It’s fun to stay at the YMCA… except if you’re Israeli

Jerusalem Int’l YMCA, insists that the absence of the Israeli flag does not mean “we don’t recognize Israel” • Jerusalem councilman: It is unbelievably insolent of the YMCA to be a guest in a country, sit in its capital, and then spit on its institutions.

By Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff

 

 

A summer camp at the Jerusalem International YMCA has provoked outrage after organizers refused to include an Israeli flag with a collection of national flags from around the world currently adorning the building.

Flags at the Jerusalem YMCA building. But where is Israel’s?
Photo credit: Oren Nachshon

The Jerusalem International YMCA, a cultural and sports center and subsidiary of the global Young Men’s Christian Association, has traditionally promoted friendship between Christians, Muslims and Jews with countless joint cultural and sports events. The building itself, considered one of the most beautiful in Jerusalem, is a historical landmark.

Parents of children currently attending the “Magical World Voyage” summer camps at the YMCA have voiced outrage over the absence of the Israeli flag from the collection of world flags decorating the building. Members of the YMCA sports facilities are also angered by the decision not to display the Israeli flag.

“The flag of Israel is a supremely important symbol, and suddenly our flag is not on display at the YMCA, which is supposed to bring Jews, Christians and Muslims together,” said a father of one of the campers. “Our camp includes Jews and Arabs. We were told by the management that the Israeli flag wasn’t hung to avoid offending the Arab children and parents. That is a very grave [decision].”

Jerusalem councilman Meir Turgeman, who heads the city’s control committee, has received many complaints on the issue. In a letter he addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Turgeman wrote, “it is a disgrace that there are those who are trying to distance themselves from their Israeli identity. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel, and of everyone who lives here. The decision not to wave the flag was deliberate and systematic. In light of this decision, there is talk of revoking the YMCA’s city funding.”

Another city councilman, Yair Gabbai, also condemned the decision, telling Channel 1 news that “in no other country, would the YMCA organization allow itself to behave the way it behaves in Israel. It is unbelievably insolent to be a guest in a country, sit in its capital, and spit on its institutions.”

Miri Edry, the mother of a camper, told Channel 1, “I was told that just as there is no flag of Palestine, there is no flag of Israel. That is unacceptable. After all, the main focus of this summer camp is a shared experience of all cultures and all peoples, and we are in the State of Israel, and this is our national flag.”

In a statement, Jerusalem International YMCA CEO Forsan Hussein said that “there was a misunderstanding. I understand that the issue is sensitive, but the fact that I avoided hanging an Israeli flag or a Palestinian flag doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize Israel’s existence. We wanted to give the children an international experience.”

View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=5060

17 comments

  1. sherri gross says:

    “in no other country, would the YMCA organization allow itself to behave the way it behaves in Israel.”
    THAT’S BECAUSE NO OTHER COUNTRY WOULD PUT UP WITH THIS BEHAVIOR. ONLY ISRAEL LETS EVERYONE STEP ON OUR US. THEY WILL STOP, WHEN WE STOP BEING THE WORLD’S DOORMAT.
    AND PARENTS–TAKE YOUR KIDS OUT OF THIS RACIST AND OBNOXIOUS CAMP IF YOU ARE TRULY OUTRAGED!

  2. “the Israeli flag wasn’t hung to avoid offending the Arab children and parents.”

    But, to offend their HOST is ok
    to take Israeli funding is also ok
    and to remain adamant afterwards is ok with them.

    Well, it’s not ok, it’s disrespectful, dishonorable and bias. It should be the FIRST flag up, considering they ARE in Israel, AND they don’t have a problem accepting City (Jerusalem) funding.

    If YOU agree this is unacceptable, send an email to their CEO at:
    ceo.office@ymca.org.il

    REMEMBER…..Be respectful! lol

  3. Here’s the Page of Jerusalem’s Mayor, to email him:

    http://www.jerusalem.muni.il/jer_main/defaultnew.asp?lng=2

    On the bottom of the page: Contact Mayors Office.

  4. Jodie Asaraf says:

    Let me clarify the facts. We did not refuse to fly the Israeli flag. Our summer camp program is entitled Seeing the World. During this 4 week program every 3 days the children “visit” another country. They receive a YMCA passport which displays on its first page an Israeli flag. The flags that are displayed outside are of each of the countries that the children will visit and nothing else. There is no more significance to the absence of an Israeli flag than this and any other significance that is ascribed to it is merely intended to fan the flames of hatred. This was clearly explained to the author of this article but he chose to put his own political spin on it. There are indeed Israeli flags displayed in other places throughout the building and on three significant occasions throughout the year – Holocaust Remembrance Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day – we indeed display the Israeli flag on the front of our building.

    • Thank you so much for your clarification.

      I would only suggest, to appease those who are thin-skinned about their nationalism, to bring one of the Israeli fags displayed elsewhere in the building, and display it as well.

      I completely understand your rational in your explanation, but as long as other countries’ flags are displayed publicly, no harm would come by adding Israel’s as well.

      BTW, that is also protocol when displaying even one other flag. Host country is ALWAYS displayed.
      (Unless on the soil of an Embassy or Ambassador’s residence, where Host Country is that of the Embassy.)

      Multiple flags

      When flags of many nations are flown the flag of the hosting country should be placed on the left with the rest following in alphabetical order in the language of the host country.

