Posts Tagged ‘violence’

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…

Violence A Stone’s Throw Away

In Violence in Israeli Society on October 4, 2009 at 16:10
Jewish Women in Burqas & Haredi Gangstas: Whats Next For Beit Shemesh

Jewish Women in Burqas & Haredi Gangstas: What's Next For Beit Shemesh?

One of my favorite things to do during the Succot Holiday is to visit my friends living in Beit Shemesh.  Every year, we have a luscious BBQ in their Succah and mosey over to the Beit Shemesh Jewish Rock & Soul Festival, where residents and visitors alike chill out on brotherhood, love and Jewish-oriented Rock & Roll.

This year, for me at least, it will be difficult to sprawl out on the grass and relax without flashing back to some of the disturbing headlines this Biblical city has recently produced.

One such story is that of the so-called Taliban Mother. Insisting on being “more modest-than-thou” by dressing in a full Muslim burqa, this woman, together with her husband, severely abused her 12 children. The social service system suspected.  Key people in her ultra-religious community knew. And those children continued to suffer.

And then there is the story below. It is the story of how a few dozen hoodlums in religious garb are using verbal and physical violence  to terrorize people and hold opposing members of their community hostage to fear of retaliation. They have been known to hurl insults, spit, eggs, stones and bricks at unsuspecting visitors and to kick and beat them to the ground simply because they don’t approve of the way they are dressed or whom they are with. I was told by one Beit Shemesh resident that police, seeing that a group of these thugs approaching, insisted that a woman they were apparently targeting leave immediately. What if anything was done to or about the looming assailants, no one seems to know.

Thanks to the efforts of many segments of the Beit Shemesh community, there are long stretches of relative quiet. Not surprisingly,  however, those stretches tend to lull people back to complacency. Violence remains only a stone’s throw away.

A few weeks from now, I am going to sit down with members of the Beit Shemesh community, all of whom are likely to be Modern Religious and Native English-Speakers, to hear their concerns about crime and violence in their community. I will explain to them, as best as I can, how creating a local chapter of the International Alliance of Guardian Angels could be the grassroots solution they are looking for to help them pull their community together and stop the violence. I will tell them how such a chapter is organized and offer to train them in verbal and physical self-defense and in patrol tactics.

I expect that they will find it relatively easy to talk about the problems of youth crimes and drugs among many of their less-religious and poorer neighbors.  Like many cities in Israel, Beit Shemesh has its share of disillusioned, disenfranchised teens and vagrants. However, I don’t know whether they will be ready to discuss the  issue of dealing with the problematic elements of their Ultra-Religious neighbors. The fact that religious people behave in such shockingly immoral ways casts a shadow over religious people of every stripe, even those who deplore the actions of these Fundamentalist Gangstas.

Part of the advantage I have as  both a social worker and an El HaLev self-defense instructor is that I long ago learned the importance of starting from where your “client” is. Even if the ‘elephant in the room’ wears earlocks and a streimal (fur hat) or a wig and a burqa, I can manage to overlook it for a while.  Empowerment, like life, is a journey, not a destination.

I hope that among this handful of  Beit Shemesh residents, I will find one who is ready to lead. If one has the courage to take up the challenge, others will follow. And we’ll begin the process with the enemy they least fear to face, the one who is the least like them. It will take time, commitment and a few small successes before  they will be ready to face that elephant—the one that most elicits their own doubts and fears.

In the meanwhile, let the music play.

In Beit Shemesh, residents struggle to counter violent religious coercion

By Dina Kraft · July 12, 2009

BEIT SHEMESH, Israel (JTA) — The 15-year-old girl remembers a roar of male voices, a blur of bearded faces and being kicked from behind as she was pelted with raw eggs.

She was with two other girlfriends who, like her, are Modern Orthodox, and they had been walking on a Friday night through a fervently Orthodox neighborhood of Beit Shemesh known for being hostile to outsiders — including fellow observant Jews like themselves.

But things had been quiet for months and the girls shrugged off any concerns. Then a mob approached.

