Argov Program - Capstone Projects

Class of 2007
Civil Service and the Arab-Israeli Community – A Chance for Integration?
Ronit Gudes, Daniel Rudstein, Tal Yudin

The Israeli-Arab minority today makes up one fifth of the population of Israel, lives side by side with the Jewish majority, but is excluded from major social integration opportunities within the Israeli society itself.  Until today, the Israeli-Arab community, excluding Druz and Circassi men, has not been given an opportunity to serve their country in a large-scale civil service program due to numerous reasons. Our project set out to examine those reasons by reviewing the proposals of the Ivri Committee* and their recommendations to the government, as well as conducting interviews with well known figures including, but not limited to, Minister Raleb Majadele and Secretary of the Ivri Committee, Yuval Zellner.  Furthermore, a survey of 156 Israeli-Arab high school students was conducted. The survey asked the project's two main research questions: (1) Is there a discrepancy between the opinion of the Arab leadership and that of the people in the streets? (2) Is there a willingness among youth to participate in such a program? The results of the survey surprised us.
* A government committee convened to examine the possibility of including the Israeli- Arab community into a civil service program, headed by Maj. Gen. David Ivri.

Meeting Israel's Rising Energy Demands: The Nuclear Alternative
Moshe Alexenberg, Arik Cohen, Eli Cornblit and Artem Kroupenev 

Rising electricity demand, instability of fossil fuel prices, unreliability of gas supplies and the detrimental environmental effects of CO2 emissions, along with slow rates of development of renewable energies, raise concerns regarding the strategic need to diversify Israel’s sources of electricity production. These concerns are our main premises for this concept study that analyses the economic, geopolitical and environmental aspects of constructing a nuclear power plant in Israel. The state of Israel has already selected and reserved a land site in the Negev for such a project. Furthermore, the Ministry of Infrastructure has kept a low level of nuclear energy research and some limited feasibility studies have been conducted in the 1980's. Until recently however, Israel's strategy of ambivalence regarding its nuclear weapons program has prevented any serious academic research endeavors in the field of nuclear power production. However, the growing economic competitiveness of nuclear power and recent developments in the international environment have opened new possibilities for Israel to initiate a civilian-use nuclear energy program.

Israel Fights For Justice: The Hague Rules of 1907 to Asymmetric War in 2007
Elinor Azulai, Yair Einhorn and Yafia Tsafrir.

The Hague Rules of 1907 is one of the first formal steps to regulate combat. They reflect the customs, policies, and practices of how civilized nations have fought their wars. Those rules continue as the cornerstone for the modern laws of armed conflict. Recent conflicts underscore the continuing shortcomings of international law and policy in responding to asymmetric warfare mounted by non-state terrorist groups in the 21st century. Neither the Hague Rules, the customary law of war, nor the post-1949 law of armed conflict account for non-state groups waging prolonged campaigns of terrorism and, in some cases, more conventional military attacks that leave the defending state with little choice but to respond in ways that inflict heavy civilian casualties. Hence, the defending states are criticized for violating norms that do not accommodate the nature of the conflict today. At the same time, the defending state lacks adequate guidance in shaping the parameters and details of its response. As a result of this complicated reality, Israel is portrayed in the international arena as a war criminal. Therefore, the project is aimed to arouse an international public debate, which will eventually lead to a new codex of rules that address the asymmetric warfare of the 21st century.

Spark.il - Ensuring Jewish Continuity Through Israel as a Catalyst
Hila Ganor-Schindel, Jacco Levits and Eyal Marom

Our project seeks to spark Jewish identity on an individual and collective level, motivate a sustainable Jewish connection and to strengthen the relationship with Israel for American Jews. We identified a major gap in the attention provided to the 26-40 age-group (Young Professionals) in tailored Israel programs suiting their interests and needs. We believe there is a misconception about the potential of this age group and wish to persuade organizations that this is a group worth investing in. Our proposal entails a two week free Israel program called spark.il catering this identified age group. A major component of the program will be the follow-up. Aiming to increase chances of success, we propose a trip based on geographic communities that have bonded in Israel through their experience.
 

Higher Education and Employment Opportunities for Ethiopian-Israelis
Joshua Kahn

This project examined the influence of higher education attainment on the employment opportunities of the Ethiopian-Israeli community.  Clearly education is the most important factor for advancing socio-economic integration of Ethiopian- Israelis into broader Israeli society. However, the transition from education to employment has proven to be unsuccessful. Approximately 70% of Ethiopian-Israelis are employed outside their field of study.  In my presentation, I conceptualized an affirmative action policy in order to improve the rate of Ethiopian-Israeli employment in professional fields.

