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June 19, 2013

Anti-Israel Groups Organize Youth Summer Camps

As summer nears for millions of students across the country, anti-Israel organizations are recruiting them to spend some of their free time being indoctrinated in anti-Israel advocacy and a one-sided narrative of Palestinian history and culture.boycott_divestment_sanctions

The American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that has long engaged in efforts to delegitimize Israel, has teamed up with the notoriously anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace to hold a four-day-long “Summer BDS Institute” in late July for college-age students who are already involved in pro-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaigning on their college campuses or are interested in launching a BDS campaign on campus next year.

Proponents of BDS, an almost decade-old movement, seek to demonize Israel, delegitimize Israeli policy and, in its most extreme forms, promote the destruction of the Jewish character of Israel in an effort to turn public opinion against the Jewish state.

The program will train students about organizing and implementing a campaign, dealing with media requests, “direct action” planning and more. The program, which will take place in New York, is cynically being promoted as “fun in a summer camp-like environment!” on AFSC’s website. It is the latest effort by off-campus anti-Israel groups to provide students with the tools to better organize and initiate programs attacking Israel on campus.

JVP is one of the leading pro-BDS organizations in the United States and is the primary group behind, thus far unsuccessful, efforts to pressure TIAA-CREF, a major financial institution, to disinvest from multinational companies that work with Israel. AFSC has also, to a lesser extent, played a part in promoting BDS in the U.S. and sponsors dozens of anti-Israel events and programs across the country.

In September 2008, AFSC members met with Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he was visiting New York for the UN General Assembly. AFSC was one of five religious groups to sponsor a dinner and conversation – billed as an “international dialogue between religious leaders and political figures” – with the Iranian leader, one of the world’s most prominent anti-Semites. ADL forcefully condemned the meeting as a “perversion of the search for peace.”

Separately, American Muslims for Palestine, the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country, plans to hold a summer camp for youth aged 8-12 in Chicago on Saturdays throughout the summer.

AMP, which had previously been in the business of training high school and college students and adults to engage in anti-Israel campaigns, has a highly political agenda and regularly demonizes Israel. At times, the group has also provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans about “the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination.”

A description for the camp notes that the children will be taught about “Palestine and its history,” which will likely be a much distorted version of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The description also notes that the children will learn about Palestinian arts, culture and history and “participate in fun activities.”

ADL described the summer camp programs as venues to “indoctrinate the next generation of activists with biased messages intended to single out Israel” and criticized AMP’s “cynical calculation that there is no such thing as being too young to start learning how to hate Israel.”

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