(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) — Israel has launched what might be the most controversial tourist attraction in recent history. According to Haaretz, Israel has established a half a dozen fantasy terror camps throughout the country, offering tourists from across the world the chance to pretend-kill terrorists in a make-believe environment for only $115 per person (or $85 per child).
The facilities allow visitors to train like Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers and complete a number of simulated activities, including an explosion at a Jerusalem marketplace, a stabbing attack, a sniper tournament, and a live demonstration with attack dogs.
The two-hour camp attraction provides tourists with a “taste of the Israeli military experience,” according to Haaretz.
Why stop there? Perhaps the simulation should give tourists the chance to bombard children playing soccer on a beach (an attack that has had years-long psychological implications for the survivors). Why not allow tourists to bomb a disability center, as well? Why not give the tourists the ability to control electricity supplies flowing into Palestinian territory, giving them just over three hours of electricity per day with which to endure the intense heat of the region?
Surprisingly, camps like these have existed for some time. IDF Colonel Sharon Gat established the camp known as Caliber 3 in the West Bank in 2003, and this particular camp is reportedly the “leading Counter Terror & Security training academy in Israel.” According to Gat, 15,000 to 25,000 tourists visit Caliber 3 each year. The majority of guests are American Jews, but visitors come from around the world. In a good year, these statistics put Gat’s annual gross profit at approximately $2,875,000 – and all he had to do was simulate the dire struggle of the Palestinian people.
“One day, I sat there wondering whether a Jew in the death camp of Auschwitz could have ever dreamed that an academy like this would ever exist in Israel and that it would train members of the German army,” Gat explained. “And then I said to myself that I am going to open this place to the public to show what a long way the Jewish people have come in 75 years.”
While this may be fun and games to some, the very idea is quite horrifying to others. Of course, there are those who view Palestinian resistance as outright terrorism and think these mock training camps are justified. However, one should bear in mind that throughout history, there were many prominent figures within resistance movements who resorted to questionable tactics, yet these people are revered as worldwide heroes today. In fact, global inspiration Nelson Mandela famously stated that “our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
The idea of simulated murder fantasy camps should be condemned in the strongest terms — in the same way world leaders would be quick to condemn a Palestinian camp that simulates attacks on Israeli Jews.