How many more orgasms will be had for Zionism?

US Politics
on 52 Comments

Last week I ran into my ex-boyfriend, Mark, at a Whole Foods salad bar. We had dated on and off for about fifteen years, and spent many summers together at a Jewish Zionist summer camp in Three Rivers, Michigan, in the early 1980’s. When I saw him reaching for the cottage cheese right next to the tofu I was reaching for, I thought about turning away and not saying anything, pretending that I hadn’t seen him. I had a second to decide–he was moving on to the BBQ chicken on the other side–and in that moment, a flurry of memories came to my mind. I thought, at first, what a horrible cliché to run into an ex at a Whole Foods salad bar, and then, I remembered how much I loved him during the high school, college, and graduate school years we were periodically together. My deep love for him was fiercely connected to my deep love for Israel, because it had been born at Zionist summer camp. Ultimately, I decided to turn towards him and say hello.

Like many other young Jewish Americans, I spent several summers at Jewish camp. I was part of the Habonim (Hebrew for “builders”) youth movement, a Zionist, Socialist camp that models itself on a kibbutz. We lived in Israeli tents that we, American suburban Jews, put together ourselves. We sang “Hatikvah” every morning at the flagpole as we raised the Israeli flag. We worked in the morning, we lived in nature, and we developed a sense of who we were and who we wanted to be–living out a particular kind of egalitarian idealism in a simulated kibbutz. We were fashioning a mode of liberation available to us only in the eight-week summer session of camp. During the school year, we were young, mostly upper-middle class budding suburban capitalists–Jews in a secular world (destined later in life to shop for tofu and organic meats at Whole Foods).

In the evenings at camp, after Israeli folk dancing, we fooled around, exploring our sexuality, in a space seemingly filled with freedom and openness, as we deepened our love for Israel at our simulated kibbutz. Our adoration for Israel was a kind of love that, for me, and many other young Zionists, felt much like a first love–a deep attachment to something felt strongly in our hearts. The bunk beds in our tents touched each other, and only sheer mosquito netting separated us. One night, a friend in the bunk next to mine had sex for the first time–our bunk beds so close that the metal bars on my bed were shaking as he and another camper moved on top of each other–and I could hear the Israeli music from the Israeli folk dancing still in the distance. Though I wasn’t the one losing my virginity, I felt part of something big.

Jewish American Zionist camps help to develop identity among Jewish youth. They teach important decision-making skills in a supposed democratic collective. They’re designed to instill and deepen a love for Israel. They are also a place for young people to learn about living away from home and they become a space to experiment sexually under the nationalistic ethos of Zionism. Most of the camps associated with these Zionist youth movements have a goal to build a love for Israel that might ultimately persuade Jews to move there. Habonim, for example, features a gap year in between high school and college called “Workshop,” where high school graduates, in a work/study program, live on a kibbutz for the year. The Habonim website features a video about “Hannah,” a young woman who describes Workshop as a “Labor Zionist youth movement whose main goal is to create social justice and Jewish values in Israeli society.” Hannah is spending her Workshop year, she tells us in her video, “teaching about equality and shared existence” in various Arab villages. Arriving in Israel, and setting foot on the land, finally, for the first time, the Jewish youth consummate the unrequited wandering of the diaspora. The summer camp becomes a kind of foreplay, the anticipation builds for years, and landing in Israel is the ultimate fulfillment. I know the feeling well. A letter I sent to my parents in 1992, when I was a Zionist, two months after arriving in Israel for graduate school reads, “I’ve finally made it to Israel. And I’ll be here long enough to see the seasons change.” I also described the Palestinian man I was dating (not telling them he was Palestinian). “I knew I loved him when I saw him look towards the Judean Hills,” I wrote, “and I noticed how his chin was aligned perfectly with the hills.” The “Judean Hills” are occupied Palestine, of course, and as a Palestinian man, he was looking out at his homeland, Palestine. In sexualizing my experience in Israel–eroticizing the Zionist connection between person and place–I had appropriated his. I didn’t know better. The angle of his chin was very attractive to my twenty-two year old self, which was in love, and far from home.

During the camp summer sessions, we were Socialists who believed in the motto we chanted, “Give what you can, take what you need.” This saying was specifically meant for our additional pot of money, collected separately from our tuition. We called this extra money “Kupah,” Hebrew for “cash register.” Habonim explains the concept of “Kupah” on its website:

[I]n Habonim Dror we translate it as a ‘cooperative fund.’ Kupah is how we incorporate elements of cooperative living into camp life. All campers pool their funds and then decide as a democratic community how to use those funds. The idea of Kupah is one of the most important elements in the educational program and ideology of Habonim Dror. Through Kupah campers learn about sharing, teamwork, compromise, democracy, budgeting and more. Kupah funds are also used as a central canteen from which campers can draw small personal necessities such as toiletries, stationery, etc. The fund can also be used for special treats as decided by the campers.

It was our parents, of course, who paid for all of our camp expenses. One summer, a camper’s Kupah check for twenty-five dollars was found crumpled, torn, and unreadable by the lake (today, Kupah costs $120 per camper for the summer session). The camper called her dad and he promptly sent another check. We found it silly at the time, unaware of our privilege to be able to be so nonchalant about money. Sure, we made fun of the recklessness in which funds were handled, wondering–but not for too long–how did the check become crumpled, torn, ending up by the lake in the first place? We could laugh about it, because we knew that such a mistake as a lost check could be easily replaced. There would always be enough in Kupah.