“They were screaming at us, ‘Shame on yourselves! Get out of here!’ ” said the girl, who did not want to give her name. “There were about 50 men screaming on the top of their lungs.”

The incident was among the more recent examples of violence by a pocket of fervently Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh who employ sporadic violence, threaten business owners and post street signs warning women not to walk on certain sidewalks to impose an uncompromising brand of religious fundamentalism on their community.

In Beit Shemesh, a city of some 70,000 approximately 30 minutes from Jerusalem, it is the neighborhood of Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet (Beit Shemesh Heights B) that has become a flashpoint. Though the thuggish elements are relatively small in number — as few as several dozen, some say — their use of gangster tactics has sown fear among Beit Shemesh residents, who range from haredi, or fervently Orthodox, Jews to Modern Orthodox.

The neighborhood has a mall that stands only half built after some haredim threatened a boycott if separate shopping times for men and women were not designated. Stone-throwing riots erupted when the owner of a pizza parlor, who had received threats warning against allowing boys and girls to congregate together, took down a sign calling for “modesty.”

Two years ago, a woman and a male soldier who tried to protect her were beaten when the woman refused to move to the back of a public bus. The police who arrived at the scene reportedly were attacked by the crowd.

One haredi rabbi who lives in the neighborhood and spoke to JTA on condition of anonymity said that most of his neighbors, like him, oppose the behavior of the violent haredim, but they are too intimidated to act against them.

“Most rabbis definitely do not accept what is going on,” he said. “But as for coming out in public, I believe they are afraid to because if they do so, they, too, would be attacked.”

Although it has been relatively quiet in Beit Shemesh for the past year — a calm some credit to local mediation efforts — the attack on the three schoolgirls reignited tensions.

“An abomination has happened in Israel,” read a flier that was posted throughout the neighborhood after the attack. “We will not let this pass quietly.”

Written with the help of haredim who were outraged by the attack, the fliers — known in the haredi world as pashkivilim and used to disseminate information in religious communities where members rarely watch TV, listen to the radio or read newspapers or the Internet — were the result of an outreach and mediation effort launched by a group of local Modern Orthodox Jews.

Community members said the response was welcome — and surprising.

Residents were “shocked that for the first time anyone stood up to the” fundamentalists, said Rabbi Dov Lipman, a Modern Orthodox immigrant from Maryland who has been at the forefront of both confronting and mediating with the more extreme haredi sects in Beit Shemesh. “As much as we are protecting ourselves, we are also freeing those who live in the community who are under siege.”

The haredim causing trouble are mostly transplants from Neturei Karta and Satmar haredi communities in Jerusalem who migrated to Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet, like many suburbanites, in search of more affordable housing.

For years Beit Shemesh had been known as a sleepy working-class town populated mainly by Moroccan immigrants and their descendants. But in the past decade or two the demographics of the city have shifted dramatically as Orthodox Ashkenazim, ranging from haredi Jerusalemites to Modern Orthodox new immigrants from North America and England, have moved in.

Menachem Friedman, an Israeli sociologist and expert on haredim, said the haredi violence in Beit Shemesh is far more extreme than the haredi protests in places such as Jerusalem because Beit Shemesh lacks an established rabbinic authority. In larger cities, he says, rabbis generally rein in the rogues.

The extremists “think they live in an area with weak local government and a weak local population, and that lets them feel that they can maneuver and spread power and dare to act violently,” Friedman said.

A haredi who identified himself as Yisrael and hails from the more extreme haredi faction, is among those who has been meeting with Lipman. Yisrael attributes the violence to “provocations,” saying he and his cohorts will not be silent when their religious way of life is threatened.

Lipman, who teaches at a local yeshiva for American students, admits that some view as naive his efforts to broker an understanding with the extremist elements in the city. He says it’s about taking communal responsibility for his town.

“This problem is something we could not have ever imagined as we sacrificed so much to make aliyah, and we are enraged,” Lipman said. “But the problem won’t simply go away by itself. We feel that we have a responsibility to do something about it both for ourselves and on behalf of our native Israeli neighbors who understandably don’t want to take up this battle.”

