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Life After Zionist Summer Camp

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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 07:43 PM
Original message
Life After Zionist Summer Camp
It starts at a very young age. The summer after third grade, my parents sent me to Jewish sleepaway camp. I was deeply homesick at first and cried a lot in my bunk bed, but by the end of the month I didn't want to leave. So I went back, summer after summerboarding the plane with a few other Jewish kids from my hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, and flying to Appleton, Wisconsin, with a stop-over at O'Hare, where a volunteer from Hadassah would meet us at the gate and try to keep us from the moo shu pork at Wok-N-Roll.

Those summers blur together, but each day begins and ends at the flagpole, where we raise and lower two flags: the American and the Israeli. We make blue and white lanyard bracelets, carve Israel out of ice cream, and sing "Hatikvah." Because it's all Jews, I'm considered cute. The second summer, a boy (Avi, short, red-hair) asks me out ("Will you go with me?" "Go where?") and I get my first kiss. Other kids from home also go to Jewish camp, but mine is different. It is, I learn, part of a Zionist youth movement. I am in a movement! Weird names like Jabotinsky and Herzl float through the air. I don't have to know particulars to realize that these guys are (a) important, and (b) connected to me, and I to them.

There are real live Israelis at camp every summer. They have awesome names like Michal and Eyal and are rock stars with their rolling Rs and Israeli scout uniforms. They make me nervous. There's Israeli dancing and Israeli singing and on movie night, we watch Raid on Entebbe. The counselors talk to us about "tikkun olam," which roughly translates to "repairing the world"this is something that Jews do very well because we are very good people.
Every so often we all pile into an empty cabin and are asked to stand under whichever sign taped to the wall best represents our idea of Zionism. Things like: "giving money to Israel," "observing Jewish customs," "moving to Israel." The older I get, the cooler it becomes to stand under the "moving to Israel" sign. So I do. Our counselors tell us that they plan to spend a year in Israel after high school and this seems like something I might want to do too. Whatever "the diaspora" is, it does not sound good.

Summer ends, I go back home, I feel different. I stay up late talking to my camp friends on the phone. They're in Lexington and Chicago and South Bend and Okemos, Michigan. Their lives are more Jewish than mine. They keep koshersome have never even been to McDonald's! This would be, in Youngstown, exotic. Tuesdays and Thursdays after regular school comes Hebrew School, which I dread like everyone else. We learn things that don't apply to meThe Red Sea? The Burning Bush?or are vague. A teacher hands out crayons and construction paper and ask us to draw a picture of God. I draw a big abstract swirl and then another. Ryan Kramer draws Kermit the Frog with a top hat. At 13, I have a Bat Mitzvah with an "SNL"-themed after party. That same year I visit my camp friends in Chicago and smoke my first cigarette and talk about joining the Israeli army. I don't know about Palestinians. No one told me.

http://www.theawl.com/2011/06/life-after-zionist-summer-camp
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. Fascinating article, Violet.
Humane and very kind in its tone.
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here_is_to_hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 08:12 PM
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2. That was a good read.
I grew up in the Fairfax District and the story this woman tells could be any one of a few friends I have from that era.
The comments though, they uh, devolve quickly.
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Poll_Blind Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
3. A very worthwhile read.
PB
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haikugal Donating Member (476 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 08:41 PM
Response to Original message
4. Thanks for posting this
I really enjoyed reading it. Very informative and so different from my own experience. Great stuff.
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shira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 09:23 PM
Response to Original message
5. Jeffrey Goldberg responds...
Edited on Sat Jun-18-11 09:24 PM by shira
It is, essentially, the story of Benedikt's Zionist brainwashing at the hands of the perfidious Hadassah (the movement, not the Lieberman) and how she un-brainwashed herself. It is the sort of piece that passes for brave in progressive circles...

....The whole piece is written in a kind of faux-naive, I'm-so-lost voice that I found a bit grating. What I found substantially more grating was Benedikt's conformism, and her stunning lack of curiousity. Is Benedikt curious about anything? Is she curious about who bombed that disco? Is she curious about why those Israeli soldiers are guarding a checkpoint? Is she curious about why airline security officers might be interested in asking questions of passengers flying to Israel? When her husband acts like a self-righteous shit toward her sister, does she get a spine? Does she wonder why her husband hates Israel with such ferocity? Does she ever try to answer for herself why Israel exists? Or is she happy to subcontract out her thinking about the most important questions facing Jews first to her camp counselors, and then to her husband?

And then there is a whole set of other questions: Does she ask herself whether she has a responsibility to make Israel a better, more humane, place? Does she question herself about the consequences of abandoning Israel? Does she think about the sin of the wicked son in the Passover story, and how that sin might echo in her own life?

This is actually a very sad little essay that says more about the writer, who seems to have exchanged one simplistic narrative for another, than it does about Zionism or Israel.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/06/giving-up-on-the-zionist-dream/240471/
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 12:06 AM
Response to Reply #5
12. I think Goldberg is making some assumptions that aren't warrented
As far as I understood the original article, Ms. Benedikt didn't end up becoming an anti-Zionist. It's not clear that she has "abandoned Israel" or given up trying "to make Israel a better, more humane place". It's possible that her memoir here is intended to work towards that goal.

And Goldberg seems far too fixated with trying to silence any thought on the I/P issue that deviates from "the line". I hope he's not implying that a person has to oppose using the 1967 borders as the basis of a peace deal in exchange for having the right to try "to make Israel a better, more humane place", or that those who wish to do so have some obligation to shoot down most, if not all external discussion of what the Israeli government has done to the Palestinians.

