Posts Tagged ‘Jerusalem’

Child Abuse: We All Pay The Price

In Children on November 21, 2010 at 00:38

The fact that abuse is a serious issue in Israeli society is disturbing enough. However, the level of underreporting of the abuse is appalling.

This is a society that has always prided itself on its independent spirit and on its citizens’ readiness to roll up their sleeves and ‘do the difficult’.

The news brings us more and more stories of murders and attempted murders within families. We are shocked, but how shocked can we be when the friends, relatives and neighbors of these children refuse to step forward and try to stop these tragedies before they occur?

In the end, it is not only these children who pay the price. Abusers are much more likely to abuse their children; victims of violence at home are much more likely to commit acts of violence outside the home. And what does it do to our spirit as a nation when we hear the cries of our children in the night and do nothing?

When we keep silent at  the abuse of our children,  the final blow strikes us all.

Child abuse underreported throughout country

Jerusalem Post
November 11, 2010 04/11/2010

Percentage of sexual abuse cases reported are higher in Jerusalem; the 33,751 child abuse cases reported in 2009 “only the tip of the iceberg.”

The percentage of reports of physical and sexual abuse against children in 2009 were much higher in Jerusalem than in other parts of the country, although overall, child abuse remains underreported in every region, a new study published Wednesday by the Haruv Institute shows.

Based on the number of reports filed with the social welfare services in each district nationwide, the Haruv Institute researchers found that reports of sexual abuse in the Jerusalem area made up 25.5 percent of all reports of child abuse in the region, while 47.4% of the reported cases involved physical abuse.

These rates were significantly higher than in other parts of the country, with reports of sexual abuse in the southern region, for example, making up only 12.2% of that region’s abuse reports, and physical abuse cases accounting for 42.4% of the reports in Tel Aviv. However, reports of general neglect among the capital’s children were relatively fewer than in other regions.

In Jerusalem only 27.1% of the reports involved neglect, while in the south it was 53.8%, 45.1% in the North and 41.7% in Tel Aviv. “Neglect” is defined in several ways, including children not attending school, left unsupervised at home or wandering the streets unaccompanied.

Haruv director Prof. Hillel Schmid noted that the actual number of abuse reports in Jerusalem was relatively low compared to other regions. He told The Jerusalem Post that the high percentage of sexual or physical abuse reports in the capital was likely because only the severest or most extreme cases of abuse were reported to the authorities, while lower levels of “neglect” are often not recognized as abuse among the city’s large haredi and Arab populations.

“There seems to be a difference in the legitimization and definition of neglect among haredim and the Arabs as compared to the mainstream society,” said Schmid, a former dean of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “There is a very different approach by these communities and not every case of neglect is viewed as such.”

However, Schmid was quick to add that overall, cases of child abuse remained underreported in all sectors and regions in the country, despite a law that specifically requires the public to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect. He said that few people come forward with information and pointed out that the 33,751 cases of child abuse reported to the social welfare services in 2009 were most likely “only the tip of the iceberg.”

The Haruv report also examined child abuse reporting in the US and Canada, noting that neglect cases in the US from 2008 constituted 65% of all reports, physical injury 18% and sexual abuse 10%, while in Canada reports of neglect made up 35%, physical abuse 27% and sexual abuse 3%.

“The higher rates of reported neglect in the US and Canada lead us to believe that North American society has a greater awareness of the need to report such abuse cases than in Israel,” said Schmid.

“The general population here is not enthusiastic about reporting cases of abuse or suspected abuse. People are not only put off by the bureaucracy, where they have to fill out paperwork and give personal information, but in addition, we are a much more violent society than in the past and we either don’t notice the abuse or don’t feel it is important to report.”

He said that along with its research, the Haruv Institute had already started working with family doctors and pediatricians at health funds and hospitals, training them to recognize signs of violence and abuse among children and encouraging cooperation between medical professionals and social workers.

“In many places doctors do not know the social workers and there is little coordination,” said Schmid, adding that many doctors are not familiar with the signs of child abuse.

The Haruv Institute was founded three years ago by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation with the goal of becoming a world center for advanced research in the field of child abuse within the family in Israel.

The institute also works closely with the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and in training all professionals that work with children.

Violence Takes No Holidays

In Crime in Israel on October 1, 2010 at 15:02

The holiday season in Israel has come to a close. But violence never took a holiday. Here are a few poignant examples.

