FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Confessions of a Summer Camp Terror Tot

by Jacob Levich

The Israel Defense Forces this week cynically capitalized on an earlier public relations coup, releasing yet another snapshot of a Palestinian toddler posed with weapons. The photograph, purportedly seized during a military operation in Hebron, is reminiscent of last month’s notorious “Terror in Diapers” photo, which showed a Gaza child decked out as a suicide bomber.

The latest picture is of course a boon to pro-Israel flacks, who had been so desperate to keep the kiddie terrorist story alive that they resorted to recycling year-old snaps of a militaristic kindergarten pageant in Gaza, falsely implying that the stale images were fresh. (See, for example, “Palestinian Kindergartners Being Schooled in Hate,” an Anti-Defamation League press release dated June 27, 2002, or “Gaza Toddlers Taught Hatred, Martyrdom and Jihad,” a June 28, 2002 story in <Israelinsider.com>, where weasel words are used to sell the old news as a hot item about a “recent” ceremony. A little digging revealed the same information and identical photos, clearly dated May 27, 2001, on the Israeli Prime Minister’s web site.)

Whatever their provenance, all of these alarming images were widely circulated in print and electronic media, where they were offered as evidence that Palestinians are heartless monsters who would snatch their own kids from the cradle and train them in terror.

But as I watched Zionist spinmeisters drawing ugly conclusions on CNN, I couldn’t help flashing back to fond memories of dear old Camp Milldale, where — to borrow a phrase from the ADL — I myself was “schooled in hate” during the summer of 1967.

Milldale is a suburban day camp located some miles outside of Baltimore, Md., birthplace of its sponsoring organization, the Jewish Community Center Association (JCC). Originally an educational and civic institution for poor Jewish immigrants, the JCC redirected its energies toward middle-class “schuls with pools” following WWII, and began aggressively promoting Zionism in the aftermath of the Six-Day War.

Which is why, as a seven-year-old camper, I found myself manufacturing cardboard daggers and machine guns during arts-and-crafts period. These were to be used as props for Camp Milldale’s end-of-summer pageant, which featured a highly stylized re-enactment of episodes from Israeli history, interspersed with songs from Fiddler on the Roof. Emmis.

We first-graders were entrusted with recreating 1948. Some of us got to play Jewish militia; others — probably not the counselors’ favorites — had to be Arabs. We took to the stage bristling with toy weapons. Pint-sized Irgunists raised the Israeli flag, declared independence, and were immediately attacked by shrieking hordes of simulated Palestinians. After a brief melee, the Arabs all clutched their chests and fell down. Then everyone stood and sang “Hatikvah.” Curtain; wild applause.

You could look at this perversely funny little performance as a harmless assertion of solidarity with Israel. Or you might see it as a callous exploitation of innocent minds. Either way, my fellow campers and I were certainly not being trained as terrorists. Nor, I suppose, were we literally being “schooled in hate,” except in the abstract sense in which all such nationalist rituals are aimed at turning children into unthinking chauvinists.

Yet somewhere in Baltimore there’s undoubtedly an album filled with lurid snapshots of Milldale’s 1967 summer pageant, and it would be simple enough to deploy them on a web page or press release with the headline: “At Jewish Summer Camp, Kids are Taught to Re-Enact Deir Yassin Massacre.” The resulting story would be close to literal truth, but its implications would be essentially false.

My point? Context is everything. Those photos of Palestinian “terror tots” might look very different if they were juxtaposed with shots of Jewish settlers training their children to handle Uzis. (You can find some of these on the web if you look hard enough; needless to say, they never appear on CNN.) The baby bomber pics might even teach us something important about the brutalizing effects of an endless colonial war — but only if they were presented in the context of daily life in occupied Palestine, where violence, humiliation, and poverty are an inescapable part of growing up.

Plucked out of context, however, these photos teach nothing but hatred. They are intended to elicit rage and horror while stifling thought and compassion. The obvious message is that Palestinians are incorrigibly criminal, and therefore deserve nothing better than lifelong confinement in the gigantic prison camps that Israel has made of Gaza and the West Bank. The deeper implication is that all Palestinian children are actual or potential terrorists, making them legitimate targets of Israeli military operations.

Just as I wouldn’t excuse a parent who dresses up an innocent kid as a suicide bomber, I can’t forgive a propagandist so reckless as to encourage violence against children. Preying on the weak is a sin. Ironically, that’s one of the things I was taught at Camp Milldale.

Jacob Levich is a writer and editor living in Queens, N.Y. He can be reached at: jlevich@earthlink.net

 

Jacob Levich is a university administrator and independent researcher who tweets as @cordeliers.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail