Dyonna Ginsburg, CEO of OLAM, shared the following in advance of an upcoming seminar open to educators and the public.
A mere decade after the State of Israel’s founding, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Foreign Minister Golda Meir established Israel’s international development program, MASHAV.
Within a few years, Israel became a leader in supporting newly independent states in Africa and Asia in the areas of agriculture, medicine, community development, and more. By 1964, the Israeli ratio of international development experts to total population was twice that of the OECD average. Israel’s bilateral aid budget, while small in absolute terms, was comparable to the world’s largest countries, as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).
This occurred when Israel was still a developing country itself. Israel’s early years were characterized by several wars, mass immigration, soaring inflation, and a large deficit. Conditions were so bad that the government had to impose food rations on its citizens. As a result, Israel was heavily dependent on overseas philanthropy and bilateral aid.
Why did Israel’s early political leaders choose to support other developing countries, when they faced tremendous challenges at home? How did their decision reflect their deepest values, as Jews and as human beings? How are Israeli NGOs working in developing countries continuing this legacy today? Why is this story relevant nowadays, and how can we share it in a nuanced way?
These are but some of the questions we will explore in this interactive webinar. By exploring images, film clips, and excerpts from the writings of Israel’s early leaders, we will foster an honest and open conversation about the triumphs and tribulations of Israel’s contributions to global development – past, present, and future.
This webinar is open to the general public, but may be particularly useful to Jewish educators and program staff that run service programs in developing countries and/or to Israel educators who are looking to expose young Jews to a different aspect of Israel’s story.
To register for the seminar, visit https://info.shalomcorps.org/save-the-date-israel.