Did IfNotNow Pull Off a Stunt at Camp Ramah?
This is from JTA:
A Conservative Jewish summer camp is denying that it makes personnel decisions based on politics after a senior staff member claimed she was removed from her position because of her left-wing views on Israel.
Sylvie Rosen, 22, who has served on staff at Camp Ramah in the Rockies for five summers, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that she was removed from her job as a counselor for incoming high school juniors after she clashed with her supervisor over Israel education.
She said she was prohibited from attending future Israel programming and removed from the role in early July after she talked with campers and told them she opposed Israel’s West Bank occupation and wanted to include critical perspectives in Israel programming.
Rosen said she had also clashed with her supervisor on other issues unrelated to Israel. She was offered another job at camp that would have lasted the rest of the summer, but chose to become a liaison to parents of younger campers. She left camp when that role ended this week.
The conversation that preceded her removal was initiated by campers, Rosen said. It came the day after the age group took part in a pro-Israel program. Rosen said the campers who approached her were uncomfortable with the program’s tone.
“It became clear really early on that my rosh, my supervisor, wanted our campers to form only really positive relationships with Israel, and I was interested in also talking about the occupation and critical views on Israel-Palestine,” she said.
Asked if she was intentionally testing Ramah’s policy on Israel, she said, “No, I wanted to give my campers the education I think they deserve.”
So Rosen admits that she clashed with her “rosh” on many issues, but she is claiming that her talking to campers about her hatred of Israeli policies is the only reason she was reassigned.
I have news for Rosen: Even if that was the only reason, her refusal to adhere to the camp’s philosophy of instilling positive feelings towards Israel is more than enough reason to take her off of counselor duty. Ramah has a specific vision of how campers should learn about Israel and Zionism, and Rosen made her own decision to refuse to adhere to that vision. It is not up to her to teach anti-Zionism to her campers at a Zionist camp, just as it would be inappropriate for her to extol Christianity in a Jewish camp.
This wouldn’t really be a big deal except for the fact that JTA waited until paragraph 12 to tell us that Rosen is a member of IfNotNow.
Suddenly, this isn’t a story about a counselor having a different pedagogical philosophy than her employer. Now this looks far more like a publicity stunt where Rosen is trying to embarrass Ramah the way that IfNotNow tries to shame all Jewish Zionist organizations.
There is a bigger point to be made here, though.
IfNotNow chooses targets that it claims do not teach kids about “occupation.” That may or may not be true, but the fact is that Israel’s policies can and should be taught to everyone, in an age appropriate manner.
In 2013, I gave a lecture called “Know How to Answer,” where I discussed the top 20 anti-Israel arguments, and I serialized it on my blog earlier this year. Difficult topics can be answered, but most Zionists don’t know the arguments as well as they should.
Camp Ramah, Birthright leaders, and everyone else should become familiar with what the other side claims and learn how to respond. Don’t hide things that appear problematic; be assertive and act with pride rather than as if Israel has something to hide.
Elder of Ziyon has been blogging about Israel and the Arab world for a really long time now. He also controls the world, but deep down, you already knew that.