Press Release – 23 November 2012

Martial arts initiative for peace in the Middle East to visit Melbourne

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 www.budoforpeace.org/ 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 within 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 himself, has witnessed the significant role that martial arts can play in building relationships and trust between people of different backgrounds and even those in conflict: “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. We look forward to working with our new country chapters in Australia and Turkey, and hope that many more countries join during the current Karate World Championships” he said.

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.

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 quite relaxed. As guests at a multi-ethnic picnic hosted by Jewish Aid on Sunday November 25, they will be able to mingle with the crowd and demonstrate their unique brand of martial arts for peace.
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. This year the interfaith will have a new perspective with their guests from Budo for Peace.

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.
Date: Sunday 25 November
Location: Caulfield Park, corner of Balaclava Road and Park Crescent, Caulfield
Time: 13:45 – 14:30 – Budo for Peace team demonstration and meet the crowd. Following the demonstration, the BFP team will be available to talk to media.
Please confirm your attendance by contacting Elly Shalev, Zionist Council of Victoria public affairs director on 0400 313 197.

The Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV) leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website www.zionismvictoria.org.au

Budo for Peace (BFP) is a non-profit organization founded by Australian and International Karate champion Danny Hakim and Australian Medical Practitioner, Dr Harvey Belik in 2004. BFP is an educational organization which uses traditional Martial Arts as a platform for educational and civic advancement in Israel and the region. The mission is to connect individuals and groups from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, to empower socially marginalized demographic sectors. BFP now has over 34 clubs and 600 participants, including Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Jordanians and Turks. For more information visit the BFP website at:  http://www.budoforpeace.org/