Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopian’

When Murder Comes Home…

In Violence in Israeli Society on November 15, 2010 at 01:54

Firends and neighbors of 26 yo Ethiopian woman murdered by her husband

Unlike news stories about politics and global intrigue, murder rarely makes it into Israel’s English-language media. Perhaps it is deemed unfit for international consumption. So when an entire series of articles appears in YNet News,  the Jerusalem Post and Ha’aretz,  it is not business-as-usual.

In this deeply family-oriented society, the sheer number of family members murdered by their own flesh-and-blood in the past several weeks has hit a nerve.

I can’t speak for all Israelis but as I scan the headlines and see the names of veteran Israelis, Ethiopian and Russian immigrants,  Arabs and Bedioun, men, women and children from big cities, small towns and villages all grieving for sons, daughters, spouses, children and grandchildren, I no longer find myself asking “when will it end?” but, rather, “which of us will be next ?”


Pregnant woman murdered in South Tel Aviv
The Eritrean citizen in her fourth month of pregnancy was found dead in her apartment.

Ha’Aretz 12.11.10

By Yaniv Kubovich and Yanir Yagna

A migrant worker originally from Eritrea was found without signs of life in her South Tel Aviv apartment on Friday night. The woman, in her 30s, was apparently four months pregnant. Police are investigating all possibilities.

The woman’s brother had been trying to reach her for several hours, but she didn’t answer his calls. He arrived at the scene and found her already dead. The brother called emergency aid workers and the police, who are currently searching for the woman’s husband.

In June, a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy was murdered in Ashdod after entering into an argument with her neighbor. The woman’s fetus was delivered in an emergency c-section operation.

The Ashdod police arrested the neighbor, a 38-year-old woman, suspected of having stabbed the victim to death after the latter had spilled coffee in her doorway.

Netanya couple seriously hurt in suspected murder-suicide attempt
Man, 34, allegedly shot his wife while their 3-year-old daughter was in the apartment; incident comes as the latest of several recent cases of severe domestic violence.

By Yaniv Kubovich

An attempted murder suicide left a Netanya couple in serious condition, police said on Saturday, in the latest in a string of domestic violence cases in recent weeks.

A preliminary probe of the event lead police investigators to believe the man, 34, shot his wife in the head, later trying to commit suicide. The woman, who was evacuated to the city’s Laniado hospital, is in critical, with the husband is in serious condition after suffering gun shot wounds to the chest.

The couple’s 3-year-old daughter was reported to have been present in the apartment on Netanya’s Etzel street during the incident.

Late last month, a man allegedly stabbed his wife to death before taking his own life in Petah Tikva.

Paramedics who arrived on the scene confirmed the death of the 43-year-old man, who had hanged himself. His wife, 32, was taken to Beilinson Hospital to the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva in critical condition. She succumbed to her wounds shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Neighbors had apparently heard shouting from the apartment and alerted police. When police arrived, they spotted the man, who had hanged himself from the grating of the apartment’s balcony. They then entered the apartment and found the wife in the living room with stab wounds covering most of her body.

The couple had immigrated to Israel from their native Ethiopia in 2007. They had no children and no previous police record.

On Wednesday, Police arrested a woman in the central Israeli city of Ra’anana suspected of killing her two daughters. [see story below]


Police: Mom murdered 2 girls

Mother admits to strangling two girls aged four, six in Raanana home, according to police

YNET 11.10.10

Raanan Ben-Zur

The bodies of two girls aged four and a half and six were found strangled Wednesday in the apartment they shared with their parents in Raanana.

Paramedics arrived to find the girls dead. Police questioned the mother, Michal Aloni, who was found in the apartment along with them, and say she admitted to the murder. “I took their lives,” police say the mother confessed.

The girls were identified as Roni and her older sister Natalie. The mother’s 42-year-old brother was also arrested because he was in the apartment at the time of the murders.

The girls’ father, who has four children from a previous marriage, was also detained for questioning. His first wife fainted upon arriving at the scene. He said he was the one who alerted rescue forces, after arriving home to find his daughters dead.

In addition, a preliminary investigation has revealed that the mother has been institutionalized in the past. Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller described the events. “At 1:20 pm we received a call about two children found dead in an apartment in Raanana. The paramedics found two girls lying lifeless in their beds,” he said.

