A. Defining Israeli Culture
• Ask the group what the phrase ‘human culture’ means. Suggest the two extremes of direction that have been examined here: people’s ways of life, and their creative expression in different media. Suggest that they are connected, and that one may reflect the other.
• Discuss the widest definition: ‘way of life.’ Ask what is meant by ‘national culture.’ Discuss whether nations have separate cultures. Suggest that there are many distinctive aspects to the way of life in a particular country that make it slightly different, at least, from other nations. Ask what sort of things might distinguish the life of one nation from that of another. Mention diverse factors such as history, language, weather and so on.
• Ask whether, in this case, one can speak of an ‘Israeli’ culture and what sorts of things may have influenced the way of life in the country? Let the participants work in pairs or small groups to define as many factors as possible. They must be able to explain why they think these elements have affected Israeli society. Thirteen aspects have been discussed in the essay, but there are many other possibilities.
• Write all the answers on the board as the students explain the reasons for their choices.
• When everything is written on the board, ask the students to divide the answers into categories. Limit them to a specific number of categories, giving each one a label. If some elements do not fit into any of these categories, they can be left out.
• The students should now present their categories of the Israeli cultural experience. Offer a brief explanation of each category, introducing the second definition of culture. Point out that, if the categories are correct, reflections of these subjects should be evident in Israeli creative culture.
This will serve as an introduction to a program of several sessions in which the student’s categories – and any of your own that they did not include – are each examined in turn.
B. Israeli Perceptions of Arabs
• Ask the members of the group to read Savyon Liebrecht’s story Room on the Roof. It is easily accessible: in her own collection of stories, Apples in the Desert, or in several of the recently published anthologies of modern Israeli short stories or collections of Israeli women’s writing. Let them read the story carefully, marking every minute mood change that the central female figure undergoes.
• Discuss the story as a group. Examine the various changes in mood: why do they occur? Finally, list all of the different ways in which this character perceives Arabs. It should be possible to find at least ten, if not more.
• Show excerpts from any of the films mentioned in section 11. Examine which of the words in the list can be found in the list.[unclear]
• Close by summarizing the multi-dimensionality of the Israeli approach to the Arabs, as suggested in section 11.
C. Taking a Dimension of Israeli Culture
• Take any of the thirteen subjects discussed in the essay and use any of the creative works described in the second part of that category to shed light on the general comments made in its first part.
D. Then and Now
• Teach the students some songs that represent the post-1948 period. There are many CD collections of such music. While doing this, discuss with them the phenomena that these songs reflect, listing them on the board.
• Now play a few representative Israeli songs from the last decade. These, too, can be easily found in CD collections. Teach these to the students and discuss the things that they reflect. Make a list of these elements. Do not look only at the content, but also at the form of both sets of songs – the instruments used, the general sound, vocal styles, and so on.
• Try to compare the country as it was then and as it is now. Discuss what has caused the changes between the two periods. Have things changed as much in your country during the same period? If not, why not?
• Try to invite Israelis in your community (teachers, shlihim, diplomats) to speak to the students on their way of life. It would be ideal to invite two people from different generations. Ask each one to bring to the class his/her favorite Israeli song.
• If you hold more than one session for this subject, try obtaining the film Late Summer Blues, mentioned in section 13. This is about a group of youngsters who want to go their own way but have to deal with society’s expectations. Use it to reflect on the ‘then and now’ issue.