In our minds, overnight camp became a playground where we got to leave our homes and create a new kind of family. We sat in circles, held group discussions, and talked through problems as they came up. We communicated better at camp than most of us did at home. We expressed ourselves in ways we couldn’t with our families. We were creating a new way to be–not unlike a Sabra–shedding our old selves for a few thousand dollars each summer. Creating our new identities at camp extended to our Zionism as well. Like the Zionists who immigrated to Israel to “settle the land” and “make the desert bloom,” thereby shedding their old American and European selves, we, too, were developing a new way of being, leaving behind our old ways at home, three hours away down Interstate 90.

My ex-boyfriend Mark would tell me years later, when we attended a camp friend’s wedding together, that he was one of the two people who lost his virginity that night in the bunk bed. This was not uncommon. Many people at camp had their first sexual experiences in these Israeli-made tents, in the woods, and in the bathrooms where we took naked group baths together. Afternoon “educational” sessions on Shabbat included girls sitting in a circle chanting, “I am a woman and I have a vagina.” It felt weird to do this, of course, but it followed discussions about sex and womanhood that I hadn’t experienced before. We read and discussed the groundbreaking book, Our Bodies, Ourselves, like it was scripture. The book, published in 1971, revealed things to us that we had wondered about privately but had never talked about with others. I had been very shy at home, and learning about my body in a kibbutz-style collective felt different and open. We were young, attractive teenagers who were given permission to experiment and talk about our bodies. We skinny-dipped at night, scrubbed bathrooms in the morning, cooked, cleaned, and believed that we were working for something much greater and bigger than ourselves.

One day, we decorated a large map of Israel with ice cream, frosting, and other toppings. The forests–many years later to be recognized by me as Palestinian villages ethnically cleansed and replaced with pine trees–were decorated with green frosting. The desert, soon to be populated with olim, like us, was caramel. The rivers and sea, a blue ice cream called, at the time, Smurf. The whipped cream was a bonus. We then ate the whole thing–all the bright colors melting together across the Golan Heights like a sad, crazy clown face, zigzagging down the Jordan River, dripping above Jerusalem. It was a distorted rainbow, and we–licking Israel at the same time licking our fingers–wondered who would hook up that night. We were digging into the land with our hands and our hearts while thinking about sex. We believed in Israel’s Socialist Zionism and played out the role perfectly in a large Midwest plot of land near a lake. If we could feel so good about ourselves at camp during the summer, the idea was, we could attend Workshop and feel this way for a year, or, ultimately, we could make aliyah, live on a kibbutz, and feel this way forever.

Although by a young age I had already developed a nationalism born of the fusion of sexuality and Zionism, my story preceded the emergence of Birthright trips. It followed, all the same, the manufactured convergence of sexuality and Zionism that has grown into what is now Birthright. Much has been written about the forced sexuality that occurs on these trips, which are designed to recreate the summer camp feel, this time consummated in Israel. For example, Rose Surnow’s essay, “I Gave a Handjob at Jew Camp,” details her Birthright trip, calling it an “all-expenses-paid orgy in the desert,” describing a Bedouin tent in the West Bank where “45 of us were going to sleep in one massive tent in the desert, which in our sleazy minds meant HOOK-UP-CITY.” As Surnow and others have written, my deepened love for Israel was inextricable from my sexual coming of age. The boundaries and sense of place and person–of body and nation–merged seamlessly. Like the hyper-sexualized experiences of youths at U.S. Jewish summer camps, Birthright participants also find themselves in situations where sexual experiences are encouraged. Some websites even offer advice on such sexual matters for Birthright participants as, “The Unofficial Guide to Sex and Drugs on Birthright Trips,” in which potential hookups are encouraged. This website gives advice on condom usage as well as rules for “hooking up” with soldiers, counselors, and other participants.

One night at camp, we sat around a campfire singing Bob Marley and David Bowie songs. In between singing, we were quiet, listening to the crickets around us, mesmerized by the crackling of the campfire, the popping of red and orange underneath the burning wood. It smelled like sandalwood, and felt cozy and new. Someone played the guitar softly. Back at home, my father had joked that “Jews don’t camp,” and the closest that we’d ever get to camping would be to stay in a cheap hotel. Here, at camp, I was outside all the time. I would miss those nights as I got older.

This particular night during our campfire, we discussed whether or not we were going to take the gap year and go to Israel for Workshop. I sat with Mark. He confided in me later that night, as we were lying in his bunk bed–the mosquito netting our canopy–that instead of going to Israel for Workshop he thought he might want to study in Korea or Japan. He was becoming more interested in Asian cultures. He thought that as a group we were becoming too “Israeli-centric”–that was the point, of course, of being a part of Habonim–and that it was important to study other places too. He thought that I should as well, and often criticized my unconditional love of Israel over the years we were together.

