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December 6, 2016 / 6 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Hamas’

Campus Warrior Tells High School Seniors About College Anti-Semitism

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Last Wednesday, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative which combats campus anti-Semitism in America, spoke with 25 Brighton High School students in Rochester, NY. Later, in the evening, she spoke to an audience of 150 concerned parents, educators and community members. Both events were organized by Roc4Israel.

In early November, the Rochester Campus Times reported confrontations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students at an event organized by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) after the screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.”

Noah Spivak, president of the Jewish Student Union at the high school, told JNi.media via an email from an AMCHA activist: “Soon we will each be applying for colleges and we are very concerned by the recent rise in anti-Semitic behavior on campuses across the country. Thanks to today’s meeting with Tammi, many of us feel better prepared for what we might encounter.”

Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Sholom in Rochester, also told JNi.media via the same email: “Recently our campuses have become the battleground for anti-Semitic and anti Israel activities, mostly  by pro-Palestinian protests orchestrated by experienced hate groups — under the blind eye of University administrators. This has left our Jewish students vulnerable and exposed to  hatred and under attack.”

“Last evening, Tammi Rossman Benjamin of AMCHA provided us with leadership and offered us a selection of opportunities to engage in, so that we can be able to approach this challenge successfully. We encourage all who are concerned for our Jewish children to become involved.”

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin summarized her message, saying: There’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that as a result of BDS and other anti-Zionist activity, Jewish students are experiencing alarming and unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism on campuses across the country.  The good news is that the Jewish community and its allies are uniting at last to do something about it, and you can help.”

Following is a portion of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s talk, generously transcribed for JNi.media.

●  ●  ●

As you might imagine, anti-Zionist sentiment and activity have had extremely negative consequences for many Jewish college and university students. The injection of the anti-Zionist movement, and particularly BDS, onto campus in the past decade has fueled a significant resurgence and increase in anti-Semitism.  The lines between appropriate political discourse on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students have become blurred. Jewish students report that anti-Zionist activists single out, harass, intimidate, and even assault them, regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. And far too often, anti-Zionist expression is laced with centuries-old classic anti-Semitic stereotypes. The anti-Zionist activists target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well- being. In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.In addition to ostracizing and alienating Jewish students from certain areas of campus life, anti- Zionist students repeatedly attempt to shutdown events organized by Jewish students and suppress their free speech about Israel and other topics. Sadly, Jewish students are being targeted, discriminated against and ostracized, and their civil rights are being egregiously violated.
That’s the view from 30,000 feet.  Now let’s get down to what I hope will be helpful specifics.

Anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, whose very mission includes the promotion of BDS, are found on hundreds of U.S. campuses. (I know that at University of Rochester, the group Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, has spearheaded considerable anti-Zionist activity on campus, most recently the screening of an the film “Occupation of the American Mind,” a film which not only demonizes and delegitimizes the Jewish state, its whole premise is based on the classic anti-Semitic tropes popularized in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” of Jewish wealth, power and mendacity being used to control the government and media). SJP and similar groups, besides promoting BDS on their Facebook pages and other social media, on the large “apartheid walls” they build, in op-eds they publish in student newspapers and at events they host quite regularly, groups like SJP are responsible for organizing campaigns to get their own schools to boycott Israeli products like Sabra humus, to terminate their school’s academic exchange programs with Israel, and, most frequently, to have their student governments vote on resolutions demanding that the university divest from any of its financial holdings in businesses which do business with Israel. More than 90 anti-Israel divestment resolutions have found their way to about 50 U.S. campuses across the country.  About half of all resolutions have passed, but this number is, frankly, irrelevant, because any school whose student government or student body even considers such a resolution is racked with divisiveness, hostility, and animosity for weeks on end. And whether a resolution ultimately passes or not, the anti-Israel forces have used these campaigns as opportunities to inject enormous amounts of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment onto campus.

And it’s not just student groups like SJP, whose members are devoted to anti-Israel activity, that are involved in these efforts.  In this age of “intersectionality,” where the grievance of one group is opportunistically linked to the grievance of other groups, SJP has deliberately forged alliances with many other minority student groups on campus, who frequently add their groups’ names to the sponsorship of BDS-promoting events and the endorsement of anti-Israel divestment resolutions. For example, SJP has made common cause with Black Lives Matter, and students from both groups frequently co-host rallies and events linking Blacks and Palestinians and promoting BDS. Last year at the University of Rochester a talk by Reverend Graylan Hagler entitled “Connecting the dots: From Ferguson to Palestine,” which demonized and delegitimized Israel and promoted BDS, was sponsored by several student groups, including an Arab group, an Indian group, a Muslim group, the Black Students’ Union, and a multi-ethnic fraternity.

