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Jewish campers write peace letters to Palestinians

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NEW YORK, Aug. 8 (JTA) — Sounds of gunfire and shouts of “slaughter the Jews” interrupted the tranquility of one beautiful summer day recently at Camp Nesher in rural Starlight, Pa.

In stark contrast to the usual summer camp activities like swimming and hiking, kids watched film footage showing Palestinian children being groomed to be killers and suicide bombers.

The disturbing images were part of a presentation by Molly Resnick, founder and director of Mothers Against Teaching Children to Kill and Hate. A former NBC News producer and the mother of three, Resnick organized the group when she first read that the Palestinian Authority was using textbooks to transmit anti-Israel and anti-Jewish propaganda to children.

Disturbed that the mainstream media largely ignored the bellicose textbooks — the Palestinians were obligated to fight incitement under the Oslo accords — Resnick decided to focus attention on the curriculum. Along with a group of other mothers and grandmothers, she began a grass-roots movement in Detroit in 1998.

Speaking at local Jewish schools and camps, MATCKH members argued that “when children are indoctrinated to kill and hate beginning in the first grade, all efforts for peace are doomed to failure.”

To counteract the message being sent to Arab children, Resnick encourages Jewish children to write letters of peace to Palestinian counterparts.

The letters are then incorporated into “Quilts For Peace.” Resnick already has more than 20 such quilts, made of letters written by children throughout the United States.

Resnick recently moved to the New York area and began mobilizing schools and camps along the East Coast. This summer, she brought her message to the Pocono and Catskill Mountains.

At Nesher and at Camp Lavi, she spoke before 750 high school students who came from around the globe, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and Israel.

She also addressed members of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization attending a leadership training conference.

At B’nai B’rith Camp Perlman, about 400 kids aged 10 to 16, along with 80 campers enrolled in the Sportstar Academy at the Homowack Lodge, sat speechless as the distant world of terrorist attacks intruded on the bucolic landscape.

On screen, 10-year-olds dressed in army fatigues and carrying weapons boasted, “In the suicide squad, fear not the armored car or tank, as long as the mine explodes.”

Resnick’s message to the Jewish children was clear: “Any government, any leader, any parent who uses innocent children to further their own political agenda is guilty of societal child abuse.”

Inspired by a quilt made by the children of Seneca Lake Camp, the students then reached for construction paper and markers to send a message to Palestinian teachers.

From Ariel: “Please stop teaching kids to hate Jews. We need peace, not hatred. We do not want to kill you. While the kids you teach are learning to hate us, the Jewish kids are trying to make peace.”

Achishai wrote: “I don’t want you to hate us. The truth is, I love you.”

And from Simon, this warning: “Remember World War II? Do not let the Holocaust happen again.”

Resnick said a “Kids For Peace” rally will be held Oct. 4 on Capitol Hill. Busloads of children will bring their quilts to Washington under the auspices of several congressmen, including Steve Israel and Eliot Engel, both Democrats from New York.

“Our goal is to educate and lobby the officials, the public and the media to oppose groups teaching bigotry, hatred and murder to children,” Resnick said.

The New York Board of Jewish Education, an enthusiastic supporter of Resnick’s group, is hoping to spur the creation of more quilts for the Washington event by distributing a video of Resnick’s presentation to hundreds of day schools.

Fara Gold, associate director of Camp Perlman, told students, “The Palestinians are teaching their children the same frightening propaganda that the Nazis taught in their youth camps.”

Resnick agreed.

“It’s incredible. They are promoting Jihad,” Arabic for holy war, “in their grammar and language books,” she said. “The Palestinian textbooks are the only government-sanctioned curriculum anywhere in the world that promotes violence against Jews.

“When you raise a generation of suicide bombers,” Resnick warned, “eventually they may be visiting their cousins in the States and if they decide to blow themselves up, God forbid, then even this serene Jewish camp could become a target for terrorists. Peace must begin with children.”

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