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Partners in Power

Sarah Pardes

Martial artists Boaz Barr and David Djaoui are helping citizens in Jewish communities around the world fend off terror attacks and stay safe

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

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LISTEN UP Boaz Barr (with the gun) and David Djaoui — men on a mission to protect Jews from attacks — say the first stop in staying safe is listening to your intuition. “Among our customers are large institutions, such as the French SWAT team service, yeshivos and chadarim, and any group that wants to perform the mitzvah of v’nishmartem me’od l’nafshoseichem,” says Boaz (Photos: Shlomi Cohen, AFP/ImageBank)

A fter the devastating truck-ramming terrorist attack that took the lives of four soldiers in Jerusalem last week, Boaz Barr and David Djaoui posted the latest video in their Eyes and Ears prevention series, this time focusing on how to stay safe from car-ramming attacks.

“Car rammers are looking for easy targets on the street,” says David Djaoui, co-director with Barr of the Jerusalem-based Otzma Martial Arts Center, whose mission is to keep Jews safe all over the world. “So, Rule Number One: Don’t stand idly in the street. When you’re walking, try to make sure something is between you and the street, like a concrete barrier or another car. And if you see something suspicious, like an engine revving up or a car that comes by more than once, gear up for action — if a terrorist approaches, hurl a rock at his windshield to confuse him and deflect the impact….”

Even if you live in Israel or another country plagued by car-ramming attacks, you probably won’t start walking around with rocks in your fist to hurl at approaching terrorists, but awareness, insists Djaoui, is the first step in staying safe. The two Jerusalem residents — martial-arts experts on a mission — split their time between Israel and countries abroad, teaching Jewish groups around the world how to foil a terrorist’s plot.

African Secrets Security has always been close to Boaz Barr’s heart. As a former anti-terrorist operative in the IDF and a longtime martial arts practitioner who also holds degrees in education and psychology, Barr founded Otzma in response to the security situation, and was joined in 2010 by Djaoui as the two put together a program developing specific training modules for Jews under threat in countries around the world.

Realistically, citizens are probably not going to start hurling rocks at the windshields of suspected terrorists. What can they do when threatened?

It’s actually a legacy from his father, a former Mossad agent. Barr doesn’t have too many memories of his early childhood in Petach Tikvah as his parents, ten siblings and three adopted children moved to South Africa when he was just a kid. Officially his father had an educational posting, but in reality, he says, it was a cover for a security mission the Mossad hired him to carry out in one of the countries on the Dark Continent.

Back in Israel, the Barr family settled in Kedumim in the Shomron, and although Boaz was just five at the time, he somehow discovered a karate club in the nearby new chareidi town of Emmanuel, directed by a French Jew named George Schwarakey.

“George was my personal inspiration,” Barr, 46, recalls. “He was a child in Algiers during the Holocaust, and one day when his parents were in their carpet store in the shuk and he was home under the care of his private teacher, an armed Nazi entered the house and his teacher managed to hide him under the table. When his parents returned home after riots drove them away from the market, they found their son trembling under the table, while his teacher had been killed al kiddush Hashem. Even as an adult he had never recovered from that trauma — but it also led him to conclude that there had to be a way to help Jews defend themselves against assailants.”

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