Jerusalem: A Young Man Stabbed and Critically Wounded in an Ultra-Orthodox Neighborhood

Updated 01:04 01/10/2010
Sagi Shir

A serious injury during the celebration of Simchat Torah: A man of about 20 was stabbed last night (Thursday) in the Ultra- Orthodox Makor Baruch neighborhood in Jerusalem. An MDA team called to the scene evacuated the young man in critical condition to Shaare Zedek Hospital in the city. The background of the event is probably criminal.

The man was stabbed once in the groin; then the attacker fled from the scene towards the Peqi’in Street neighborhood. A Mobile MDA Unit that tried to rescue him was attacked as it reached the neighborhood, delaying the evacuation. Police are searching for the suspect in the stabbing.

This is not the only assault case reported during the days of Succot.

Ashdod police yesterday arrested three minors aged 16 and 17 on suspicion of attacking two minors aged 13 and 14 the evening before for no apparent reason . The minors are patients at Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, one in moderate condition and one in good condition. They reported that they were sitting on a bench in the city when a group of teenagers approached them and began to attack them “for no reason.”

A similar criminal event took place last night in Holon in which  two minors, ages 16 and 17, are suspected of forcing a 12-year-old boy into a vehicle in front of a city garden and driving off. The police managed to seize the two men and rescue the boy, who was not severely injured in the incident.

Another unfortunate case took place on Wednesday, in which two people were killed and three others  injured near a cafe in Qalansawa cafe nearby, apparently after unknown persons opened fire towards a group of people sitting there.

In another incident an 18 year-old was killed by gunfire during a brawl in the Bedouin village Laqia in the Negev.

And here are a few more “holiday season ” headlines from Y-Net:

Suspected: A 16 year-old youth sexually assaulted a 6 year-old boy in Afula.
The youth, who works as a guard at a construction site, is suspected of committing indecent acts on the boy – who lives nearby. The child was taken to a hospital for medical examination.

Murder suspects arrested in Abu Gosh, “More blood will flow”
Four members of the Jaber Clan were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Hassan Othman last month. Police suspect that the murder was ‘blood revenge’ for the murder of a boy from the Jaber Family. The village fears more bloodshed.

Father Murders Mother and Says “I’ll Kill Myself”.
“We wanted to save Mom, explained the children of Munib Zhong and A. Ibrahim from Smi, a village in the Western Galilee, who witnessed the horror… The husband climbed up the ladder to the balcony – and stabbed his wife to death

Suspicion: A man stabbed after causing a child to drop his hot dog (Rishon L’Zion)

Suspected: Cop convicted of sexual harassment sexually assaulted female drivers
A Special Patrol officer (a resident of Kiryat Malachi) dismissed from his post following his conviction for harassing a female soldier, was arrested on suspicion of attacking women who were driving alone, signaling them to stop because of disrepair and attempting to sexually assault them.

Mother threw her two children from the 4th floor and jumped. They survived. (Tel-Aviv)

Four year-old injured from shots fired at a house in Tira

14 Year-Old Complains: My husband attacked me even though I was pregnant
Husband suspected of assaulting the young wife on numerous occasions, in addition to suspected statutory rape.

Indictment: Bnei Brak Resident Serving in the 8200 Elite Computer Unit held in sexual harassment of young girl

Caretakers sexually abused mentally-ill patients
Adi Revach and Orly Wanda from Pardes  Hannah are accused of causing inmates to commit a series of serious sex offenses,

Man suspected of raping an 11 year-old girl in the succah that stood at the Tomb of Rabbi Meir in Tiberias

16 year-old admitted that he murdered 14-year-old  over a cigarette (Beersheba)

Beersheba murder: A boy of 15 stabbed to death in a fight

Guess it’s time to get back to work…

A Little Bit Crazy

In self-defense on May 14, 2010 at 01:42

Thumbs up for those who are 'pro-force', if that's what it takes to stop violence

I had such a great time yesterday, it was worth every second. Well, maybe I would have skipped the particular second that I tried to stop a knife attack with my pinkie and ended up with a broken hand, but other than that…

Yesterday morning, my student and colleague, Naomi Yitzhak and I drove to Maaleh Adumim, a small city near Jerusalem, to join a group of  travelers from abroad who are here to train in IKI Krav Maga with Moshe Katz.

Moshe Katz was one of the first martial artists I met in Israel.  We have been friends and colleagues ever since. He is one of the most knowledgeable, dedicated and generous instructors I have ever met.

Like a true “artist”, Moshe starved in obscurity for many years. Then, a couple of years ago, Moshe was finally “discovered”  by members of the international martial arts community. He travels all over Europe and the United States teaching seminars. Now he has started hosting seminars here in Israel as well to give students of Krav Maga the opportunity to experience the Land and People that produced this in-your-face form of self-defense training.

