Thursday, July 21, 2016

Taking the BDS battle to summer camps

Arutz Sheva staff, "Taking the BDS battle to summer camps,"

MK Dov Lipman (file)
Image from article MK Dov Lipman (file)

Efforts to combat the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for boycotting Israeli products and other sanctions in protest of Israel's alleged "occupation" of Palestinian territory, have been stepped up in recent months.

The UN itself hosted an anti-BDS conference a few weeks ago, and now former Knesset Member Dov Lipman has taken the fight to US summer camps.

Over 1,000 high school-aged kids spending their summer at Jewish camps in the Pocono and Catskill mountains in Pennsylvania and New York were given a lesson in political discourse this week, learning about the BDS movement and what they can do to help fight against it. Response to the presentation was enthusiastic.

“In one camp, the kids complained beforehand because this was their time for playing ball,” said Lipman, director of Public Diplomacy in the Vice Chairman's office of the World Zionist Organization. “But when it was over, I was stunned - we told the campers that they were free to leave, but that we would stay behind if they wanted to continue the discussion. In some camps, almost the entire room stayed behind to ask questions and learn more about how they can help Israel. They didn’t want to leave!"

Lipman partnered with Paul Friedman, Tri-State Area High School Coordinator of StandWithUs, for the first-ever "Israel Advocacy Summer Camp Tour", running from July 19-21. They visited six Jewish summer camps: Morasha, Dina, Seneca Lake, Lavi, Ramah, and Mesorah.

StandWithUs is an organization that supports people around the world who want to teach those around them about Israel.

“We have long recognized the need to begin Israel engagement early, and to educate Jewish teens so that they can reach out effectively to others, sharing with them their intrinsic connection to Israel,” said StandWithIsrael Israel Executive Director Michael Dickson. “We are proud to be partnering on this meaningful initiative, and we expect the result will be more informed Jewish teenagers who are more active about Israel as a result.”

Ross Zuckerman, assistant director of Camp Seneca Lake, commented: "Our campers were extremely moved by the presentation, and couldn't stop talking about it afterwards."

Another camp director said the fact that it took place in camp and not school helped drive home the importance of Israel advocacy to campers.

"These students may go to pro-Israel schools and grow up in Zionist homes, but they still go to college campus unprepared for the anti-Israel onslaught they will face,” Lipman noted. “It is critical that we prepare them for this at the youngest of ages and engage them in Israel advocacy at the high-school level. This six-camp tour is a pilot which we hope to bring to Jewish camps and schools throughout North America in the years to come."

former MK Lipman speaking to campers at Camp Dina StandWithUs

former MK Lipman speaking to campers at Camp Seneca Lake StandWithUs

former MK Lipman and Paul Friedman of StandwithUS with campers at Camp Seneca Lake StandWithUs

former MK Lipman speaking to campers at Camp Mesorah StandWithUs

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