The suspected murder is the last in a string of incidents in which parents took violent turns towards their offspring, the previous one occurring in Tel Aviv, where a mother threw her two small children from a fourth-floor window.

Before that, in July, Itai Ben Dror stabbed his three children to death in their sleep, and then attempted to take his own life in his Netanya home.

Catch Them While They’re Young

In empowerment, teens on August 9, 2009 at 13:27

We do a lot of work with at-risk teens.  We work with them, body, mind and soul, to put them in touch with their unique value as individuals and with the  reserve of power waiting for them to tap like an oil field just below the surface.  Bright, intelligent Ethiopian teens. Young women with suspicious eyes, lips tightly pressed into mocking smiles. Innocent wild-eyed 12 year-olds standing on the threshold between girlhood and womanhood.

Empowerment Through Self-Defense

Smoke-stained 18 and 19 year-olds,  skin yellowed by too many cigarettes and too many wasted opportunities.  I have worked with them them all. Every one precious, every one on the edge of… what?

Yes, these teens are “at-risk” but so are we as a society. We are at-risk of losing the energy, enthusiasm, freshness and love that these young women could learn to infuse into our society. Every “at-risk” girl, is a dysfunctional family waiting to happen… or an empowered woman waiting to blossom.

The choice is ours.

Witness this harrowing story of young teens in Haifa trying to get out of the snare of drugs and indecency into which they have fallen.

12 Year-Old Girls Sell Their Bodies For Drugs

Dozens of young teens in Haifa allow older men to touch them in exchange for money, cigarettes, alcohol, hashish, even for a serving of falafel…

In Haifa’s Hadar neighborhood there are dozens like them: They wander around the streets day and night, passing the time smoking cigarettes and hashish, sniffing gas from air conditioners and drinking alcohol that older men give them in exchange for sexual contact and “mutual enjoyment”. They are children, only 12, 13 or 14 years old

The cold calculation with which they describe how they spend the long days of their summer vacation is hair-raising…

“It’s very easy to get drugs in our neighborhood,” T, age 13, says. How can we keep busy during summer vacation when their are no summer activities and no entertainment”. From boredom they start with hashish. The girls here are willing to do anything for drugs, including sleeping with men…

The Girls Are Easy Prey

A few days ago, several of these girls came to the offices of the non-profit organization, Yad Ezer L’Chaver, located in the heart of the neighborhood. “Please put us in your summer program. None of us have anything to do but “get wasted” they said to the head of the organization, Shimon Sabag. “Yesterday, also there were girls sitting with us. They are waiting for our organization to open another session of activities in mid-August. …

“These girls sat in my office telling me things I couldn’t digest, “explained Sabag. “These men are criminals. They see these girls as easy prey. The first hashish cigarette is free. After that, for touching their bodies and from there, to the most awful things.”

Excerpts from NRG/Maariv On-Line: Eli Levi & Yonatan Hilleli
July 31,2009

Israel’s Guardian Angels

In Uncategorized on June 26, 2009 at 19:26

Blogger’s Note: Helping the community of Kiryat Moshe, Rehovot by bringing the Guardian Angels concept to Israel has been one of my greatest challenges. This article in the Jerusalem Post is a landmark in that journey.

International Alliance of Guardian Angel’s founder and WABC radio host Curtis Sliwa and his red-bereted colleagues are famous for helping clean up the mean streets of crime-ridden New York City in the 70’s.

But what do they have to do with what’s happening in the Holy Land circa right now?

Read on… and let me know what you think.

Angels On The Streets

Night Training with Char

Night training with South African GA Char Viljoen

Jun. 24, 2009

Temperatures are heating up in Rehovot’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood. A simmering feud between two rival groups of youth has landed one youngster in the hospital, the first major flare-up since 17-year-old Adama Toreku was stabbed to death a couple of years ago.

“The summer is a balagan (mess), with kids on the street day and night,” says Shaul Tzaghon, the director of Israel’s first Guardian Angels Project. “We have to cope with it.”

Since Tzaghon and his team of Angels have been patrolling the streets, they have not only succeeded in preventing violence and deterring crime, they have also encouraged the neighborhood residents to clean up and paint their buildings, and aspire to improve themselves, as well.