Creating a Culture of Corporate Responsibility in Israel
Daniel Farber

Environmental issues such as air pollution, water scarcity, poor water quality, desertification, and hazardous waste are threatening both the health and security of Israeli residents. In addition, one third of Israel’s children are poor, meaning 738,000 kids. Can this be changed? Maybe, but it will take the concerted effort of both the government and business community. What is wise spending? Preventing the problem altogether or reversing problems that could have been prevented? In twenty years we can try to reverse the results of our inefficient business patterns of today, or we can prevent them from happening altogether. Our indication of harm, not proof of harm, should be our call to action. Promoting sustainable investing in Israel will allow us to benefit from the past and progress towards the future; financially, physically, ethically, and socially.


Relationship in Focus: the Israeli Government and the Foreign Media
Ronit Epstein and Lirit Wasserman

Israel has been losing the media war.  It has been portrayed as an aggressor, has been accused of being a human rights violator, and has become victim of strong verbal attacks.  Many NGO’s and individuals have devoted themselves to fighting this existing bias against Israel in the media.  But what can the Israeli government itself do to contribute to this fight and work more effectively with the foreign media? Research has shown us that Israeli PR is in need of major adjustment.  The government suffers from a lack of a clear strategy, cooperation between different government offices, and suffers from a slow reaction speed among other problems. A “Government Communication Office” is in dire need of being established with the vision and aim of coordinating all offices, working effectively with foreign journalists, disseminating information, handling PR, and creating one PR strategy that can be followed by all government offices.   However, in order for this office to be successful in reaching its goals, it is necessary that it be formally established through government legislation hence giving it the proper authority it would require.   By taking this important step, Israel could work on improving its image in an organized and coordinated manner, while working with the foreign media and finally setting PR as a priority.


Argov University Hospital and Incubator Medical Center in the Negev
Hilie Eitan and Inbal Robbas

This project's aim is to establish a university hospital which will treat third world countries' refugees in addition to educating medical personnel from neighboring countries. The main notion of this project is to utilize to knowledge that exists in Israel for the benefit of our neighbors, to act as a light upon the nations. Constructing a Medical Center would help to develop economic relations in the region. In addition, the Medical Center and Incubator can help encourage the development of the private sector in countries where the market is dominated by the public sector. This project uses theories of political economy to build a safer future in the Middle East. The main notion is that economic activity enables individuals to interact and establish mutual beneficial relations. This project's main strength is that it is a "win-win" project: it aims to revive the Negev economy and to prevent Israeli brain-drain, while simultaneously promoting Israel's position in the international arena. Finally, this project addresses an existing need in the Arab world. We believe the Argov University Medical Center and Incubator presents a winning soft-power strategy for Israel.
 

Class of 2008


An Emerging Challenge: Jewish Criticism Towards the Legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish State
Oded Diner and Mira Marcus

In this paper we research the new phenomenon of Jewish criticism towards the Jewish character of the State of Israel. We outline the background to the phenomenon and link it to the academic discourse that is prevalent today. The impact of Jewish criticism on Jewish communities today is examined along with how this trend will emerge in the future. The findings show that Jewish criticism in the Jewish communities abroad is influenced by the academic discourse, by the rates of affiliation and assimilation and the capability and willingness of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs to cope with this phenomenon. Finally, we use our findings and conclusions on the emerging trend to form recommendations to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding dealing with the phenomenon and decreasing it in the future.

Jewish_criticism_towards_the_Jewish_character_of_Israel[1].doc


African Asylum-Seekers and Israeli Policy
Amit Ashkenazi, Roni Porat and Era Segev

Over the last few years, the influx of African Asylum seekers seeking refuge in Israel has greatly increased. Israeli government policy dealing with this issue has been rendered inconsistent. This policy paper suggests that all government decisions derive from six main motives – (1) Legality of action; (2) Safeguarding state sovereignty; (3) Fear of terrorism; (4) Human security; (5) Jewish-Democratic values; and (6) Israel’s public image in the world. The paper analyzes the different motives, and proposes a model for planning and evaluating future policy decisions regarding African asylum seekers in Israel.


