i had a burn mark on my arm in the shape of a shell

"These are photos from my time on USY Israel Pilgrimage, in gadna, basic military training that prepares young Israelis for service in the army. When I look at these pictures, I feel confused. I was 17. On the one hand, it was the most physically challenging thing I had ever done in my life. I survived the 5:45 am wake-ups and the pushups and the crawling across a field of jagged rocks. I learned how to shoot an M-16. By the end of the week I felt tougher. I felt proud. I had a burn mark on my arm in the shape of a shell. I thought that Israeli soldiers were pretty cool. I know in my gut that this experience was deeply morally wrong. But I don't even have the words to explain how or why because you never told me anything specific about the occupation - just that there was a "conflict." You never told me what the soliders were actually being trained to do with their guns, whose homes they were being trained to raid. You never told me why we - young, American Jews - should become militarized as a part of our summer camp experience when no one would ever send their kids to the army for the summer in the U.S. You never told me that the occupation doesn't actually keep any of us safe." -Davida Ginsberg, USY on Wheels, USY Israel Pilgrimage, USY chapter co-president

USYSophie Trauberman