In addition to that, thousands of faculty on hundreds of campuses have also publicly endorsed BDS efforts, especially the boycott of Israeli universities and scholars, as well as the divestment resolutions of students on their own campus. Some faculty boycotters bring their anti-Israel animus and activism into their classrooms, and it is not unusual for academic departments to sponsor virulently anti-Israel talks and symposia, some of them even including calls for the boycott of Israel.  For example, earlier this year at Vassar College, a talk by women and gender studies professor Jasbir Puar, in which she falsely accused Israel of maiming and murdering Palestinians and harvesting their organs, and she actively encouraged her audience to endorse the BDS movement, was sponsored and funded by 6 academic departments, including Women’s Studies, English, International Studies, Political Science, Africana Studies, and Jewish Studies.  Indeed, since 2015 we have documented more than 60 departmentally sponsored events like this, on campuses across the country.

Given the sheer number of students and faculty who have positioned themselves squarely against Israel, even to the point of opposing its very right to exist, it’s no wonder that many Jewish students who identify with the Jewish state feel like the whole campus community is united not only against Israel, but against them.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. In a recent study that our organization carried out, looking at the prevalence of anti-Semitic activity and the factors that affect it on more than 100 US campuses with the largest Jewish students populations, we found that on close to half the campuses we investigated, students are threatened because of their Jewish identity, sometimes regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. They are assaulted, harassed and intimidated, their places of residence defaced with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti, their participation in campus activities shunned, the events they organize disrupted and shut down, and more.

If you are a member of a Jewish or pro-Israel organization — perhaps Roc4Israel or a synagogue-affiliated group — or if you would consider forming an organization, perhaps an alumni group concerned about anti-Jewish hostility at your alma mater, please consider spearheading or participating in a campaign, say, to get the president of the University of Rochester or of your alma mater, to follow in the footsteps of the UC Regents.  We can help!   AMCHA will work with your group to develop a plan, provide you with our research on anti-Semitic activity at your school, advise you as you carry out your plan, and help you network with other groups across the country.

Together, we can make a real difference.


Popular Israeli SIM Cards Plague Gaza Rulers

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

The Hamas rulers of Gaza are working on eliminating any trace of Israeli influence in their enclave, particularly in the field of communications.

Pre-paid SIM cards provided by Israeli mobile firms are now being targeted by Hamas telecommunications and interior ministries as off-limits for residents of Gaza. One can quietly purchase SIM cards from both Partner and Cellcom at Gaza shops and kiosks whose owners or relatives travel abroad.

The only “legitimate” internet service provider in Gaza, and in the Palestinian Authority, has been Jawwal, owned by PalTel. But the 3G and $G signals of Partner and Cellcom towers are strong, located just across the border, and reach into part of the PA and Gaza territories.

Gaza officials try to fight this by saying the cards pose a security risk and cause economic problems for the government; they also say they contribute to the “immorality” of the population by allowing access to internet content not otherwise available.

But the popular Cellcom SIM is available for NIS 50, providing 5,000 minutes of talk time and basic unlimited internet access. Jawwal’s SIM, for the same price, provides only 130 minutes of talk time and a much more restricted internet.

Vendors who are caught selling Israeli cards are now threatened with “sanctions,” according to Ynet. Recently a store in Gaza City received an order from police not to sell Cellcom SIM cards.

A spokesperson for the Gaza Interior Ministry also told Reuters that Israeli intelligence agents also use the SIM cards to stay in touch with “collaborators.”

Hana Levi Julian

Rafael’s Trophy Systems to Protect IDF Armored Vehicles from Missiles

Friday, November 11th, 2016

The Ministry of Defense on Thursday announced its plan to install hundreds of Trophy Active Protection System (APS), a.k.a. “Windbreaker,” in IDF armored vehicles such as older generation tanks and troops carriers. Today, every new Mark IV Merkava tank has an advanced defense system installed on it.

