When does fighting contribute to fostering peace? When it’s part of an Israeli-run martial arts program that trains young Jews and Arabs in Israel, the Palestinian Authority territories and the wider Middle East.
The group’s nomination for the Peace and Sport Award followed its February 2018 annual international seminar, which included 80 international senseis (teachers) and 800 Jewish and Arab youth martial-arts representatives from as far afield as Iran and Greece.
Nearly 2,000 youth have participated in a Budo for Peace class or seminar over the organization’s 14 years of operation.
Budo for Peace founder Danny Hakim says that only by bringing together communities “across religious, cultural and political boundaries” can we promote “peaceful initiatives and lead children … by example.”
Most of Budo for Peace’s classes are held for Jewish or Arab Israelis separately. There are classes in Lod, Kiryat Malachi, Kiryat Gat, Jisr-az-Zarqa, Tamra, Ra’anana, Givat Shmuel and other communities across Israel.
The coexistence part kicks in when senior martial arts advisers to the Jewish groups come from Arab and Muslim communities, including the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Morocco. Budo for Peace also organizes visits by Israeli students to these destinations.
Hakim said that “even just by making sure that people from diverse origins, religions and political backgrounds get to meet each other, and interact in an environment that lends itself to equality and effective exchange of perspective – as is the case with our Budo for Peace platform – we believe we have achieved half the magic.”
Hakim also chairs Kids Kicking Cancer Israel, a US-based program that includes martial-arts therapy “to empower children diagnosed with cancer and other serious diseases and conditions.”