The year-old Angels Project is a joint project of the Guardian Angels International Organization, which focuses on neighborhood safety, and ELEM, Israel’s leading outreach organization for youth at risk.

Pre-Patrol Conference

Pre-Patrol Conference

Kiryat Moshe’s socioeconomic profile could easily make it a breeding ground for crime and violence. Fifty-six percent of the families living in Kiryat Moshe are Ethiopian; the remaining are immigrants from the former CIS and France, and old-timers from Morocco. Many families comprised of eight or nine people are squeezed into three-room apartments.

But according to the latest police reports, the Angels/ELEM project is helping reduce crime in the neighborhood.

“Actually, only a very small number of youth in Kiryat Moshe are trouble-makers,” comments Tzaghon. “The people here are very sensitive about their image and sick and tired of seeing only bad news in the papers.

“Crime festers on feelings of negativism and frustration. We’re trying to cause a switch in attitude,” says the Angels director. He and his team of 22 young volunteers from the neighborhood have a clear message: Don’t wait for someone else to fix your problems. Their motto? “You can do it.”

Char works with Shaul & Yisrael on restraining hold

Char works with Shaul & Yisrael on restraining hold

Wearing bright red jackets in cooler weather, and red-and-white T-shirts on warm days, the Kiryat Moshe Angels patrol the streets on Sunday nights, but are active all week long. “The youth know we really care about them, and are not just there to break up fights,” says Tzaghon.

“There is a theory that crime moves in when there is a broken window,” Jill Shames, a martial arts pro who was called in to teach self-defense to girls in the neighborhood in 2005, explains. “A broken window, graffiti, gangs of troublemakers hanging around, abandoned cars – cause people to think of themselves as neglected. They become apathetic.”

Shames contacted Curtis Sliwa, founder and director of the Guardian Angels, an organization that began with unarmed volunteers patrolling the subways of New York in the high-crime late ’70s. In recent years, Guardian Angels has also introduced programs against bullying in schools and founded a CyberAngels wing to protect kids against cyber abuse, which won the President’s Service Award in 1998. GA is active in 13 countries and hundreds of cities throughout the world.

“Jill is a whirling dervish of action,” Sliwa commented in a recent e-mail. Shames, who holds degrees in public relations and social work, serves as the pro bono liaison of the GA in Israel.

“Our mission – the Angels/ELEM model – is to make the youth part of the solution, instead of part of the problem,” Shames declares.

“Adolescence is a very difficult stage,” said Zion Gabay, National Director of ELEM. “It’s natural for young people to feel alienated, to feel that they don’t belong. In the Ethiopian community, it’s especially difficult because there have been role reversals.”

“Ethiopians who came to Israel in the last 15 years have had to cope with many problems,” Tzaghon points out. Cultural identity is a big issue. Lacking technical knowledge, language, and job skills, the traditionally large families (with five to seven children) often live in crowded housing. Many exist on the brink of poverty. “There is a gap between the parents and children. A 56-year-old man can’t help his fourth-grade son with homework. When a classmate says ‘my mom helped me,’ the Ethiopian boy feels despair.”

“This is not a neighborhood like Ramle, parts of Jaffa, or Beersheba, where drugs and crime are big problems,” says Tzaghon defensively. “Violence occurs either out of frustration or after too much alcohol.” Nargileh (water pipe) use is another problem, he adds.

One evening, on a tour of the neighborhood with the Angels’ director and Shames, both clad in highly visible Guardian Angels red jackets, Tzaghon demonstrates his method of building connections and inspiring trust.

“How are you? What’s happening?” he asks three girls hanging out on a bench in the park. He stops to chat with them. Two boys ride by on bicycles, but when they recognize him, stop. “Are you still going to the Youth Center?” he asks. Meeting another, older, teenager, he pats him on the back, and asks: “When are you going to go into the army?”

At a children’s playground, two young men on leave from the army complain about the poor equipment and safety. “I wouldn’t let my three-year-old niece play here,” said one. “Do you think we can do something about it?”

Curtis Sliwa and ELEM Staff

Curtis Sliwa and ELEM Staff

On a pre-launch trip to Israel, Curtis Sliwa saw Tzaghon in action. “Walking with him through the streets of Rehovot, you could feel the love and respect he generated.” Recently, he commented: “In the Who’s Who of community organizers, there will be a picture of Barack Obama and Shaul Tzaghon. Shaul is tireless and self-less.”

