For decades Camp Solomon Schechter, located near Olympia, WA has been the gateway to Judaism and love of Israel for generations of young Jewish campers in the Pacific Northwest. For some Schechterites though, their blissful camp experience was jarred late last week by the raising of the Palestinian flag over the storied campgrounds.
An email sent by the camp administration acknowledged the incident this past Friday, describing the flag raising as one designed to “help develop empathy” and a “teachable moment”. Whatever the intent, the raising of the Palestinian flag over the camp was unexpected and disturbing for some campers, who according to the email, expressed “sadness and anger” at the sight. The email sent out by the camp noted that this feeling of “uncertainty” was especially true for some of the Israeli campers and staff.
The camp administration indicated in their email that they raised the Palestinian flag as a gesture of “friendship and acceptance” for a group of visiting Palestinian Muslims and Christians. The Palestinian delegation, which also included some Israeli children under the auspices of Kids4Peace have joined the camp for the first five days of the new session.
David Jacoby, a lifetime member of the Seattle Jewish community expressed disappointment at the actions of the camp. “Solomon Shechter flying the Palestinian flag is a feel-good bromide that creates the illusion of problem-solving” said Jacoby. “It’s well intentioned, but it misses the point. Two decades of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians have failed primarily because of the Palestinian’s refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” Jacoby’s wife, Beth concurs, adding that “the time to raise the Palestinian flag over our summer camps is when they stop burning the Israeli flag at theirs”.
The camp administration maintains that despite their controversial actions, they remain “unabashedly pro-Israel” and “are celebrating Israel alongside our new friends”.
Acknowledging the strong emotional reaction experienced by some of the Shechterites at the sight of the Palestinian flag fluttering over their camp, the administration announced last Friday that they would take the Palestinian flag down for Shabbat… along with the Israeli flag.
Update (Aussie Dave): If you are as disgusted as we are, here is what you can do:
- Please share and comment on their Facebook page.
- Email the camp leadership and conservative Jewish leadership or contact them on Camp Schechter’s FB page.
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