Israel’s Murderous Summer: The Great Motivator?

In Crime in Israel on September 4, 2009 at 16:20

Fear: Is that why these girls are in a kicking class, rather than a chorus line?

Fear: Is that why these girls are in a kicking class, rather than a chorus line?

Had a little trouble following the news in Israel this summer? Maybe you were using the wrong search terms. This summer, “war”, “terrorism” and “bombings” were out. Murder was in. Here’s a short sample of this summer’s “low”lights:

Jul 4 | 17-year-old admits to Ashdod stabbing

Jul 12 | Olga Borisov convicted of killing 4-year-old son
Mother who drowned her 4-year-old son not charged with murder due to her unstable mental condition.

Aug 02: Two killed in shooting at Tel Aviv gay center
15 others wounded in shooting spree; police launch manhunt for gunman

Aug 18 | 22-year-old Tira man killed by masked gunmen
Attackers flee the scene in thirteenth murder this month

Aug 20 | Man killed girlfriend, her daughter
Police apprehend 59-year-old suspect… gag order lifted on gruesome case.

Aug 23 | Teen suspected of killing dad turns himself in
15-year-old who allegedly stabbed his father in family argument…

Aug 28 |Tenant admits to killing Jerusalem landlord
Police say Avi Dar, who had a record of violence, is refusing to answer questions regarding his motive.

Aug 28 | 9 suspects charged in Karp murder
3 indicted on suspicion of killing 59-year-old in cold blood

What do all these cases have in common? Not much. They all took place in Israel. They all happened in the summer. And everyone blames the police, not that anyone  wants to DO anything about it…  A recent survey showed that most Israelis agreed that our police are undermanned and overworked but, underpaid?  No way would they agree to raise  paltry police salaries .  Motivate good cops to remain cops  or attract more and better candidates to the field? What for? Teachers, does this ring a bell?

Anyway, during our School’s-In Happening at our headquarters in Jerusalem, an Arabic-speaking BBC news team showed up to film. Their burning question was the same one I was asked the week before when my IMPACT Teens class in Tel-Aviv was filmed by the Knesset’s official TV channel: “Has the spate of high-profile murders in Israel this summer increased interest in enrollment?”

Well, it sure has increased MEDIA interest. But enrollees? Damned if we know. Yes, there is increased interest. And, of course, we are savvy enough to ask each and every interested party what brought her to our door.  So far, no one  has said: “Because of the stabbings (shootings, beatings) last week”. Still, much as we’d like to think that our hard work and their desire to be-all- that-they-can-be are what it takes to get them in the door, we can’t help but wonder.

Fear As Motivation

What’s really behind the walk-ins and the phone calls? Is it this summer’s screaming headlines?  And if fear is the motivator, what happens when life– and media attention— inevitably shift elsewhere? Will we be back to competing on a par with hip-hop and drawing classes? Or will that extra motivation to empower themselves and their daughters for a lifetime remain?

What do you think?

Self-Defense Training: Does It Prevent Violence?

In violence prevention on August 26, 2009 at 01:30

Israeli Teen Performing Hands-On Violence Prevention

An interview with researcher Jocelyn Hollander

Special Thanks to the IMPACT-Boston Blog for publishing and sharing this article

Jocelyn Hollander has been an advocate for women’s self-defense for more than 20 years. As a researcher she conducted one of the only systematic studies of why those who advocate women’s empowerment and sexual violence prevention struggle embrace the work of IMPACT and other similar organizations.

IMPACT: How did you initially become interested in self-defense as a response to violence against women and sexual violence in particular?

JOCELYN HOLLANDER: I took my first self-defense class more or less by accident. My college roommate became interested in women’s self-defense and talked me into taking a class with her. I was actually quite reluctant to take that class – little did I know that it would transform my life and direct my career path for the next two decades. I probably wouldn’t be a sociologist, and I certainly wouldn’t be studying violence against women, if it weren’t for that class. My college roommate has a lot to answer for!

