By Kellene Bishop
I don’t know if there’s a story behind every logo, but there is one behind the memorable logo created for Women of Caliber. But this isn’t just any story. It’s one of great relevance as we hope it inspires and encourages women all over as they venture on their journey to a confident life of strength and self-reliance.
What many people don’t understand about Israel’s history is that Britain was simply not their friend. In fact, Britain was an oppressive enemy to Israel. This story is specifically about the Hagannah Jews of Israel.
1945-1948 found the Jews preparing for the fight for their lives, their lands, and their freedom. Due to their extensive history of being bullied, scattered, and manipulated the Hagannah were presumed to be easily controlled. Their numbers were woefully inferior to their enemies. We’re talking WOEfully outnumbered to the tune of a hundred-thousands of enemies to one. The British saw them as simple-minded farmers wrapped up in mindless devotion to insignificant traditions of their ancient forefathers.
During this time of British rule they prepared to abandon Palestine with the expectation that the Arabs would soundly take it over. Afterall, the Arabs outnumbered the Jews
They created a kibbutz that deliberately appeared to be used for farming less than 15 miles outside of Tel Aviv, adjacent to a large British military base. The kibbutz functioned on the outside as a bakery, laundry services, food productions and cattle herding and was also a very hot spot on Friday nights for the British soldiers who craved the traditional Shabbat dinners. While appearances were kept up to maintain this cover on the outside, inside the kibbutz, underground, there was a powerful strategy unfolding for the Haganah. This underground portion of their operations was literally scooped out by hand underneath the administration building that was only a half mile away from the British military base. When visitors were to come to the building, the Hagannah would go so far as to brick over the doorways to their elevator system and they would discreetly transfer their dirt from the underground development to the farming area of the kibbutz. The Haganah went through other extreme measures in order to sell the whole “poor farming operation” to keep up appearances. After their shift, workers were required to muddy their shoes to appear as if they had been working on a farm, even going so far as to sit under crudely created sunlamps so as to mimic the “farmers tan” that would be expected on farmers and livestock shepherds. The purpose for this underground operation? How about a full-fledged ammunition manufacturing operation?
Unable to purchase obvious tools for ammunition under the watchful eye of the British, the Haganah devised a way to convert a lipstick container into a bullet for the British-designed Sten submachine gun. They defiantly went so far as to establish an administrative building to handle all of their operations and coordination of receiving the necessary supplies within only a half mile of the base. Over a three year period, 2 million+ lipstick tubes cleared customs which was overseen by the watchful eye of the British without ever revealing the 9 mm ammunition each tube was destined to become. Ironically, not only was the Haganah being resourceful in this defiance of British rule but as an added stab of sweet victory they were actually importing millions of lipstick containers from a town in England! The electricity needed to run the 30 machines needed to manufacture the ammunition was provided by surreptitiously tapping in to the British Army’s grid system. Furthermore, the gunpowder came from processed cordite which was, um, acquired from the British artillery shells. There has to be a bittersweet victory for the Haganah to know that their enemies gladly aided in the funding of their successful victory which was to follow.
If you don’t know your world history well, know that this is the period of time was the foundation for Israel’s astounding victory over the Yisshuv, able to hold out until the arrival of 10,000 Czech rifles which arrived in April, 1948 allowing them to declare their independence a month later and legalize arms manufacturing.
This tenacity and underestimated fire of faith continued among the Jews. Nearly two decades later they found themselves outnumbered and surrounded by their neighbors, comprising of 4 surrounding countries. Outnumbered in planes and tanks by 3 to 1, and outnumbered by soldiers 100 to 1. One of my favorite parts of the 6 day war was how the Jewish army refused to give in to their fear. Rather than fleeing the chasing tanks, the Jews focused on taking over the tanks that approached, slapped the Hebrew Star on them, and then turned them around to conquer the other tanks intended to swiftly slaughter their people. It only took a few of these tanks being taken over before the Arabs abandoned their tanks voluntarily and hightailed it away from the Jewish army with their tail in between their legs. Ironically it is due to these great military acquisitions that the Jews were able to conquer yet another formidable enemy years later.
I hope as you’re reading this you are able to appreciate some of the obvious, and perhaps not so obvious parallels which women have with Israel.
1) Though we are perceived as an easy target of prey in the eyes of a would-be enemy, we have the ability to use that perception to our advantage and orchestrate our victory as a result. I assure you that no “bad guy” will every expect the 5’2 ½” female who’s 100 pounds overweight to give them any trouble. It’s those expectations that I’m prepared to use to my advantage; continuing to play the feeble female as I surprise them with the ability to fight back quickly and effectively either with my physical training or my weapons of opportunity.
2) The resources of our enemy can easily be used as resources of our own. The same darkness which may hide their approach can also hide our own advantages and provide an ideal element of surprise. Any qualified physical self-defense expert will be able to easily demonstrate to women that using the momentum of your assailant can be to your advantage. Rather than attempting to pull away from an attacker behave like the victor in a tug of war game, who pulls and pulls with their might, only to give up their advantage to the opposing team when they briefly relinquish their tug, resulting in the opposition falling backward and unable to recover from the unexpected as they topple on top of each other like dominoes.
3) It’s all about leverage, not strength. With that mentality even the smallest or out of shape woman has the ability to defeat an attack. In the Feminine Fortress classes I teach women, I’m able to indisputably demonstrate to them how they can use the smallest bit of leverage at a time when most would call the battle “completely lost.” The time to apply the leverage is when the attacker is actually the most vulnerable, thinking that he’s already won and conquered his prey, when in fact it’s this cockiness that causes him to let his guard down, opening the window of opportunity for the leverage to annihilate his plans. Leverage is the great equalizer.
4) Women are great at theatrics and those theatrics are an asset. With the right kind of instruction and the honing of skills a woman can provide herself with the critical advantage. For example, fake crying and pleading could be enough to distract the would-be carjacker from the hand which is reaching into the purse—not to surrender her wallet as the perpetrator would assume, but to instead fire her gun in defense of her life, located in the pocket within. The same can be said for a woman who wears her firearm concealed on her hip.
5) Lastly, one of the greatest assets of women is their passion for others and their natural protective instincts on their behalf. Countless stories have been shared about the unknown strength of a woman which reveals itself when most necessary. It was this same strength that caused my own mother to flee an abusive husband, single-handedly, while still breastfeeding her newborn son and with 4 other children to care for on her own. The strength of the Jewish nation was that they used that lioness asset before they were under attack in the traditional sense, rather they were willing to pay the price to prepare for the battle long before the enemy showed up in his warrior attire.
So, the next time you take a look at the Women of Caliber logo, take a moment to notice the lipstick tube which, upon closer look, is actually a high caliber round; in doing so take a few cues from another underestimated entity and know that such a perception of frailty can be your greatest strength.
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