By Ronn Torossian
A new self-defense organization has been founded in the Jewish community. Sadly, this type of group is necessary during the times of turbulence that Jews are facing worldwide.
Called “The Legion,” it is the brainchild of the creators of the activist organization Fuel for Truth, and its aim is to provide self-defense and counter-terrorism training to New Yorkers.
At a recent presentation I attended, the charismatic and enthusiastic founder of Fuel for Truth and The Legion, Jon Loew, explained the need for this new group: “Many members of the Jewish community are feeling physically vulnerable for the first time in their lives, and we are responding to that. We are teaching Jews basic self-defense training.”
Since its founding in 2001, Fuel for Truth has been highly regarded for its achievements in the Israel-advocacy space, educating young Americans on what has been happening in the Middle East.
The recent public event for The Legion drew more than 200 people. It opened with a rousing speech by Master Sergeant Terry Schappert (U.S. Army Special Forces), a Green Beret and host of several popular TV shows about military training. Schappert (who isn’t Jewish) stated clearly: “My fellow Christians don’t believe you will stand up and protect yourselves. Prove them wrong.”
At the end of the night, attendees were encouraged to apply for training—and apply they did; to date, the organization has received more than 120 applicants. But due to its limited resources, the organization will train only 50 students in its first nine-month program.
The Legion hopes to create a deterrent capability, so that Jews are not perceived as easy targets.
When the situation in Gaza and Israel intensified in the summer of 2014, there was a clear spike in antisemitic attacks globally, and especially in New York, which served as the catalyst to set The Legion into motion.
Loew said, “Our government and law enforcement agencies do a great job defending our country from attacks of all kinds, but we can’t expect them to defend every citizen in every situation. People must take steps to protect themselves. There is a need for The Legion. There is a need for young, strong Jews to protect synagogues and Jewish institutions, and Jews on campuses. ”
Loew believes that just as France and the U.K. have seen a rise in antisemitism, it is inevitable that the same will occur here. Let’s hope not. But if it does, Jews should be protected.