A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
The past few months, we here in Israel have lived through some horrendous tales of violence and sexual abuse and misconduct. Our former President was convicted of rape, a highly-important rabbi indicted for sex crimes and stories of murder and sexual assault of young men and women, often at the hands of their peers, abound.
Despite that, or perhaps because of that, this is a story I think we all need to hear: The story of one woman’s outstanding heroism in the midst of the horrible conditions being endured by Eritrean refugees.
While the world looks to Egypt for new hope, hundreds are being killed and tortured for financial gain on her Southern border.
A hopeless situation? Perhaps. But not according to Zeid and the 50 people she who owe her their lives.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Zeid, a 30-year-old asylum-seeker who had been raped by Bedouin smugglers in the Sinai, managed to steal the keys to the prisoners’ cells and release her comrades. This according to the testimonies of prisoners who fled to Israel
About 50 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea were able to escape two weeks ago from Bedouin smugglers who held them in the Sinai and reached the Israeli border. About 30 of them managed to cross the border, while the others were apparently sold by Egyptian soldiers back to the smugglers. This is according to the testimonies of four refugees who entered Israel and told their version of the story to the Hotline for Migrant Workers.
The prisoners who escaped owed their lives to Zeid, a 30 year old prisoner, who through ingenuity and courage, managed to release them from the camp. They said that about ten days ago she was brutally raped by one of the guards at the smugglers’ detention camp. The refugees explain that when the smugglers returned Zeid to the camp grounds, she stole the key to to the prisoners’ cell and hid it in her hair.
The group that was released from their cells took captors’ Kalashnikov rifles, threatened them, and fled, armed to the Israeli border. Before crossing the border into Israel, they threw down their weapons and, thereby, secured their entry into Israel, directly into the hands of IDF forces who took them from there to Ketziot Prison.
Zeid, the heroic prisoner, currently remains at Ketziot Prison. Abraham Asmelsh, age 25 from Sudan, who was able to escape thanks to her efforts asked to say one sentence to her : “Thank you Zeid. Thanks to you, we are still alive.” Abraham promises to keep the key Zeid brought to him for the rest of his life.
Rape, Starvation and Violence
The place where the refugee group was held for the past six months was like a pigsty. Conditions were appalling and difficult – without regular food, toilets, showers or proper places to sleep. “We got a half-liter bottle of water per day. When it was very hot, we were given two bottles per person,” says Mussa Naim, one of the asylum seekers who had been imprisoned by the Bedouin. “When I came to the desert I weighed 85 kilo. Within six months I lost 30 kilo.”
“They were taking the women every day. When I tried to prevent them from taking them, they beat me with sticks. I still have signs,” Musa said, “They argued that the women were not my sisters, so it was not my business what they did with them. The women were crying and shouting. I could not sleep. After several months, it became clear that none of them got their monthly menstrual cycle. Some of them did not realize that they were pregnant. ”
Dozens of concentration camps of asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea are operating in the northern Sinai Desert, half an hour from the border of Israel – Egypt. A report that was prepared by the “Hotline for Migrant Workers” presents accumulated testimony of experiences of severe abuse from asylum seekers who managed to reach Israel. According to the report, ownership and control of the camps is divided between the Sinai Bedouin smugglers, and Egyptian military personnel, who maintain an extensive business relationship with them.
Incident follows a wave of challenges to religious authorities.
It was a scene Saudi women’s rights activists have dreamt of for years.
When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.
But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping.
A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix.
For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop.
According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face.
“To see resistance from a woman means a lot,” Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist, told The Media Line news agency. “People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.”
“The media and the Internet have given people a lot of power and the freedom to express their anger,” she said. “The Hai’a are like a militia, but now whenever they do something it’s all over the Internet. This gives them a horrible reputation and gives people power to react.”
Neither the religious police nor the Eastern Province police has made a statement on the incident, and both the names of the couple and the date of the incident have not been made public, but on Monday the incident was all over the Saudi media.
Should the woman be charged, she could face a lengthy prison term and lashings for assaulting a representative of a government institution.
Saudi law does not permit women to be in public spaces without a male guardian. Women are not allowed to drive, inherit, divorce or gain custody of children, and cannot socialize with unrelated men.
Officers of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are tasked with enforcing such laws, but it hasn’t been an easy year for Saudi Arabia’s religious police.
The decision last year by Saudi King Abdullah to open the kingdom’s first co-educational institution, with no religious police on campus, led to a national crises for Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious authorities, with the new university becoming a cultural proxy war for whether or not women and men should be allowed to mix publicly.
A senior Saudi cleric publicly criticized the gender mixing at the university and was summarily fired by the king.
That was followed in December by a surprise announcement from Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, head of the Saudi religious police commission in Mecca, who published an article against gender segregation, leading to threats on his life and rumors that he had been or would be fired.
Meanwhile, the Saudi government has gone to great efforts recently to improve the image of the religious police, most notably by firing the national director of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice earlier this year. The new director Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Humain then announced a series of training programs and a special unit to handle complaints against the religious police.