Utilizing the Kibbutz as a Platform for Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
Ariel Baum, Diego Grodzicki, Eduardo Missri and Lianne Pollak

This paper strives to examine whether the Kibbutz can be utilized for reducing poverty in Israel. The research begins with a background on poverty in Israel and its effects on the general public, it continues with an explanation of the cycle of poverty and the importance of social justice for a healthy society. The second chapter focuses on the economic crisis of the Kibbutzim, its current demographic evolution, the transformation of value along with a search for new values. The paper concludes with the proposal of how the Kibbutzim, the government and poor families could benefit from a program in which impoverished families would be absorbed into Kibbutzim with the help of government funding.


Cultural Diplomacy: An Important but Neglected Tool in Israel’s Foreign Policy
Ronit Appel, Assaf Irony, Steven Schmerz and Ayela Ziv

The research questions which this paper explores are three-fold; first, what makes cultural diplomacy so valuable that it is increasingly becoming a significant component of many countries’ diplomatic efforts; second, does the government of the State of Israel view cultural diplomacy as an important part of its diplomatic efforts, and if not, what are the underlying reasons for this; and third, can cultural diplomacy significantly help improve Israel’s public image in the world, thus making it a worthwhile investment for the Government of Israel.

Cultural_Diplomacy.pdf


“Ur-Bubble”: A Strategic Threat to Israel’s Future
Koby Cohen, Tal Kita, Gideon Scher and Alon Shtauber

In recent centuries there has been a global acceleration in the growth of central urban metropolises at the expense of peripheral areas. The State of Israel has been a victim of this trend, leading to the emergence of an Urban Bubble ("Ur-Bubble") in the center of the country. This paper addresses the question of the current differences between Israel's peripheral and central areas and the differences' potential consequences: Are these differences a strategic threat to the future of Israel as a Jewish-Democratic State? This phenomenon has a direct impact not only on democratic principles such as socio-economic equality and law and order, but also on Israel's "imagined community". The paper discusses the roots of the "Ur-Bubble" phenomenon and the current situation in Israel, which includes growing gaps between Israel's Center and Periphery. Public and private sector policies exist which aim to address the "Ur-Bubble" threat. Yet despite these policies the growth of the trend is in fact accelerating. This paper suggests several recommendations designed to combine the efforts of both sectors in order to alleviate the latent "Ur-Bubble" phenomenon.

Ur-Bubble.pdf


Israel’s “Beijing First” Policy: An Alternative
Jubal Biggs, Avishag Bohbot and Radek Lakomy

This paper attempts to determine the optimal choice for Israeli foreign policy vis a vis China and arms sales. With the upcoming gap in capability in the Israeli Air Force as well as the Taiwanese Air Force, an opportunity exists for a joint-development project. The paper concludes that a policy of military cooperation with Taiwan could strengthen Israel’s strategic position in Asia and lead to economic benefits. The conclusions were determined using a decision-analysis model.

Class of 2009

Health Care Services in Israel: EQUAL?
Yael Anhang Ohayon and Daniella Namvar

In our policy project we investigated the equality of healthcare in Israel to see if the National Health Insurance Law of 1995 was being met. We focused on objective indicators such as: healthcare services provided, services of educational classes and courses taught, types of doctors working at each Kupat Cholim (sick fund) and administrative services provided to patients in Israel. Our subjective indicators consisted of: cleanliness, waiting times, personal time with doctors, level of services offered, and satisfaction with the doctors and staff.
The extensive research, questionnaires, interviews and visits to kupot cholim were all done order to grasp a clearer perspective on how the healthcare system in Israel functions; if indeed healthcare is given equally to all citizens of Israel.
Our findings were that the Israeli healthcare system is inherently flawed and structurally incompatible with Israeli citizens demands. Healthcare, as per the National Health Insurance law of 1995 is in fact not being met and we propose an implementation of the French model of healthcare (with slight modifications).  As proposed in our policy paper, the French model will mend the current problems of inequality in the healthcare system and revolutionize the future of Israel’s healthcare system.

The Argov Social Project
Federico Petrelli and Ido Herman

In a healthy multicultural society, several micro-cultures retain elements of uniqueness, while at the same time sharing core values with the national macro-culture. In Israel, on the other hand, some groups have no contact with the rest of society, and conduct no dialogue with others. For this reason, ours is a flawed form of multiculturalism. To understand the grave implications of such a flaw, one must take into account that in 2012 50% of all children in Israeli kindergartens will be either Arab or haredi: the cleavages in our society are thus a serious threat to our social, political, and economic future. Building upon the educational model of the Argov Seminar, the Argov Social Project seeks to bring together students from all of Israel's educational streams, and to promote mutual knowledge through the discussion of themes of common concern. By doing this, the Argov Social Project will help Israeli society discover its common values and bring about a healthy multicultural society, along with its invaluable social, economic and political benefits.

