A Jewish camp in Washington state apologized for causing “upset” to some after flying a Palestinian flag “as a sign of friendship and acceptance” to visiting Palestinian Muslim and Christian students.
It posted the letter containing the apologetic language to its Facebook page. Curiously, however, that Facebook page was no longer available as of Monday morning, and a text of the letter that was still available elsewhere online did not include the sentence containing the apologetic language.
“We sincerely apologize that we upset some in our CSS and larger Jewish community by introducing the Palestinian flag into our educational program,” the initial letter said.
“Camp Solomon Schechter reiterates our unwavering support for the State of Israel as the Jewish homeland.”
Those sentences were not included in the text of the letter still available at the time of writing here.
Camp Solomon Schechter last week hosted members of Kids 4 Peace, a group that includes Christian and Muslim Palestinian children.
In the letter of apology sent Sunday and posted on the camp’s Facebook page, the camp indicated that the Kids 4 Peace group requested the raising of a Palestinian flag alongside the US, Canadian and Israeli flags that are raised daily.
The original letter also said: “Camp Solomon Schechter is a proud Zionist and pro-Israel camp. We honor the Israeli Army and Israeli people on a daily basis at CSS. Our goal was to create a safe space for all, and begin dialogue among the next generation.”
In the version of the letter still available, the camp wrote: “For the sake of a teachable moment, we did raise the Palestinian flag as a sign of friendship and acceptance. It was met with uncertainty by some campers and staff, especially the Israeli’s [sic], but all understood that the message of hope for peace by flying the Israeli flag alongside helped develop empathy. Still we plan to take down all the flags for Shabbat since there is no peace and also to relieve the sadness and anger that some feel by the site [sic] of the flag.”
This version of the letter also said the camp “remain(s) unabashedly pro-Israel and we are celebrating Israel alongside our new friends.”
The independent camp, founded on “the ideals of the Conservative movement,” is not affiliated with the movement’s Ramah camps or Solomon Schechter day schools.
The camp’s Facebook page was no longer available as of Monday morning.
Until the Facebook page was taken offline, comments were largely negative, with many saying the camp should not have raised a flag waved in support of terrorists carrying out attacks against Jews.
“This kumbaya crap is mind-blowing,” one person wrote on Facebook. “Yes, IF we had Arab partners in peace, we might try more efforts like this, but we don’t and you’re kidding yourselves if you believe otherwise.”
But some applauded the camp for trying to be a positive force toward peace.
“The ONLY reason one would see a Palestinian flag at CSS is to further peace, love, justice, friendship and to bring God’s love into this world,” a Facebook user wrote. “Honoring Palestinian children and their identity and loving Israel and being Zionists are not mutually exclusive.”
The camp’s executive director, Sam Perlin, and co-board president, Andy Kaplowitz, also issued a statement.
“Camp Solomon Schechter regrets raising the Palestinian flag alongside US, Canadian and Israeli flags on Thursday and Friday mornings and it is a long-standing CSS custom to lower flags for Shabbat and raise them again Sunday morning,” the statement said. “We neglected to foresee in such actions the serious political implications and for that lapse in judgment, we are deeply sorry.”