As young Zionists who finally made it to Israel some time after our years of camp (for me, it was the mid 1990’s), we knew we weren’t the first to have a sexual connection to the land, but somehow when we did for the first time, we felt like the only ones who ever had. We were simply recreating the Zionist ethos we had been a part of at camp, feeling nostalgia for our childhood and our budding sexuality. It is a brilliant brainwashing tactic–like Pinkwashing–to build our nationalistic Zionist love for a land that continues to occupy and expel Palestinians. In all my years at camp, I never once heard the word Palestine and I didn’t learn about Palestinians. Despite these evasions–this is why it is difficult to write about–my years at camp were some of the best of my life. I learned so much about myself in those summers. I felt an openness and freedom that is often available only to youth. Some of my closest and oldest friendships are still with people I met at camp. Last week as I was working on this essay, one of my current students told me she couldn’t wait to go back to Habonim this summer. I asked her what it was about the camp that she loved so much. “It’s hard to explain,” she said. “I just feel like people accept me more there than anywhere else.” Her enthusiasm about camp is moving; I remember having the same feelings.

The sexualizing of Zionism–at camp and in Palestine–continues, of course. My experience was 32 years ago, but camps like Habonim continue these efforts today. Young campers, like my current student, will keep going to camp because of how good they feel about themselves when they are there. Like me, she’ll grow up and be grateful for the experience–which inevitably involves an eroticized relationship with the land. How many more orgasms will be had for Zionism? How many more ice-cream maps of Israel will be created and then eaten and destroyed at the whim of the colonizer? How many more youths will be lured into the Bedouin tent–empty of Bedouins except for the ones who, desperate for work, serve the Jews tea while they continue to be displaced–to play out an Orientalist, colonialist sex game?

I remembered how critical Mark was of me about Israel when I saw him at the salad bar last week, and I thought about one of our “off” periods, when I moved to Jerusalem for graduate school. He made it to Japan for the year. I cared at the time far too much what he thought about me, and I was worried, when we’d both be back from traveling, that I wasn’t radical enough for him, that my life had gone too much the route of a typical Jewish American Zionist. Last week, at the salad bar, he told me that he had gotten married “to a super Jew,” a woman who used to do fundraising for the Jewish Federation. They had three kids. Their son had recently had his Bar-Mitzvah in Jerusalem.

He was excited–I should have known this was coming–to some day send his kids to camp. He must have heard about my Israel/Palestine activism work, because he asked, with a small smirk on his face, if I was still “marching in the streets, waving flags of Palestine.” We walked out of the supermarket together, holding our salads, and moved towards the parking lot. I didn’t watch to see which way he went.

About Liz Rose

Liz Rose is a Chicago teacher.

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52 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    January 27, 2016, 1:14 pm

    Fascinating. Sex as motivator for Zionist-support had never occurred to me, but why not? The whole pro-Zionist craziness is too overdetermined. The fear of yet-another-holocaust seems too unreal, the psychic cost (as I imagine it) of ignoring the plight of the victims, the Palestinian Arabs, seems too high. But despite all, the merry-go-round keeps going round and round. So, Sex. sure, makes sense.

  2. Annie Robbins
    January 27, 2016, 1:38 pm

    the manufactured convergence of sexuality and Zionism

    fantastic article liz rose. just really. yes i recall that age /era very well. i believe it’s possible that whatever culture or influence one is immersed in thru those years of sexual discovery — captures one for a long time. it is brainwashing to use this for nationalistic purposes. sad and sick robbing ones youth for opportunistic goals of destructive colonialist project.

    the adults who manipulatively set their children up like this, it’s really creepy thinking about it.

    • Mooser
      January 27, 2016, 6:55 pm

      “the adults who manipulatively set their children up like this, it’s really creepy thinking about it.”

      Differences over things like this can escalate into a battle of wills.

    • Mooser
      January 27, 2016, 7:12 pm

      “i believe it’s possible that whatever culture or influence one is immersed in thru those years of sexual discovery — captures one for a long time.”

      Why, the experience described seems ideal to me, no sexual harassment, no pressure on the women, no dangerous sexual entitlement for the boys and certainly, not a hint of anything except consent and faultless berth control.
      Nothing even as petty as a broken heart or jealousy.

      • Keith
        January 27, 2016, 10:22 pm

        MOOSER- “no dangerous sexual entitlement for the boys and certainly, not a hint of anything except consent and faultless berth control.”

        Indeed, who could have foreseen that Sodom and Gomorrah would become the moral template for modern Zionism?

      • RoHa
        January 28, 2016, 4:04 am

        The precedent does not bode well for Zionism.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      January 27, 2016, 8:36 pm

      Once you have absorbed this intoxicating but poisonous brew how do you ever get it out of your system? Not without long inner turmoil, I suspect.

  3. Mooser
    January 27, 2016, 5:05 pm

    “Though I wasn’t the one losing my virginity, I felt part of something big.”

    Huh? I thought being chaste until marriage was like, the least of my Jewish obligations when it came to sex and marriage. I must’ve gone to the wrong Hebrew School. Well, it was pre ’67, so the stuff hadn’t been updated, I guess.

    • Stephen Shenfield
      January 27, 2016, 8:25 pm

      Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Jewsoc, Mooser.

      • Mooser
        January 27, 2016, 10:01 pm

        “Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Jewsoc, Mooser.”

