Israeli-run Martial Arts Group Wins Peace Prize

October 25, 2018

by: Kate Norman

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Israeli NGO teaches Jewish and Arab youth coexistence through martial arts classes. (Illustrative)

Thursday, 25 October 2018 | In a land where conflict is highlighted daily on the news, one Israeli organization uses martial arts to promote coexistence between children and young adults from different religious and cultural backgrounds.

Budo for Peace, an Israeli-run organization that chose traditional martial arts as the tool to connect children and leaders from what would normally be conflicting backgrounds, walked away with the prestigious Non-governmental Organization of the Year award at the annual Peace and Sport Regional Forum in Rhodes, Greece last week.

Hosted by the Peace and Sport organization, the Peace and Sport Awards recognize people or groups who “have made an outstanding contribution to peace, dialogue and social change in the world through sport,” according to the Peace and Sport website. Budo for Peace won the regional award, which is open to organizations and individuals based in the Mediterranean or Balkan area.

The Peace and Sport organization was founded in 2004 by former French Olympian Joël Bouzou and is under the patronage of Prince Albert II of Monaco. It is a “neutral and independent worldwide organization that is operational in using sport and its values as an instrument for peace,” explains the organization’s website.

According to Israel21c, Budo for Peace was nominated for the award following its annual international seminar in February that included 80 international martial artists and 800 Jewish and Arab youth representatives from as far as Iran and Greece.

Founded in 2004 by Australian Danny Hakim, Budo for Peace uses karate, judo, kendo and other disciplines of martial arts encompassed under the umbrella of budo to train children from areas of high conflict—mainly Jewish and Arab youth—teaching them values such as courtesy and respect for themselves and others.

“We could wait another hundred years…to solve the problem,” Hakim, a two-time world karate silver medalist, said in a video posted on the organization’s YouTube channel. “I believe in getting children and youth, Jewish and Arab kids, together with common interests, like sport, where they learn about respect, self-control and harmony.”

The NGO seeks to solve conflict and promote coexistence and understanding where traditional methods have failed. According to its website, the organization consists of several groups and clubs, spanning several geographical areas. One program has three main clubs: Kiryat Gat, a Jewish town in southern Israel; Abu Kweder, a Muslim Bedouin village in the Negev desert; and Jisr Azarka, a Muslim Arab village just north of Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea.

While the communities train within their own clubs, they are paired up with nearby communities of a different ethnic background for twin meetings that include two joint training sessions over the course of the academic year, with one held in each community, according to Budo for Peace’s website. “The educational program that they learn in the local club prepares and teaches the participants to break down pre-conditioned stereotypes and socialized fear about the unknown other,” the site said.

“Our approach is derived from the notion that if a person is filled with self-assurance, inner strength and physical and emotional confidence he will not have to resort to violence or force in order to attain his goals,” says the Budo for Peace website.

Posted on October 25, 2018

Source: (Bridges for Peace, October 25, 2018)

Photo Credit: Jjskarate/wikimedia.org

Photo License: Wikimedia