Trophy is the product of a collaborative development project of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aircraft Industries’ Elta Group. Its primary purpose is to supplement the armor of light and heavy armored fighting vehicles against missile strikes.

According to Globes, the current order is believed to be more than $130 million for hundreds of Rafael’s Trophy systems. But even before deciding to procure hundreds of the advanced defense systems, the Ministry of Defense decided to expedite procurement of Namer APCs for IDF infantry units as part of its implementation of lessons learned in Operation Protective Edge. Namer is capable of maneuvering in difficult terrain, carrying up to 12 troops. Namer also shares a digital battlefield management system with the Merkava Mark IV tank, giving it hunter-killer team capabilities.

The IDF ground forces and the Tank Administration have recently completed a series of successful tests of the Trophy systems installed on Namer APCs. The Ministry of Defense also reported that the system had thwarted attempts by Hamas to use antitank missiles against IDF vehicles during Operation Protective Edge.

A new wheeled APC called Eitan, also be protected with Trophy systems, is expected to replace the aging M-113 used by IDF combat troops.

David Israel

Betrayed by Obama in 2014, IDF Switching to Rafael Missiles in Case of Hellfire Embargo

Friday, November 11th, 2016

In the summer of 2014, in the middle of the 50-day Gaza War (Operation Protective Edge), the Obama Administration betrayed its “greatest ally in the Middle East” by suspending arms shipments to Israel, and delaying delivery of US-made Hellfire missiles to Israel — expressing concerns that Israel would employ these missiles in areas in Gaza population centers. The unimaginable has happened.

This act of betrayal immediately led to Israel reassessing its views on US aid, particularly the notion that it could always depend on US re-supplies in wartime, and initiated new weapons projects to reduce its dependence on US weapons.

According to a Ynet report this week, The IAF has now modified its Apache helicopters to enable use of Rafael-manufactured air-to-surface missiles alongside and US-mad Hellfire. It means Israel will no longer be at the mercy of future American administrations when it comes to utilizing its most important advantage against Hamas — the helicopter.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems manufactures a number of air-to-surface missiles, most notably the Popeye and the Have Lite missiles. Its website lists their Main features as being effective against high value land and maritime targets; versatile and cost-effective; offering pinpoint accuracy and lethal efficiency; day, night and adverse weather operation; Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) capability; and featuring a variety of trajectories to meet weather and threat conditions.

Israel deals directly with US companies for the vast majority of its military purchases, but those still require US government permission, which is far from being automatic. In March 2000 the Israeli government was refused permission to purchase BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles.

Incidentally, although the US sells Israel close to $3 billion in weapons, paid for by an aid agreement, the US military uses a variety of Israeli-made military equipment, including:

ADM-141 TALD (Improved Tactical Air Launched Decoy) – a device used to protect warplanes from enemy fire.

AGM-142 Have Nap “Popeye” – the standoff air-to-surface missile with precision guidance we described above.

M120 mortar – A 120 mm mortar developed by Soltam Systems.

B-300 / Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) – An anti-tank or bunker buster recoilless rifle developed by Israel Military Industries. The SMAW is based on the Israeli B-300.

Cardom – A 120 mm “recoil mortar system” using modern electronic navigation, self-positioning, and target acquisition.

Gabriel (missile) – A sea skimming anti-ship missile.

SIMON breach grenade – A rifle grenade designed to breach through doors.

LITENING targeting pod – A precision targeting pod designed to increase combat effectiveness of aircraft.

International MaxxPro – An MRAP armored fighting vehicle.

Samson Remote Controlled Weapon Station – A remote weapon system.

IAI Kfir – An all-weather multirole combat aircraft formerly used by the US Navy for training purposes.

DASH III helmet-mounted display – The first modern Western HMD, upon which the JHMCS was based.

Uzi submachine gun – compact submachine gun primarily used by the ZIM Integrated Shipping Services merchant marine and formerly the United States Secret Service.


Palestinians: Back into Bed with Hamas

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

This has become predictable. Given two minutes of breath, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas resorts to the old tactic of courting Hamas as a way of hiding from the disaffection of his own Fatah faction. The overtures towards Hamas are a smokescreen for what many Palestinians are beginning to perceive as the beginning of a revolt against Abbas.