        Not sure I understand. This is new speak to me.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        January 28, 2016, 5:31 pm

        Yes, Mooser, newspeak it is. George Orwell explains it in 1984. Newspeak is a language designed to destroy thought and make thought crime impossible. Each successive version eliminates more words and concepts. Orwell gives a typical sentence: “Oldthinkers (people who still think in the old way) unbellyfeel (lack an intuitive feeling for) Ingsoc (English Socialism, the orthodoxy in Oceania)” — I just replaced Ingsoc by Jewsoc. It could be called Ziosoc, but Jewsoc is better at conveying its “Jewish” character.

        One glaring difference, of course, is the attitude toward sex. Orwell’s Junior Anti-Sex League is a far cry from the sexual utopia that the Zionists sell to Jewish youth. But perhaps Orwell and Reich were wrong about the cult of power necessarily having roots in sexual repression. The Nazis were divided over sex, with the SS celebrating Aryan sexual freedom in defiance of the philistine taboos of Nazis more closely tied to conservative tradition.

      • Mooser
        January 29, 2016, 12:17 am

        ” Newspeak is a language designed to destroy thought and make thought crime impossible”

        Why didn’t you just use Israeli Hebrew?

      • Mooser
        January 29, 2016, 2:56 am

        “One glaring difference, of course, is the attitude toward sex. Orwell’s Junior Anti-Sex League is a far cry from the sexual utopia that the Zionists sell to Jewish youth.”

        Oh, no, not at all, I mean, not everywhere. Look at the comments from “Shmuel”, there’s plenty of sex-segregation and single-sex schools and camps. And if that don’t guarantee chastity, I don’t know what could. So there’s, you know, choices.

      • RoHa
        January 29, 2016, 7:52 am

        “Newspeak is a language designed to destroy thought and make thought crime impossible. Each successive version eliminates more words and concepts. ”

        If I may indulge in a little tub thumping here, I will point out that the best defence against Newspeak is the old trivium of Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric. Being trained in those makes it easier to see what is being done by the promotion of Politic Newspeak.

  4. Keith
    January 27, 2016, 5:30 pm

    LIZ ROSE- “Most of the camps associated with these Zionist youth movements have a goal to build a love for Israel that might ultimately persuade Jews to move there.”

    Ah, the paradox! How many centuries have Jews wandered in Diaspora longing to return to the sacred soil of the promised land? Yet, curiously, they need to be persuaded to make the journey? And, contrary to Zionist myth-history, most Jews were either non-Zionist or anti-Zionist up to and including the Holocaust, the camps of the survivors riddled with Zionists who controlled them and more-or-less shanghaied Jews to Israel. How could that be? And now they need sex to sell the Holy Land? How could that be?

    Sex, but no tales of eternal and irrational Gentile anti-Semitism? Of course, of course, you did say that you were upper middle class and money was no problem. Love of Israel, of course. Aliyah for those inclined, however, they also serve who stay and fund. Zionism’s dirty secret is that, illusions of refuge aside, Israel could not exist in its current state without a wealthy, powerful and secure Diaspora to support it! “Last week, at the salad bar, he told me that he had gotten married “to a super Jew,” a woman who used to do fundraising for the Jewish Federation.” Likewise, Israel and Zionism help to insure the wealth and power of Jewish Zionist oligarchs.

  5. W.Jones
    January 27, 2016, 6:14 pm

    The bunk beds in our tents touched each other, and only sheer mosquito netting separated us. One night, a friend in the bunk next to mine had sex for the first time–our bunk beds so close that the metal bars on my bed were shaking as he and another camper moved on top of each other–and I could hear the Israeli music from the Israeli folk dancing still in the distance. Though I wasn’t the one losing my virginity, I felt part of something big.

    Question:
    Christian summer camps (even nonconservative ones) are “moralistically” very conservative. This is not to deny that in practice there could be individuals who “stray”, but it would be schizoid for college students who sign up to do so. I even rock danced too much with one girl at one Christian camp and a few years later she seemed to think back about it with offense.

    Is anything analogous to such moralistic Christian camps uncommon in the Jewish community? Or are such things as in Liz Rose’s essay and in the MW “Birthright trip” essays the main option?

    • Mooser
      January 27, 2016, 10:07 pm

      “Is anything analogous to such moralistic Christian camps uncommon in the Jewish community?”

      Well, you know, there’s a big stress on “continuity” in the Jewish community.

    • Mooser
      January 27, 2016, 10:24 pm

      One night, a friend in the bunk next to mine had sex for the first time–our bunk beds so close that the metal bars on my bed were shaking”

      A country, a back-up country, and those two can’t go get a room somewhere?

    • echinococcus
      January 27, 2016, 11:56 pm

      Jones,

      Christian camps are religious or for the religious.
      Zionist camps are for nationalist/racist invaders. No connection at all to any religion.
      These camps are organized by racist parents with the intent of protecting their kids from miscegenation. Having their cherries popped by pedigreed Jews and returning to the camp or going to the Zionist entity every vacation keeps the kids’ delicate parts heidenrein.

    • Shmuel
      January 28, 2016, 1:20 am

      Is anything analogous to such moralistic Christian camps uncommon in the Jewish community? Or are such things as in Liz Rose’s essay and in the MW “Birthright trip” essays the main option?

      I’d never heard about “co-ed” sleeping arrangements at any Jewish summer camp. They don’t even have that at the real kibbutzim any more, but then again, The whole experience Liz describes smacks of revolutionary nostalgia (after which kids and staff go back to their magnificently bourgeois lives).

