I have been fortunate to have lived in Israel for the last two decades which has contributed significantly to my own character building. Being an Oleh I have relied on some long-standing stereotypes to help me navigate through the cultural, political and sociological nuances of Israeli society.
I have recently experienced two episodes that have decisively cut through and challenged these stereotypes, helping me to see a side of authentic humanism in Israeli society. These experiences made me realize that as a maturing society we also need to cut through and access the collective narrative in order to broaden the continued development and overall impact of the State of Israel.
Prior to Purim, I visited a young impact-driven entrepreneur, Reuven Marriot of Israel Microgreens, in Otniel located in the Hebron Hills. On my return after dark, I got a puncture and had to pull over. (Have you ever seen a management consultant change a tire? Let’s just say that it is not a picture of seamless efficiency). While struggling to unscrew the wheel bolts I noticed an old pick-up truck abruptly pull up behind me. By the time I turned around I was greeted by three young and burly ‘cousins’ holding crowbars. Before I knew it, these three Arab workers were busy hacking away at the bolts and doing their best to change the wheel.
Two weeks after this experience I accompanied a well-known right-wing activist to Meshek Tushia located way down South in the Negev, on the Egyptian border. Some of our stakeholders had reservations about involvement with this personality due to the perceived reputational risk involved however after spending the day with him it became clear that I was not in the presence of a close-minded, prejudiced political activist but rather an empathetic social activist cultivating a plethora of Chessed initiatives that span across all socio-economic spheres throughout Jewish Israeli society.
As I ponder upon these two experiences, between the days of Yom HaShoah, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Ha’atzmaut, I cannot help but contemplate the power of perspective and context. The establishment of the State of Israel within the greater historical perspective and its astonishing development within the context of its continual challenges and arduous geopolitical surroundings is simply wondrous. Notwithstanding this, we must start to internalize the fact that the State of Israel is well beyond its start-up phase and as such, the social and cultural benchmarks of the past are either obsolete or require serious reevaluation. Our readiness to tap into the wellspring of social capital and our ability to nurture its development lies at the heart of our journey to shift from being the Start-Up Nation to the Impact Nation.