Last month, however, members of the religious police in the northern province of Tabuk were charged with assaulting a young woman as she attempted to visit her son, in a move that marked an unprecedented challenge to the religious police’s authority.
“There is some sort of change taking place,” Nadya Khalife, the Middle East women’s rights researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Media Line. “There is clearly a shifting mentality regarding to the male guardianship law and similar issues. More women are speaking out, there are changes within the government, there is a mixed university, the king was photographed with women, they want to allow women to work in the courts and there are changes within the justice ministry. So you can witness some kind of change unfolding but it’s not quite clear what’s happening and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight.”
May 20, 110 Thursday 15 Sivan 3870 23:48 IST
Photo by: AP
Cases of sexual assault by relatives surfacing in Gaza
By OMER GHRAIEB / THE MEDIA LINE
Psychologist suggests unemployment, boredom, oppression and life under siege contribute to drug use and depravity in Strip.
Eighteen-year-old E.S. hides in the corner of her dark room, fearing the approach of a family member coming to prey on her flesh again. The nervous girl with deep green eyes and golden locks makes several grueling attempts at speech, eventually letting out in screams that she was being raped by her relatives, finally leading her to isolation.
S.G. is another such case. She is 25 years old, with blue eyes and short black hair. Even the manner in which she sits reflects her suffering. She, too, fell prey to her father when he attacked her, trying to steal her virginity.
The stories of E.S. and S.G. indicate a growing phenomenon in the Gaza Strip, in which many girls find themselves trapped by their parents, brothers and relatives.
Staring around her in a state of panic, E.S. whispers that she has been sexually assaulted by her father since age four, right in front of her mother.
“I was not aware of what he was doing,” she told The Media Line. “When I reached to the stage of perception, only then I realized that what he is doing is totally forbidden,” she continued.
Her voice then drifted and tears started flowing down her cheeks.
“I went to my mother to complain about it, but she did nothing,” E.S. continued. “She was afraid of being fired by my father or divorced, so she threatened me not to say a word to anyone.”
E.S. then turned to her only uncle, hoping that perhaps he would be able to help.
“When I recounted [to] my uncle what happened to me his eyes shone, and I was hit by a state of shock when I was asked to commit outrageous sexual acts with him,” E.S. explained after insisting that she be allowed to finish telling her story.
Her uncle said he would prevent her from leaving the house until she complied, E.S. said.
She has attempted to commit suicide several times throughout her young life, but found herself unable to go through with it at the last moment.
“I was aware of the punishment that awaits me in the hereafter, so I was reluctant, and wished for ‘Prince Charming’ to come on his white horse and save me from this mire of wolves [and enable me] to live my life somewhat in a normal way,” she explained.
One of the most horrific cases of family rape is that of S.G., who strongly objected to speaking at first, but later agreed on condition of anonymity.
“In the beginning, my father was stalking me and watching my movements, taking advantage of the absence of all my family members from the house,” she explained.
During her father’s first attempt, only foreplay was involved, making S.G. think that it was a show of love and tenderness, just like any other parents would do with their daughters.
“When he went too far, crossing every red line, I tried to stop him, but he refused. I started screaming, [thinking] perhaps someone will hear my voice and answer me, but he quickly put his hand on my mouth and said: ‘I have the right to use you more than any stranger,'” S.G. continued, disgust taking over her face.
“After finishing his unforgivable crime, he threatened to kill me if I disclosed the secret. I had to agree, believing that he would not repeat it again,” she continued.
But some days later he tried again to assault her, so she told her mother and brother. Her mother was shocked and lost consciousness, while her brother confronted his father. The father justified his crime by saying it was his right to use his own daughter. So the young son told the police, leading to his father’s imprisonment.
One of the S.G.’s relatives heard her story by accident, and decided to marry S.G. to preserve her dignity. When her father came out of prison, the husband wanted to open a new page by asking his wife to go visit her father because after all, he would always be her father. According to S.G., at the end of the visit her father prevented her from leaving and threw her husband out of the house.
“She is my daughter and I deserve to use her more than you, so I will rape her!” the father screamed.
This made her husband go mad, but in the end he managed to save her from her father’s brutality and bring her home safe – albeit traumatized.
The sad story continued with S.G.’s younger sister, who was also tormented by their father. In a particularly harsh move, the girls’ brother finally murdered their father to save his younger sisters from the teeth of this beast, causing a crisis in the family.
Meeting with psychologist Zahia Qara at Gaza’s mental health center, S.G. confirmed that although it may shift sands to talk about them, cases of incest, adultery and rape do occur in the Gazan community. She added that the number of victims coming to the center for this reason was, in fact, increasing.
“In order to help him or her feel strong and be able to overcome the problem,” said Qara, the center provides psychological treatment through allowing the victim to talk about the tragedy.
The center also teaches victims how to defend themselves by confronting and threatening the aggressor and utilizing the sources of power available to them.
