American Israelis offer "terror tourism" package in West Bank
By LAURIE COPANS, Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM, AP - 5 March: - A former tire salesman from Pittsburgh and a one-time kosher meat distributor from Baltimore are offering North American tourists counter-terrorism training in a five-day package, complete with a mock terror attack.
American-Israeli Jay Greenblad said the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States showed him he could help prepare Americans for such horrors with his own experience of living in Israel.
In the tours, participants are taught how to handle attackers, such as a knife-wielding intruder in their local synagogue or a bomber on a bus. On Wednesday, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a crowded bus in Haifa, killing 15 passengers.
"We have experts in Israel and we should impart our knowledge," said Greenblad, 47, who lives at the West Bank settlement of Neve Daniel. "We want to give people from America the strength for, not if, but when a terror attack happens in their community."
The program was named after a Civil War battle at Shiloh on the banks of the Tennessee River, in which the Union Army overcame odds and defeated the Confederates. The company's insignia is a fist holding an M-16 rifle in front of the American and Israeli flags.
Greenblad and his partner, Yehoshua Mizrahi, hope to show the impact of 29 months of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli soldiers will brief participants on their experiences in incursions into Palestinian areas.
Israel says the operations are meant to stop terrorism, but Palestinians charge that such incursions and other Israeli military measures have enflamed passions and are responsible for the continuing violence, in which 2,160 people have been killed on the Palestinian side and 743 on the Israeli side.
The tour includes a stay at an Israeli army bunker, complete with military-style food, hand-to-hand combat in the desert and training on how to understand the mentality of terrorists. The "tourists" will undergo a surprise terror attack at one point in the five days, Greenblad said.
Participants will get their own army fatigues and a chance to sit in an Israeli F-15 fighter jet. They will get to use their new training in the last day when the group will be divided into "Arabs" and "Jews" for a fight with paintball guns.
Twenty-two Americans and Canadians have already signed up for the first tour, starting May 4. Participants pay US$5,500 for the program, including airfare. The first trip was slated for the end of March, but it was put off because of an anticipated U.S. military offensive against Iraq.
Greenblad immigrated to Israel in 1996 from Pittsburgh and Mizrahi last year from Baltimore. They met at Neve Daniel.