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Testimony 18: Anonymous

The youth movement I grew up in had many positive attributes, but it was no stranger to anti-Palestinian racism. Here are two examples. One of my earliest memories of summer camp was sitting at breakfast discussing the possibility of peace in Israel. When someone mentioned Israel trading land for peace, my madrich (camp counsellor) piped up and told our group that, “Arabs are dogs. Whatever you give them, they will just come back for more.” I was too young and timid to challenge him at the time, but I can still recall the strong mix of feelings in my stomach.

Years later, I volunteered to help run a summer camp in the same youth movement. On pre-camp, one of the adult staff ran a session on Jewish laws of war, applying them to Israeli-Palestinian combat scenarios in Gaza. He explained that sometimes killing innocent civilians, including children, is justified. To back up his claim, he cited a book known as Torat Hamelech (“The King’s Torah”). I interrupted him, asking if he knew that Torah Hamelech was being reviewed for a ban in Israel and had been widely denounced for inciting acts of extremism against Palestinians. He retorted, “you shouldn’t always believe what you hear in the news.” I was horrified. I tried telling a few senior leaders but they down-played the event and never filed it. I didn’t know of any further protocols for reporting such incidences, and I deeply regret not making more of an effort to take this further. 

As they say, sunshine is the best disinfectant. I hope that this campaign plays a key role in getting every corner of our community to reflect on how their ideologies, policies and procedures can change so that racism against Palestinians can become a thing of the past.