“Psychotherapy reduces the psychosocial risks of the situation, but it does not eliminate it or get rid of it 100 percent, because the aggressor does not stop after one time, but repeats his repulsive actions several times, leaving a bad effect on the psychological status of the victim,” explained Qara.
Qara indicated that victims who fall prey to their family usually have vulnerable and immature personalities; they are fearful, shy and introverted; and they are unable to confront the situation and set borders between themselves and others.
She added that most victims who have turned to the center have complained to their mothers but nevertheless they were left defenseless.
Qara pointed out that many reports are showing that drug consumption has increased drastically among Gazans, and that drugs like “tramal” (medically known as tramadol) have become very accessible and cheap. Not all pharmacies ask for a prescription before handing over such drugs, some of which are known to be sexual stimulants.
Qara believes that the siege, bad living conditions in Gaza, unemployment, oppression and lack of activities to fill youths’ free time are all motivations behind Gazans’ reckless recourse to drugs and sex.
To fight this, said Qara, people must spread awareness, give youth activities to keep them busy, decrease unemployment rates, put pharmacies and drug use under surveillance and lift the siege on Gaza for a better life.
It has been a trying week for those of us concerned with violence in Israel. You can catch a glimpse of some of this past week’s stories below— if you don’t mind being appalled.
On the other hand, there was this conference at Bar Ilan University: The Second Annual Conference on Gender “On the Ground” and in Academia: Gaps Between Theory and Practice”, a well-attended event put on by the “Gender On The Ground” Track of Bar Ilan’s Gender Studies Department. We were thrilled to be invited. You see, we were turned down last year and we were concerned that our snub resulted from objections raised by some feminists, many of whom work in the Rape Crisis field, to seeing self-defense as a pro-woman, anti-violence activity.
For some odd reason, I decided that I was the obvious choice to speak at this conference. I knew it was an important occasion for which we needed a seasoned instructor, I was flattered to be asked and, besides, I live closer to Bar Ilan University than any of our other instructors.
Needless to say, I was nervous. If stage fright and potential conflict wasn’t enough, we had no idea of what to expect re: the teaching conditions, the size or make-up of the group. All I knew was that I had 45 minutes to do my magic. As I packed up my bag of tricks, not knowing which, if any , I was going to use, I kept saying to myself: “Why do I keep putting myself through this?”
Miraculously, I found the building and parking in record time. The conference organizers did an incredible job. Things ran like clockwork. The room assigned to us was perfect and in walked more than 50 bright and well-educated women from all different sectors of our society, as open-minded and positive as I could hope. No hecklers.
I introduced myself, El HaLev and our concept of “feminist”(or what I prefer to call “women-centered”) self-defense as defined by Jocelyn A. Hollander an associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, in her paper “Resistance To Self-Defense” :
“By feminist self-defense training, I mean classes that focus on sexual violence against women, that teach skills appropriate for women’s bodies, for rapid learning, and for sexual assault situations, and that address gender socialization and other psychological issues that make self-defense challenging for many women. Feminist self-defense classes also teach options rather than prescriptions for responding to assault and focus on prevention and interruption of assault as well as physical self-defense (see Hollander,2004; Telsey, 2001).”
I asked for a show of hands: “How many of you are here because you really need to hit something or someone today?” I got several raised hands and plenty of laughs. “Well, I promise you that we will get to that, but hitting is only one part of learning self-defense— and it is neither the first, nor the most important.”
I explained the Five Stage Model of self-defense: Awareness. Intuition. Assertiveness. Attack and Recovery and said a few words about each. Then, I, fellow self-defense instructor Gali Sagi, and 50+ of our newest “close” female friends began to move. We breathed together and discussed conscious breathing is a self-defense skill. We showed how physical balance supports mental balance and demonstrated different uses for assertive body language. We did a brief Belief Inventory by reading statements and asking the women to move to the “I agree” side of the room or the “I disagree” side of the room. Then, I read them the relevant statistical evidence. That, of course, resulted in a few good shouting matches. Healthy self-expression.
We taught them the Palm Heel Strike, had volunteers come up to strike the X-Ray paper we held and had all the women in the room yell “NO!” along with them. One women come up in high heels, so I showed them how to do a good Foot Stomp and told them the story of the assailant in California who, after his unsuccessful attempt to assault a woman, was identified in the hospital by the stiletto heel still stuck in his instep.
The 45 minutes sped by. When I told the group that we had to stop because our time was up, there was a collective groan.
In closing, I asked them if they could feel the joy and power in the room “This is what a self-defense class is like,” I told them” Filled with the joy and the power of facing our fears and finding our strengths.” I invited them to take El HaLev business cards and to write down their contact information if they were interested in learning more. Many of the women came up and took cards, wrote down contact information, stayed to talk, or greeted me in the hall to say how much they enjoyed the workshop.
I called El HaLev to tell them how well things had gone. They were as excited as I was. That was hours ago and my feet have not yet touched the ground.
And now, at least for a few hours, I can remember why I put myself through things like this.