Once I overcame my initial resistance to taking that class, I fell in love with self-defense. I suddenly understood the world around me in a new way. For example, I realized how much my life had been governed by fear, and I stopped taking that fear for granted. Why should I feel afraid? Why should I have to rely on others for protection? I realized that I had the ability to protect myself, and that realization was life-changing.

IMPACT: What are some of the positive outcomes you’ve observed in women as they participate in self-defense training programs?

JH: I’ve studied women who have taken a class much like the first one I took – an intensive, feminist class offered on a college campus. Not surprisingly, I’ve found that learning self-defense increases women’s confidence in their ability to defend themselves. They feel stronger, they know a range of verbal and physical strategies they could use if confronted with an assault, and they feel confident that they’d be able to actually use these strategies.

Even more importantly, my research has found that learning self-defense also empowers women in many other areas of their lives. They feel better about themselves and their bodies. For example, they say things like, “I feel more comfortable in my own skin,” or “I see my own power and strength.” They report feeling more comfortable interacting with everyone from family to friends to partners to strangers. They develop more self-confidence, and they no longer see women as weak and men as inevitably more powerful. Perhaps most importantly, they have an increased sense of self-worth – they believe that they are worth defending. These are huge changes; they affect virtually every aspect of women’s lives.

IMPACT:  You’ve done and excellent systematic analysis of why people struggle with or object to self-defense training as a strategy for preventing sexual violence.  More specifically you’ve addressed the struggles of feminists and sexual violence prevention advocates. What are the most common reasons for resistance?

JH: I’ve encountered three types of resistance. First, some people believe that women are fundamentally incapable of defending themselves. I’ve called this the “it’s impossible” reaction: why encourage (or teach or study or fund) women’s self-defense if women are simply too weak to be effective?

Second, some people argue that teaching women self-defense is too dangerous. The argument here is that if women learn self-defense, they’ll become over-confident – or foolhardy or even aggressive – and go out looking for fights, which of course (buying into the “it’s impossible” theme) they’ll inevitably lose.

Finally, some people argue that teaching and advocating women’s self-defense is victim-blaming, because it can imply that women are responsible for controlling men’s violence.  Perhaps, they argue, learning about the effectiveness of self-defense will encourage survivors to blame themselves – if they’d only fought back, or fought back more effectively, then the assault would not have happened.

There’s also been another argument recently that says that self-defense training should not be a priority because our main focus should be on “primary prevention” – that is, on the root causes of violence. Self-defense training, these folks says, is nothing more than a band-aid that doesn’t do anything to reduce the incidence of violence.

IMPACT: How have you responded to these objections?

JH: The “it’s impossible” response just isn’t supported by the evidence. There’s quite a bit of research now that shows that women often do resist when they are attacked, and that when they do resist, they are often successful in preventing sexual assault – even when they are not trained in self-defense. We don’t yet have any research on whether self-defense training makes them more successful; I’m in the middle of some research now which I hope will help us answer that question. But the research we have so far is pretty unequivocal: women can defend themselves, and can do so successfully. (Of course, it’s also important to say that this conclusion is based on the examination of large numbers of incidents, and that in any particular situation self-defense may be more or less possible.)

As far as the “it’s too dangerous” response, I’ve asked the women I’ve studied whether they feel learning self-defense has made them overconfident. So far, not a single person has said that it has. They still have a healthy fear of violence; the difference now is that they feel like they have some strategies to prevent it and cope with it if it happens.

The “it’s victim-blaming” response is in some ways the most difficult. I have a lot of sympathy for this position – women are blamed for their own victimization in a variety of ways, and I don’t want my research to contribute to that. But I think it’s possible to say that women can defend themselves without implying that they are responsible for the violence against them. Just because women can fight back doesn’t mean that it is their responsibility to fight back, or that they should do so in every situation. Responsibility for violence always lies with the perpetrator. Sometimes compliance is the safest choice, and women shouldn’t be blamed if they choose not to resist – or if they do resist and are unsuccessful.

