56 years on from the establishment of the State of Israel what makes the country tick?
Has there been any substantial change in gradual or dramatic terms? Does anything remain as it was, in reality or in the eyes of the beholders - those living here or in the Diaspora - in terms of agenda and ambience?
While we reflect on these questions - and even produce the issues which depict Israel in the eyes of the world: peace agreements, obstacles to peace, terror, or those in the eyes of world Jewish communities: problems, politics, strength - we overlook the people at the heart of matter. Not only are their opinions important if we are to understand the processes at work in Israeli society and the tapestry of issues, but they are essential if we wish to bring Diaspora and Israeli Jewry closer to each other.
A true cross-section of Israeli society would afford some relevant and interesting perspectives, but it would represent the more established viewpoints. Instead, we have chosen to focus on Israeli youth - teenagers graduating in the next year from high school, and their outlook on the world - with the goal of exploring and understanding the individual in society and introducing the Israel-Diaspora perspective on how young people relate to the Jewish world and Israel.
The theme and context are presented through "Identity Cards" in which each student is defined according to a certain number of questions - personal information, preferences and attitudes.
We bring to your attention, however, that these are in fact composites: they comprise elements of different types of young people in Israeli society. While not exactly stereotypes in the traditional interpretation, they have been built in order to polarize debate or enable coalition-building. Together with the additional background material, these role cards are designed to stimulate and facilitate some lively debate around a series of dilemmas.
We would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution made to this collection by Ilan Ezrachi and the staff of the Mifgashim ["Encounters"] Project, supported by the Charles L. Bronfman Foundation.
At the time of commencement of this project, Mifgashim was filming interviews with young Israelis and kindly agreed to address additional questions to their forum in order to provide us with raw material from which to extrapolate in terms of role cards and the discussion dynamics.
This material was conceived by Barbara Weill and was written and compiled by Gila Ansell Brauner and Dr. Dov Goldflam. The program was developed with the help of Geulah Rosenak, Naftali Armon and Esther Carciente.