthusiasm of youth and the passion of true believers. Seen from their point of view, all they are doing is seeking to put some balance into the education that kids are getting about the Middle East and to tap into the idealism that comes naturally to those involved. And for some of them, their desire to say Kaddish—the Jewish prayer for the dead—for Palestinians who have been killed during the violence in Gaza since IfNotNow’s founding in 2014 seems to embody the sort of universalist approach that resonates with many American Jews.

But camp directors, donors, parents, and most especially, the impressionable kids this group is out to influence shouldn’t be deceived. What this effort represents is not balance, but imbalance when it comes to truth about Israel and the Palestinians. Indeed, rather than point up how badly the official Jewish community is misleading Jewish kids about what’s going on in the Middle East, this story is a reminder of how our institutions of learning are failing at giving children any education at all about Israel that is worth anything.

(Continue to Full Column)

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