This is the time of year when kids and their parents think of Summer Camp. They have camps to fit just about every interest and need. There are camps that focus on all kinds of hobbies, professions, and on various sports. In the United States, we have camps designed not just for football, but specifically for quarterbacks.
Some camps, however, don’t teach how to throw a forward pass, but how to launch an antitank missile. Some camps don’t teach friendship and understanding. They teach hatred and bigotry. I’m talking about the Vanguard of Liberation camps in the Gaza Strip. These are Hamas camps — run by terrorists for the purpose of creating new generations of terrorists.
This year some 50,000 children will attend camps sponsored by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations in Gaza.
Vanguard of Liberation camps indoctrinate children into the most violent and radical form of Islam. Participants wear military-style Hamas uniforms. They learn the ways of guerilla warfare. They learn how to fire and take care of military grade guns. They learn about Molotov cocktails and other improvised weapons. They practice kidnapping Israelis. Some of the camps put the kids in computer simulators where they practice killing Israeli soldiers and Israeli police officers.
These camps prove that Hamas never intends to have real peace with Israel. They sometimes agree to ceasefires, but only for the purpose of regrouping and rebuilding their forces. They do not teach children the ways of peace. They teach them the glories of war, violence, and martyrdom. They indoctrinate the young into a lifestyle of hate toward Israelis. And they give them practical training in the crafts of terror — all seemingly sanctioned by Islam.
A 12-year-old from Gaza City told Al-Monitor, “I will participate in the camp in order to strengthen myself and learn self-defense skills so I can fight Israel, become a martyr and go to heaven.”
A young Christian Palestinian woman recently gave her testimony at an evangelical church in California. She is an amazing person, and her testimony was quite moving. In her presentation, she expressed concern that evangelical churches tend to always take the side of Israel in disputes with Palestinians. She said it is hurtful to hear a Christian lump all Palestinians into one group, as if they are all terrorists.
In my visits to Israel, I became fond of many Palestinians. A significant number of them are Christian. But when the Palestinian people have been given the opportunity to vote, they consistently elect violent and radical leaders. Elections represent majority opinion, and do not tell us the thoughts of the individuals involved. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that, when given the chance, large majorities of Palestinians tend to vote for Hamas.
That’s one reason the world lets the Palestinian Authority get away with not allowing elections. World leaders know the kind of men a majority of Palestinians tend to choose. But those same world leaders refuse to acknowledge the impossible situation this puts Israel in. Israel must try to make peace with a people who choose terrorists for leaders — terrorists who do not want peace.
We should pray for Palestinians and respect their dignity as human beings. But we should not lose sight of the big picture.