Jerry Seinfeld is getting heat for bringing his family to take part in a civilian anti-terror training course in Israel’s Gush Etzion while in the country for a comedy performance. The experience was just another sign of the Jewish comedian’s long-standing connection to Israel.
After appearing in Tel Aviv on December 30, Seinfeld and family spent ten days touring the country. Last week, the Seinfelds participated in a course for tourists held at the Caliber 3 training facility in Gush Etzion.
“Finally we are allowed to tell you! Jerry Seinfeld and his family were in Caliber 3,” the organization posted on their Facebook page. “During their visit to Israel last week, they came to us for a special and exciting activity with displays of combat, Krav Maga (Israeli martial arts), assault dogs and lots of Zionism. It was great.”
The course is for tourists, but the anti-terror training is quite real. Caliber 3, located in Gush Etzion, is the largest anti-terror training facility in Israel and even has a branch in San Diego. Yael Gat, spokesperson for Caliber 3, sees the tourist program as a national and religious imperative.
“We work from the imperative stated in the Book of Samuel,” Gat told Breaking Israel News.
He ordered the Judites to be taught [The Song of the] Bow. II Samuel 1:18
“In addition to the practical training, we present [participants] with the situations Israeli civilians and the IDF have to face on a daily basis,” Gat said. “We explain to them the ideals that are important to maintain while coping with these difficulties. We work hard to give the participants a better understanding of a Israel, in some ways far more realistic than the the average tourist.”
“At the end of the course, we present the participants with a certificate in a ceremony that includes singing Hatikvah (Israeli national anthem), every person in their language,” Gat explained. “It is very touching and many participants get quite emotional, walking away with a deeper connection to our country.”
But the immediate negative reaction to Caliber 3’s post about the Seinfelds was so strong that Caliber 3 was forced to remove the post. Glenn Greenwald, who has been criticized for his anti-Israel bias as a journalist for the Guardian, was especially harsh, tweeting that Seinfeld visited an “anti-terror amusement park in occupied Palestine.”
Eric Thurm, a culture writer for the Guardian and Rolling Stone, tweeted, “I can never unsee Jerry Seinfeld gleefully posing with a machine gun at an IDF fantasy camp.”
— meaning machine (@EricThurm) January 8, 2018
Steven Salaita, a professor whose offer of employment was withdrawn by the University of Illinois due to accusations of anti-Semitism, tweeted, “Jerry Seinfeld took his kids to play war games with the IDF. So cute, right? Now imagine the reaction if, say, Bella Hadid posed with the PFLP or DJ Khaled (brandishing a machine gun) hung out with Hamas.”
This was Seinfeld’s second time performing in Israel but his personal connection to the Holy Land goes back to a short stretch volunteering on Kibbutz Saar when he was sixteen years old.
Established in 2003 by IDF Special Forces Colonel (retired) Sharon Gat, Caliber 3 offers a wide range of courses, preparing security personnel, police, working with the IDF, and training civilians for personal protection. It also offers tourist programs that can include krav maga (Israeli martial arts), weapons training, urban combat paintball, combat rappelling, and wilderness survival. Included in the course is a simulated attack in a mock open-market.