A Jewish summer camp in Washington state is apologizing for raising a Palestinian flag “as a sign of friendship and acceptance” for visiting Palestinian Muslim and Christian students.
Camp Solomon Schechter considered the flag a “teachable moment,” displaying it when they hosted 14 Christian and Muslim Palestinian children for the Kids 4 Peace program.
Instead, it left campers and parents angry, forcing the camp to apologize in a letter that read:
“For the sake of a teachable moment, we did raise the Palestinian flag as a sign of friendship and acceptance. It was met with uncertainty by some campers and staff, especially the Israeli’s [sic], but all understood that the message of hope for peace by flying the Israeli flag alongside helped develop empathy. Still we plan to take down all the flags for Shabbat since there is no peace and also to relieve the sadness and anger that some feel by the site [sic] of the flag.”
The letter also noted that the camp “remain(s) unabashedly pro-Israel and we are celebrating Israel alongside our new friends.”
The camp also explained that the Kids 4 Peace group requested the raising of a Palestinian flag alongside the other flags raised at the camp.
The letter further explained: “We sincerely apologize that we upset some in our CSS and larger Jewish community by introducing the Palestinian flag into our educational program. Camp Solomon Schechter reiterates our unwavering support for the State of Israel as the Jewish homeland.
Camp Solomon Schechter is a proud Zionist and pro-Israel camp. We honor the Israeli Army and Israeli people on a daily basis at CSS. Our goal was to create a safe space for all, and begin dialogue among the next generation.”
The camp’s executive director, Sam Perlin, and co-board president, Andy Kaplowitz, also issued a statement saying: “Camp Solomon Schechter regrets raising the Palestinian flag alongside US, Canadian and Israeli flags on Thursday and Friday mornings and it is a long-standing CSS custom to lower flags for Shabbat and raise them again Sunday morning. We neglected to foresee in such actions the serious political implications and for that lapse in judgment, we are deeply sorry.”
Those commenting on The Times of Israel Facebook coverage of this story weighed in with comments such as: “This is the problem with being ambivalent. There are a lot of grey areas. I’m all for dialogue and peace however it seems completely out of place to raise the Palestinian flag…It’s confusing and a bit pointless. It would have been better to make banners together saying we are in this together, together for peace. Whatever…In the hopes of making others happy they lost their own north…”
Another person wrote: “Incomprehensible on at least two levels. First there is no real ‘palestinian state’ and second, the PA is devoted to the eradication of Israel.”
This commenter noted: “There are much more appropriate ways to make the guests feel welcome. Flying the flag was a terrible mistake considering that there is no peace and the Palestinians have over the years rejected every Israeli offer for a two state solution.”