Recently, a well-known Jewish summer camp controversially decided to fly the PLO flag.
Adding to the controversy, the Camp raised the PLO flag shortly before the observance of the most solemn Jewish holiday of the year - Tisha B’Av and right after the slaughter of three members of an Israeli family, following days of PLO-incited rioting.
In response to the uproar caused by the decision to raise the PLO flag, the camp decided to issue an apology -- actually, it issued a fake non-apology, in which they “apologized” to anyone who "may have been offended."
The camp also tried to explain why it decided to raise the flag of an organization committed to the genocidal call of “liberating Palestine from the river to the sea.” The camp indicated it raised the PLO flag after their “guests” from the “Kids 4 Peace” group requested the PLO flag be raised alongside the U.S., Canadian and Israeli flags.
Which raises the questions: What is “Kids 4 Peace” (K4P) and why is this group asking a Jewish camp to raise the PLO flag?
According to its website, K4P is a “global movement of youth and families, dedicated to ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world.”
Who could be against that? No wonder the camp agreed to raise the flag of an organization committed to wipe Israel off the map.
After all, if an organization named “Kids 4 Peace” with a mission to end global conflict and inspire “hope in divided societies around the world” asks you to put up a flag to welcome their kids, why not comply?
Of course, if K4P were really for “ending conflict and inspiring hope in divided societies around the world,” one would expect to see information about its programs regarding the world’s most violent conflicts.
But, according to the K4P website, the only conflict it appears to spend time on is the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” – a conflict that has resulted in fewer fatalities over the last 50 years than those over the last 5 years in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan or Nigeria.
Of course, it is not just K4P’s singular focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict that is inconsistent with its “global” mission.
As Jonathan S. Tobin recently noted in "It's Not About Flags: The Real Problem With Jewish-Palestinian Dialogue," one of the main problems represented by programs, such as those put on by K4P, is the “blind faith that so many Jews have,” particularly in the American Jewish community, “in the value of dialogue programs.”
As Tobin, a “journalist who has covered dialogue programs for decades,” points out, it is “the lack of symmetry between the two sides” which makes these programs ill-suited for solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Tobin further observes that as part of these dialogue programs, “[f]ew if any Palestinian participants ever express doubt about the justice of their cause or feel obligated to temper their anger at what they consider to be the sins of Zionism. But even supporters of Israel who engage in these programs generally feel compelled to express criticisms of Israel or to show respect if not sympathy for the Palestinian [counterfactual] Nakba narrative.”
Another, however, potentially much bigger problem with K4P (than the asymmetry inherent in the programs it promotes) is that despite its sweet name and its even sweeter “mission,” there is much reason to doubt its good faith when it comes to achieving a just peace (for Israel). In fact, given its background, and those of many of its directors and affiliates, it appears just as reasonable to conclude that K4P’s real mission is to destroy Israel.
On its website, K4P notes it is part of the Alliance for Middle East Peace (AllMEP). This, in and of itself, should cause any Jewish camp, particularly one which identifies itself as “unabashedly pro-Israel” to reconsider working with K4P.
According to NGO Monitor, AllMEP includes a number of organizations that are unabashedly hostile to Israel’s existence.
Those organizations include such anti-Israel groups as: One Voice International, Combatants for Peace and The Holy Land Trust -- a major BDS supporter, whose Executive Director has bragged about the group providing training to Hamas. According to NGO Monitor, Huda Abu Arquob, one of only two AllMEPS staff members, claimed Hamas is “not a terrorist organization” and accused Israel of attacking Islam. At the 2014 and 2015 J Street conferences, Ms. Arquob advocated for BDS. Despite all this, Fr. Josh Thomas, the Executive Director of Kids4Peace International, is an AllMEPS’ board member.
Another long-time K4P director, Dr. Yakir Englander, is the Director of "Dialogue to Action" in Kids4Peace International. In a recent exchange of text messages with Sloan Rachmuth, an investigative researcher (who helped compile some of the research for this piece), Dr. Englander, in response to a question about K4P‘s work and its affiliation with pro-BDS groups, stated he did not “think BDS is the end of the world.” In those same written communications, Dr. Englander referred to Holy Land Trust CEO, Sam Awad, as a person with “an amazing heart.” Mr. Awad and HLT, however, regularly demonize Israel and encourage violence against Israelis. Awad has claimed Israel engages in “apartheid;” accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing,” and has stated that non-violent demonstrations are “not a substitute for the armed struggle.”
Unfortunately, given the company Dr. Englander’s keeps, his glowing reference to Awad should not be surprising.
On the K4P “community portal” Dr. Englander is pictured arm in arm with Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who, according to The Clarion Project has preached that the first World Trade Center bombing was “a terrorist attack staged by the U.S. government and possibly Israel as a ‘conspiracy’ against Islam.”
K4P, has claimed it is committed to “non-violent political change.” Wahhaj is apparently also committed to “change,” though not one that most parents of Jewish campers would embrace. Per the Clarion Project, the “change“ Wahhaj wants, includes Sharia’s implementation in the USA. Wahhaj has been quoted as saying, “Islam is better than democracy. Allah will cause his deen, to prevail over every kind of system, and you know what? It will happen.”
In addition (and perhaps most concerning), K4P President, Reverend Diane Nancekivell is a regular donor to the Friends of Sabeel (Sabeel) whose mission is the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state; not “peace” between Israel and its neighbors.
The Sabeel North American Advisory Board includes such renowned Israel bashers as Rashid Khalidi and Cornel West. And Dr. Naim Ateek, the Sabeel founder has mendaciously referred to Jesus as a “Palestinian” and regularly justifies terrorism against Israelis. He has also invoked anti-Semitic imagery, referring to an “Israeli government crucifixion system” and to Jesus being “on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.”
As a part of that effort, Sabeel promotes “Palestinian Liberation Theology.” This “theology” is wielded by Sabeel like a sword to demonize Jews and to try and refute Jewish religious, historical and indigenous ties to Israel.
In furtherance of their mission against Jewish self-determination, Sabeel regularly organizes “Witness Visit Tours,” which are endorsed and attended by representatives of such radically anti-Israel organizations as CodePink, JVP and ANSWER.
Another tour fan appears to be the K4P President Reverend Diane Nancekivell, who also attended the Sabeel hate-fest tour, which may be part of the reason for her regular donations to Friends of Sabeel and its plainly anti-Israel mission.
At the end of the day, what does all of this mean? It still may be the case that the majority of K4P employees mean well and truly want to bring about a just peace and end to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But given the incredibly suspect, anti-Semitic, and/or anti-Israel company much of the K4P leadership keeps and their apparently proud affiliations with many anti-Israel groups, it is at least just as likely that despite the sweet name and even sweeter mission statement, that K4P’s mission is entirely consistent with the PLO flag and the mission it represents, Israel’s elimination.
That would certainly explain why at a recent Kids 4 Peace event Jewish high school kids were treated to an evening with Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar, whose lyrics include: “Who's the Terrorist?” and where Nafar asserts Israel “raped the Arab soul,…“leading to the birth to terrorism.” Apparently, K4P thinks it is appropriate to promote the fiction that before 1948 Arabs in the Middle East were peaceful and didn’t regularly massacre Jews. That is something all Jewish organizations should know is an outright lie. It is also something all Jewish organizations should be well aware of before they decide on whether to allow K4P to work with the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.