The main point I make in my research, however, is that the real root of all these different types of resistance is our societal beliefs about gender – our beliefs about what women and men are and should be like. These ideas keep us from being able to see women as strong and capable and men as potentially vulnerable (the “it’s impossible” reaction). They encourage us to think that women will become overconfident or foolhardy (the “it’s too dangerous” reaction), by suggesting that women aren’t capable and/or that they somehow aren’t rational enough to use self-defense tools wisely. Finally, the “it’s victim-blaming” response sees women as incapable of understanding complex ideas, such as the fact that perpetrators are responsible for violence whether or not women employ self-defense strategies. As I say in a recent article, “Would anyone seriously suggest that men be shielded from information about how to deter muggers because it
might make them blame themselves for past muggings?” Of course not, but somehow we think that women are so emotionally vulnerable that they will be devastated by the knowledge of self-defense.

Women’s self-defense training is dangerous because it challenges these deeply-held beliefs – and because in doing so, it challenges gender inequality. In the end, I think that’s why many people are resistant to the idea of women defending themselves.

All That Evil Needs To Exist…

In Crime in Israel on August 16, 2009 at 02:31
Guardian Angel Training

Guardian Angel Training

This post is dedicated to the courage of seven Hollywood, CA Guardian Angels  on Safety Patrol  who were attacked last week by a mob while attempting to protect a college student. The Force Be With You- Jedi

There is no way to enter my office at El HaLev without knowing that I am a Guardian Angel. My red beret and white Safety Patrol T-shirt are always at the ready on my desk and, hanging on the wall is, not my understated traditional white karate uniform, but a flashy red and white Jr. Guardian Angels Demo Team uniform, a gift from Stretch, a trainer for New York’s Guardian Angels.

I get a wide variety of reactions from people who notice my affiliation. Most of them can’t understand how I manage to fit another activity into my life. When it comes to that, I am as baffled as they are.

However, many are baffled about WHY I am a Guardian Angel, or perhaps more specifically, what in the world that has to do with my dedication to the martial arts, teaching self-defense and empowering women in Israeli society.

To me, the connection is crystal clear.

All that evil needs to succeed is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

My martial arts training has given me the power to prevent people from doing evil to me or, at the very least, to do the maximum possible to take responsibility for my life and my safety. My teaching of self-defense gives me an opportunity to share a range of tools, verbal and emotional as well as physical, with women, teens, children and people with special needs to help them take responsibility for their safety and peace of mind.

Just to be clear, taking responsibility is not the same as taking blame. Perpetrators of violence are 100% to blame for the evil they do and for suffering the consequences of the choices they make. Blame is blame; Responsibility is power.

Seven murders have taken place in Israel over the last two weeks: from young people mowed down in cold blood at a Gay & Lesbian Club to a 3 year-old suffocated by her father to a man enjoying an evening breeze with his wife and daughter, minutes later beaten and drowned by a bunch of young thugs. Our Prime Minister is appalled, as well he should be. The Police are furiously investigating, doing their best. The rest of us are… what? Reading the headlines and wringing our hands, waiting to find out who is to blame s.

Newsflash: Knowing who is to blame is not enough and will never be enough. Knowing who pulled the trigger or drew the knife will not stop the wave of violence. We, as a society, cannot sit back, appalled and wait. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start looking in the mirror. That is where we will find the “good people” who must do something to stop violence from taking over our streets.

Guardian Angels is about taking responsibility. It is about learning to care for ourselves and each other. It is about winning the battle for our streets, our neighborhoods and our society. It is about offering a hand to young people on the edge and pulling them from the Dark Side to the Light. It is about becoming part of the solution and serving as role models for moving from helplessness to hopefulness and from victimhood to victory.

Taking responsibility is embodying the change you want to see or, as Guardian Angel’s founder Curtis Sliwa likes to say, “If it is to be, it must begin with me.”

That is the essence of empowerment and that, my friends, is why I am a Guardian Angel.

