Snippets of my youthful Zionist indoctrination

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Political and military Zionism indoctrination snippets from my childhood:

– I went to a Conservative Synagogue starting at age six, where we sang "The Blue and the White are Colors of Mine" while saluting an Israeli flag. Afterwards I asked my father, "Why are we singing to the Israeli flag? I thought I was supposed to pledge allegiance to the American flag." He said, "Both flags are yours."

– The shul, of course, had those little blue JNF boxes where I put money my parents gave me "to plant a tree in Israel." No one mentioned land confiscation and ethnic cleansing.

– When I was seven (April 1982), Israel completed its final withdrawal from Egypt. We were all told we had to pray for the safety of the Israeli soldiers. I asked, "Why are we still in Egypt? I thought the Israelites fled from slavery thousands of years ago." The teachers couldn’t explain, they just said, "It’s complicated."

– I was an avid reader of Mad magazine. When I was twelve, Mad ran a feature called "Garbage Pail Adults," mocking a variety of celebrities and political figures, including "Yucky Arafat." Would it be verboten to point out that Mad publisher William Gaines was Jewish? Of course, there was no mocking of "Stern Shamir" (then-Israeli Prime Minister, former leader of the terrorist group).

So there you have it. I was taught dual loyalty, helped fund the dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people, and learned from popular children’s media that Palestinians are smelly, fly-covered jerks… in the same category as apartheid prime minister P.W. Botha.

What did you learn about Israel in your childhood? What did you learn that you didn’t even know you were learning?

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