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Friday, August 01, 2003

Summer Camp in the Galilee

No popsicle stick houses for these kids
Caroline Glick is amazing as always. Read "Accepting our limitations" in today's Jerusalem Post.
It's summer camp season. As Israeli Jewish children are learning to macrame and swim, 300 of their Israeli Arab friends in the Galilee are learning other lessons. Channel 10 Wednesday broadcast footage from "Camp Return" by Kabul village in the Western Galilee. The story was picked up Thursday in Ma'ariv.

At Camp Return, children are not taught how to make beaded jewelry and popsicle stick houses. They are taught to aspire to kill Jews in suicide bombings.

Saama Vakim, one of the campers, displayed her new necklace to the TV camera. It is a pendant of the map of Israel embossed with a Palestinian flag. She also showed the reporter the "intifada pendant." It included the image of a boy throwing a stone. Saama explained that Jews have no right to live here and should "go back to where they came from to Poland, to Russia."

Rather than learning stories about animals and plants, children at Camp Return are taught tales of the "heroism" of Palestinian terrorists like "the engineer" Hamas bombmaker Yihye Ayyash, who masterminded the murder of over 60 Israelis in suicide bombings before being killed by Israeli security forces in 1996. The children received booklets with "morale boosting" songs and stories glorifying human bombs and their dispatchers who are called "the heroic martyrs."

Their camp songs have lyrics like, "We don't want flour. We don't want sardines. We want bombs, the rule of the bombs." Another ditty the children sing says, "Lift up your head, recognize your holiness. Defeat to Washington. We don't want ID cards [Israeli citizenship]. We will glorify in the blood of the martyr."

The children bed down in tents named after refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. A camp counselor named Hadi Srair says, "We are living under Israeli occupation in Haifa, in the territories and in Majd el-Kurum. We will continue our struggle until victory and the liberation of Palestine."

What is the source of all of this hatred? How is it that these children, who are born in Israel, go to Israeli schools, and benefit from the freedom of this liberal democracy can so pine for the destruction through genocidal means of their fellow citizens?

Clearly, their cultural influences are not emanating from their Israeli surroundings. As the camp's organizers said, their goal is to clear the children's heads of "the Zionist education system's propaganda."
Glick goes on to point out that neither Israel nor the United States is capable of forcing a change in the hearts and minds of the Palestinians, thus the title of this piece. We can only do what we can do: Camp Return was raided by Israeli police and shut down on the suspicion that the organizers were inciting youngsters, citizens of Israel, against the state. Glick recognizes the need for "options --that will enable them to have political freedoms-- that will not threaten our survival." Amen.