      I went to 2 Orthodox Jewish camps (one in Canada and one in the US), where there was strict segregation between the sexes (with only a brief possibility of meeting members of the opposite sex [mostly used to see siblings and cousins], for an hour or so on Shabbat afternoon). Something like a “dance” is unthinkable in such camps. Then there are single-sex camps, and others with varying degrees of segregation.

      • W.Jones
        January 28, 2016, 9:37 am

        Shmuel,
        Sure, I understand. In your case, you are describing an Orthodox summer camp, so I can understand that they would be religiously/moralistically strict.
        What about for the Reformed and only weakly religious community though?

      • Mooser
        January 28, 2016, 3:18 pm

        “What about for the Reformed and only weakly religious community though?”

        Well, what can I say? In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. Now, heaven knows, anything goes!

      • Mooser
        January 29, 2016, 12:12 am

        “Then there are single-sex camps, and others with varying degrees of segregation -”

        Not that there’s anything wrong with that! (He means gender-segregation, of course.)
        Gotta keep the young ones moral after schul! (Our children’s children gonna have trouble, trouble.)

      • Mooser
        January 29, 2016, 12:15 am

        I’d never heard about “co-ed” sleeping arrangements at any Jewish summer camp.”

        That’s cause there’s a big sign in the dining room that says: “Don’t tell “Shmuel”!

  6. YoniFalic
    January 27, 2016, 7:16 pm

    Isn’t the point sex sells? Anyway, the descendants of the various pagan groups that converted to Judaism never longed to return to the “sacred soil of the promised land”. That longing is just sick and perverted Zionist propaganda to justify theft, plunder, and murder.

    Philo never longed to return to the “sacred soil” and would have laughed at the moron that suggested such an idea while Maimonides never identified an obligation to take possession of the Holy Land and to settle in it.

    • pabelmont
      January 28, 2016, 8:36 am

      At some stage, someone, rabbis I imagine, decided that the project, if such it was, to “ingather” the Jews in Zion was a project that belonged so thoroughly to God that Jews were not to do anything to bring the project forward, not even pray for it. ( Neturei Karta: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Zionism/naturei_karta.html ) So whatever “next year in Jerusalem” may mean, to people who believed this way (NK suggests it was all orthodox Jews at one time), it was not a prayer to effect the ingathering of the Jews.

      Presumably, Philo and Maimonides were of the same mind. don’t know how orthodoxy changed on this point, Talmud didn’t change (I suppose), but religious interpretation has ever been an iffy thing.

      • Marnie
        January 28, 2016, 12:25 pm

        “next year in Jerusalem”?

        “Next year in Days Inn” would be more appropriate and it would’n’t harm Palestinians.

        Oh please! The sexual awakening of overindulged Jewish teens with the right mix of hormones and hatikva, the conflation of love/lust with the zionist state, all encouraged by parents, teachers, rabbis, etc., makes me physically ill.

    • Jon66
      January 28, 2016, 11:53 am

      Yoni,

      I don’t know what Maimonedes may have thought, but do you think that he would have been free to express a goal of a Jewish rule of the land. For all of his life, he was a subject of Muslim rule and fled Spain to avoid persecution. Calling for the overthrow of the Muslim conquerors of what is now Israel would have been risky to say the least. Because of the minority status of Jews following the Roman exile, I don’t see where there was much opportunity to call for the establishment of a Jewsih state until after emancipation.

      • Mooser
        January 29, 2016, 12:36 am

        “I don’t see where there was much opportunity to call for the establishment of a Jewsih state until after emancipation.”

        Which “emancipation” was that?

  7. Boomer
    January 27, 2016, 7:31 pm

    “Give what you can, take what you need.”

    How convenient.

  8. hophmi
    January 27, 2016, 11:33 pm

    This entire badly written piece is basically a pile of nonsense. No one is forcing anyone on Birthright to have sex any more than any other trip with lot of hormonal young adults. And the olim today from the Orthodox community who make up Zionism’s core today? Not into the promiscuous sex either.

  9. Sally Parker
    January 28, 2016, 12:18 am

    While the story of Jewish summer camps eroticizing Israel is a kinky, I’m always surprised that the discussion of Zionism never seems to touch on the heavy price Zionists demanded of their fellow Jews in order to establish Israel. I would think that more Jews would be afraid of Zionists.
    I have just finished reading the True Torah Jews website. The site quotes Theodore Herzl, founder of Zionism, as saying, “It would be an excellent idea to call in respectable, accredited anti-Semites as liquidators of property. . . . The anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies.” (The Complete Diaries of Theodor Herzl. Vol. 1, edited by Raphael Patai, translated by Harry Zohn, page 83-84)
    This is scary. A leader who wants to ally with murderous anti-Semites in order to impoverish his fellow Jews and force them out of Europe is either a crook or a cult leader.
    The story gets worse. Early Zionists didn’t just write strange ideas on how to create their state. During the Holocaust, they actively blocked rescue plans other people made on behalf of Jews if these meant moving Jews to some place other than Palestine. Rabbi Michael Ber Weissmandl, a Jewish hero who risked his life to stop the Holocaust, lists several blocked rescue plans and rescue opportunities. The saddest case involved a British plan to save half a million Jews.

