Humanizing the IDF Experience for US Tourists

June 6, 2013

< 1 min read

Tourists from Philadelphia training with IDF Commandos (Photo: Facebook)
Tourists from Philadelphia training with IDF Commandos (Photo: Facebook)

Private counter-terrorism training centre Caliber3 offers tourists an opportunity to experience a few hours in the life of an IDF commando.  Steve Gar, an instructor at Caliber3, takes his visitors through a gruelling 2-hour training session, then begins to tell them stories about himself and other soldiers.  His goal: to humanize Israeli soldiers in their eyes.

He shares the details of his own life with the group: he is an immigrant, a father, a teacher of Torah to students with special needs, and he is training to be a rabbi.  Of his role as a soldier he says, “We do this because we love, we don’t do this because we love killing.”

Scott Erlbaum, a Philadelphia businessman, participated in the exercise.  He said of his experience, “They take you from high adrenaline to emotion.  I’m probably not an objective observer, but the news does not portray what’s going on here accurately. A lot of the times the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] soldiers are looked at as the bad guys because in combat and in battle children do die sometimes. And it’s sad and it happens on both sides.”

Gar leaves his students with a parting message: “help fight terrorism” by speaking up at home against negative portrayals of Israeli soldiers.

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