Last week, Abbas held a surprise meeting in Qatar with Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal. The meeting reportedly considered ways of ending the longstanding dispute between Fatah and Hamas and achieving “national reconciliation.”

Abbas aides said the meeting also dealt with the possibility of forming a Palestinian “national unity” government and holding long-overdue presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The unexpected meeting was held under the auspices of the rulers of Qatar, a country that has long been the Number One sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot.

The surprising nature of the meeting between Abbas and the Hamas leaders makes sense: for one thing, the two sides had, prior to the encounter, denied that it would take place.

Moreover, the meeting came only weeks after Fatah and Hamas traded allegations over the cancellation of the Palestinian municipal election, supposed to be held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on October 8. Tensions between the two rival parties have since been mounting over the cancellation of the local election, with each side holding the other responsible for “foiling the democratic, electoral process.”

So what is really behind Abbas’s latest decision to throw himself into the open arms of Hamas? Is the PA president suddenly smitten with genuine concern for “national reconciliation”, or did something else prompt him to rush to Qatar?

The timing of the meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha is most telling.

Abbas’s chat with Mashaal and Haniyeh coincided with an unprecedented wave of violent protests that have erupted against him in a number of Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank. In the past few weeks, scenes of armed clashes between PA security forces and gunmen have become a daily scene in the refugee camps of Balata, Jenin and Al-Amari in the West Bank.

Palestinians say the confrontations are the worst in many years and pose a serious and open challenge to Abbas. The most recent clashes took place last week in Balata, when hundreds of PA security officers stormed the camp in an attempt to arrest “outlaws” and “criminals.” At least four people were wounded during the exchange of gunfire between the gunmen and policemen.

Similar clashes have also occurred in the Al-Amari camp (near Ramallah) and the Jenin camp.

Abbas aides claim that ousted Fatah strongman Mohamed Dahlan is behind the latest unrest in the refugee camps.

They claim that Dahlan and his supporters are seeking to overthrow Abbas as part of a “wider conspiracy” to appoint new leaders for the Palestinians.

They also claim that some Arab countries, particularly Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, are backing the alleged conspiracy to remove Abbas from power.

Abbas’s paranoia has reached the point that he has begun expelling or arresting any Fatah member whom he suspects of being affiliated with Dahlan. Hardly a day passes without the Palestinian Authority’s expulsion of yet another unruly Fatah official.

According to Palestinian sources, at least thirteen Fatah officials have been run out of the faction in the past few months, most of them on suspicion of being linked in one way or another to Dahlan.

The most recent target of Abbas’s crackdown is Jihad Tamliyeh, a top Fatah operative from Al-Amari, who was accused of trying to convene a meeting of Dahlan loyalists in the camp. After breaking up the gathering and threatening to arrest participants, Abbas signed an order expelling Tamliyeh from Fatah. The decision to ban the meeting and the subsequent expulsion of Tamliyeh from Fatah sparked a wave of violent protests and widespread condemnations in the West Bank.

Later, Abbas ordered his security forces to arrest Ra’fat Elayan, a senior Fatah official from East Jerusalem, also on suspicion of being affiliated with Dahlan.

Dahlan, who has denied any connection to the recent turmoil in Fatah, has accused Abbas of running Fatah and the PA as his private fiefdom.

“Since when was Fatah a company or a fiefdom from which people are expelled in accordance with personal agendas?” Dahlan wondered. He also denied that he has ambitions to replace or succeed Abbas.

Further evidence of the expanding turmoil in Abbas’s Fatah faction emerged last week with a report that claimed that the PA security forces had uncovered a plot to assassinate three top Fatah officials: Ghassan Shaka’ah, Jamal Tirawi and Amin Maqboul – all critics of Abbas. According to the report, three of the suspects are PA security officers.

The rising tensions and skyrocketing discontent with Abbas’s autocratic rule in Fatah are yet another sign of the failure of the PA president to control his own faction. Fatah is the dominant party in the PA; thus, the way it goes, so goes PA establishment.

Most, if not all, the members of the PA security forces are Fatah loyalists. So are most of the PA’s civil servants. Many PA security officers and senior Fatah officials are said to be unhappy with the way Abbas is cracking down on suspected Fatah dissidents.

“The Palestinian Authority has violated the Palestinian law by raiding Palestinian refugee camps to prevent conferences,” said top Fatah official Sufyan Abu Zaida. “What is happening in the refugee camps (in the West Bank) is dangerous and unacceptable.”

