Extremist MKs Threaten Youth Village
Hosting Parents Circle Summer Camp
We at Partners for Progressive Israel stand by members of the Parents Circle-Families Forum—an NGO composed of bereaved Israelis and Palestinians — as they fight to preserve their summer dialogue program for more than 50 youths from both peoples. During a recent meeting of the Knesset’s Education Committee, Coalition MK Almog Cohen from the extremist Otzma Yehudit party threatened to “blow up” the camp, to “shut it down with God’s help.” Similarly, Likud MK Hanoch Milwidsky spoke of the camp as a “despicable organization,” warning that “this government will respond” to the youth village hosting the summer program.
The Parents Circle summer camp, now more than 20 years old, brings bereaved (and some non-bereaved) Israeli and Palestinian teens together for a week of educational activities, including dialogue circles and other relationship-building projects. Campers are encouraged to share thoughts and feelings about those from the other side of the ongoing conflict. Joint activities, including field trips, swims, and group games, aim to dispel stereotypes through learning about the interests, dreams, and customs of the “other.”
Yuval Rahamim, co-director of the Parents Circle–Families Forum, stated that he was “shocked by the wild and violent attacks, and the explicit threats made by Knesset members.” Labor MK Gilad Kariv called the MKs who threatened the youth village renting the space to the Parents Circle “bullies” declaring that hosting the camp realizes “the values of the Declaration of Independence that will ultimately ensure the Zionist future.”
Partners for Progressive Israel strongly supports the work of the Parents Circle, and their representatives have been frequent speakers at our events. We admire them for sustaining a summer camp that creates a protective space within which mutual understanding between Israeli and Palestinian teens could contribute to a resolution of the conflict.
The coalition MK’s wild statements simply serve to show how desperate they are to tear down all bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. Join us in supporting and protecting what has been built!