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"The Israeli Hope in the Academy" program

Israeli society is a diverse society of 8.5 million citizens. Demographics and cultural processes have reshaped Israeli society in decades from a society consisting of a clear majority and minority, to a society constituting of four sectors, or central 'tribes,' close to each other in size: secular; national-religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews, together with Arabs. This situation creates a new Israeli order of human diversity, in which there is no longer a majority and a clear minority with respect to fundamental national-religious-cultural or political questions, but rather a transition from the accepted binary concept of majority/minority to a new concept of partnership among the sectors that comprise Israeli society.

In this reality, young Israeli citizens from one 'tribe' have almost no positive social/civic networks with Israelis from other 'tribes.' This situation prevents young people the building of meaningful social/civil and professional ties for later in their lives. The lack of inter-group familiarity poses a massive obstacle to building a cohesive, stable, prosperous and sustainable society.

The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, who envisioned the Israeli Hope in the Academy project, emphasized the need to connect all sectors of society by preserving, instead of suppressing, the characteristics that make up each sector, alongside the need to connect them, emphasizing the potential of academia to advance Israeli hope.

The academic space expresses perhaps, more than anything else, the new Israeli order. This space is the main engine for the development of the changing Israeli human capital; it is the first meeting place in which young people from all parts of society meet under one roof. The academy, therefore, plays a vital role in shaping the New Israeli Order, the image and future of Israeli society, the Israeli economy and the State of Israel as a whole.

ZAC implements the Israeli Hope in the Academy program, whose long-term goal is to create a critical mass of adult Israelis familiar and comfortable with their fellow citizens. Diversity is a major factor at ZAC, and the program addresses it and the melting pot factor of the College in order to create opportunities for real communication, collaboration and a chance to get to know the "other", break down barriers and encourage mutual respect.

The program aims to ensure that young people who live in Israel receive the tools and skills to live in the State of Israel as active citizens with social consciousness. This will be done through initiating special joint projects in which students from all sectors participate and cooperate. Through carefully designed activities, the program creates a meaningful and cohesive encounter between various social and cultural groups, and enables to identify the agents of change among the students, in order to lead them through a journey of personal and social empowerment.

This program seeks to remove cultural and emotional barriers at the initial encounter among thousands of students. Participants of the program will form positive social/civic networks and build meaningful social/civil and professional ties with Israelis from all sectors.

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E-mail: externalrelations@zefat.ac.il