The men with whom Naomi and I trained came to Israel expressly to train with Moshe—or more correctly, to Tour & Train with him: Craig Grey from Grand Rapids, MI, Tim Hillis from Cottonwood, Arizona, Fred Heins from Tilburg, Holland, Stephan Shutter from Germany, Robert Amos from Indiana and Justin and Gary, two of Robert’s students.

We worked on all kinds of knife and gun defenses including defenses inside a car based on the same simple, straight-forward and effective principles. There is something so rewarding about taking these nightmare scenarios, analyzing them and finding ways to deal with them, fusing the mind and the body to make the ‘impossible’ possible. And when you are lucky enough to do that together with people of this caliber, generous, humble and dedicated, it is a truly spiritual experience.

Those of you who read this and think, ‘this woman is crazy’ are in good company. I could intellectualize and argue that, in the world of self-defense, as the song says: “We’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy”.

But those of you who need no explanation, who identify with the high of this kind of body-mind-spirit learning and growth, painful though it may sometimes be, you probably identify, as i do, with these sentiments from the same song: “In a world full of people, only some want to fly. Isn’t that crazy?”

* * *

This  story is a keeper. It is not from Israel, but from the US . It is about five “crazy” women who prevented a murder and put the potential murderer in jail. May there be many more crazies like these both here in Israel and around the world!

Wed May 5, 2010 9:29 PM EDT

Comcast.net News

Five women stop man accused of Maine campus stabbing

BANGOR, Maine — Five female students, including one who’d recently completed a self-defense class, jumped to the aid of a fellow student, grabbing her knife-wielding attacker and holding him until police officers arrived at Husson University, officials said Wednesday.

Jesse Hladik put her new skills to work when she lunged for the hand holding a knife, while fellow students grabbed the man’s other limbs and wrestled him to the ground. Hladik, 21, of Buckfield, said she knew the pressure points to make him drop the knife, thanks to the class.

“It was really scary, but I’m glad we got involved,” said student Heather Mann, 18, of Rochester, N.H. “Because I really think he would have killed her.”

Officers responding to the report of a domestic fight at 7:40 a.m. arrived to find 45-year-old Horst Wolk of Bangor subdued on the pavement. A campus officer cuffed him, and city police hauled him away.

John Michaud, professor of legal studies, heard the commotion and saw a pile of people on the pavement, while more women stood by, ready to jump in, if necessary.

“I was very impressed by the students,” Michaud said. “How many times do you hear about people walking by incidents like this? These young ladies weren’t going to walk by this incident.” He said the young women disarmed the suspect and “had the situation well in hand.”

Wolk has been charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and violating a protection order, said Bangor Police Sgt. Paul Edwards. He remained jailed Wednesday afternoon on $25,000 bail. There was no indication whether he had an attorney.

The incident unfolded in a parking lot next to Husson’s O’Donnell Commons. Wolk, who isn’t a student, rammed the victim’s vehicle after she pulled into a parking space at 7:40 a.m., then jumped out of his vehicle with a knife in his hand, said Julie Green, Husson spokeswoman.

The injured woman, who was not identified, was treated at a local hospital and released.

Edwards said officers generally don’t want bystanders to put themselves in harm’s way.

“We would never recommend getting involved to the point where you might get hurt yourself and become a second victim. But am I proud of what they did? Of course I am. Am I glad they did it? Yeah. I’m happy because the outcome was good,” Edwards said.

Hladik said she realized the importance of self defense.

“Not that the situation is going to happen again here, but it is so much better to know what I was doing, to make a little plan in a couple of seconds before doing something because I can’t imagine being one of the girls without training and not knowing what to do,” she said.

“I think that is bravery because they had never fought … they had no idea what to do and they still stepped in.”

Peace, Politics & A Stabbing in a Church

In violence prevention on April 25, 2010 at 12:31

Strange Contrast: A Stabbing in The Church & Peace Among Warriors

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.

Tourist Shot After Attacking Church Goers

Man seriously wounded in chest, leg after trying to stab worshipers, policemen in Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem; his identity and motive unclear

Shmulik Grossman

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.

Whatever Happened To Freedom AND Responsibility?

In Sexual Assault on March 31, 2010 at 15:28

Here we are smack in the middle of the one-week Passover holiday- Pesach- The Festival of Freedom. In a celebratory mood, I wanted to bring you a self-defense success story and I found one, not only from Israel, mind you, but right from the holy city of Jerusalem (see below).