This past week’s headlines included everything from the Rishon L’Zion Oshrenko Family murder trial to another 12 year-old girl, this time from Bat Yam, gang raped (see below), from a child molester in Modiin sent to a Psychiatric Hospital to a 17 year-old beaten to death in Beer Sheva by the step-father of a teenage girl who broke curfew on the night of Lag B’Omer (see below). In the North, there was the Lag B’Omer reveler who allegedly sexually abused a 14 year-old boy during the course of the festivities and the father from the Galil who abused his 2 year-old son to the point of blindness. Tough week.
Police nab girlfriend of teen beaten to death in Beersheba
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
The 15-year-old girlfriend of a teen beaten to death by her stepfather in Beersheba this week was arrested on Wednesday for providing a false account to police.
Arik Rafaelov, 16, was laid to rest on Tuesday. He was killed after being struck repeatedly by the stepfather. Rafaelov’s brother said the murder victim had been struck with a hammer and kept in stepfather’s home for hours before medical attention was sought, when it was far too late. Police are investigating those claims.
According to some reports, Rafaelov’s girlfriend told police that her stepfather was unarmed during the incident, matching an account given by her stepfather and mother.
Police refused to confirm the reports. “We think her statement to us was false, and the court will have to look into this,” a Negev Police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “We cannot discuss the content of her statement,” the spokesman added.
Teens suspected of raping 12-year-old outside school
Police arrest four teenage boys in Bat Yam suspected of raping girl who was involved with one of them over two-year period
Published: 05.03.10, 11:31 / Israel News
Police arrested four teenage boys aged 13-17 from Bat Yam on Monday suspected of raping a 12-year-old girl who was involved with one of them. According to suspicions, the teens repeatedly raped the girl over a period of two years, in public locations including outside their school.
Four suspects were arrested in their homes and were accompanied to the police station by their parents. An additional boy was arrested shortly after. They are all slated to face a remand hearing after being interrogated.
You’ve probably noticed by now that I avoid political discussion. It’s not that I am not interested in politics. Here in Israel, politics is not only THE “national sport”, it is a matter of survival. It is too close too close to my heart to remain in my head. And I am not the only one who feels that way.
Take the story below, for instance. What motivated the stabbing in The Church? Is it anti-Christian terrorism? Is it internecine violence? Or is it a lone crazy with a knife? The facts are not yet known but your opinion as to how the facts will play out will probably depend on your beliefs, your knowledge and your fears. Not on the statistics. Your heart, not your head.
All of which brings me to this past weekend. Every three months or so, I get together with this very unusual group of martial artists collectively known as Budo For Peace (BFP).
Budo For Peace is a non-profit organization founded and led by Danny Hakim, a high-ranking teacher of Shotokan Karate. Danny travels the world to train and compete. During a get-together in Japan, he was struck by the fact that, when adherents to the practice and values of the martial arts get together, they work in harmony despite the political climate outside the door. Iranians, Iraqis, Afghanis, Americans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews- as long as TV cameras keep their distance, the participants’ common purpose blurred the political, religious and social lines between them.
Danny returned to Israel with a dream. With the help of a Japanese government grant and donors like 1-2-1 in Britain and Sugat in Israel, he created Budo For Peace, an organization of instructors from a wide range of populations, Jewish, Arab, Druse and Bedouin, who teach traditional martial arts- Karate, Aikido, Ju-jitsu, etc.- to students ages 9-13 and 14-16, together with the arts’ traditional values: honesty, loyalty, courage, gentleness, kindness, respect and so on. BFP’s Values Education curriculum is based on a book written by American martial arts instructor Terrence Webster-Doyle.
Three to four times a year, the instructors spend Thursday-Friday working out together, learning games and teaching strategies, planning activities and, most importantly, practicing what they preach, creating an Island of Peace in which the bonds between them take center stage and the world, with all its conflicts, melts away.
When I was first invited to take part in Budo For Peace, I recoiled. It was inconceivable to me that a gathering of Israeli Arabs and Jews would not be rife with hand-wringing and propaganda. I told Danny I would come but, at the first hint of a political agenda, I told him “I’m out of there”. I never left. Even though I have no BFP dojo of my own, I have continued to attend these sessions for three years.
Sometimes, when we are all sitting in the classroom, joking around like a group of grade-schoolers, I take a mental leap back and realize that I am living a dream, that for 20 hours, as John Lennon might say “the world is one”.
How strange that it is the so-called “Fighting Arts” that create the framework for such a peaceful gathering. How strange and, yet, how fitting. When people of good will have confidence in themselves and in their ability to stand their ground, then they have the power to choose how to respond, rather than to react to the world around them.
When the Head, The Heart and the Body are one, then the world can live as one.
Man seriously wounded in chest, leg after trying to stab worshipers, policemen in Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; his identity and motive unclear
April 23, 2010
A tourist was shot by a policeman on Friday evening after trying to stab worshipers and police officers at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. One police officer was lightly injured in the incident.