    “On December 17, 1942 both houses of the British Parliament declared its readiness to find temporary refuge for endangered persons. The British Parliament proposed to evacuate 500,000 Jews from Europe, and resettle them in British colonies, as a part of diplomatic negotiations with Germany. This motion received within two weeks a total of 277 Parliamentary signatures. On Jan. 27, when the next steps were being pursued by over 100 M.P.’s and Lords, a spokesman for the Zionists announced that the Jews would oppose the motion because Palestine was omitted.” See http://www.truetorahjews.org/lieberman

    I see this Zionist opposition to Britain’s plan as a huge betrayal. It cost Jews half a million lives. Present day Israelis would have to launch over 200 Protective Edges to kill this many Palestinians. If Brits planned to save half a million Jews and Zionists blocked them, this turns all the Holocaust propaganda I’ve heard in my life on its head. One might say, “Remember the Holocaust; oppose Zionism.”
    Although Zionism today isn’t as scary for Jews as blocked rescue plans, it doesn’t really make the world safer for most Jews. Israel could not possibly fulfill its promise of being a safe haven for all the world’s Jews escaping anti-Semitism. Israel is a crowded country. Sixty percent of the world’s Jewish population lives outside of Israel. They couldn’t all live in Israel. Netanyahu is doing his best to make enemies across the globe and inflict his reputation on his fellow Jews. To put it crudely, Netty’s crowd is asking Jews to sacrifice their reputation and possibly their safety to protect someone else’s property and its stolen property at that.

    • Sibiriak
      January 28, 2016, 3:46 am

      Sally Parker: I see this Zionist opposition to Britain’s plan as a huge betrayal. It cost Jews half a million lives. [emphasis addd]

      ————————-

      With all due respect, you are making some huge leaps of logic.

      1) It is almost certain that Hitler would never have released 500,000 Jews via negotiations with Britain. The few attempts at negotiated rescue that did occur failed completely, or at best saved only a small number of Jews. Hitler’s insane drive to kill as many Jews as possible was well underway in 1942 and meant that all proposals for rescue negotiations were entirely unrealistic.

      You might want to read William Rubinstein’s “The Myth of Rescue”, which analyzes many proposals to rescue European Jews. He shows that most of these proposals had almost zero chance of success.

      Also see: Breitman and Lichtman, “FDR and the Jews”

      2) Nothing prevented the British government from pursuing such negotiations—certainly not a small number of British Zionist Jews. Nor was a proposal from Parliament necessary. Many such proposals had been made and would continue to be made up to the end of the war.

      3) The article you cite provides zero evidence that Zionist Jews were instrumental in blocking any such efforts. The only “source” they provide is “The Wall Street Journal December 2, 1976” without any link or quotation. That isn’t history; it’s highly dubious polemics. Do yourself a favor and google “Wall Street Journal December 2 1976” and see what kind of articles it brings up, or try to find the actual WSJ article.

      4) “The British Parliament proposed to evacuate 500,000 Jews from Europe, and resettle them in British colonies” — which colonies? This is a completely fantastical scheme that had no chance of success.

      • YoniFalic
        January 28, 2016, 5:22 am

        It did not take much googling to find Finkelstein’s letter on Ben-Gurion and the Évian Conference.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1987/07/12/books/l-ben-gurion-s-zionism-255687.html

        Most of the Zionist leadership probably shared Ben-Gurion’s opinion.

        After WW2 started, the behavior of Zionist leaders seems to have become even worse, but right now I don’t have time to address how Zionist behavior evolved.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        January 29, 2016, 6:26 am

        Siberiak: There is plenty of evidence if you look hard enough. Another important project was the Kimberley Scheme to give refuge to European Jews in a region of North Australia (see Leon Gettler, An Unpromised Land). The contribution of Zionists to torpedoing such plans is hard to pin down because they were not the only opponents, but they certainly had an impact — in some cases probably a decisive one. When naive Gentile sympathizers encountered virulent Zionist hostility in the name of “the Jews” they got confused and frustrated. It led many to abandon their efforts. They didn’t understand the divisions among Jews or the anti-Semitic character of Zionism.

        However, some decent Gentiles persisted in rescuing Jews in spite of Zionist hostility. The Swedish government and parliament felt sure they were doing the right thing in taking in Jewish refugees and ignored the despicable opposition of Sweden’s Jewish establishment, whose Zionism expressed their fear that newcomers would undermine their own position in Swedish society. They did not want to go to Palestine themselves — they were Zionists in the sense of the ironic definition that “a Zionist is a Jew who pays a second Jew to send a third Jew to Palestine.”

      • Sibiriak
        January 29, 2016, 6:33 am

        YoniFalic: It did not take much googling to find Finkelstein’s letter on Ben-Gurion and the Évian Conference.
        —————

        I’m well aware of the Evian conference. It’s discussed in numerous books and articles. It took place in 1938.

        My remarks concerned a proposed negotiated rescue of 500,000 Jews in 1942 .

      • Sibiriak
        January 29, 2016, 6:42 am

        Stephen Shenfield: Siberiak: There is plenty of evidence if you look hard enough.

        ——————

        Evidence that a scheme to negotiate the rescue of 500,000 Jews in 1942 1) would likely have been successful, but 2) was blocked by Zionists?