Netanyahu ‘appalled’ by suspected lynch

Corpse of 59-year old man assaulted Friday night while walking with his wife, daughter on beach is last in seven murders to have occurred over two weeks; 10 suspects have been arrested

Avi Cohen: http://www.ynet.com

A body was found early Saturday in an Israel Electric Corporation facility in north Tel Aviv. Police say it belongs to a 59-year-old man, Leonard (Arik) Karp, who was assaulted Friday night along with his wife and daughter at the Tel Baruch beach.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch about the murder Saturday evening and said he was appalled and concerned about the case.

Netanyahu ordered the minister to increase police activity against hooliganism and to expedite indictments in the case, the last of seven murders to have occurred in Israel over the course of just two weeks.

Police forces have arrested 10 suspects so far, residents of the Arab local council of Jaljulia and the city of Petah Tikva. Police said they would appeal for a gag order against the publication of the suspects’ photos in order to refrain from compromising a future lineup.

Several of the suspects were arrested in the Horashim Forest in a state of intoxication.

One of the suspects, a 17-year old girl from Petah Tikva, was led by officers to the scene of the crime in order to recount the incident. She said the suspects beat Karp after he voiced a comment to them.

A police investigation revealed that the man, who lives in the area, was sitting with his wife and 25-year-old daughter on a bench at the beach, when a group of young people arrived at the area.

According to the mother and daughter, the youths made a comment about Karp’s daughter and he responded, prompting them to attack the family members.

At a certain stage, the mother and daughter began fleeing the area. Some of the assailants ran after them, while the other continued beating the father. The father managed to escape a short distance, but the youths chased him and allegedly drowned him in the water…

Scenes From The Dark Side of The Holy Land

In Violence in Israeli Society on July 16, 2009 at 20:00

July 14, 2009: This morning, prosecutors issued a serious indictment in the Youth Court in Rehovot against three 16 year old girls, city residents, accusing them of physically abusing their good friend, a 17 year-old girl. They are accused of holding a knife against her throat, extinguishing cigarettes on her skin and threatening to kill her, all because they suspected her of being romantically involved with the boyfriend of one of the accused.

Seedy, isn’t it?

There is something deeply disturbing about seeing young people in Israel- particularly young women- sliding into depraved indifference.  We’re talking about a society in which people still stop to pick up hitchhikers and money is passed hand-to-hand from the back of the bus to the front to pay the fare!

But come on. Israel is not Biblical Disneyland, anymore than it is the Evil Empire (though there are those who seem determined to characterize it that way). It is a real country with real people who have real problems. It’s a modern Western culture, with all the good and bad that goes with that. At the same time, it is a crossroads, a fault line where modern and traditional , the Middle East and the West meet and sometimes clash.

Israel has its crime families and its everyday heroes, its crooked politicians and its straight-as-an-arrow idealists. It has its stereotypes and it has its stereotype breakers… And aren’t teens everywhere somehow compelled to fill that role?

I helped instruct two  IMPACT Self-Defense for Teens courses over the last several months: one in Beersheva for a group of 18-19 year old girls from the Ethiopian community and one in the Etzion Bloc for a group of 14-17 year olds referred through the local “Social Welfare” Office.  I was expecting stereotypical At-Risk Teens. At-Risk Teens generally arrive late if at all with a life-is-tough-but-I’m-tougher attitude.  Winning them over is half the battle. The staff was pumped and ready. Yet, as it turned out, each of these girls was more helpful, polite and appreciative than the next. Not at all what we expected.

I guess it all serves as a reminder to constantly re-examine our assumptions and maintain the flexibility we need to deal with people as they are, not as we wish they were, nor as we fear they might be.

As for the victim of the incident described above, a few pieces of advice: 1) stay away from your friends’ crushes,  2) get yourself some new friends and 3) take a good self-defense course. You are lucky to have gotten out of this in one piece. We’d like to help you  stay that way.

Source: http://www.nrg.co.il (Maariv Online)