Let’s return to reality and stop trying to reverse engineer the development of apartheid in Israel-Palestine by alleging long-lasting and perverse racist ideologies resulting from Bob Dylan’s and the Coen’s brother’s several weeks at Herzl Camp in Webster, Wisconsin during a summer vacation in the 1950’s.
As to the question of “What the Hell were they teaching those kids?” there were no teachers at the camp, just counselors, like myself, who were college undergraduates. This was long before the 1967 Six Day war and even before such hasbarah epics as Leon Uris’s Exodus. It was also before the holocaust industry that Norman Finkelstein wrote about, even existed.
As I wrote previously, at Herzl Camp the kids played softball, learned basic swimming strokes (I was one of their teachers!), about a dozen words in Hebrew for such camp buildings as a “dining hall,” Hebrew songs that were never translated into English, several dance steps, and lots of Jewish religious prayers that had no connection to Israel. The closest thing to Middle East politics was a capture-the-flag game in which the “enemy” was British soldiers from the pre-1948 mandate period.
Unlike the present, which Max Blumenthal points out in Goliath (p. 276) is a golden age for American Jews, the 1950’s were qualitatively different. In that period most American Jews still had living connections to Europe, some Jews still Anglicized their names to avoid discrimination, public portrayal of Jewish home life (other than the radio and TV show The Goldbergs) was unheard of, and anti-Jewish stereotypes were still common. In contrast, at present anti-Semitic attitudes and incidents are at all time low, and discrimination in employment, housing, academia, and private clubs is barely remembered. These multiple changes are why Terri Gross can talk to the Coen brothers about Jewish topics on National Public Radio and use a few Yiddish (not Hebrew) expressions.
Furthermore, as Max Blumenthal points out, these developments in the United States — including shows on NPR — are the antithesis of Zionist ideology, whose premise is that diaspora Jewish life can never escape anti-Semitism. It also explains why the number of Israelis who have moved to the United States is ten times the number of American Jews who have moved to Israel. It also means that, by their practices, most American Jews are objectively anti-Zionist, a development documented in the recent Pew poll of American Jewish attitudes. A large majority don’t have any intention of moving to Israel, and other than a one-time free propaganda trip through Birthright, few would ever visit. In terms of political concerns, Israel ranks low compared to such issues as the economy or health care. Other trends are equally revealing of the golden age described by Blumenthal, such as an out-marriage rate of 60 percent and a recent finding that about half of American Jews cannot even read the Hebrew alphabet.