As I translated the story  from the Hebrew, I was struck by the awesome courage of the intended victim who fought off an armed attacker with her little children sleeping in the next room. I was inspired by the intervention of her neighbors, who identified the assailant and by the police who rushed to the scene.

However, with all due respect to the defense lawyer, what kind of a legal system declares someone “not responsible for their actions” due to being drunk??? How drunk could he have been? He had the foresight to ensure that his intended victim was alone, to put on a stocking mask— not something most men keep in their pockets “just in case”— and bring along a box cutter— what “box” was he planning to open  in his neighbor’s apartment?

The Passover story and freedom. There in the presence of the powerful Pharoah, King of Egypt, stands the shepherd Moses (sounding remarkably like Charlton Heston) quoting God: “Shlach et ami…” Let my people go!”… And that’s where they choose to close the book and have another cup of wine– To Freedom!

But that is only half of the quotation. The quotation is not ” Shlach et ami…”; it is “Shlach et ami v’yavduni.” “Let my people go SO THEY MAY SERVE ME.” Freedom, yes, but for a purpose.  Freedom and responsibility go hand-in- hand. In our society, we allow people to drink. We allow them to drink to excess- even though we all know that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol make us more likely to do stupid, risky and harmful things. It makes sense that we not hold people responsible for what they might do, but rather for what they do.  “I was drunk” might excuse someone for slipping on the stairs and breaking a favorite vase but since when can: “I was drunk” be used to excuse someone for committing a violent crime? You were drunk? And who was responsible for THAT??? And, if someone was in control enough to time his attack,  disguise himself and brings along a weapon, how drunk could he have been???

A deep bow to the 23 year-old Jerusalem mother of two for her heroism, to her neighbors for being what true neighbors should be and to the police for apprehending the suspect and bringing in the evidence to convict him. Let’s hope that our justice system doesn’t let this one get away.

Suspected: He made sure the husband had left, and attempted to rape his neighbor

A Jerusalem Court extended the detention of a resident of the city, who is suspected of entering his neighbor’s apartment at night with a stocking mask and a box cutter, attacking her and trying to rape her.  She shouted, struggled – and fought him off. The suspect’s lawyer argues: “He was drunk”.


Dec. 8. 2009

Efrat Weiss

The suspected attacker waited for the husband to leave, then went into his neighbor’s apartment with a stocking mask – and tried to rape her at knife point with her two children in the next room. This afternoon (Tuesday) the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the arrest of the city resident arrested last night on suspicion of trying to rape his neighbor. The investigation continues.

A 36-year-old man was arrested as a result of a night time attack on his neighbor, age 23. According to the woman filing the complaint, the suspect entered her apartment at about 10 o’clock at night wearing a stocking mask and carrying a box cutter, attacked her and tried to rape her. She struggled with him and was lightly injured by the knife, for which she required medical treatment. At the end of the struggle, she managed to fight him off, and he fled the apartment without carrying out his plans. During the course of the entire incident, the victim’s two young children – ages nine months and a year and eight months – were in the next room.

Neighbors who heard the screams of the young woman called the police. The police arrived at the scene and began to search for the attacker. The woman could not identify the attacker due to his stocking mask , but neighbors that saw him remove the mask reported him to the police, and he was arrested. During a search conducted in his apartment the knife was also found.

According to Sergeant Major Maya Yosipov, investigator of violent sexual offenses, the suspect confessed this morning and admitted that he planned the attack after the husband left fifteen minutes before, when he realized that his wife was alone at home. In response,  the suspect’s lawyer, Ariel Atari, said: “According to the evidence, my client was drunk that night. Therefore, it is doubtful that he can be held responsible for his actions, even if they occurred.” Said Sergeant Major Yosipov  “The drunkenness argument contradicts the confession, according to which he planned the event, went up to the apartment, found the door open, and entered the apartment wearing a stocking mask and equipped with a knife.”

At the Crossroads of Jerusalem

In teens on December 11, 2009 at 03:18

My personal assignment in honor of the Circle of Strength’s Volunteer Day was to give an hour-and-a-half self-defense class just off Zion Square at a drop-in center called Crossroads.

Crossroads is a center that serves a subculture of vulnerable teens that have been sidelined.  While many organizations have been established to meet the needs of at-risk teens, one such population is consistently under-served:  the hundreds of Jerusalem’s English-speaking at-risk youth. Poor, isolated and on the streets, they are, nonetheless, stereotyped as being “Affluent Americans” and are, therefore, estranged from the usual governmental rehabilitative frameworks. See the article below for a look into some other problems in the existing youth treatment system.

