a beautiful utopia for Jews

"Growing up, I received three main messages about Israel. One: It's a beautiful utopia for Jews, and everyone should visit. Extra points if you move there. Two: The army, and the degree to which it has been developed, is 100% necessary. Everyone, (in particular Arabs and Muslims), wants to harm us or kill us and we have to defend ourselves. And Three: Anyone who criticizes or even questions the actions of the Israeli government and/or the IDF was automatically anti-semitic. Barely anything was ever mentioned to me about Palestinians, let alone the occupation. From all the messaging I got twice a week in Hebrew School, and every summer at Jewish summer camps, I had been groomed to believe that it was indeed my birthright to visit, while the mere existence of Palestinians was virtually ignored.

I grew up seeing pictures of smiling faces floating on their backs in the Dead Sea, sometimes covered in mud, sometimes reading magazines. Years later, I personally learn that the Dead Sea can also burn your eyes and sting every cut in your body you didn't realize you had. This can be a metaphor for my whole understanding of Israel growing up, and then discovering the reality that was there all along, but omitted from my education." -Hallie, URJ camp, NFTY in Israel

NFTY, URJSophie Trauberman