Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Gaza Summer Camp, a Time for Fun? - by Stephen M. Flatow

Young boys in Gaza go through military training, running obstacle courses and crawling under barbed wire with what appears to be live fire overhead, in addition to “campers” field-stripping rifles while blindfolded. (BTW, no members of JVP or IfNotNow have applied to undermine the program YH)

Stephen M. Flatow..
12 August '19..

Many parents of my age remember striving to be able to send their children to summer camp. Now, as grandparents, we see our own children doing the same. I believed then, as I do now, that summer camp is a time when children make new friendships—many of which last into their adult years—grow emotionally and learn what we call “people skills.”

Somewhere in the boxes that accumulated over the years in our basement are videotapes of our five children at summer camp. We see our kids in various activities—playing baseball and basketball, jumping into the pool, holding the rabbits in the “nature shack,” and, the mother of all activities, “color war.”

Color war is a good kind of war; it’s bloodless, unless you bang your nose during a hotly contested rebound under a basketball hoop, and perhaps the most fun part of it is watching your child sing his or her heart out in the song competition. In the end, one team won, the other lost, and the war came to an end. You hope your child comes away with the lesson that competition requires teamwork, and that, in turn, builds character.

Videos have now emerged of children at summer camp practicing for war of a different sort. For instance, from Turkey there’s a video that has gone viral of a teacher prompting a group of young girls in a camp setting by shouting the word yahudiye—Turkish for “to the Jew,” which results in the children responding by raising their fists and shouting “death.”

The video is seemingly so disturbing within Turkey that a member of its parliament has demanded an explanation from the government as to how this could have happened.

Perhaps more chilling than the Turkish episode are the video scenes coming out of Gaza’s summer camps. No basketball contests or visits to the nature shack. No, instead we are treated to young boys going through military training, running obstacle courses and crawling under barbed wire with what appears to be live fire overhead. We are also shown images of these “campers” field-stripping rifles while blindfolded. This is done in all armies to simulate nighttime fighting conditions.


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