How Israel’s Imperfections Can Become Our Greatest Assets

Like any country, Israel has its fair share of imperfections. We have poverty. We struggle with racial tensions. We have centers for youth who are in danger. We have people living with special needs. We house refugees. These are sides of our country that people don’t often see or hear when visiting or learning about Israel. Here is why.

The Traditional Way of Connecting Visitors to Israel

There are many organizations working to attract more people to visit and connect with Israel. There are programs that are offered for free in an effort to bring more Jewish people to their religious roots. Educators, the Israeli government, Jewish organizations and travel companies are constantly working to highlight the many reasons to bond with our beautiful country.

As someone who is passionate about this land, I can appreciate these efforts to strengthen the world’s commitment to Israel – but I think it’s time we take a different approach.

Most of these organizations are doing an excellent job in showcasing everything that is beautiful and charming about Israel, they are totally focused on conjuring up excitement, much like the same excitement a child gets when receiving a new toy.

There’s just one problem with this type of traditional approach: It does not dig deep enough.

The depth of our people is what leads to real understanding and a strong connection with Israel. And that, I believe, is the key to showcasing this incredible country.

It’s Time to Use Education As a Socially Responsible Approach

Think back to one of your most rewarding experiences in school. Chances are, it wasn’t an easy class that you passed without effort. Instead, it was probably one of the more engaging courses that made you think, feel, and work to understand.

Now, take that same concept and apply it to adulthood. People today long for that same depth and understanding. Surrounding themselves in a bubble of good isn’t rewarding; it’s naive and it leads more to a shoulder shrug than an inspired feeling.

Using a socially responsible approach to educate about Israel is innovative. It gives people the opportunity to embrace the challenges our country is living with today. It enables them to push boundaries and get answers to tough questions. The end result of all of this is a deeper connection to our country.

This deep connection comes from seeing all that Israel has to offer – the good and the bad. It comes with experiencing the fortunate world where people are born into a perfect life, while at the same time seeing the difficult world where some people are just trying to make it to the next day. It’s not about hiding the battles some of our citizens face. It’s an opportunity to face common concerns head-on and use that education as a means to inspire involvement and activism.

Let’s Shed New Light on Israel

In the past, people have cowered away from this approach because they were shy or embarrassed about the difficulties of some of our citizens. Sure, Israel is not perfect, but by letting the world see the good with the bad, we create a powerful connection that inspires love and compassion.

One can apply this socially responsible approach by bringing the faces and people who aren’t normally in the spotlight out of the shadows and into the public eye. It can be done with the goal of making people fall in love with the imperfections of our country and harnessing that love to make real change. You educate. You embrace. And ultimately, empower and support the people in need by asking everyone to join the family as partners in creating positive change.


About the Author
Itay is a graduate of Yizrael Valley College in Behavioral Science. He has worked as an informal educator with Israel’s Ministry of Education and is an expert in Israel and Jewish identity education. He has experience leading short-term immersive and long-term education programming to facilitate diverse Jewish learning experiences. Itay led and founded numerous social justice programs in Israel for students to come and meet Israel’s backyard and support the asylum seeker community and children in South Tel-Aviv before becoming one of the co-founders of Esperanso.
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