The Israel Inside/Out course covered Israel’s history, security situation, and political situation both inside and outside the Middle East. While some of the contend in this course repeated facts that I had absorbed through Hebrew School or my recent Birthright experience, I learned a few new, interesting things during the course:
1) The majority of the major tech giants have centers in Israel, or have foundational concepts developed in Israel. While I was aware that Intel had a center in Haifa from a prior Bring Israel Home task, I was surprised to see coverage for Google, Microsoft, and others, to the extent that they operate whole departments or skyscrapers in the country. Similarly surprising was the concept of how to set up an effective electric car network; I had heard many of these concepts promoted by Elon Musk and his Tesla corporation in the last two years, but I did not know that the concept was designed and, to a degree, implemented by the Israeli company Better Place
2) The integration of military and civilian life on a social and psychological level. As far as I’m aware, the moment an American soldier is temporarily or permanently released from duty, their connection to the military ends and any further connection with fellow soldiers is the product of their own social outreach. According to the film Beneath the Helmet, Israel puts emphasis on the psychology of its soldiers both inside and outside active duty, to the extent that officers and lower ranking soldiers are checking in on each other during their civilian life.
3) The scope of anti-Israel movements in the US. I was already, to an extent, aware that demonstrations such as the ones shown were taking place in the United States, but these were usually mentioned in passing by a Rabbi, or given very minor attention on the regional news. The course included a video which did a much better job at illustrating the magnitude of these demonstrations, showing original-source material of some of the resulting backlash against American Jews, and, at times to my significant horror, presenting footage of such events occurring in places where I, personally, had visited or studied just a few years ago. I feel that having access to video of the actual events gave me a better understanding of the gravity surrounding the situation in the United States, and gives me impetus to support Israel on my own time.