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2 Sep, 2010 06:30

Israeli army veterans in US train up for self-defense

While politicians are working on peace in the Middle East, a Jewish group in the US is preparing itself for the worst. Thinking they may be attacked, they train intensively in military skills and survival methods.

Three men are taking part in a military exercise similar to those in the Jewish state of Israel on American soil. However, they aren’t soldiers – they are Jewish American civilians.

Now they are part of Kitat Konenut New York – a non-political, non-partisan team of freedom-loving Jews and all Americans that teach preparedness against terrorism and natural disasters. The group encourages its members to become legally armed and express their second amendment rights.

Kitat Konenut New York is run and trained by veterans of the Israel Defense Forces and incorporates elite Israeli fighting skills. They train out in the woods with semi-automatic weapons and knives, learning and practicing martial arts and first aid, because of a core belief that “terrorism is directed against Jewish people all across the world,” believes Yonatan Stern, founder of the Kitat Konenut New York.

“We know we are a target if you just look at history, look at recent events,” Stern says.

As such, they see a need to defend themselves.

“I’m scared, I’m scared for myself when I go to work and I’m scared for my family when I’m not there to protect them,” Scott Brown from Kitat Konenut New York says.

In the United States, where there is a right to bear arms, Kitat Konenut says there is a need to express those rights and to protect ourselves.

It is a view they are trying to spread through setting up camps for people to bring home to their Jewish communities, whether it’s a tiny Orthodox enclave like the one on the road in or a big city like New York.

Members are concerned that the Big Apple is much more likely to be the target of a militant attack.

However, critics believe it’s the mission of a group like Kitat Konenut that actually poses a threat.

“Once people are ready for action, somehow action finds them,” said Danny Schechter, who is an analyst and a Jewish American himself.

“I grew up with what you would call the Holocaust narrative,” Danny says. “It often distorts your feelings, because you begin to think everyone is against you, everybody hates you. And as a result you act in ways that are not in your interest.”

Kinat Kinanut claims it’s not an extremist group or a militia, and is not preaching any politics. They say that they are just scared of the community as a whole.

Yet when the fear of Muslims drives you to pick up your guns, something is not right, feels Schechter:

“You begin to see all Muslims as Osama Bin Laden and you act accordingly, and mostly it's not true,” he notes, adding, “In the end, I think, it really doesn't contribute to security, it makes people more insecure.”