Activity: Choosing An Israel

The aim of this activity is to envisage the sort of Israel that the students would like to see in the future.

  • Explain to the students that they have examined both the dreams and the reality of Zionism and the Jewish state. The time has now come for them to create their own ideal society out of the present reality. What Israel would they like to see?
  • Ask each person to choose one thing that they would very much like to see change in today’s Israel. The changes that they discuss must not be abstract ideas like “peace in the Middle East” but something concrete - things that a government could decide on. For example they could write: “I would like to see the Israel government recognize the right of the Palestinians to their own state and make sacrifices for peace” or, alternatively, “I would like to see the Israeli government annex all the territories and expand the borders of Israel” but not “I would like to see peace in our time.”
  • Convert some of these suggestions into potential government policies, each of which starts with the words “Israel should…”. For example, you might turn “ I would like to see a state in which there are no gaps between rich and poor” into “Israel should act to close gaps between rich and poor”. Finally, list on the board five - seven policies in different areas of life. You need only one policy suggestion for each issue. For example, in the two suggestions for the territories mentioned previously, you can put either one up in the form of a government policy, but not both. It does not matter which one, even if they seem diametrically opposed. Encourage them to draw on material that they have studied. You can decide not to list things or to add issues of your own if you think that important issues are missing.
  • When there are up to seven policies on the board, hand out sheets of paper and ask the students to write those policies out. When they have done this, tell the students that they have twenty five points which they must divide up between the different policies in the following manner: they may give up to ten points for a policy that they see as absolutely crucial to them. They may give zero points to suggestions that are not important to them. If they agree with the phrasing of the question they may give PLUS points and if they totally disagree with the phrasing of a question and want to go in the opposite direction, they should give MINUS points. For example, if the suggestion reads: “Israel ought to annex the territories” someone who totally agrees with this and sees it as the most important policy might give it eight, nine or ten PUS points. Someone who totally agrees that this is a most important issue but thinks that Israel should work in the opposite direction could give eight, nine or ten MINUS points. Someone who thinks that this is a non-issue for them should give no points.
  • Each person must write the seven (or however many) policies clearly on their paper. Each policy should be followed with a number preceded by a plus or minus sign. The total of the numbers (disregarding the plus or minus sign) should add up to twenty-five. In other words, if someone has given minus ten for one thing and plus values for all the other things, he or she should not have thirty-five points.
  • Everybody now goes around the classroom comparing pages. The object is to find people who have more or less the same ideas as you, as expressed in the numbers. Someone who sees subject A as vital and B and C as quite important should see whether there are others with these general priorities. The aim is to form small (or large) parties that generally agree over priorities. When a group of people believes that it has enough in common to form a party they should sit down. Others may still join them. If there are “single person parties” they may want to compromise, in order to belong to a bigger party. On the other hand, they may want to stand firmly on their principles and not join any one else, feeling that to do so would involve a compromise of a scale that they are not prepared to make.
  • When parties are formed, they should choose a name that says something about their identity as a party. Then they should create a “party line” by negotiating with each other, so that there should be a group number for each policy that adds up to a total of twenty-five. They should not do this by number bargaining, but rather by trying to persuade each other about the level of importance of the respective policies.
  • When they have their party line of twenty-five, each person should work out how far he/she is from it. They do this by adding up the deviation of their number on each policy from the party line and then by summing up all the deviations. For example, if someone has given plus three to a policy when the party line is plus five, their deviation is two; but if someone has given plus three when the party line is minus five, the deviation is eight. When all the people in the party have added up the total of their deviation, the person with the nearest position to the party line (expressed in the smallest deviation number) is the party leader and spokesperson. If a person concludes that their deviation is too large, perhaps they should leave that party and look for another one or start their own. People are free to leave and join other parties throughout the exercise.
  • Guided by the party leader, the group should prepare a short speech explaining how their party would like to see Israel change.
  • After the speeches have finished, discuss out of role (party character) which policies people see as essential for them in a future Israel and why. Would they have joined and supported the parties that appeared in the game (or anyone else’s)? Is there anything that Israel could do or which may develop there that would increase their feelings of involvement with regard to Israel? What would that be?
  • Now proceed to an opposite question: are there any policies that Israel might ever adopt, or things that might occur in Israel, that would cause the students to ‘break’ their ties with Israel forever? In other words, do they have ‘red lines’ regarding the Israel that they would like to see? Or do they feel that they will have the same level (high or low) or emotional involvement with the country no matter what happens there?



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11 Dec 2006 / 20 Kislev 5767 0