A popular Jewish summer camp raised a Palestinian flag alongside their Israeli flag on Friday, sparking controversy among the camp community.
Camp Solomon Schechter, located near Olympia, WA, has been a destination for young Jewish campers for decades.
As first reported by Israellycool.com, last week, the camp hosted a delegation from the organization Kids4Peace. The visitors included 14 campers from Israel and Seattle; one third Jewish, one third Muslim, and one third Christian.
The camp raised a Palestinian flag on Friday morning in what they said was a gesture of "friendship and acceptance" for the delegation.
Community members responded, many voicing anger and disappointment. A number wrote their concerns on the camp's Facebook page.
Alex Ginzburg commented, "Has your camp's administration lost their mind recently with the flag incident?!??"
In a letter addressing the incident, the camp stated that they decided to raise the Palestinian flag "for the sake of a teachable moment."
The letter went on to say that the action "was met with uncertainty by some campers and staff, especially the Israeli's, but all understood that the message of hope for peace by flying the Israeli flag alongside helped develop empathy."
The camp further attempted to explain the episode in a Facebook post. The message reads, "We sincerely apologize that we upset some in our CSS (Camp Solomon Schechter) and larger Jewish community by introducing the Palestinian flag into our educational program. Camp Solomon Schechter reiterates our unwavering support for the State of Israel as the Jewish homeland."
The apology was met with a mixed response.
Camp alumni Naomi Shaw wrote, "So proud to have attended this wonderful camp. I think that this is such a wonderful thing to introduce to the next generation."
The apology was not enough for many, however.
Rene Ragettli commented that she "Had thought of sending my daughter to Schechter next year. Definitely off the list now."
The camp administration issued a formal apology on Sunday, stating, "Camp Solomon Schechter regrets raising the Palestinian flag alongside the US, Canadian, and Israeli flags... We neglected to foresee in such actions the serious political implications, and for that lapse in judgement we are deeply sorry."