Gun shy

Seinfeld under fire over visit to West Bank ‘military camp’

The Caliber 3 training facility takes down pics of the famous comedian snapped during a family visit

Yaakov Schwartz is The Times of Israel's deputy Jewish World editor.

Jerry Seinfeld at the Caliber 3 anti-terror training camp outside of Efrat. (Facebook)
Jerry Seinfeld at the Caliber 3 anti-terror training camp outside of Efrat. (Facebook)

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld is taking heat from fans after photos of him at a West Bank “anti-terrorism” course were posted online earlier this week.

The Caliber 3 training facility, located near the settlement of Efrat south of Bethlehem, posted the photos of Seinfeld on its Facebook page with the message, “Finally we are allowed to tell you! Jerry Seinfeld and his family were in Caliber 3. During their visit to Israel last week, they came to us for a special and exciting activity with displays of combat, Krav Maga, assault dogs and lots of Zionism. It was great.”

Foreign tourists react as Israeli intructors neutralize a man during a simulation of a knife attack at a market as they participate in a two hour anti-terror course at the Caliber 3 shooting range, near the West Bank settlement of Efrat on July 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

Seinfeld put on two performances in Tel Aviv on December 30 and toured Israel with his family. After the training facility’s Facebook post, however, Twitter erupted with a violent backlash against the comedian.

“I can never unsee Jerry Seinfeld gleefully posing with a machine gun at an IDF fantasy camp,” posted culture writer Eric Thurm.

“Jerry Seinfeld took his kids to play war games with the IDF. So cute, right? Now imagine the reaction if, say, Bella Hadid posed with the PFLP or DJ Khaled (brandishing a machine gun) hung out with Hamas,” wrote controversial academic Steven Salaita, who is known for his biting criticism of the Jewish state.

As of Tuesday, the facility had removed the photos from its page.

Caliber 3 began in 2003 as a camp for professional security personnel such as police. Since 2009, the program has also become an attraction for tourists who are taught how to handle weapons, participate in paintball or learn Krav Maga, the self-defense method using boxing and martial arts developed by the Israeli military. The course includes simulated “terror attacks” in a make-believe Jerusalem market, complete with plastic fruits and wooden stalls.

But the “fantasy anti-terror camp” isn’t the only military-related place Seinfeld visited during his Israel trip. The comedian also has photos – this time, ones he tweeted himself – taken at the Ramon air force base in the Negev.

And, JTA reported, Seinfeld was spotted at Tel Aviv’s Hakosem restaurant — also a highly controversial site ever since Israel’s Channel 2 proclaimed it the best falafel place in the White City.

The December trip was Seinfeld’s second Israel booking. The first time he performed here was in 2015, when he played four sold-out shows at Tel Aviv’s Menorah Mitvachim Arena.

But though he only started performing here relatively recently, he is no stranger to the country. Seinfeld volunteered in a kibbutz when he was 16, and remembers his time there fondly.

Jerry Seinfeld speaking to the media on Friday, December 18, 2015, shortly after landing in Israel. (Screen capture Ynet)

“It was eight weeks in Israel… Of course I had to work, which I didn’t,” he told The Times of Israel in an interview this past November. “I was supposed to be chopping dead banana leaves. I couldn’t do it – it was exhausting.”

“We actually just drove by [the kibbutz again], which was exciting,” he said. “When I go to Israel, I of course go back to that time. I just feel very close to Israel.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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