The officer ordered the tourist to put his knife down, but the man refused and threatened to hurt one of the worshipers. He then attempted to stab a policeman as well.
A Magen David Adom crew dispatched to the area attended to the tourist, who sustained serious wounds, and evacuated him to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. A hospital official said he was injured in the leg and chest. His identity is unknown.
The security forces are looking into the incident and the stabber’s motives.
According to eyewitnesses, two priests and a policeman had asked the worshipers to leave the church just before its closing hour. When they approached the tourist, he pulled out a knife and after refusing to put it down, the policeman sprayed him with tear gas. The tourist was shot after rioting and threatening to hurt one of the worshipers.
The officer who shot the tourist said he aimed at the upper part of the man’s body after he had tried to stab him and a priest standing next to him. A police investigation revealed that the tourist arrived in Israel on Friday, bought the knife in the Old City and hid it between his clothes.
Many Christians believe Jesus was crucified, buried and then resurrected at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
I can’t believe I somehow missed this news story in September but I can’t think of a better time to share it with you than at this Spring Holiday season, filled with renewal and hope for a brighter future.
Please feel free to share it with the people in your life who could use a little reminder: sometimes women and older adults know their worth and their strength. Sometimes bad guys get hit where it hurts. Sometimes judges ignore stupid excuses and throw the book at criminals.
And sometimes, as I have told many an older student, walking sticks (and knees) sure come in handy…
Seven years at hard labor and two years probation. That was the sentence handed down this morning (Sunday) at the Haifa District Court for 30 year-old Haifa-resident Wissam Ahmadat. Ahmadat was convicted of assaulting an elderly man and the robbery of 74-year-old woman in her apartment. During the robbery, he put a pillow over the elderly woman’s face to prevent her from resisting.
YNet: Sept. 13, 2009
Achya Raavad (and translated by Yours Truly)
The defendant admitted carrying out the acts at the end of 2008 and early 2009. The first case for which Ahmadat was convicted involved pushing a senior adult and knocking him off of the bench on which he sat at a pizzeria in the Hadar neighborhood in Haifa.
The second crime occurred early in the morning at a Nordau Street apartment, where a 74-year-old woman lived. The defendant and a partner entered the apartment through a window and began looking for money and jewelry.
“During the search, the defendant entered the complainant’s bedroom and purposefully put a pillow over her face in order to rob the complainant or facilitate the execution of the robbery, or to facilitate his escape from the apartment after the robbery,” the charge read.
It went on to describe that the woman succeeded in struggling with her attacker, hit him over the head with her walking stick and even kicked him in the testicles. The two robbers eventually left the apartment with a total of NIS 1,000.
“It Was the Good Fortune of This Older Woman To Be Endowed With Resourcefulness and Courage”
During the trial, it became clear that the defendant had dozens of past convictions, and that he had already served five sentences in prisons around the country. He committed the robbery at the pizzeria less than a month after his last release from prison. These activities, as determined by the testing service, were carried out as a result his addiction to drugs.
Judge Oded Gershon ruled that addiction does not constitute a justification for the defendant’s many crimes. “The defendant’s behavior, over the years, shows that he has no regard for the property of others and he also used serious and dangerous methods such as placing a pillow over the face of an elderly woman to facilitate the completion of the robbery … His action could have caused the death of the complainant… She is fortunate to have been endowed with resourcefulness and courage and thus girded with strength, she fought back against the defendant, “said the judge in pronouncing the sentence.
The judge added that we must give harsh sentences that will deter those who attack the elderly.
“The safety and security of those elderly who are helpless and defenseless, especially those who live alone and are considered by criminals like the defendant to be ‘easy prey’, must not be abandoned. It is proper that every criminal should know that potentially, if he raises his hand against an older adult and injures him or his property, he is liable to be punished very severely via imprisonment at hard labor and being behind bars and locked up for a long time. “
Previously, Judge Gershon gave a six-year sentence to the attackers of elderly victim Malka Yariv, who stole her purse and seriously injured her.
One of the truly important things we have done at El HaLev is to create a nationally-recognized course for training self-defense instructors. The course consists of instruction in sport-related anatomy, physiology, psychology and class planning and then, practical training from the most experienced instructors in El HaLev (including yours truly) in the art of teaching self-defense skills . All of the young women currently taking the course have a strong background in the martial arts, which will help them learn, apply and adapt the physical skills we teach. However, they understand, and we drill it in as much as humanly possible, that physical techniques are not the be-all-and-end-all of teaching self-defense— not by a long shot.
This past Wednesday, the trial of Avinoam Breverman got underway. Breverman is accused of the rape, sodomy, and sexual assault of three girls he met on the Internet, ages 11, 13, and 14. Brevermen admits having conversations with the girls, but denies he had sexual contact with them. At his trial, even Brevermen’s lawyer stated that he is worried about what happens on the Internet: “Besides the offenses attributed to my client, which will be clarified during the trial, I am concerned and appalled at the level and content of conversations among minors. We are talking about sexually-explicit expressions and coarse language used even by children aged 11 to 14.”
