November 26, 2023, Israel
My brother told me that when he moved into his new home in New Jersey, the neighbors came over to greet him and his family. The neighbors came bearing gifts, a basket filled with various pastries, some wine and flowers. Very American, very sweet. It is a good way to start a relationship. But there are more useful things.
I recall riding around Long Island, New York with my dear friend and mentor Prof. Arthur Cohen. "Look here", he would say, "Under that bridge, a gang rape took place." or "At that train station, a stabbing took place." "At the corner shop, a gun holdup". He knew the neighborhood; he knew the nature of crime and what one needs to look out for.
When one comes to a new neighborhood it is nice to be greeted with cake and coffee, but while you are enjoying your coffee one should bring up the darker side. Perhaps on the other side of the tracks there is a gang, perhaps there are bus stations where unsavory people hang out at night. Every community is different, there might be social practices that are seen differently here than where you came from. In Japan it is unacceptable for women to walk around wearing only tights/leggings but no skirt on top. Somehow in America this strange practice has become acceptable. In Japan you must refer to older people with respect, hand them your business card with two hands. You need to learn how to behave in your new environment, and you need to be aware of the dangers.
When one comes to Israel we warn them where not to go. Israel is very safe but there are areas you need to be aware of. A wrong turn can put you in grave danger, only a local can properly guide you. A keffiyeh, an Arab headdress, might seem like a cool fashion accessory, but here it will get you stopped for questioning; why is a Western tourist dressed like this? What is your intention?
A student of mine from South Africa thought it was cool to wear a T shirt with skul and bones and various "death slogans", perhaps it was from a heavy metal band, but he he was stopped for questioning I was called to vouch for him. He was let through, and no harm was done but it is better to be aware of such things.
Sometimes it is a matter of avoiding an inconvenience and sometimes it is a matter of life and death, either way, welcome your quests or your new neighbors with some useful information.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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