Some PA officials have privately criticized Abbas for failing to realize the degree to which his Fatah faction represents a threat to him. They expressed surprise that he has not yet abandoned his globe-trotting habit and remained in Ramallah to tackle what they call the “Camp Intifada” against him.

The officials also pointed out that the increased tensions in Fatah could spoil efforts to convene Fatah’s seventh conference to elect new members and discuss reforms in the faction. Abbas is hoping to convene the conference before the end of this year. The last time Fatah held a conference was in 2009.

Under the current circumstances, the likelihood that the long-awaited conference will actually take place appears to be nearly nil. The internecine fighting in Fatah and the growing challenges to Abbas’s leadership are to thank for those poor odds.

Meanwhile, the 81-year-old Abbas is busy searching for ways to escape from the most recent fire to have broken out in his back yard. And the best way to do so, he remembers from eruption to eruption, is to appear to be getting his Fatah faction back into bed with the Islamist movement.

The prospect of a Fatah-Hamas unity certainly gets the world salivating. Only the very naïve, however, could ever imagine such a union, at least in the foreseeable future. Just as only the foolhardy could imagine Hamas relinquishing its goal of the destruction of Israel for the sake of a tryst with Fatah.

If the Fatah-Hamas rift was once considered the major obstacle to Palestinian statehood, today it has become obvious that divisions among Fatah pose even a bigger threat to Palestinian aspirations.

If Abbas is unable to make peace inside his own Fatah faction, how will he ever be able to end the dispute with Hamas? And the more crucial question: How can Abbas ever be expected to make peace with Israel when he cannot even control his own Fatah loyalists? The Palestinian political situation, plagued with anarchy on all fronts, is deteriorating on a daily basis.

Israel and the rest of the world are currently facing two Palestinian camps: one (Hamas) that does not want to make peace with Israel because it believes Israel ought not to exist, and the second (Fatah) that cannot make peace with Israel because it is too weak to do so. The next US administration, whatever political persuasion it may be, would do well to mark this reality.


Khaled Abu Toameh

Gaza Businessmen to Meet with Egyptians on Improving Economic Situation

Saturday, November 5th, 2016

A delegation of Gaza businessmen and civil society professionals will travel to Egypt on Sunday for a conference on the current economic situation in the impoverished Gaza Strip, Ma’an reported Saturday.

Osama Kheil, a spokesman for the union of contractors in Gaza, told Ma’an that the 38 businessmen from Gaza had been invited to the “Ain Sokhna 2” conference, organized by the National Center for Middle East Studies.

Ain Sokhna (Arabic: the Hot Spring) is a resort town on the western shore of the Red Sea’s Gulf of Eilat, some 75 miles east of Cairo.

The conference will discuss the economic situation in Gaza and strategies for improving the dire living conditions of the civilian population. The Gazan delegation will emphasize the need for coordination with Egyptian authorities in regards to the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which serves as a lifeline for Gazans, in the hope of “keeping the border open as long as possible.”

In October 2014 Egypt announced plans to expand the buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt, following a terrorist attack from Gaza that killed 31 Egyptian soldiers. The buffer was “a move meant to halt the passage of weapons and militants through cross-border smuggling tunnels but which also puts more pressure on the Palestinian militant Hamas group.” Egyptian authorities ordered residents living along the eastern border to evacuate their homes prior to their demolishing. The new 1,000 yard wide buffer zone includes water-filled trenches that block tunnel diggers along the 8 mile.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities demolished between July 2013 and August 2015 at least 3,255 residential, commercial, administrative, and community buildings along the border, forcibly evicting thousands of people.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas agreed with the Egyptian operation, saying the smuggling tunnels under the border had produced 1,800 millionaires, and were used for smuggling weapons, drugs, cash and forgery equipment. The total cost to the Gazan economy was estimated at $70 million. On September 11, 2015, the Egyptian army began to pump water from the Mediterranean Sea into the tunnels, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. Hamas condemned the flooding saying it posed a serious threat to Gaza’s environment and ground water. In November 2015, large areas of soil collapsed as a result of the flooding, threatening homes in Rafah. Salt water came out of the ground, contaminating the soil, making it unusable for agriculture.