Now you can just imagine what a fire storm about the Dangers of The Internet this case has caused. And yet, I am fairly certain that not one of our self-defense instructor candidates was or has ever been approached by her Sensei and taught how to handle herself on the Internet, and certainly not how to teach others effective Internet strategies in a way that will strengthen rather than frighten them. However, this is one of the many things self-defense instructors here and everywhere must learn, and most often, teach themselves.
When I address this issue with our SD instructor candidates, I plan to give them each a copy of the article below, in the original Hebrew of course, because, in the end, I think the most important thing for them to know about staying safe on the Internet is that it is not all that different from staying safe anywhere. It’s the same old song without the dance: being aware of the tactics criminals use, trusting your intuition, being assertive, getting out of there, telling someone what happened, and continuing to tell until someone offers your help. As for your trophy-winning martial arts form and your fancy spinning jump kick, you can save them for more appropriate occasions.
Y-Net, Feb. 2, 2010
Yesterday (Monday) two things happened that reminded us all, including me, of the precarious situation of children in the “Wild West” that is the Internet.
While in Tel-Aviv, a man was arrested on suspicion of using the Internet to access and attack many young girls, in Jerusalem the Economic Committee held a special meeting with the youth participation concerning ways to protect children online, in which, among the proposals were the expected government censorship, software for filtering sites and of course talk, talk, talk.
Whether a special curriculum, or even subsidized courses for parents, there seem to be plenty of ideas. But according to reports, the exploitation of tender young girls at the hands of criminals seems inevitable. The question is, why?
Maybe there are some important points that the current approach of educating children to use the Web wisely is missing. Maybe we forgot a few essential things.
Dangers Are Everywhere
The Internet is not the only place where your child is in danger. Also in the street, at school, while crossing the road, spending time with friends or a school trip- countless dangers, including those same evil people, threaten your child at any time.
So why does the Internet seem to be such a focus of pedophile activity? The answer is simple – on the global network, you can choose how old you want to be and how you choose to introduce yourself. Even photos and videos can be quite easily faked, if you are wondering when the mask is removed and the predator is detected.
The Internet is a place where it is easy to create connections, make friends and talk with complete strangers about just about anything. On the other hand, there is no shortage of places where a child can meet a pedophile, whether at the home of a private teacher, the parent of a friend or a guard at the mall near school. The Internet cannot be held responsible.
If that is so, then the tips are the same tips and the information is the same information: do not take candy from strangers and don’t meet up with people you don’t know. The Internet is a medium. Although it is too successful a medium for these stalkers, t in the end, the Internet is merely a means.
The other thing many forget is that we used to be children. We worried parents were once children- curious, innocent and perhaps even vulnerable. It is important to look at this issue first, from the perspective of a child, and then from that of the pedophile, despite the difficulty of doing so.
The Inner Child
There is no doubt that when we were children, as our personalities began to crystallize, we also needed personal space in which to operate and a degree of privacy. We did not want our parents reading our diaries we preferred a degree of independence in deciding for ourselves. It’s easy to forget, but your child thinks the same way so, that you did.
No force in the universe can stop a 14 year-old from acquiring pornographic material, and these materials were always available – whether in print, video or, today, digitally.
As it is for pedophilia, so here, the Internet is only the medium, the means whose face has changed with the progress of technology and society. Sites of any kind, like restricting the sale of pornographic magazines to18 year-olds and older: ways to bypass the restrictions were found in the past, and will be found in the future.
Many Internet guides for protecting children encourage parents to install technology to restrict access to sites with child-appropriate content, to regularly look into the child’s affairs and even to remove the PC from the child’s room.
Wouldn’t this kind of intrusion into the child’s privacy force him to find alternatives? Infringement of a child’s privacy, given that his information on the computer is indeed for him a personal thing, would be interpreted as an attack. For this reason, intruding into his or her computer should be reserved only for cases in which you suspect your child is in real danger.
So if you shouldn’t pry, what can parents do to keep their child safe from the schemes of evil people on the Internet?
Know The Enemy
Before you try to understand the online lives of your children, it is at least worthwhile to learn the difference between a browser and a torrent program. We did a little bit of detective work and checked out the pages of our children on their social networks. These pages are open to everyone, so it is worthwhile for you to know what information your progeny are publishing there.
For example, it happened to reach my ears that the father of a 13 year-old daughter forbade her to put her picture on her Facebook profile. As an alternative, the young teen chose a photograph of a model wearing a revealing swimsuit. As a result, the indecent proposals that she received in her private messages and on her Wall appeared in worrying numbers.
Some guides also advise parents to supervise their kids whenever they are online. The age at which you can give a child privacy on the computer, in my humble opinion, is no different than the age at which they can cross the street or to go out with friends without supervision. On the Internet, similar to other life situations that can, at time, be dangerous, what will determine the outcome, in the end, is the use of discretion.
