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Hate Is a Choice

Hate Is a Choice

Israelis are trying to process their grief -- the Palestinians are exploiting theirs.


Camp Koby and Yosef, which my husband and I created in the wake of our son's murder, ran camps for hundreds of Israeli children who lost parents or siblings in terror attacks, or who themselves had been injured.

With the summer over, we have worked with almost 600 children, helping them to go on in joy.

Our camps have art, music, and drama therapy, specially trained counselors and staff to enhance healing moments with the children, teaching them that pain can be touched, endured and shared. Our goal is to channel and transform pain so children can continue to grow into productive, energetic citizens.

In most Palestinian summer camps the philosophy starkly contrasts the intent of our camps. As reported in The Jerusalem Post, at summer camp Palestinian children learn to fight like soldiers; the camps have names honoring terrorists who have blown up buses; the campers march around like guerrilla fighters and swear allegiance to killing Israelis.

One reporter heard this childhood chant: "We don't want flour; we don't want sardines; we want bombs."

Meanwhile, in an exceptional camp explicitly founded as one that does not teach Palestinian children violence, the director states that he is, instead, teaching the children "solidarity." In other words, there is a still a political agenda, even if explicit violence isn't on the menu.

As an Israeli mother who lost a child to terror I know how immense grief is and how much work it is to deal with loss and keep it in a place that is surrounded by love and kindness. The pain is simply unbearable. But in my work with over 150 Israeli mothers this year, all of whom have lost children or husbands to terror, I have heard only a handful talk about anger.

The media assume that Israelis who have been struck by terror walk around filled with hate and anger and calls for vengeance. But it's not true. We walk around filled with sadness and despair. But that despair does not motivate us to hate or kill. We Jews translate our pain into sadness and a desperate need for coping, personal growth, and memorializing our children.

That is the message we transmit to our children.

Conversely, too many Palestinians teach their children to translate their pain into anger and vengeance. And though many argue that the Palestinians are powerless and in despair and thus forced to resort to vengeance and violence, the short-lived hudna showed us that Palestinian powerlessness is a myth.

What is supposed to be a time for innocent adventure is instead manipulated into a period of political and moral indoctrination of the worst kind.

The Palestinians can control their so-called desperation. Their calls for vengeance, their hatred is a choice. And their leaders keep choosing hate. You can see that hate expressed blatantly in Palestinian summer camps.

What is supposed to be a time for innocent adventure is instead manipulated into a period of political and moral indoctrination of the worst kind. And it is the children who are being manipulated; some would say, abused.

Camp songs might be dismissed as irrelevant, yet if the Palestinian children are singing songs of hate, those are the songs that will fill these children's hearts for decades.

There is a chasm between the Israeli and Palestinian cultures, and though some want to ascribe it to politics, the tragic truth is that no political solution can dampen the flames of hatred that have been kindled in Palestinian society. The hate is too deep, too insistent, and too accepted.

Few journalists want to touch the story of Palestinian hate. Major media like The New York Times and The Washington Post avoid our camp -- perhaps because it reveals the deep-seated difference in the two cultures.

Israelis are trying to process their grief -- the Palestinians are exploiting theirs.

Do not underestimate the power of pain. Unprocessed grief can last for decades. The cynical exploitation of pain -- in summer camps, schools, and in the Palestinian and international media -- is a prime saboteur of any attempts at peace -- and may be so for generations to come.

Israelis are working to cope with their pain. Palestinians nurture theirs, inflame it, and worship it.

This article originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post.

The writer is co-director of the Koby Mandell Foundation's Healing Retreat, a therapeutic program for bereaved mothers and widows of families struck by terror.

September 6, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 5

(5) simona, September 10, 2003 12:00 AM

teaching hate is abuse

more people need to share this information. teaching children to hate is akin to mental and emotional abuse. many years ago i saw a photograph of a family in the united states that had posted a nazi flag and posters from white supremacy groups in their baby's nursery. these people limited their child's chance to grow up with love and decency in his heart.
in this same way the palestinians are murdering their children from the inside with hate. a child who knows only hate and anger will grow up to be an adult whose heart is filled with so much hate that there is little room for love.
golda meir once said that there will only be peace when the palestinians learn to love their children as much as their hate the jews. that day is still long in coming, may they someday bless their children with peace and love instead of hate and destruction.

(4) Rifka, September 7, 2003 12:00 AM

Action, not words, must be the answer.

I can't understand why so many people are wringing their hands at the thought of Arab cynicism. We all know that they use their children as weapons to kill and hurt Jews. When will action be taken to end this ultimate form of child abuse?

(3) Beverly Kurtin, September 7, 2003 12:00 AM

Constant Choices

Humans are constantly faced with choices; the courageous and compassionate choice of the Mandells to channel what had to be unfathomable grief to comfort others is deserving of praise. They have taken the mitzvah to love their neighbors as themselves above and beyond anything that could possibly be expected of anyone.

It is regrettable that the Arabs have chosen to implant their next generation with the hatred they feel towards us and themselves. The mind that chooses to hate others turns inwards and poisons its own soul and body. I fear for the future of those who choose to hate us; HaShem's promises to bless them that bless us and curse those who curse us has not expired.

(2) Naghi Astanei, September 7, 2003 12:00 AM

I accept no compromise in war on Terrorism

Dear Sherri Mandell:
Please, accept my condolence. The Terrorism, not just AlQaehah, should be erased from face of Earth, no if but or then. What you said about Palestinian Camp did distrube me,yet I take it as a bitter turth. However, when we say Israel, about 1/4 of this great nation are Arabs, not to mention we have Israeli Jewish-Arabs, too. About 1 per cent of Israel Terro victems are Israeli Arabs. Would you plaes, let me know which kind of camps they run? I am sure Mr. Arafar, Yaseen, about them as much they care about other human beings, which is nothing. Do you try to reach them or do they try to reach you? I believe if Moslem and Jews they work side by side they can overcome these evil-doer. the Terrorism should be erased from book of this universe, no if, but, or then.
I do feel about victems of terror in israel same as my own member of families. Thank you and G-d Bless you

(1) Moshe Goldstein, September 7, 2003 12:00 AM


I am glad mentioned how most Israelis don't want revenge or to kill Palestinians. I often hear people say about how the Palestians and Israelis hate each other and which annoys me since its not true. The Palestinians hate Jews but most Jews don't hate Palestinians.

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