Israel’s newest tourist attraction: family fantasy camps teach how to kill -- coming soon to the US

Come visit Israel, where you can stop by the Western Wall, tour the Holocaust Museum, view the Dead Sea Scrolls, and shoot live bullets at cardboard cutouts of Palestinian terrorists!

Israel is becoming a destination for a whole new experience: it’s called military tourism, and there are half a dozen companies that run these popular fantasy camps—some on settlements in the occupied West Bank, others in Israel. They are also running these camps in the U.S (See video:

One of the instructors, Yoav Flayshman, speaks: “This place was founded, and still stands, for the purpose of training Jews and friends of Israel all over the world how to defend themselves and their families.” What does that statement mean? Do all Jews need military training to defend themselves and their families? Are Jews worldwide at risk of terror attacks? What dangerous world do they live in? Or is the unspoken message, “This place exists for the purpose of rationalizing Israeli violence to the world by inventing a narrative of how Jews in Israel are innocent victims who must always be on the defensive”?

Licensed Israeli Jews are allowed to carry firearms —they have even been encouraged to carry them. Palestinians on the other hand are not allowed to possess weapons. This statement begs the question, what is the Israeli definition of morality? How to discern right from wrong? What morality will families learn at camp?

One way to find out would be to look at the Israeli army after which the camps are modeled. The IDF has been called (mostly by its own leaders) “the most moral army in the world.” IDF morality seems to include:            

  • a shoot-to-kill policy toward everyone including stone throwers
  • collective punishment as a norm
  • few or no restrictions on dealing with minors
  • permission to assign detention without charge
  • and more

Is that the kind of morality that military fantasy camp teaches children? What about values? Will this camp teach children the importance of overpowering others, of considering Israeli lives more valuable than others’? What about education? Kids can learn how to get an A: by aiming at the forehead or center of the chest.The irony here is that Israel was created to be a safe haven for Jews, but it is actually the most dangerous place in the world for them to live. Somehow they hope that better gun skills will make their lives safer.

Back in the USA – summer camp indoctrination

There are already camps in the U.S. that feature Israeli military training. For example, last year Israel’sHa’aretz newspaper described a promotional video for a private New York Modern Orthodox Jewish sports camp for kids aged 8-16 called Camp Mesorah, which has been in operation since 1990. (

This is one of many American Jewish summer camps which, according to Ha’aretz, “deliver an ideological Zionist message to campers.” The Foundation for Jewish Camp reports that “Israeli culture is celebrated through song, food, art, and dance.” The IDF is often glorified. One describes a program in which campers get “their official Jedi training inspired by CIA, Mossad, IDF and George Lucas.” Another extolls the creativity of camp staff who “make Capture the Mattress into an IDF operation complete with medics, artillery, and intelligence units.”

Alternet highlights a double standard: “If you are a young Muslim American and head off to the Middle East for a spell in a fundamentalist “madrassa,” or religious school, Homeland Security will probably greet you at the airport when you return.  But if you are an American Jew and you join hundreds of teenagers from Europe and Mexico for an eight-week training course run by the Israel Defense Forces, you can post your picture wearing an Israeli army uniform and holding an automatic weapon on [social media].”

And in between major invasions, Israeli forces shell and invade Gaza every week. Recently, for example, farmers have been killed, Israeli army vehicles have invaded, and soldiers have bulldozed farmland in Gaza. What if Palestinians stop resisting, as some suggest they should?—They figure to lose what little they have left. Humanitarian reports state that Gaza may become “unlivable” by 2020.

What if, instead of Palestinians giving up, Israel lightens up a little on its punishing military presence? Palestinians will be able to let up on their resistance—there will be less to resist. Both sides will be able to get on with their lives just a little. But until that happens, the resistance will continue to train. (Adapted from:

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