It is important to explain to your child the dangers of the Net. Without a doubt, it is better to inform him of the existence of bad people than to have him find out for himself – perhaps in a chat room intended for children only.
More than “explaining”, however, it is important to listen. Take an interest in the sites your children surf as much as you do in their experiences on school breaks or at their cousins’ house this weekend. Share with them interesting sites that are appropriate for them, and ask them for recommendations.
At the end of the day, protecting your child on the Internet is the same as protecting him/her elsewhere. The difference determines the outcome, in most cases, is not content filtering or the location of the computer, but that same use of discretion and critical thinking that parents must help their children acquire, rather than aggressively guarding them for as long as they will put up with it.
God bless YNET for their ongoing coverage of local stories in both Hebrew and English. Really.
But, take one look at the picture they selected to illustrate the story below and, what do you see? A women shamed and beaten down. Read the headline and you are filled with fear and dread. Is that really what this story is about?
Very few readers will bother to read all the way through this story. If they did, perhaps they would see what I see: an incredibly brave young woman who fought like a lioness with her body, her voice and finally, her teeth for her life and her dignity. A self-defense success story in the truest sense.
The fact that there are predators in the Human Jungle should come as no surprise. What is really important, and rarely reported as such, is that there are also lions and lionesses who are ready and prepared to stand up against them and defeat them like this young woman did. She is a heroine. And yet, the news media, reflecting back society’s own prejudices, chose to illustrate her as a helpless victim and glossed over her victorious battle by choosing to emphasize that it was the presence of by-passers, not her all-out refusal to become a victim, that drove off her attacker.
And if that was not frustrating enough, how about the fact that this was a stranger attack in which the guy actually jumped out from behind the bushes?Do you have any idea how many times I have reminded self-defense students that 82% of attackers are known to their victims, and that the chances of a stranger jumping out from behind the bushes is nil?
Well, either I can say so much for statistics… Or I can use them to say that, assuming the Lod Police ever find this guy, there is a good chance that the stranger behind the bushes isn’t so strange to his intended victim after all.
Either way, we can be sure of one thing. This guy will look like he has been in one hell of a fight…and will have the teethmarks to prove it,thanks to one courageous young woman.
Silence has been given a bad rap.
Silence is meant to be “broken”. “Keeping silent” evokes suspicion, maintaining your “right to silence”, a sure sign of guilt.
The story below is the the second recent headliner here in Israel about a young girl/woman caught in a web of sexual abuse by a group of teens as young as 13. Stories like these reinforce our belief in the menace of silence .
However, after spending a week in silence on a meditation retreat (see Fear of Nothing), I now understand that it is “noise” , not “silence” that is the true threat.
It was not “silence” that birthed the years of suffering this young teen endured; it was noise— noise from society about what it is to be a man or a woman, about love, about sacrifice, media images that confuse sex with love and violence with sex, inner static about her own lack of worth plus whatever lies, promises and threats the boys themselves used to break her mentally and emotionally before they violated her physically. As we say in IMPACT self-defense when the attacker begins his mixed litany of demands, appeals and threats: “Blah-blah-blah”. It’s all noise.
In contrast, when we gently clear away the noise and turn down the static, the resulting silence leaves space for inner wisdom to emerge. It gives us a chance to examine the things we tell ourselves and the things we allow ourselves to absorb from others. It makes it possible for us to see that underneath the noise, we are more than our thoughts, more than our fears, more than our dreams.
The silence that emerges from terrible stories like these must, indeed, be broken. However, if we are to prevent young women from falling prey to the noise that substitutes for their own sense of hope, faith and worth, we need to help them turn down the noise in their lives so they can encounter themselves and learn to accept themselves with the love and compassion they deserve. That we all deserve.
March 4, 2010 Thursday
By DAN IZENBERG
15 separate criminal charges filed in assault of high school girl.
As the 13 teenage suspects sat hunched over on courtroom benches and covered their heads and faces with sweatshirt hoods on Wednesday, the state filed an indictment against them that included 15 separate criminal charges.
The indictment was filed in Tel Aviv District Court.
There was a chilling contrast between the dry wording of the charges, drafted by attorneys Livnat Melamed and Lilach Shalom of the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office (Criminal), and the actions they described.
Regarding the first charge, the prosecutors wrote, “On various occasions, the exact time of which are unknown to the prosecutor, during the period relevant to the indictment, the first defendant routinely brought the complainant to various meeting places. Before that, he would coordinate with the other defendants and others, who would come to the various meeting places with the intent of committing rape, sodomy and indecent acts, all of which were committed without her freely given consent, by exploiting her emotional dependency on the first defendant.”
The first defendant, the so-called boyfriend of “Aleph Aleph,” the victim, was included in 14 of the charges in the indictment. They included 10 counts of rape in aggravated circumstances, four counts of sodomy, four counts of indecent assault, two counts of assault and one count each of attempted rape in aggravated circumstances, being in possession of pornography, and abuse.