        I’d be happy to see it.

        That was responding to that idea and only that.

        I never said that there were not Zionists who were insistent that Jewish refugees should be allowed to go to Palestine.

        The contribution of Zionists to torpedoing such plans is hard to pin down because they were not the only opponents ….

        I agree. There was no Zionist consensus on rescue efforts and there were many non-Zionist opponents to Jewish immigration.

        Many Zionists, especially in America, were at the forefront of popular pressure to increase efforts to rescue Jews. Many of their proposals had very little chance of success, though some did.

        At least that is my tentative view after recently reading a number of books on the issue.

      • Sibiriak
        January 29, 2016, 7:56 am

        Stephen Shenfield: Another important project was the Kimberley Scheme to give refuge to European Jews in a region of North Australia (see Leon Gettler, An Unpromised Land). The contribution of Zionists to torpedoing such plans is hard to pin down…
        ——————-

        What evidence is there that Zionists torpedoed the Kimberley Scheme?

        Following the Evian Conference, the London-based Freeland League (founded in 1935) proposed the purchase of seven million acres in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia (encompassing the properties of Connor, Durack and Doherty) as a farming settlement for a potential 50 000 refugees from Nazism. The League envisaged that a vanguard party of 500 to 600 ‘pioneers’ would construct homes, a power station, irrigation works, etc, pending the arrival of the main body of colonists.

        Dr Isaac Nachman Steinberg (1888–1957) was sent out from London in 1939 to investigate the scheme’s feasibility and to enlist governmental and communal endorsement.

        […] Steinberg won the support of churches, leading newspapers, many prominent political and public figures (including Western Australian Premier J C Willcock) and a number of Jewish leaders.

        The project came to nothing in the end, however, primarily because of concerns that the settlers would drift inevitably and in large numbers to the cities. Forty-seven per cent of the public opposed the scheme in a 1944 opinion poll and, in July of that year, Prime Minister Curtin formally rejected the proposal. Curtin’s decision had bipartisan political support. [emphasis added]

        http://guides.naa.gov.au/safe-haven/chapter2/kimberley-scheme.aspx

        Steinberg was a leader of the Jewish Territorialist movement. He worked hard to establish a Jewish self-managed territory, but did not support the idea of the Jewish nation-state and was highly critical of Zionist movement politics. After the establishment of the State of Israel, he supported the idea of creating a binational federation in Israel/Palestine and, at the same time, continued his efforts to establish a compact self-ruled Jewish settlement somewhere outside the Middle East. [emphasis added]

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaac_Steinberg

    • Sibiriak
      January 28, 2016, 4:02 am

      @Sally Parker

      My questioning the notion that Zionist opposition to a single rescue proposal, if it occurred, definitely cost 500, 000 lives doesn’t mean I don’t agree with a number of other points you made.

    • pabelmont
      January 28, 2016, 8:42 am

      60% of Jews live outside Israel? That’s all? In any case, please consider that, these days, 10% of Israel’s (declared) Jewish population live in the OPTs, which are outside Israel-48 (even if inside what some consider “the Land of Israel”).

  10. upsondundas
    January 28, 2016, 9:02 am

    It reminds me of the Hitler Youth Camps! it seems like any organization that goes camping with a youth only thingy gets involved in getting their kit of! It would have been a great basis for a Monty Python sketch. including a wet Tea Shirt comp and then a group rendition of Hava Nagela

    • W.Jones
      January 28, 2016, 9:40 am

      Yeah, Hitler youth camps could have been cool if you took out Hitler, the Nazism, the fascism, the authoritarianism, and the racism.

      Just singing German songs in lederhosen with accordion accompaniment and dozens of hot youthful blondes around a campfire after hiking and Bavarian mountain climbing. Ahhh, why can’t life be so perfect?

    • YoniFalic
      January 28, 2016, 12:03 pm

      There were jokes during the Hitler-period that interpreted BDM — the acronym for Bund Deutscher Mädchen (League of German Girls) — as Baldur, drück mich! (Baldur, squeeze me!) or as Bund Deutscher Matratzen (League of German Matresses).

      Baldur Benedikt von Schirach was the head of the Hitler-Jugend.

      After graduating for from the Hitler-Jugend, a young German Nazi that wanted to spread around his semen could donate to the Lebensborn program.

      Below is the comparable practice among Israeli Invaders.

      Sperm Donation from Soldiers: Which Units’ Sperm is Most Requested?

      Because I have no doubt that I was a Nazi when I considered myself an Israeli Jew, I am adamant that the State of Israel must be dismantled, that the invaders must be removed, and that the local and international Zionist leadership must be tried just like the German Nazi leadership with comparable punishments.

      • W.Jones
        January 28, 2016, 8:15 pm

        “Benedikt von Schirach” – it vaguely brings to mind the famous name “Joshua ben Sirach”…

  11. rhipidon
    January 28, 2016, 9:29 am

    Thanks for such a well written, politically astute essay. It’s easy to say “sex sells” and think that somehow this is the end of the political critique. But, as your essay shows, the truism that “sex sells” is really only the beginning of the critique. Your essay raises important questions about how sex sells and what sex is selling in the particular political context of summer camp — and, more important, who benefits and who suffers, politically, from the “sex sells” discourse of summer camp.