Any way, The Crossroads Center, established in 2001, is the only organization actively helping Anglo teens find their way through information and referral, recreational activities to keep them away from trouble and danger, psychological care and counseling.

And speaking of finding one’s way, parking in downtown Jerusalem was never easy but what a nightmare the the endless construction on Jerusalem’s infamous light rail has created! Miracle of miracles, I found my way to a parking garage. I walked through Yoel Saloman Street carrying my trusty striking pads, crossed over Jaffa Street, found HaHavatzelet 2 and climbed the three floors to the Center. My assistant, Tova, met me on the stairs.

Our class began with a group of about seven teens, mostly boys, who starting out  sulking because the social workers turned off  “South Park” in honor of my arrival.  By the end, we had about 20 teens in the room who had worked to various degrees on boundary setting, striking and targeting. The teens did what all teens do: testing, interrupting, challenging and generally, making life difficult… But they also learned, challenged each others assumptions and asked insightful questions.

After the class, when I had a few minutes to speak with the staff, they told me that they were impressed by how well the group listened and participated.  The girls in particular  asked them if we could offer more classes. We brainstormed about writing a grant together, trying to get Youth Services to fund a course, looking for a course sponsor with a special interest in helping these kids successfully find their way into safe and healthy adulthood. I don’t know how we’ll do it yet, but, somehow, we’ll find a way. Some things, like these kids, are far too important to leave to chance.

Knesset Discusses 100s of Untreated At-Risk Youth

N. has worked as a prostitute since she was 14. A. accumulated 29 criminal records before the age of 13. There is no room for them in any residential center, not for them nor for hundreds of others due to a lack of of dormitories and staff. A government investigator points his finger at the Welfare Department- and the report on this subject that he prepared was discussed today in the Knesset.

Yael Barnovsky
Ynet News (Hebrew) 09.06.09

N., a 14 year-old girl from the Central Region, fell victim years ago to violence at the hands of her father. At age 13, she got drunk for the first time and was exploited sexually by men much older than she. She received not treatment, and after she was raped by a neighbor, she started using drugs and in order to pay for them, began engaging in prostitution. The court ordered that she be placed in a closed dormitory facility but, the waiting list was too long, so meanwhile, she was placed in an open dormitory from which she regularly flees and continues her work as a prostitute.

A. a boy of 13 form the North, grew up with a violent mother and a father he barely knew, since he is rarely out of prison. Already by 7th grade, he dropped out of school and began wandering the streets. Within a year, 29 police reports were filed against him. A. who is considered a “high-risk youth”, was arrested on suspicion of abusing animals. His imprisonment was extended until the end of proceedings against him. The judge decided that, if he was placed in a closed dormitory facility, he could be released from prison. In this instance also, the answer as to whether he could be accommodated was “no”.

According to statistics from the National Council for The Child, in 2008 there was a 10% drop in the number of youth in treatment under the Youth Shelter Authority of the Welfare Department responsible for dormitory facilities for youth at risk. Since 2002 and until 2007, the number of youth placed in these facilities grew from 1,297 to 1,826- more than 40%. However, in 2008 there were only 1,650, an 11% drop. Do the statistics reflect that there are fewer youth at risk? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The reason is that, as in the examples of N. and A., there is a shortage of space in the dorms and of professional staff— that prevents fast treatment for the youth that need it most.

The Welfare Department Calls This “A Difficult Period”

These statistics were presented today (Tuesday) by the Executive Director of the National Council for the Child Dr. Yitzhak Kedman, in a meeting of the Knesset’s State Review Committee that will discuss the damning findings that arose from the report of the State Comptroller concerning the Youth Shelter Authority.

According to the report, in the 10 government dormitory facilities under the Authority there are 351 spaces and 567 on waiting lists. Of those at least another 98 would have qualified for treatment if all 351 spaces were filled. However, only 253 of the spaces are occupied and a lack of professional staff members prevents the remaining spaces from being filled.

The State Comptroller found that Youth Authority attempts to reach the Welfare Department Management in order to find a solution to the problem of dormitory placement, were not dealt with and that Welfare Department Management failed to cooperate re: the adoption of a multi-year plan that would enable an overall solution to this difficult on-going problem and provide material for dealing with this issue vis-a-vis the Treasury Department.