Teach For Israel
Rachel Adelman Amichai and Asaf Tzachor

Our policy paper addresses what we feel is the greatest challenge facing Israel today: the crisis in education.  The education crisis is multifaceted and there are many factors including, but not limited to classroom size, teacher quality, student performance, disparity within the education system, and teachers’ salaries.  We focused on teacher quality as research shows that aside from the students themselves, the single largest variance in student achievement is teacher’s quality (30%).  This paper strives to draw attention to a successful model (Teach For America) which can serve as a remedy for current obstacles within the Israeli education system.  Teach For America recruits the best and the brightest of university graduates by offering them an incentive package and then places them in low performing schools across the nation for two years.  Prior to entering the classroom, they receive teacher training at a summer institute and by the end of the first year receive their teaching certificate.  The key to this model’s success is localization.  It has been implemented in countries including the UK, Chile, Germany, India and Lebanon, all of which are very different culturally and politically. The result of this research is an instruction manual which can be used by any social entrepreneur interested in launching Teach For Israel.

Class of 2010

How Can Civil Marriage be Instituted in Israel?
Alla Gavrilov and Yulia Tsarbaev

More than 5% of Israelis cannot get married in the State of Israel. Among them non-Halachic Jews, illegitimate children, abandoned wives, etc. Our research aimed to examine the present situation, its background and consequences. We have found that the absence of civil marriage in Israel violates basic human rights of certain population groups, causing conflicts in the society. Our survey had shown that Israeli public supports the institution of civil marriage in Israel, however, strong public pressure is needed in order to make this change in the current political situation.
Our paper proposes to create this public pressure on the decision makers by conducting an awareness campaign that aims to make this issue personal to each and every Israeli citizen. The campaign will be launched from University campuses. We will conduct a competition for the best awareness campaign among colleges and Universities. Each team will be composed of students from different faculties so that every faculty will contribute its expertise to the campaign. Hence, students will not only study this issue, but also will become emissaries of this cause.Civil_Marriage_in_Israel.pdf

Teachers for Coexistence
Uri Zirinski,  Althea Zeloof & Kaspo Eald

The Israeli education system is at the center of our Argov project. Since we feel that the challenge posed to the education system by the multicultural diversity of the Israeli society is not being properly addressed by the authorities. This paper focuses on multiculturalism in the education system as a solving problems tool. The paper focused on teachers as the primary agent of socialization. Research has proven teachers to be the most efficient tool to promote change Research has proven teachers to be the most efficient tool to promote change, cultural enrichment and mutual tolerance, cultural enrichment and mutual tolerance. We want to use the teacher as the source for bridging gaps in the fragmented Israeli society. This will be achieve through a yearly teacher exchange program, since research indicates that Exchange is the most efficient, direct and simple way to promote change, cultural interaction and mutual understanding. The program will run for full school year, allowing the mutual interaction between the teachers and their classes, to complement this, a summer program will be created to enrich the school year. The program will be institutionalized by the education ministry and requires relatively low founding investments. The program offers variety of incentives for the teachers. This way, we might be able to fulfill the vision of multicultural mosaic in Israel's education system. Teachers_for_coexistence.pdf

A National Security Doctrine for Israel
Avner Golov, Ory Vishkin, Ran Michaelis and Rony Kakon
Winograd Commission stated in 2007: "A document should be drafted which will accompany Israel's military and political strategy for future generations." Since its creation, the state of Israel has always faced threats and challenges related to its security, but has never had a National Security Doctrine - a document that is intended to protect and promote the state's national security interests. Therefore, our paper offers a remedy for one of Israel's most crucial diseases: the lack of strategic planning.
First, our research shows that the implementation of the Incorporated Causal Layered Analysis (CLA) is an appropriate methodology in order to draft an Israeli National Security Doctrine. This is the first step toward guaranteeing that every military achievement will be used in order to gain a diplomatic goal.
Second, People in Israel are currently in the mindset of thinking of security as an army with tanks and guns. Our results show that the term 'security' is much more than that. A National Security Doctrine is a document that encompasses military, diplomatic, economic, and social policies. A_National_Security_Doctrine_for_Israel_-_Policy_Paper.pdf