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Israeli and Palestinian Martial Arts Experts Bring their Peace Project Down Under

November 23, 2012 – 12:05 pmNo Comment

A press release from the The Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV). For the uninitiated, Budō is a Japanese term for the martial arts.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” In the context of the Middle East, her words were prophetic, particularly following the last 8 days of intense battle in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Against the backdrop of raw and recent conflict and the decades-long Israeli-Arab conflict, there are pockets of hope and people working hard to create, nurture and develop grassroots co-existence between Jews and Arabs. When you explore just one project, such as the martial arts initiative Budo for Peace (BFP), it opens up the possibility that reconciliation in the Middle East may actually be attainable.

Budo for Peace is a multi-ethnic NGO which uses martial arts as a framework for building peaceful relationships with members of different cultures, religions and nationalities. The Japanese word budô literally means “the way of stopping conflict”.

Founded in Israel by international Karate champion and ex-pat Australian Danny Hakim, BFP aims to strengthen participants’ physical, mental and cognitive abilities and break down barriers by teaching traditional martial arts such as Karate, Judo, Aikido, and Taekwondo.

The program operates in Jewish, Muslim, Arab and Druze communities in Israel and Jordan.

In Sydney this week Hakim, together with Palestinian martial arts expert, Abed El Salaime launched Budo for Peace internationally. As part of the launch, it was announced that Australia and Turkey are joining BFP as affiliate countries. At the event, Hakim and El Saime spoke about their vision for Budo for Peace internationally and highlighted the success the organisation is having in rising above religious and ethnic conflict in the Middle East.

Danny Hakim, an Australian Jew of Middle Eastern background says “I have represented Australia internationally in Karate for over 20 years and it always struck me how martial arts, with its strong focus on respect, allowed Australian participants from diverse backgrounds to overcome their political or religious differences and build lifelong relationships. This is what compelled me to establish Budo for Peace in the Middle East, where we now have 34 clubs and 600 participants, including Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Jordanians and Turks.”

Abed El Salaime agrees that it was the framework of martial arts, and its principles of mutual respect, humility and equality, which were a great leveller amongst BFP members, regardless of religious or ethnic background.

Zionist Council of Victoria president Sam Tatarka said the communal roof body was thrilled to be working with Budo for Peace on their one-day visit to Melbourne. “Following a devastating week in Israel and Gaza, here is a hopeful story about Israelis and Palestinians who are connecting with each other on the most basic level, simply because they are all committed to this unique brand of martial arts”.

While the team’s schedule in Sydney was hectic with the launch and competing at the 11th Shotokan Karate-do International Federation (SKIF) World Congress and Championships, their visit to Melbourne will be relaxed. As guests at a multi-ethnic picnic hosted by Jewish Aid on Sunday November 25, they will mingle with the crowd and demonstrate their Budo for Peace skills.

Sunday November 25 marks “Mitzvah Day” – “Good Deed Day” across the Melbourne Jewish community and the picnic is Jewish Aid’s annual interfaith event with members of the local Sudanese community. On Sunday that interfaith will be given a new perspective with the Budo for Peace team.

The Budo for Peace team will be in Melbourne on Sunday 25 November for a multi-ethnic picnic, as part of Melbourne’s Mitzvah Day – “Good Deed Day” activities. A demonstration of BFP skills will feature.
Location: Caulfield Park, corner of Balaclava Road and Park Crescent, Caulfield

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