A group of Israeli and Palestinian children left for Greece on July
22nd as part of a new initiative aimed at building peace through martial
arts. The program, which ran for 3 days, is aimed at teaching conflict
resolution through the principles of movement and respect, is the first of
"Martial arts is about creating harmony within one's self and that is the
first step toward creating harmony with another person," said Danny Hakim,
who founded the Budo for Peace organization in November of last year. "In
budo [martial arts] your opponent is not called an enemy, but rather your
Hakim, who immigrated to Israel from Australia three years ago, has been
practicing martial arts for 34 years. He studied under Steven Seagal in
Japan, where he lived for ten years, and has represented both Australia and
Japan in international competitions. Most recently, he coached the Israeli
Shotokan Karate team in Durban.
For Hakim, a sixth degree Black Belt who now holds the highest rank for
Shotokan Karate in Israel, this week's Budo Festival for Peace is a natural
extension of martial arts principles. "`Budo' in Japanese literally means
`the way of stopping conflict' but it is falsely translated as `martial
arts,'" he explains. "When you go to a dojo [budo club], you go in and bow
as a sign of respect. You bow to the place, you bow to the instructor, and
you bow to your partner."
The Palestinian and Israeli competitors, he adds, will have to bow to
each other, despite the language gap that may separate them, because
communication is through movement. "It's a new idea, but it makes a lot of
sense," he insists.
The participants, aged 10 to 15, are all martial arts students. They
included six Palestinian children, six Israeli children - four of whom are
Jewish - and participants from other areas of conflict, such as Kosovo and
The Palestinian and Israeli contingent met once last week at a
get-together in Tel Aviv's Dizengoff Centre.
"Everyone was really nervous," recalls Hakim, "and budo was what broke
Participation for the program was highly competitive, and Hakim, who
interviewed 60 youngsters from Issawiya, only accepted six. Their flights
were subsidized by the Peres Center for Peace and the Japanese government,
but the Israeli children were responsible for their own transportation
Upon arrival in Greece, the children had four days of intensive budo
training. Top masters from Japan arrived for the event, and so the
participants had a chance to fine tune their martial art specialty, whether
it be karate or judo. They also learned a new martial art, such as aikido,
kendo, or shorinji kempo, a mix of several more practiced techniques.
Representatives from the Washington DC-based Institute of World Affairs,
a non profit organization that urges creative approaches to international
conflicts, also taught lessons in conflict resolution.
The retreat was hosted by the municipality of Delphi, the mythical home
to the ancient Greek Oracle that first urged warriors to put down their arms
and show their athletic ability. "The real spirit of competition through
respect and the Olympic games comes from Delphi," Hakim adds.
The program is still in the pilot stage, but Hakim is convinced that the
weekend gave the children tools to become ambassadors for peace when they
returned home. "It sounds funny," he admits, "but you've got to see it."
Talking to Barghouti
In the framework of the current Israeli Palestinian
diplomatic deadlock, Ha'aretz Defense Editor Ze’ev Schiff reflects on
Israel’s lack of a ‘Palestinian address for negotiations’. According to
Schiff; “ [Marwan] Barghouti […] is charismatic and capable of establishing
a strong leadership coalition around him, and thereby break the tragic cycle
of Palestinian society, which at the moment is incapable of making any major
decisions except for using violence.” (Source: Ha’aretz, July 16, 2004)
Tawfiq Abu Baker:
Palestinian Moderation over Thirty Years
Veteran writer and PLC member, Tawfiq Abu Baker reflects back
on the role of moderation within the PLO over the past thirty years.
Emphasizing the critical role of leaders, Abu Baker calls for a return of a
policy of moderation within the Palestinian leadership. (Source: Jenin
Center for Strategic Studies, July 26, 2004)
Alexandra J. Wall:
Israeli and Jordanian Activists Plead for the
“Water could be what the next war is based on, but if the
countries work together, it could bring peace, too,” commented a Jordanian
student from Israel’s Arava Institute for Environmental Studies. The
institute encourages environmental cooperation between peoples working
towards sustainable development and peace for the region and the world.
(Source: j, the Jewish news weekly of Northern California, July 16, 2004)
Israeli and Palestinian Children Try
Conflict Resolution through Martial Arts...
In the first program of its kind, Israeli and Palestinian
youth learn the principles of conflict resolution through martial arts
training. ‘"Martial arts is about creating harmony within one's self and
that is the first step toward creating harmony with another person," said
Danny Hakim, who founded the Budo for Peace organization.’ (Source:
Ha’aretz, July 23, 2004)