"There are countless examples of how Ramah ignores the occupation. They include idealization of Israeli soldiers and overt celebration of Israel without mention of the existence of Palestinians. Ramah's staff included dozens of Israelis, most of whom had recently finished military service. This group of young people include people I became close with while I worked as a counselor - they were an essential and wonderful part of my camp experience. But as a camper during the years during and directly following Second Intifada, there were countless opportunities for the young Israelis to share their army stories, making them feel larger than life against a faceless enemy. Every summer we had "Chatzi Shavuah Yisrael" - a half a week of Israel - which entailed 3-4 straight days of celebrating Israeli culture. I cannot recall a single reference to Palestinians, or, for that matter, to Jews of color beyond further Israeli military heroism in Ethiopia and Yemen.
The only thing I can remember about the occupation at camp was watching a documentary about the withdrawal from Gaza. We watched it on T'sha B'av - a day that commemorates moments of tragedy and destruction for the Jewish people. Although the documentary included multiple perspectives, within the context of T'sha B'av and Ramah's seeming disinterest in those other perspectives throughout the summer, I was left feeling mostly confused and upset. On a day of religious mourning, we learned about how Israelis were forced from their homes. The strength of the IDF and the beauty of Israeli culture were part of every day life at camp. The costs, other than those paid by Israelis, were invisible." -Toby Irving, Ramah Berkshires