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August 2, 2017 10:46 am

In Raising the Palestinian Flag, Jewish Camp Disrupts a Safe Space for Zionism

avatar by Eliana Rudee / JNS.org

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A Palestinian flag. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – As a child, I spent my summers at Camp Solomon Schechter, a Conservative Jewish camp in Tumwater, Washington. My experiences at Camp Schechter were central to the development of my Jewish identity, and my eventual decision to immigrate to Israel.

At camp, each day began at “the flagpole.” Hundreds of sleepy-eyed campers and counselors from all around the Pacific Northwest strolled to the flagpoles, where we would circle up around the American, Canadian and Israeli flags. As everyone circled up, the Israeli “scouts” (young Israeli counselors) would lead us in a morning song. “Bo-bo-bo-boker tov!” they sang, meaning “Good morning!” in Hebrew.

Additional Hebrew songs, the American and Canadian national anthems, and then the Israeli national anthem — “Hatikvah” — would follow.

Camp Schechter was founded on Zionist principles, and served as a safe haven to build a Jewish community for many campers who might be the only Jews in their schools or hometowns.

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But to my dismay, this safe haven was shaken last week — when the Palestinian flag was raised over these very same campgrounds. I can only imagine the outrage among my thousands of fellow Camp Schechter alumni.

As first reported by The Mike Report — a blog that focuses on Jewish news in the Pacific Northwest — Camp Schechter welcomed a group of Palestinian Muslims and Christians from a group called Kids4Peace to join the Jewish campers for the beginning of a new session.

Like the overwhelming majority of Schechter alumni, I welcome the idea of dialogue and friendship, especially with Palestinian children and young adults. But for Israelis, the Palestinian flag embodies hatred and violence toward Israelis and Jews, and — without warning or authorization from campers, staffers and parents — raising it was beyond insensitive.

After an avalanche of complaints, the Schechter administration sent out an email explaining that the flag was raised in a “teachable moment,” as a sign of friendship, empathy and acceptance toward the Kids4Peace delegation.

The camp administration admitted that the flag “was met with uncertainty by some campers and staff, especially the Israelis,” and then said that the flag was taken down for Shabbat “since there is no peace and also to relieve the sadness and anger that some feel by the site of the flag.”

“We have not altered any part of camp; we remain unabashedly pro-Israel, and we are celebrating Israel alongside our new friends,” maintained the administration, which later sent out an apology for its “lapse in judgment.”

From my vantage point — as a Schechter alumna-turned-Israeli — I can tell you that raising a Palestinian flag is a politically and emotionally charged act, especially for Israeli counselors who have vivid memories of war and Palestinian terrorism. In the latest major attack, a Palestinian terrorist broke into a home in Halamish and killed three members of a Jewish family that was celebrating Shabbat.

For Israelis, the Palestinian flag evokes a denial of the call in “Hatikvah” for the Jewish people to be a free in the land of Israel; the Palestinian Authority government that the flag represents incites and pays terrorists who take that denial into their own hands.

I can only hope that the benefit of interfaith dialogue was not lost because of the Palestinian flag incident. And as an alumna, I pray that Camp Solomon Schechter remains the same camp that shaped my Jewish identity and made me the unabashed Jew that I am today — living in the State of Israel.

Eliana Rudee is a fellow with the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Her bylines have been featured in USA Today, New York Daily News, Forbes and The Hill.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • Hilltop Watchman

    Your headline is not quite correct. Raising the Palestinian flag doesn’t disrupt a safe space for Zionists, it disrupts a safe space for JEWS.

    May I remind the idiot “liberals” & ” progressives” that the only Israel flag seen in any “Palestinian” camp or area is being burned or stamped on.

    Despite its noble name “Camp Solomon” demonstrates none of his wisdom. Indeed, if, as they teach their children every waking hour, those darlings of the “liberal”, “progressive” Left, the “Palestinians” had their way, there’d be no Camp Solomon, but there definitely would be a CAMP AUSCHWITZ “from the river to the sea” and wherever else we live.

    Remember “liberals”, that wherever you hear or read that chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” there are two words deliberately missing from the end, “OF JEWS”

  • Hillel

    They have a state. “King” Hussein of the 76% of the “British Mandate of Palestine” given to the Hasemites of arabia by Churchill in the 1930s had declared in 1982 that the now state ” Jordan” is palestine and inhabited 86% by the same arabs as in Judeah & Samaria. Abbas one of the terrorists resposible for the 1972 Munich slaughter is a citizen of tye said state of Jordan. You want to give them another state? How about you learn some history and not from the media who invented such terms as “west bank” and “palestinian” for arab.

  • RW

    The Jewish left is growing increasingly wacky. Despite polls showing high levels of anti-Semitism the Jewish left is promoting increased Muslim immigration to the US. Is raising the swastika next?

  • Asher

    Is there anything or anyone more pathetic than a self hating Jew?

  • Bonnie Geller

    This was done as a deliberate action by the self-hating American so-called progressive Jews within the camp administration system who desperately want to belong and be accepted by the non-Jewish Brown Shirt progressive movement in the US. An apology is not enough. Anyone wanting to work for a camp such as this should immediately be aware that the progressive fascist ideology which calls for the destruction of Israel and eradication of all Jews, symbolized by the ” from the Jordan to the Sea” rallying cry, and the pre-condition of acceptance into this fasicst group for Jews is despising and vilifying Israel and Jews who support Israel, will not be accepted. Let them go work for Progressive activist camps, Muslim camps or BLM who have been openly calling for the destruction of the State of Israel, and the eradication of all Jews living in Israel, which Abbas, his terror group Fatah, and Hamas have written into their constitutions.

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