Starting in late July, a group of Israeli combat veterans will be holding a training camp in New York to teach advanced self-defense techniques to Jews in U.S. communities. An increasing number of American Jews have expressed interest in the program following a wave of anti-Semitic incidents worldwide over the past year, organizers report.
The group calls itself Kitat Konenut New York – a reference to the “rapid response teams” active throughout Judea and Samaria. Rapid response teams in Israel, comprised of local civilians who are IDF veterans, have often been the first on the scene of terrorist attacks and other emergencies, and have prevented casualties.
It was founded in 2006 in response to a shooting attack at a Jewish center in Seattle, Washington. One woman was murdered in the attack, and several others were wounded.
Kitat Konenut in action (Israel news photo: Kitat Konenut)
The group is apolitical, and does not take part in demonstrations. “Our agenda is to protect Jews,” says group member Yonatan Stern.
However, the group does have a firmly held political belief. “We believe in the constitutional right to bear arms,” Stern says. Kitat Konenut encourages all American Jews to learn how to use weapons, and to purchase their own firearms for self-defense.
Trainees learn the IDF's unique martial arts style, known as Krav Maga, and learn to identify suspicious objects and dismantle improvised explosives. They are also trained to use a variety of both non-lethal and lethal weapons, including assault rifles and sniper rifles. Trainers review techniques to deal with situations ranging from knife fights to urban warfare.
Training this year will begin on July 31 and conclude on August 9.