"Those who take part in the trip come away with the ability to visualize Jewish collective history in a most powerful way. But in pairing the Holocaust with contemporary Israel, the program potentially sets up a problematic linkage between Israeli policies and Jewish existential security. Parents would do well to discuss with their kids the lessons they are taking away about the Middle East....[Sucharov then discusses Israeli security issues like the West Bank and Iran]...It is a conceptual stretch to say that Israel's recent announcement of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, or its continuing blockade over Gaza, or its snaking of the security barrier throughout the West Bank to protect existing settlements while Palestinians experience daily humiliation and collective punishment are necessary to maintaining the health and welfare of Israelis, and by extension, all Jews. But these are the kinds of implicit messages our youth might well take away from the trip, even if it is not the intention of the organizers."Something that Zach and I haven't discussed often enough in this blog, in my opinion, is the inability of Israel's critics on the HP and elsewhere to distinguish between Israel's existence and what it means to Jews and Israel's policies. It is not an unsurprising thing to read someone's post on the HP about the beautiful experience they had visiting the Western Wall and then a response demanding why that someone didn't also visit the West Bank and help the suffering Palestinians. The HPers consistently refuse to look at Israel outside of the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and so does Ms. Sucharov.
The March of the Living is by Jews and for Jews. When the Holocaust was taking place, there was real concern among Jews that this would be it, that the Jewish religion was go out of the world. The Nazis even allowed the Warsaw synagogue to remain intact so it would one day be a museum of the extinct Jews. Going to Germany and Poland shows young Jews how close their heritage was to being wiped out of existence forever, and going to Israel shows them that today their heritage is more alive and thriving than ever. To go from a place where Jews were killed in the millions to a place where Jews live in the millions is the point of the experience. Do you notice how that description of the March of the Living has nothing to do with the Palestinians? Just as visitors to the United States go to see the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall without going to Iraq and Afghanistan, Jewish teenagers going to Israel are not required to have anything to do with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Look at Ms. Sucharov's last paragraph and you'll see my point in action.
"But we shouldn't be stacking the deck for our kids by presenting an uncritical link between the Holocaust and contemporary Israeli approaches to peace and conflict. The volatile mix of emotion, morality and rationality so pronounced during adolescence can create especially binary thinking of "right versus wrong" and "us versus them." While trips like March of the Living provide an enormously powerful learning experience about the dangers of racism and prejudice, we would do well to ensure that our youth take away the most complex lessons they can about the sadly enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict."Again, what are the facts of the March of the Living? The teens go to Europe and then they go to Israel. There is no indoctrination of right-wing policies as part of the trip, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with the March of the Living.
Isn't it sad that Jews cannot celebrate the existence of their state in any way, shape or form without being required to pay penance to the poor suffering Palestinians first?