Tzaghon, an Ethiopian immigrant who came to Israel at the age of 9, is one of nine children. His father was a teacher and a judge in Gonda. After high school, he studied practical engineering. Before being drafted, he volunteered as a counselor for new immigrants from Yemen. In the army, Tzaghon was trained as an officer in the Ordnance Corps. After completing his service, he looked for a job where he could have an impact on the community.

Speaking to the local youth, as insiders, the neighborhood Angels – all of whom, except Jill and Shaul, hail from Kiryat Moshe – are more credible than outsiders.

Tzaghon meets with two volunteers, Israel Rado, 23, and Merav Vobo, 21, in the Angels’ simply decorated conference room in the Absorption Ministry facility in Kiryat Moshe. Both Rado and Vobo lead teams that go out to patrol and meet the young people on the street. The volunteers meet with the director for an hour before and after patrols to exchange impressions of particular problems that may surface and plan activities.

Rado – born in Israel, like more than one-third of 120,000 Israeli-Ethiopians – lives with his parents and seven siblings in Kiryat Moshe. Rado says he had to figure out his own direction before giving advice to others. He sings and plays the masenko, an Ethiopian single-stringed lute with a bow, and hopes to study music at university, “to learn to be a composer.”

“I’d like to have two careers, one in high tech, and another in music,” he says. To that end, he began a computer programming course.

“Sometimes people don’t realize that even though they made mistakes in their past, they can change. I try to encourage Ethiopian youth to go to the army,” says Rado. “I urge them to think about careers and not to waste opportunities. Many youth look for short-term pleasures over long-term.”

Neighborhood Cleanup

Neighborhood Cleanup

Vobo, who came to Israel at age three from Gondar in Ethiopia, is one of four young women Angels. “We felt a distance when we approached groups the first two months. Now, they wait for us,” she says. Vobo is studying criminology in Ashkelon and, since she worked to earn money while attending high school, likes to give advice on finding a job.

Vobo and Rado are helping seek new recruits for the Angels program. Six are already in training. “My goal is to have a total of 70 Angels within a year,” says Tzaghon. “If each one meets with three people, they would have an influence on 210 people, almost all of the 650 families.”

To reach more youngsters, he is also kicking off an Angels Youth program, for youths aged 16-18 to learn self-defense and patrol the streets two afternoons a week. “My dream is to introduce the Angels program throughout Israel,” he says, pointing to the manual he wrote.

“The high quality of the volunteers, and the fact that they come from the neighborhood, is key to the program’s success,” notes Gabai. He would like to introduce the Guardian Angels program to other cities, and mentions Beit Shemesh, Bat Yam, Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat as possibilities. He also thinks it would be a success in Arab communities.

The volunteer-driven Angels Project is low-cost (Tzaghon is the only salaried employee). For it to expand, another part-time professional staffer is required. Uniforms and training are provided by the Guardian Angels. A couple of months ago, Charl Viljoen, the director of GA in Capetown, came to Israel to provide advanced training.

“Viljoen pushed us two degrees higher in our skills,” says Tzaghon. “We learned skills for dealing with a dangerous person- some techniques we knew from the army – and I learned a lot about organizing.”

After the 2007 stabbing, the Angels’ toughest job was dealing with the anger, desire for revenge, and daily physical attacks. For four months, Tzaghon and his Angels worked daily to reduce tension. Finally, the enemies agreed to a sulha, a truce. “For the most part, it has held. There may be fights every once in a while, but not the same fear,” says Tzaghon. “The Angels hear about a problem, and immediately try to defuse it.”

One of the most dramatic changes has been in the Guardian Angels themselves. When they first started, only four volunteers were students in colleges or other professional training courses; now, at least 70% are students. The Ethiopian National Project (ENP) views education as the key to advancement for the young people. Its after-school SPACE program has successfully boosted thousands of Ethiopian students in high school to excel in math and English and gain self-confidence.

As much as the neighborhood benefits from the Angels’ work, the volunteers benefit at least as much. “It’s all a matter of making a mental switch from ‘Why even try?’ to ‘I can do it,'” says Tzaghon.

According to Shames, “What really made it happen was that Shaul saw it as a way for the whole community to take charge of its own destiny.”