Palestinian kids sit at UNRWA school Photo: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
The hazy, crazy, lazy endless days of summer are upon us and children are enjoying vacation from school, the luxury of going to bed late and then sleeping in the next morning and for many having a great time at summer camps.
This carefree time is unfortunately not being experienced by children in our vicinity such as Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and a host of other places where dodging bullets, riots, homicide bombers and general mayhem is the norm this summer.
In Israel, summer camps organized by a host of youth groups and various organizations are in full swing, catering to every imaginable interest group. They have been a feature of summer activities for many years now and they provide a safe environment for fun, social interaction and the learning of many skills. The common feature of these camps is inculcation of good social behavior so that by the time children head home they will have made new friends, learnt to co-operate as a group and acquired an appreciation of how youngsters from diverse backgrounds can play and live together in harmony.
At the same time as Israeli children were enjoying their summer camps, many of their compatriots in Gaza and the Palestinian Arab Authority were also enjoying activities organized by UNRWA.
This United Nations agency has for the last 65 years been involved in servicing the Arab refugees who are permanently stuck in camps of a different sort. Unlike the UNHCR which actively seeks to resettle refugees worldwide, UNRWA’s remit at the behest of the Arab host countries is to perpetuate the refugees’ miserable lives, sustaining them not only with food and other aid but also nurturing them on the cruelest of lies, namely that one day they will return to Israel.
During the summer vacation UNRWA organizes camps for children where one could safely assume all sorts of fun activities would take the minds of these happy campers off the deprived lives they experience the rest of the year. Indeed included in camp programs are bouncing castles, water slides, ball games, singing, dancing plus arts & craft. Sounds great and seems very similar in fact to the camp activities engaged in by their Israeli counterparts.
A closer inspection however reveals an entirely different aspect which is generally not advertised either by the general media or politicians. Once you stumble on what is really going on in these camps you wonder why there is this cone of silence.
First of all, the name – Camp Jihad. Not so many years ago during the reign of Arafat, whenever he mentioned Jihad there were plenty of Israeli politicians, commentators and so called enlightened experts who rushed to assure a skeptical public that he meant “struggle for peace.”
Even after mayhem and murder of Israelis broke out, these same individuals refused to face reality and to this very day there are those in positions of power who find it impossible to believe that Jihad means exactly what its followers intend it to be.
Those of us who live in the real world as opposed to some sort of fantasyland know only too well that when groups extol Jihad against Israel their aim is the elimination of Jewish Israelis. Therefore when summer camps are dedicated to Jihad we can more or less guess what the aim is and what it is intended to achieve.
An Arabic speaking camera crew was commissioned to go to some of these UNRWA summer camps and film activities there as well as interviewing and speaking with counselors, teachers and children.
This was no covert undercover operation with staged actors but a most revealing and indeed eye opening exercise with all those involved expressing their views, opinions, thoughts and ambitions in a frank and honest manner. The horrific nature of these camps was revealed and the brutal truth exposed as to how the next generation of Palestinian Arabs are being groomed to launch themselves on the path of Jihad, martyrdom and the murder of Jews.
Children were divided into groups depending on the villages or towns their grandparents originated from and the bunks named accordingly. Daily activities included lectures by teachers and counselors who instilled into the campers the ideology of the three “D’s” namely demonization, delegitimization and denial of Jewish history.
By way of stories, songs, poems and recitations the drip feed of hate against Jews and Israel progressed and culminated in staging dramatic re-enactments themed around these subjects. Like some religious catechism the names of Israeli towns and cities were shouted out, signifying places allegedly cleansed in 1948 and erroneously called the Nakba. Included in this list of places to which the children were promised they would return were Jerusalem, Haifa, Yaffo, Nazareth, Beersheba and yes even Tel Aviv.
The interviews with camp counselors and children alike make it patently obvious that the poisonous seeds of hate are being deliberately planted and cultivated.
Listening to their thoughts and utterances one is left in no doubt that there is something sinister taking place in these camps and that an agency of the United Nations, funded by donor nations, is more than a disinterested bystander.
These are UNRWA summer camps after all and one would imagine that given the agenda that active steps would be taken to eliminate such hate education from the program. No such steps have in fact been taken.Ask yourself whether donor nations such as the USA, UK, Canada, Norway and Australia amongst other countries should be funding such activities.
Is it not time for UNRWA to go out of business and transfer responsibility for these refugees to the UN High Commission for Refugees which solves refugee problems rather than perpetuates them? Has the time not finally arrived when our politicians should be doing something serious about this scandalous situation? Expecting our elected representatives to actually grasp this nettle could be asking too much of course.
At a time when a majority of the Knesset is prepared to release murderers of Jewish men, women and little children for an illusionary so called peace and when anyone with an ounce of common sense knows that these released murderers will be greeted as heroes and then murder again, can one honestly have any confidence in those whom we have elected to look after our best interests? The happy campers of the UNRWA summer camps will grow into Jihad adults and in due course will engage in terror. Those who are caught and do not become “martyrs” will be incarcerated in Israeli jails where they will be well fed and housed, able to pursue a tertiary education and no doubt graduate with honors from one of our universities and then having only served a short sentence will be released in another gesture to the international community and welcomed back into the bosom of Palestinian Arab society as heroes with schools and squares named in their honor.
This unfortunately is the likely scenario if our present policies prevail.
The writer is the Israel-based correspondent and an op-ed writer for J-WIRE – the Jewish Australian and New Zealand online news service.
The film entitled Camp Jihad, which was filmed on the grounds of the UNRWA summer camps and produced in July 2013, can be viewed here.