According to the indictment, Aleph Aleph and the first defendant first met at school around the beginning of 2006. They were a couple for a while but then broke up and remained friends. At the beginning of 2007 (the beginning of the “relevant period,” which lasted until January 2010), Aleph Aleph told the first defendant that she loved him and that she was dependent on and had very strong feelings for him. She told him she would do anything he wanted as long as he stayed with her. If he left her, she would kill herself.
“In the relevant period,” the indictment continued, “because of her emotional dependence on the first defendant, he abused her by frequently assaulting her illegally by using his hands and feet. He called her names, cursed her, and insulted her in public. He was able to do this by taking advantage of her dependency and love. The other defendants knew about this behavior and in some cases witnessed it.”
The first defendant began inviting friends to rape Aleph Aleph, according to the indictment. In most of the cases, several youths raped her one at a time while the others looked on.
“The defendants knew, and were present, when the first defendant attacked the complainant, either when she asked to stop having sex with one or another of the defendants, or, frequently, in and out of school. The defendants also knew about, and were even present at, incidents in which the first defendant abused Aleph Aleph. They also knew that she was afraid of him and afraid to refuse to have intimate meetings with them for fear that the first defendant would cut off ties with her,” the indictment stated.
One of the lawyers in the case, Asher Chen, told The Jerusalem Post that he was representing one of the defendants who was only being charged on one count, and that his client had witnessed a rape but not taken part in it. He said his client had known Aleph Aleph for only two months and had met her after she’d left the school she and the first defendant had attended together.
Attorney Avi Hilmi told the Post he was representing a client charged with two counts of sodomy and one count of rape in aggravated circumstances.
Hilmi added that several of the defendants had only known Aleph Aleph for a short time. However, several others apparently knew the complainant from the beginning of the “relevant period.” One of them was charged with 12 sexual violations and another with 10.
In one case, the first defendant was charged with the attempted rape of Aleph Aleph’s best friend, identified in the indictment as “Bet Bet.” The charge also included sodomy and committing an indecent act. He was also accused of taking a total of NIS 2,000 to NIS 3,000 from Aleph Aleph, as well as her cellular phone, which he used to make calls at her expense. In another charge, he was accused of being in possession of pedophilic photographs.
Sometimes the road to sanity is the steepest road, the things we most do, the most difficult: Putting our own fears aside so we can teach our children how to deal successfully with theirs. Or finally gathering our strength, like the foster mother in the story below, to report something to the authorities knowing that we will have to take responsibility for what we have done… and have not done for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.
My silence on this blog until now reflects more than a month of preparing for another year of heavy yet vital responsibilities as the Executive Director of El HaLev, a 24-hour period of sudden clarity, and the results of that clarity .
I resigned as the Executive Director of El HaLev.
I do not yet know where the path ahead will lead me. I know that my work as a martial artist and self-defense instructor is far from over. It is simply taking a new road.
But knowing that doesn’t still my sadness at leaving my friends & colleagues- the staff of El HaLev. I have been Executive Director for only one year but I have been part of El HaLev from its conception. Clearing out my office and walking out othat door , was like stepping off a cliff into the mist. Change may be inevitable but it is rarely easy.
I am trying not to lose the momentum I have gained by being strong enough to “do the difficult”, not to take the easy road of settling back into old patterns and familiar ways. In fact, just last night I signed up for a Mindfulness Meditation Retreat — Mid- February, 6 days: no social conversation, no reading, writing or music, just time and opportunity to search for and reclaim my Center. A chance to turn down the noise of “doing” and focus on “being” and “becoming”.
I am excited, a little scared. .. and very proud of myself for having the courage to “do the difficult”, which, in this case, is doing… nothing, having the faith to let the ground lie fallow for a while, knowing that the seeds will sprout in their own time.
Last Update: Jan. 25, 2010
Two men were arrested last week on suspicion of raping and sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy at a care home in Bnei Brak, police sources said Monday.
One of the men detained is the boy’s foster father. Police were alerted when his wife approached them with a statement alleging that her husband had carried out multiple abuses.
The woman filed the complaint last week against her husband, a man in his fifties whom she is in the process of divorcing. During the course of investigations it emerged that a second, younger man in his thirties, a teacher at the boy’s boarding school, had also sexually abused the boy.
Police said the teacher had admitted to the charges against him. The boy’s adoptive father, meanwhile, had absconded on the day his wife filed her complaint but was arrested late on Sunday night.
“This is one of the most difficult incidents we have dealt with in the last few years,” said Shai Gaz, who heads the investigative department of the Rosh Haayin police force, which is handling the case.
“We are handling the case with extreme sensitivity. The boy has now been transferred to the care of a family that has been screened by the authorities.”
The boy was fostered two years ago after his biological mother was jailed for repeatedly raping him. He was initially sent to live with his father, who committed him to state care when he remarried.
Soon after, the 12-year-old was fostered and began spending weekends at his adoptive parents’ home.
His foster mother was also questioned by police, who suspected she had known of the abuses for some time before reporting them.