    • Mooser
      January 28, 2016, 10:34 pm

      ” Is she really claiming that a camp where she was taught about Kibbutz life made it impossible for her to read any books on any other subject related to Israel or to learn anything else other than what others told her? Maybe she’s a little mixed up.”

      Because she didn’t assume the “Zionists” (har, har) around her were all a bunch of liars who didn’t give a husky f–k about her except insofar as she served their purposes?
      You are saying that Jewish kids should assume their teachers, parents, and Rabbis and relatives are lying to them, and they should seek information elsewhere?

      Why, “Hophmi”? We are talking about some of the most important and consequential information in a person’s life, information on which they may base life-changing, consequential decisions. Why, one Jew couldn’t lie to another about stuff that ! I mean, “Hophmi” c’mon, if the people closest to a Jewish kid or young adult could lie about stuff like this, they could lie about anything!! Nobody would or even could deny and distort their Tribal Unity like that. It just don’t happen.

  12. hophmi
    January 28, 2016, 11:45 am

    These essays, which are as misleading as they are badly-written, always make for amusing reads. Leftish prudishness is always really funny.

    I know people who went to Habonim. They are far from brainwashed.

    It’s just always funny in the internet age for people to complain about being brainwashed. Is Liz a really weak-minded person? Is she really claiming that a camp where she was taught about Kibbutz life made it impossible for her to read any books on any other subject related to Israel or to learn anything else other than what others told her? Maybe she’s a little mixed up.

    And this nonsense about sex and Birthright, people! These are trips for people between the ages of 18 and 26. Young adults are known to have hormones and to have sex with one another. Nobody is forcing them to do anything, least of all have sex. And I went on Oranim, the most popular of the earlier Birthright trips. Momo Lifshitz told us how he hoped we would meet our significant others. Apparently, that speech is the same thing as forced sex. And like many others, my Birthright trip included a night in the Bedouin tent, with literally a hundred other people. No one was having sex there. Do you think that when teenagers and college students go on group trips to Europe or India, they don’t hook up with one another? Why is it that when young adults have sex on a trip to France, they’re young adults, but when they have sex on Birthright, it requires a novella of analysis about how they’re forced or brainwashed to do it?

    I look forward to additional amusing self-indulgent narratives about Jews and socialist summer camps, a la Woody Allen.

    • Mooser
      January 29, 2016, 12:04 am

      Whoopee! It’s one long Spring Break in the Land of Milk and Honeys!

    • Mooser
      January 29, 2016, 12:22 am

      “Nobody is forcing them to do anything, least of all have sex. And I went on Oranim, the most popular of the earlier Birthright trips.”

      And nobody forced you to have sex? You should mingle more. Try some of your patented , you know, “outreach” techniques.

      “I look forward to additional amusing self-indulgent narratives about Jews “

      Well, you should, it’s only fair. After all, you have sure as heck held up your end of the deal, so now it’s our turn to come up with those “amusing self-indulgent narratives about Jews”

  13. Jasonius Maximus
    January 28, 2016, 1:39 pm

    This article reminds me of when a South African Jewish acquaintance related his amazing sex, drug and party filled Birthright trip to Israel in the 90s. He would positively glow, sparkle and babble about how it was the best time of his life and how he couldn’t wait to go back and how Israel is the best place in the world. Probing him a little further about the struggles and issues facing Israel was like trying to look through concrete. He wouldn’t, hell, couldn’t say a word about the place outside of his “experience”, and certainly wouldn’t allow any criticism of Israel’s behavior or policies.

    This conversation, in itself, reminded me of yet another close friend I lost to an Evangelical Christian Fellowship during high school. I watched in horror as he was systematically lured into said fellowship by charming young ladies, who played on every aspect of his hormonally charged coming of age, and cunningly severed from his favorite hobbies, creative outlets and closest childhood friends, he even left our school in final year and joined their own small evangelical school. He even tried roping us into joining this fellowship, saying things like we would find such an amazing connection with all the people there and that it would be an easy “hook-up” for us guys. A few of us even joined him one evening. Hardly a religious person myself, I found it horribly creepy and the subject matter and ideologies covered during the session was bordering on obscure at best and cultish at worst. Unluckily (actually luckily) for me they turned out to be a highly conservative bunch, so when my fast talking potty mouth slipped up and I dropped the f-bomb by accident mid-session, I was not-so-kindly asked to leave early and was not invited back. No “hook-up” for me!

    A few years after high school I watched a movie about David Koresh and Waco Texas, and then some documentaries on similar cults and was struck by the similarities (al beit more subtle) that I found. Listening to my Jewish friends’ various Birthright and Zionist camp stories, and many others since, including the one in this article, I was increasely shaken and horrified by how similar and prevalent the tactics are of both Zionist education, Zionist summer camps, Birthright trips and every single other religious and pseudo-hippy cult are.
    Watching a movie like Martha Marcy May Marlene went even further for me to drive home this creepy form of cultish social engineering and undeniably overt technique of using sex and drugs to subdue, sever and reforge new and unbreakable connections to ideological beliefs and feelings of “belonging”, “attachment” and “freedom”.

    Thank you for sharing this revealing insight for the rest of us and others who are new to the struggle.

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