Or, as the Ma’an report put it on Saturday: The Gaza Strip has suffered under an Israeli military blockade.


Now They are Going After Jewish Summer Camps

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Camp Mesorah is a co-educational Modern Orthodox sleep-over camp sprawling across more than 100 acres in New York State’s Catskill Mountains.  The camp focuses on sports, Torah, Jewish unity and love for Medinat Yisrael. Some people can’t stand that last part – especially any suggestion that the Israeli Defense Forces should be respected and emulated.

Why? Because the IDF, you know, is a military force and if Jewish campers in upstate New York emulate IDF troops while engaging in team-building and obstacle courses, that really is akin to glorifying torture and violence. In fact, “it’s like the Hamas camps.” At least that’s what some non-affiliated busybodies are claiming.

It’s absurd, but that’s how some Israel-denigrators – even Jewish ones – play the game. Even when it comes to attacking a team-building summer activity for Jewish campers.

Founded in 1990, Mesorah hosts approximatly 800 campers throughout the summers, starting from rising fourth graders through the tenth grade. Nearly one hundred of those Mesorahans come from Israel, and the camp has strong Zionist roots. Campers are encouraged to learn about and learn to love Israel, and making Aliyah is viewed as a positive aspiration. As Joseph Stansky, Mesorah’s co-owner, told the JewishPress.com on Tuesday, “many campers have IDF t-shirts and sweatshirts which they bought at novelty shops on Ben Yehudah [Street in Jerusalem].”

A brief visit to the camp’s website reveals hockey rinks and basketball courts, baseball diamonds and tennis courts, a lake for boating, and two shuls, a kollel, learning gazebos and a library. The owners have brought the camp into the digital age with a section on the website for parents and other family members to regularly see pictures and videos of the campers. There are also promotional videos for interested families.

The promotional videos are rolled out one at a time over the course of the post-summer year, in anticipation of the next summer’s season. One video rolled out just after the Jewish holidays this year focused on the camp’s “IDF-Paintball Program,” which shows campers in camouflage gear engaged in an intensive (by American Jewish camp standards) obstacle and team building course. Many of the campers are wearing their IDF t-shirts.


Imagine that.

But, according to the camp owners, one person unaffiliated with the camp watched the video. He then attacked the video (yes, an adult attacking a children’s sleep-over camp) on Facebook. Why, the camp dared to glamorize Israeli soldiers! His horror at seeing Jewish children who, at least in exercises, are emulating IDF soldiers who defend the Jewish state from terrorists led to a comparison between this Jewish camp where Torah is taught alongside tennis and ceramics to the Hamas terrorist camps in which children are taught to murder Jewish civilians.

The Facebook ranter, Yehuda Kurtzer of the Shalom Hartman Institute, wrote: “Yes, I believe there is a giant moral chasm between the IDF and Hamas but no – there is not much of a difference between ‘their’ videos which promote violence and hate to their children and ‘our’ videos which glorify the same violence to children.” Really? The same violence?

The Facebook rant led to a few people leaving hate-filled talkback comments on the Mesorah video page. The commenters, camp owners told JewishPress.com, have “no connection whatsoever to the camp.”

“We’re not portraying Tsahal (the IDF) as bloodthirsty, that’s not what we are glorifying,” said Rabbi Ari Katz, Camp Mesorah’s owner, shocked at the association, “we’re proud of the Israeli Defense Forces, and we encourage our campers to identify with the IDF as Jews who strive to protect and perfect our Homeland.”

One would have hoped it would be needless to say, but there is absolutely no demonization of Arabs, or suggestions that Arabs be murdered, or that becoming a martyr by killing an Arab is condoned in the Torah anywhere in the video, yet the Facebook critic suggests otherwise.

Parents were concerned by the comments on the video site, according to a camp representative; they didn’t want their children exposed to the hateful comments. The video was temporarily removed from the Internet overnight and then restored, this time with commenting disabled. But no parents, campers or alumni have had anything but positive feedback about the IDF exercise program itself, Stansky and Katz stated.

“That people who have nothing to do with the camp would compare what we do at Mesorah with the glorification of violence, and who become outraged by Jewish children doing what children at many camps do all over the world, simply because they do it with pride in Medinat Yisrael, was shocking,” Katz said.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/us-news/ny/now-they-are-going-after-jewish-summer-camps/2016/11/02/

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