“If the government was a parent,we would long ago have taken him/her to court for criminal child negligence, failure to fulfill parental responsibilities, defying court orders and false imprisonment,” said Dr. Kedman…

Changing The World

In Children, Sexual Assault on November 21, 2009 at 23:34

The problem with being the purveyors of a product like “self-defense” is that most people think they know what you are offering, but very few really do.  Say “self-defense”, even in Hebrew, and visions of Superman, TV wrestling, ninjas and stun guns dance in their heads. Tell them that your goal in teaching self-defense is societal change…blank stare.

So, when we go out to explain our programs, we don’t talk about “self-defense” and we don’t talk about “changing the world” . When we go out to special schools and afternoon programs for at-risk teens we talk about “violence prevention and life-skills”. When we present ourselves to social workers running programs for seniors, we talk about “self-efficacy and personal security”. When we talk to representatives in the Arab community we talk about ” helping defend the honor of the family”. WE know that the term “self-defense” or, as we sometimes refer to it “holistic self-defense” includes all of these and much, much more. But it doesn’t sell.

Today’s story from the Hebrew press is another self-defense success story… but not the kind your average person would recognize as such. It is the story of a sexual predator immersed in one of the safest places he could possibly be: a religious institution serving disabled children.

According to the report Crimes Against People With Disabilities, 2007 (U.S. Department of Justice, October 2009), based on the  National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability.

So, plenty of victims to choose from and here we are, talking about 10-13 year-old autistic boys from religious families. How much safer could a sexual predator be?

What were the odds that one of these boys would have the courage and the ability to tell his parents what was happening to him? What were the odds that these parents would take their son’s horrible allegations seriously enough to approach the school administration and that, when they saw the administration was acting in a way that might protect their son, but would leave the perpetrator free to prey upon others, that they would go to the police? What was the chance that the police would pursue a case that boils down to the word of a few autistic boys against a teacher with no criminal record? Unbelievable!!!

The boy, his parents, the police… heroes every one of them! Why? Because…. What were the odds????

But what if we could change the odds? What if kids could stand up for themselves against adults that abuse them? What if they could tell and be believed? What if parents could report and not be shunned? What if police could pursue these criminals knowing that no one would be afraid to tell the truth?

What if sexual predators had nowhere to hide?

Holistic self-defense. It could change the world.

Suspected: A Rabbi At A Yeshiva for Autistic Boys is Suspected of Sodomy

The heads of the yeshiva, located in Ramot, were interrogated after they chose not to involve the police even though they were aware of the rabbi’s actions. The suspected was arrested after parents of  a student in the yeshiva registered a complaint with the police.

Yossi Eli 20-11-2009

ww.nrg.co.il (translated from the Hebrew)

Turmoil erupted at a yeshiva for autistic children in Ramot.  Last weekend, police arrested a rabbi and teacher at the yeshiva (30) on suspicion of engaging in a series of indecent acts and sodomy against autistic children aged 10-13 learning at the institution over a period of years. The arrest of the rabbi became possible when one of the students complained about the acts to his parents.

The issue became known to the rabbis managing the yeshiva last year when one of the children complained to his parents that the rabbi would touch him and, thus, reach sexual satisfaction. The parent turned to the rabbis, who decided not to go to the police  but, rather, to deal with the issue within the walls of the yeshiva.

The rabbis decided to remove the teacher from the yeshiva and appoint a new one. With that, the parents of the youth who garnered the strength to reveal the incident decided not to let the matter rest. They issued a complaint at the Shafat Police Station, that, then, opened an investigation. In the course of the investigation, the rabbis of the yeshiva were interrogated with the warning that they were suspected of covering-up the incident. They were released shortly thereafter.

“We are talking about reliable young men”

The teacher was arrested and brought for interrogation to the Shafat Police Station. In the course of the investigation, he denied the acts attributed to him and insisted that he had not committed sodomy but, rather, was accustomed to hugging and kissing the children in a fatherly manner. As the investigation continued, in order to check the reliability of the complaints, a psychologist was invited to the institution to speak with the youngsters.

The psychologist testified that these were trustworthy young men and that the police could rely on their testimony.

The police suspect that the teacher was involved in several additional incidents involving other autistic boys that learn at the yeshiva. They intend to interview other boys learning at that same yeshiva.

The teacher was brought to the Municipal Court in the city to extend his detention before Judge Morris Ben Atar who decided to extend his detention for four more days.

The police reported that “the suspect is a resident of one of the settlements close to Modiin Ilit, a normal man with no criminal past, married and the father of five. It is the police’s intention to recommend a indictment against the man.”

