We offer 90 minute sessions on the following topics. It is not a lecture, but an interactive and dialogical experience using multimedia led by one of our educators.
INTRO: Geopolitics of Israel & the Middle East
Narratives of the Arab/Israeli Conflict
Changing from day to day based on current events, this session starts with a lecture and then develops into questions and answers about the major issues of the day. These updates can be focused on politics, culture, international affairs or provide a general overview. The classic Israel Update gives a basic overview of Israel’s political system, the Arab/Israeli Conflict, greater Middle East issues, and domestic issues within Israeli society. At the end of an Israel Update, participants should have a basic understanding of the current political situation in Israel and a desire to learn more upon completion of their trip.
The Conflict between Israel and the Arabs is a conflict of two peoples who experience and understand the same events in completely different ways. Where the 1948 war is Israel's Independence War, for the Arab Palestinians, they call it the Nakba (catastrophe). Dive into the narratives of the conflict and understand the different interpretations for why it continues and how each side see its endgame.
Media Coverage of the Middle East
Israel's Political System
Winston Churchill said that democracies are the best worst form of government. Is the Israeli parliamentary system an effective system of government, where many voices are heard but it leads to unstable governing coalitions? Discuss the various voting blocs, where the political currents are flowing and what the Israeli political map may look like in the future.
Is the western media biased against Israel? Some people say this question shouldn’t be asked. But let’s not take this as a default assumption and try and understand the philosophy, theory and results of media coverage of Israel and the Conflict.
Religion & State
Israel's Security Challenges
What does it mean that Israeli is defined as a Jewish state? Why isn’t there a separation of religion and state in Israel? Is this a challenge or a benefit? This session will focus on the narratives in Israeli society for and against the role of religion in government and the broader society and will examine its place in the Israel/Diaspora relationship.
Iran is constantly discussed as Israel’s main existential threat. Beyond Iran, however, are other issues at play which shake the very foundation of the modern State of Israel. This session will be focused on discussing some of the main issues facing Israel internally and externally.
The Zionist Narrative
What is the imperative for the Jews' return to their historic homeland? Are the Jewish people indigenous to the land of Israel with rights to self determination? Do they have similar characteristics to other nations that provide a justification for a nation state for the Jewish people? This and more will be tackled in this session.
The Temple Mount
Why is the Temple Mount the holiest site for Jewish people and the third holiest site for Muslims? How is the Temple Mount in "sovereign Israel" but it is administered by a religious Islamic administrator where Muslims have exclusive prayer rights there? Delve deeply into the sensitivity of the Temple Mount and its impact on the Geopolitics of the Middle East past, present and future.
The Palestinian Narrative
Learn with one of our educators or meet with a local Palestinian to hear about his or her narrative. What makes the Palestinians a nation with a right to self determination in what they say is their historic homeland? What is the experience of Palestinians with Zionism and the modern state of Israel?
The US/Israel Relationship
Why are the United States and Israeli governments so close? What's in it for the US? Why do Israelis care so much their government has a close relationship with the White House? Why in some years do the leaders of each country agree, while in others they can't seem to get a long and what is that impact on the relationship? This session will explore the many layers of the US/Israel Relationship and discuss where it may be headed in the future.