It’s rare that the Jewish community agrees on something, so when we do, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Anti-semitism is on the rise both here and abroad. It doesn’t matter if you blame the left or the right. It doesn’t matter if you find the climate on college campuses or the rhetoric permeating politics to be more worrisome. It doesn’t matter if you have heard Jews being blamed for controlling the economy or for controlling the weather. We can all agree that anti-semitism isn’t going anywhere soon and it is only getting worse.
With the help of social media, we have gotten better at sounding the whistle when anti-semitism strikes. For Americans, our interpretations of the term anti-semitism converge most when pointing overseas whether it is at the rhetoric of the right-wing Marine LaPen in France or the left-wing Jeremy Corbyn in Britain. All across Europe Jews are fleeing their homes in fear for their safety, refusing to wait for the other shoe to drop as our ancestors did.
In the United States our disagreements on the definition of anti-semitism are greater but the sources of hate are numerous. Whether it is the anti-normalization with Israel preached by Linda Sarsour to women and the Muslim community, or by Louis Farrakhan to the black community, or the rise of far right anti-semitism, the social climate for Jews is deteriorating. For anyone who had previously thought that anti-semitism was restricted to Europe, current events have shown that America is just as susceptible. Repeated attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn has many worried for their safety. Our increased social media presence is a good thing but many wonder, “why isn’t anyone taking action? Why are we sitting around and waiting for the other shoe to drop?”
The Legion Manhattan Chapter
The Legion was started in 2015 by the same people who created the Israel advocacy group Fuel For Truth
in 2001 at a time when no one could have imagined that Israel would need advocates on college campuses. Legion is a revolutionary self-defense organization that offers an exclusive nine month training program that includes physical self-defense and classroom-setting counter terrorism training. Entering its 4th year, Legion has already trained several hundred individuals including people of different races and religions. The Legion’s current five locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Oceanside, Great Neck, and West Hartford, CT seek to empower its members and cultivate a proactive community. By training individuals in self-defense, Legion’s aim is to build deterrence against those who consider Jews to be incapable of defending themselves.
Watching neo-Nazis and white supremacists march while chanting “Jews will not replace us” a year ago in Charlottesville should have been the final warning sign to anyone who still needed it. Judah Maccabeus and his brothers understood when enough was enough over 2,000 years ago when they began to prepare their people to defend their homes. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, and David Ben-Gurion understood this when they began to train the Jews of Palestine to defend their families. Mordechai Anielewicz and the ZOB understood this when they prepared their community in the Warsaw Ghetto to go down fighting against the Nazis. We look up to these heroes yet we fail to emulate their preparation. The Legion understands that there have been enough warnings. The time to prepare is now. Being an online warrior will not help in the face of a physical assault.
As a Legion graduate of last year’s Gamma class at Mutant MMA
in Oceanside and a future manager for the upcoming Delta class at Traditional Krav Maga
in Great Neck, I can say that the program is life changing in many ways. From the moment you walk in on Day One, you can feel that you are surrounded by like-minded individuals. Legion makes you realize that you are not alone, regardless of your race, religion, gender, or political affiliation. Throughout the nine months, you grow as a community, determined to be prepared for any situation, for the sake of your friends and families.
The Legion Oceanside Chapter
The physical results are immediate but more importantly, you will notice the difference in your mentality after the first class. Through situational awareness, first aid, and active shooter training, you will never feel as vulnerable again. It is impossible to put a value on the personal growth that 9 months of training with The Legion enables you to attain. While we pray that these self-defense skills will never be needed, the confidence that they instill help to rid our community of the fear that the rise in anti-semitism can foster.
Too often we look to the strength of Israelis with awe and envy when we should be taking the necessary steps to match their courage and determination. Relying solely on the good will and aid of others robs us of our independence. It is time that the Jewish community stepped out from behind the keyboard and took proactive steps to protect itself and to defend its own in response to physical anti-semitism initiated against it. The Legion is not doing anything that has not been done before by our people – we are just fixing our roof before the rain comes. It is time that the Jewish community adopted the mentality of those who train with The Legion.