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Exclusive Book & Movie Reviews: The Answer is on the Inside Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference - - 55 minutes - 2012

by Zach Scheinerman

Many people have pondered how Israel, a tiny besieged population with little in the way of natural resources or room to maneuver, has built a successful economy, distinctive culture, and powerful military in 64 short years of independence.

What is the secret to Israel’s success?

In the new film, “Israel Inside, How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference,” this is the exact question that Dr. Tal Ben Shahar attempts to answer.

For the movie, Dr. Shahar returns to his native Israel to get back in touch with his roots and to study the differences between the country he left many years earlier and the Israel that exists today. His research and investigation leads him to discover five core “ingredients” that have become critical to understanding the recipe of Israeli’s success: turning adversity into advantage; chutzpah; education; family; and tikkun olam.

These values are ingrained within the Israeli psyche and encourage Sabra's (native Israelis) to take risks and approach problems in ways that people in other countries may not. Israel’s society encourages thinking outside the box and never taking “no” for an answer (the essence of chutzpah!). Israelis, Dr. Shahar found, also forge unique relationships that stand the test of time and inevitably help pull the nation together in order to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Finally, education is an eternal Jewish value. Stretching back to biblical times, education has been directly responsible for Israeli’s strength in the sciences and and keen knack to innovate and improve.

Dr. Shahar travels throughout Israel, reflecting on how the values of the Israeli people have helped shape the blossoming nation that exists today. While he was gone, Israel built a high-tech industry that has attracted leading international companies such as Intel, Google, and Microsoft. These companies flock to Israel year after year to take advantage of the large and highly educated talent pool that has been influential in developing innovative technologies that Americans use every day, from cellphones and instant messaging to flash drives and the Xbox Kinect.

Shahar also meets with Israeli innovators working to make the world a better place. Among the innovations he explores is drip irrigation, a system that maximizes crop yield with a minimum of water used; that has helped Israeli farmers for years and is now exported around the world, including to developing countries that need to preserve their precious natural resources. The ReWalk is a device that allows paraplegics to walk; and Better Place is an internationally heralded company that is developing a network of electric vehicles. This is just a sampling of the unique and impressive inventions highlighted in Israel Inside.

“Israel Inside” features interviews with prominent Jewish and Israeli personalities, including Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Sir Martin Gilbert, Professor Alan Dershowitz, and Better Place founder Shai Agassi. This is a positive, uplifting story that exposes audiences to the real Israel as opposed to the distorted, conflict-centered portrayal seen in the media.

A brisk 55-minutes, the film is appropriate for all audiences and is ideally suited for community programming at synagogues, schools, and community centers.

Sources: Zach Scheinerman is the Publicity Director for the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.