Tag Archives: safety

Building Bridges in the Middle East

It’s no secret that there is a lot of tension between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. However, stories about peaceful encounters and coexistence rarely make the headlines.

This month, El HaLev instructors taught a self-defense course to a group of Arab women from East Jerusalem. Since most of the staff does not speak Arabic, they used a translator.

The following quotes were said by the women at the course graduation:

“Before this course I never dared to walk alone. Not anywhere at any time. I was just too afraid. Today I walk alone and feel confident and strong. How liberating!”

“At first I was embarrassed to work with men in the room, but after the first day I understood how tremendously important it was for us to fight against a realistic attacker. I thank the men so much for giving us this gift.”

Thank you for giving me permission to say NO and teaching me to use it with strength and purpose.”

The volunteer assistant shared this:

Despite the language barrier and cultural differences, the women remind me a lot of the Jewish women I took the course with at El HaLev two years ago. They’re in denial, but at the same time, curious. Shy but daring. I feel that the similarities by far outweigh the differences.

I came to IMPACT after I was attacked by an Arab man in my neighborhood. I survived the attack, but like most victims, awaited his return. IMPACT helped me feel my strength and realize my true abilities.

And now, here I am surrounded by shouts in Arabic, the very words which failed me when it mattered most. But soon I learned to shout the way I didn’t know back then.

The level of trust, intimacy and friendship between the women and the team of instructors has helped me, more than anything, to renew my own trust in mankind. There were moments in which we glimpsed that perhaps, under different circumstances, we could have been friends.

Teaching self-defense to women from east Jerusalem  serves as a reminder for what we stand for: empowering women, regardless of age, color, size, nationality or political background. The first step to fighting violence against women is accepting that every woman deserves to know how to defend herself. When we focus on our similarities rather than our differences, we find that we are not alone.

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Filed under IMPACT, Violence Prevention, Women Empowerment

Take Chances! Make Mistakes! Get MESSY!

Has your boss ever dashed into the office with a big, bright orange dart gun and started shooting Styrofoam darts all over? Well, that happens sometimes when you work at a martial arts center. It’s important to know what to do about guns. Even dart guns.

Especially if someone is pointing one at your head and demanding you get into your car.

I don’t think I have ever been so dirty in my life. I have black grease spots all over my jeans, t-shirt, hands (though I’ve since washed them several times with soap) and under my fingernails. I feel like a true student of Ms. Frizzle’s – “Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!” I was eager to get messy, which made the workshop I took today on personal safety with cars all the more fun.

Never been so dirty

Never been so dirty

Just over a week ago, I found myself stuck in a parking lot unable to start my mom’s car. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but it wouldn’t start. I called around, but no one seemed able to help me, until finally a friend’s dad guessed that maybe the steering wheel was locked, and talked me through unlocking it. Like magic, the car started and everything was fine. I drove home wondering how on earth I managed to acquire a driver’s license without knowing the first thing about my car. It was this thought which prompted me to sign up for the class on car safety – I figured I’d learn a few things about cars, and some good self defense techniques never hurt.

Learning new things

At 5:00pm we met in a garage in Talpiyot, Jerusalem, a small group of women plus the instructor, ages ranging from 20 (I assumed I was the youngest) to about 60 (guessing). People pulled up in their cars and a guy from the garage showed us how to check oil and water, insisting that we each practice it physically so that we would remember. He emphasized the fact that with this knowledge, it is much harder to rip us off at the gas station, where they have a tendency to pretend to check your oil and tell you you need more anyway. It’s empowering to know you can’t be ripped off.

It’s empowering!

Next we drove to a parking lot near El HaLev and had a car-related self defense class. Yudit, the instructor, brought along her dart guns and a few rubber guns which felt like a real gun in your hand, but were bright yellow so as to not be mistaken for real by an outsider. We practiced various techniques on dodging the gunshot and getting away from the attacker. I won’t go into details, they’re not that interesting (hint: you should take this class!) But I will say the two most important things we learned: One, where you are right now is better than where he wants to take you. So you have a better chance to survive by pushing the gun out of the way and making a run for it, than by following his orders and driving somewhere unknown and hoping for a loophole. Two, why do you have to listen to him, just because he’s trying to scare you?

Remember that you have a car. Cars are not to be underestimated. In fact, if someone unwanted gets in the passenger’s seat and starts barking orders at you, buckle your seatbelt and go ahead and crash that baby. Now who’s got a better chance of surviving?

Written by @liorasophie. First published on her blog, In Purple Ink.

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Filed under Liora Sophie, Violence Prevention, Women Empowerment