The teacher’s attorney, Arnon Eitan, reported in response that “from the beginning we determined that these were old allegations that were dealt with by the “educational institution more than a year ago. And since, the matter ended. Even the present investigation came to the same conclusion.”

Violence We Prevent Makes No Headlines

In violence prevention on October 26, 2009 at 16:12
Young Arab Jerusalemites Learning How To Stop Violence Against Them

Young Arab Women in Jerusalem Learning How To Stop Violence Directed Against Them

While rocks and words fly in response to the  Imams’ outlandish fantasy of some Jewish conspirency to retake the Temple Mount, there is a real battle going on right here in the halls of El HaLev, a battle to prevent violence.

For the last two Sundays, 16 young Arabic-speaking women served by the Arab section of the Youth Advancement Department of the Jerusalem Municipality  have made their way from their homes in East Jerusalem, Shuafat, Beit Zafafa and Sheikh Jarrah to our headquarters in the Talpiot section of Jerusalem for an IMPACT for Teens Self-Defense Course. In IMPACT, they learn how to feel and trust their intuition,   identify dangerous situations,  use words and body language to discourage potential attackers and, when necessary, to employ full-power self-defense techniques that can enable them to disable their attackers and survive.

According to one of our IMPACT staff members: “It’s really hard to tell who is more excited about this course: the girls, their community workers or the staff of El HaLev.”

For these students, who tend to  come from families on the less-educated, less-affluent side of Arab society, these skills are a virtual revolution.

Violence Against Women in The Arab Sector

In order to confront the fear of violence, these girls are dealing with enormous issues concerning who their society views violence against women. According to a poll conducted last year by Naamat Women, some 70% of Arab women in Israel believe that women who are pushed, slapped or struck by their male partners are not victims of domestic violence.  Some 73% believe that women whose partners curse or humiliate them are not victims of violence.

Similarly, these girls are growing up female under the cloud of  “honor killing”, the murder of women and girls by  family members as the result of  such things as  dressing in an “immodest” or “too-Western” manner, opting out of  arranged marriages or engaging in certain sexual acts, including being the victims of rape.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that the annual worldwide total of honor-killing victims may be as high as 5,000. UNICEF reports, based on 1999 estimates, that more than two-thirds of all murders in the Gaza strip and the West Bank were most likely ‘honor’ killings.

Against this background and these odds, and despite the difficulty getting out of their neighborhoods under the current conditions, these brave girls have completed eight of the 16 hours of this  four-session course. I am certain that they will be back next week, and the week after to finish their course. Despiteit all, they seem bound and determined to ensure that they acquire the skills to keep at bay the violence that lives and breathes all around them.

Untold thanks to our staff, the staff of the Arab section of Jerusalem’s Youth Advancement Department and the Kathryn Ames Foundation, whose generous contribution made this course possible.

The rioters in the Old City and their sympathizers may be making headlines. But WE are making a difference!

Jerusalem: Temple Mount riots resume

Efrat Weiss
Latest Update:     10.25.09, 15:27 / Israel News

Nine police officers were lightly injured Sunday stones and Molotov cocktails hurled at forces stationed at the Temple Mount as part of the high state of alert in the area. A female Australian reporter was lightly injured by stones in the Old City.

Forces patrolling the area also noticed oil poured on the floor, apparently in order to cause the officers to slip and make their activity in the area more difficult.

A police force entered the Temple Mount compound in order to catch the stone throwers, using shock grenades. More than 18 people were arrested on the Mount and in its surroundings, including senior Fatah member Khatem Abdel Kader, who is charge of the Jerusalem portfolio in the Palestinian organization.

Palestinians and members of the Waqf reported that at least eight worshippers were injured, but the police said they were unaware of any injuries.

Abdel Kader was arrested at the Temple Mount plaza after allegedly rioting, assaulting policemen and calling on worshippers to launch a parade. He was taken in for questioning by the Jerusalem Police’s minority unit.

Three masked Arab men were arrested in the afternoon hours after hurling stones at the security forces in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. Police also detained Ali Abu Sheikha, No. 3 in the Islamic Movement’s northern branch.

Abu Sheikha was arrested on suspicion of rioting and calling on residents to go out and demonstrate. In mid October he was detained on suspicion of inciting Arabs near the Temple Mount during the riots which began on Yom Kippur Eve.

Another incident was recorded when Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) tried to enter the Temple Mount but was stopped by the police. “This is extremely severe,” Tibi said in response. “The police are violating the law. It’s not in their authority. The al-Aqsa Mosque is not a closed military zone.”

Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen told reporters while visiting the Mount, “I identify many large groups of east Jerusalem Arabs and Israeli Arabs who have arrived here following calls made by the Islamic Movement, whose leaders are here. I call on them to practice restraint and calm and not to incite.

“The Jerusalem Police will act firmly against any rioters on the Temple Mount. The inciters are the same people you know. It’s impossible that the Israel Police will have to deal with the Islamic Movement every Sunday, and so we will handle this on the investigative level.”

He clarified that the police did not enter the al-Aqsa Mosque and had no plans to do so.

The Jerusalem Police accused elements in the Islamic Movement and Hamas of inflaming the situation after calling on youngsters to riot on the Temple Mount on Saturday.

Police officials clarified that the forces were prepared for the disturbances and exerted efforts to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount, allowing worshippers and tourists to enter the site. Several minutes after the Mount opened for prayers, however, rioters began hurling stones, objects, Molotov cocktails, acid and oil at police officers patrolling the area, forcing the police to enter the site.

Mount closed to visitors

Following the violent incidents, the police closed the mount to Muslim worshippers and visitors. The Jewish worshippers’ prayers in the Western Wall are continuing as planned, while the reinforced police forces remain in the area to prevent another outbreak of riots.

The area was cleared of worshippers, apart from several dozen young men who remained inside the mosque. The police are trying to hold a dialogue with different representatives, including the Waqf, in order to calm things down.

Tensions high on Temple Mount

The violence spread to other places in the Old City, and in one alley Arabs hurled stones at passersby and policemen. There were no reports of injuries or damage, and the police began searching for the stone throwers.

The police fear the recurrence of violent incidents on the Mount after Arabs in east Jerusalem and northern Israel were urged Saturday to come protect the al-Aqsa Mosque, while right-wing activists called on Jews to come visit the Temple Mount in masses.

The police decided Saturday evening not to close the Mount to visitors and not to limit the age of Muslim worshippers, but vowed to act firmly against any attempt to cause disturbances or change the status quo on the Mount and in its surroundings.

The Islamic Movement announced that it would make buses available for worshipers who wish to arrive at the mosque Sunday. The movement’s spokesman Zahy Nujeidat said the flyer calling Arabs to protect the area was issued “in response to those who try and desecrate al-Aqsa.”

According to police, there was a call for the capital’s Arab residents to “protect Temple Mount from Jewish conquest,” as well as a call on Jews by extreme-right elements to arrive at the compound.

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.”

To have and have not…

In Mind-Body Philosophy on June 19, 2009 at 17:53

One of the principles of self-defense, martial arts and just plain old healthy living is maintaining your focus on what you HAVE rather than on what you DON’T have. For example, Foul-mouthed Idiot reaches out and grabs my wrist. Now, I can spend the next five minutes playing tug-of-war over my wrist with a man 5 times my size…. or I can introduce his nose to the palm of my other hand or kick him in the nuts,   and be on my way. In the cold light of day, the choice seems abundantly clear. But won’t be, if I focus my energy on the limb that is NOT available, rather than to all the ones that are.

…which brings me to this past week, which I have ostensibly spent on the couch in my living room, my right arm bound in a sling . I took a spill on my electric scooter last week. It was a short ride that ended as a long story of barking dogs, concerned neighbors, x-rays and pain meds. I separated my AC joint.

On the one hand, it is amazing how many meetings, write-ups, reports and what-nots  I have managed to do pecking away with my left hand on my laptop while jabbering away via wireless Internet, Skype, two cellphones, and a land line.

Some of the lessons of this week are not surprising. After more than 20 years of  partaking in the martial arts and teaching self-defense, it is no great surprise that being  limited physically drives me crazy.  And not being able to drive is VERY inconvenient, especially when you live in Rehovot and your office is in Jerusalem… Duh.

I am continually amazed, however, at my ability to discover alternative strategies for  using my body to accomplish everyday tasks. Two decades of martial arts practice will do that for you. I am also continually amazed by the speed of  the healing process— the transformation of ‘road rash’ back to healthy, supple skin.  And I have done some pretty neat adaptions to my kata to enable me to continue my practice one-handed. Instructing twice a week is a great motivator.

I also allow myself a few minutes of mindful whining each day.  Despite my absence, things at  El HaLev are jumping. Everyone has been raving about RENT, the production being performed on our new rooftop deck. They tell me 200 people showed up for opening night! 200!!! And here I am forking down comfort foods with my left hand while my dog, cat and bird line up waiting for something to drop.

With any luck, I’ll be back in the saddle next week.

, מהשעה 17:30.