      • ammanjah de vries says:

        The flags were not ‘flown’ and were not there for any official, stately or otherwise, function or capacity. The flags were there as part of a summer camp activity. They are not a permanent fixture at the YMCA and never have been. They represented the countries the children were visiting, WITH THEIR ISRAELI-FLAG EMBLAZONED pretend passports! Each child had a passport with… THE ISRAELI FLAG! How then, can you make the claim that the YMCA had any anti-israel motivations?

        I am sure that if an Israeli school was holding a week-long ‘nations of the world’ event, and flags were strung up outside the school representing the countries to be ‘visited’, that Mr. Yalon would not have made the biased assumptions about the YMCA’s intentions that he did.

        • I cannot see how AFTER BEING ENLIGHTENED to the internationally accepted and recognized Flag Protocols, a simple cultural idiosyncrasy, (like NOT sneezing on someone’s plate of food, or blowing cigarette smoke into another’s face or throwing your rubbish on your neighbor’s lawn) people continue to excuse away this open & blatant exercise in disrespect.

          Wouldn’t it just be so much easier to simply add one more flag…..the FIRST that should have been placed?

          or

          Are the 2 excuses doubletalk to camouflage a sinister agenda?

    • Dear Ms. Asaraf,
      Forgive me, but your response wreaks of age-old Anti-Semitic excuses.I have sent my kids on many an international travel camp. Never was the host country slighted in the manner the Y purports. Shame on you, shame on the Y. Very disappointed in the type of response you have written. I was hoping for a better crafted and more insightful letter. This is veiled Anti-Semitism at its best. I will surely be passing this along as a good example of Anti-Semitism cloaked in the guise of “internationalism”. Another lesson learned.

      • Jamie, I would have accepted her explanation, had it not been in direct contradiction to s.o.p. with regards to Flag Protocol.

        Maybe after being in uniform for 3 decades the protocol means more to me that others. Since it is internationally accepted, yet unknown to many civilians, I think it was an unintentional (ignorance maybe?) insult, that can be easily rectified. If, now that they are aware of the Flag Protocol and they still refuse, then THAT’S completely unacceptable.

    • Daniel Shapiro says:

      Please excuse my cynicism Jodie. I feel obligated to ask, the original explanation given by YMCA is quoted as reported ““Our camp includes Jews and Arabs. We were told by the management that the Israeli flag wasn’t hung to avoid offending the Arab children and parents.”
      Please explain the difference in these two explanations. I fear one of them is somewhat les than candid.

  5. ammanjah de vries says:

    How sad that a fun, educational summer camp for ALL ISRAELI CHILDREN has been so blindly politicised by Mr. Yalon and the Israel Hayom staff.

    With questions of Israel Hayom’s political leanings (its Las Vegas casino-owning founder Mr. Shelon Adelson’s support for right-wing PM Netanyahu has been at the centre of a long-standing dispute over the future of Israel’s print media in Israel…), you would think Israel Hayom would be a bit more careful to check the articles it publishes, to accurately include and give weight to official responses and comments, and to encourage fact-based journalism, rather than political trouble-stirring based on biased interpretations.

    The Jerusalem YMCA has long been one of the most impartial, all-inclusive and supportive institutions in the city. Anyone who knows anything about our beloved city’s history would know that. Anyone who bothered to check would readily see how impartial and supportive the Jersualem YMCA is. I for one have celebrated Holocaust Memorial Day and Independence Day at the YMCA. To attack the Jerusalem YMCA in this fashion is simply ignorant – especially because the flags where not there in any official capacity, but rather for a CHILDREN’S CAMP ACTIVITY!!

    • I’m not with Israel Hayom nor do I know Yori Yalon. So, my comments are neither payed for, or biased from friendships or otherwise.

      The assumed politics you introduced as motives, means absolutely nothing to me.

      Please REMEMBER where the Young Man’s Christian Association is.
      It is in Jerusalem, THE most disputed city on the planet. If it’s true that the YMCA has access to city funds and/or tax benefits, I cannot see how AFTER BEING ENLIGHTENED to the internationally accepted and recognized Flag Protocols, a simple cultural idiosyncrasy, (like NOT sneezing on someone’s plate of food, or blowing cigarette smoke into another’s face or throwing your rubbish on your neighbor’s lawn) people continue to excuse away this open & blatant exercise in disrespect.

      Wouldn’t it just be so much easier to simply add one more flag…..the FIRST that should have been placed?

      or

      Are the 2 excuses doubletalk to camouflage a sinister agenda?

    • aviva ishai says:

      are these, or are these NOT accurate reports of what was told to parents there? :
      “We were told by the management that the Israeli flag wasn’t hung to avoid offending the Arab children and parents.” said a father of one of the campers.
      Miri Edry, the mother of a camper, told Channel 1, “I was told that just as there is no flag of Palestine, there is no flag of Israel.”

  6. jsh says:

    Hmmm, let me think… a summer camp program in which the kids learn about foreign countries. Why *would* there be an Israeli flag there?

    Looks like the usual ridiculous tantrums over nothing. Indeed, Mr Gabbai, in no other country would this happen. In no other country would it even phase people to consider that an absence of the national flag from a bunting used to show *foreign* countries would be anything but perfectly logical.

    The paranoia these days is embarrassing. You practically have to go around dancing the hora to the tune of Hatikvah while simultaneously waving olive branches and playing frizbee with a matzah to avoid getting branded as un-Israeli.

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