He sounds like he still believes everything Bibi tells him.
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shira Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 09:25 AM
Response to Reply #12
15. Pot/Kettle....
You're assuming, among other things, Goldberg wants to silence all criticism about Israel and that he tows the Likud line.

:eyes:
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 09:38 PM
Response to Original message
6. +1.
Hi Vi.
:hi:
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 10:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Hi bemildred!
I'm glad most who commented on the OP seemed to think it was well worth reading. I read it over on Larry Derfner's blog and thought it was worth posting here...
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 09:21 AM
Response to Reply #8
14. It's well written.
Really shows you the conflicting ideological, political and social pressures at work, and really lays out her feelings.

It would be telling that Goldberg does not know why he is mentioned, except that he is not going to want to talk about that even if he does understand.
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Dick Dastardly Donating Member (741 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 10:21 PM
Response to Original message
7. My friend went to one of these camps and was given training in military and violence techniques.
They learned how to swing clubs at people and toss bombs. The camps claim this training is baseball and softball but intelligent people know better.

They learned violent ground aquisition techniques to steal land. The camps claim this training is football but again intelligent people know better. Anyway we all know football is just a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war.

They learned how to target missiles. The camps claim this training is archery but again intelligent people know better.

They try to claim these and other military training is just normal activities found in just about any camp but intelligent people can see through this facade.

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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-18-11 10:50 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. No-one's ever claimed that football and archery are 'violence techniques'
Edited on Sat Jun-18-11 10:58 PM by Violet_Crumble
I'm not sure where you got that from, or why you'd respond like that if you'd read the OP in its entirety. It's a really good essay and it traces the author's relationship with Zionism as she goes through life, and how her relationships and experiences affect her views...

* on edit - fixed up typo in post title...
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 02:12 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. sounds more like a 'nerve being struck' n/t
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Ken Burch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 12:00 AM
Response to Reply #7
10. Get over yourself...the article wasn't insinuating anything remotely like that about these camps
The authore wasn't implying that Zionist summer camps caused people to become terrorists. And you damn well know it.
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 12:04 AM
Response to Original message
11. Sounds like the summer camps I attended
Edited on Sun Jun-19-11 12:06 AM by King_David
But nobody I know reacted like this Chanichah ,sounds like she had a rebellion against her upbringing ,got mad with the world,her family and everything they stand for. Most Human beings go through this stage in life and usually get over it once puberty passes.

Most do !
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 12:18 AM
Response to Reply #11
13. Her real heartbreak will be after her Jewish kids make Aliyah




After they visit their cousins in Israel.

She may never send them to camp (which deprives them of a full Jewish upbringing)

But which 20 year old is going to turn down a free ,Birthright, trip to Israel ?

And they do not need their parents permission to go. ;)
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 02:19 PM
Response to Reply #11
17. she was well past puberty when she began to re-evaluate her beliefs n/t
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 02:27 PM
Response to Original message
18. a great article that sums up 'what happened' nicely
in the last paragraph

John and I have two kids of our own and are raising them as Jews. Most of my Jewish friends are disgusted with Israel. It seems my trajectory is not at all unique. My best memories from childhood are from camp, and I will never, ever send my kids there.
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 06:47 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Actually not,these quotes sum her up better,
'They make me nervous'
'I am no longer considered cute'
'I am a full-on loser for a week'
'I drink a lot and break curfew with all the people who don't understand me'
'I have trouble making friends'
'I gain a lot of weight'
'I don't fit in anywhere'
'I feel this weird sadness/emptiness/nausea in my stomach whenever I am with them.'
'Mark says something mean about Israel and I am confused.'
'I start berating my parents for the Jewish community work they've been doing all their adult lives'
'go on some awkward blind dates with nebbishy Jews and fratty Jews '
'I start flirting with John, one of the few staffers who isn't Jewish (after flirting with another of the few). He flirts back'
'I blow off a Shabbat dinner in her honor and instead get drinks with John'
'whose columnists seem to agree more with my Jew-hating fianc than with my community-leading parents.'
'He thinks the Bauhaus architecture is ugly ("this city looks like a war zone") and is unimpressed by the Wailing Wall ("it's small"), '




I think these quotes are more telling of the state of mind of the author of this shallow essay !!
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 09:45 PM
Response to Reply #19
20. well the chosen quotes are IMO representive of someones 'shallowness'
where it is that of the author of the OP can be decided by the reader
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:18 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Explain
'where it is that of the author of the OP can be decided by the reader'

What does that mean?
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Violet_Crumble Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-19-11 11:42 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. Az is saying it's wiser to read the entire essay than yr cherry picked quotes...
It's a really well written essay, and picking out a few random words here and there do it no justice...
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azurnoir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 01:36 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. It means that the readers of both the article and comments can decide
whom is being what
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here_is_to_hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #19
23. You need a new pony...
Your current one has only one trick.
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jun-20-11 05:35 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. I know you believe your being incredibly insulting to me here



But I have no idea what that insult means or its relevance.

Cheers !
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-21-11 01:08 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
here_is_to_hope Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-21-11 10:52 AM
Response to Reply #25
27. You seem to have 'no idea' about quite a few things.
Now excuse me, I have some Zombies to kill....
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King_David Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-21-11 09:14 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. Shrug nt
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