i was encouraged not to talk about what was happening

"Throughout my time as a camper and staff member at OSRUI, as a participant at Kutz, and in NFTY, a "connection to Israel" was strongly emphasized. However, there were rarely, if any, compelling reasons as to why we needed this connection to Israel besides that we're Jewish and it is the Jewish homeland. In NFTY, we learned about Women of the Wall and the battle for egalitarianism in Israel. We were taught to value the discrimination secular and egalitarian Jews faced, but no one ever mentioned the ways in which Palestinians were discriminated against. I was aware that there was a conflict between Israel and Palestinians, but no one ever educated me on it. Everything we did about Israel was "cultural not political." The words "Occupation" and "Nakba" were never uttered, and when I worked at camp during the summer of 2014, I was encouraged not to talk about what was happening because it would be too upsetting for the Israeli staff and too confusing for the campers. I was taught that the IDF was a moral army there to protect me, and on Birthright was taken to Har Hertzl, the Israeli military cemetery, where the IDF soldiers told heart-wrenching stories about friends and family they lost." -Rachel Brustein, OSRUI, Kutz, URJ Jacobs camp, NFTY, URJ Kesher Birthright

NFTYSophie Trauberman