A new feature-length documentary starring one of Harvard University’s all-time most popular professors reveals the secret components of Israel’s success as an international leader in innovation and humanitarianism.
Israel Inside: How a Small Nation Makes a Big Difference stars Tal Ben-Shahar, former Harvard University professor of Positive Psychology, who left his post as the lecturer of the formidable institution’s most popular course to return to Israel with his family. In the film, produced by JerusalemOnlineU.com, Ben-Shahar breaks down and analyzes the five unique characteristics he says have combined to give Israel its unusually high level of national actualization.
Though Israel is populated by just over 7 million people, it is the third highest represented nation on the New York Stock Exchange, and is considered a world leader in science and technology advancement. Through the course of the film, Ben-Shahar takes the viewer on a journey to discover what unique mix of factors or “actualizers” have contributed to this fact, and to the success of Israel as a nation of innovation.
“None of these actualizers are in and of themselves unique to Israel,” Ben-Shahar says. “But in combination, they are bringing about an almost unparalleled progress and success and contribution to the world.” The factors explored in the film are family, turning adversity into advantage, “chutzpah”, education, taking action, and the Jewish drive to do “tikkun olam” – repairing the world.
“What we need to communicate about Israel is that it goes far, far beyond ‘the conflict’, Ben-Shahar told Jewish Press’ Yishai Fleisher. “Yes, we’re in the midst of a conflict, and at the same time we’re also a thriving nation, we’re able to do wonderful, amazing things for ourselves as well as for the world. Our contribution to other nations, to our global village, is disproportionate to our size, and especially commendable given our geopolitical situation.”
The film features numerous projects related to giving, development, and increasing quality of life for Jews and non-Jews in Israel and around the world in the areas of science, environment, medicine, and technology, and includes interviews with Shai Agassi, Founder and CEO of electric vehicle service provider Better Place, Naty Barak, CEO and Head of Sustainable Development at micro-irrigation solutions company Netafim Industries, Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat, Tamar Jehuda-Cohen, Founder and CTO of Smart Biotech, historian Sir Martin Gilbert, Birthright founder Michael Steinhardt, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and others.
JerusalemOnlineU.com is an online portal for Jewish distance learning offering courses in the basics of Judaism, Israeli history, Positive Psychology, Cinema, and Jewish concepts.
Since leaving Harvard, Tal Ben-Shahar teaches at the Inter-Disciplinary Center in Herziliya. He is the author of international best sellers Happier and Being Happy, which have been translated into 25 languauges.