Now through 30 April download the award-winning Cultural Diversity Sourcebook for free using the coupon code “Sourcebook”, thanks to our friend at ODT, Bob Abramms, and Cultural Detective author extraordinaire, George Simons. Originally published in 1996, it was put into e-book form last year and remains a treasure-trove of excellent material. An edited volume of scholarly articles, classic essays, best practices and quotes from popular culture, poetry and music, I think you’ll find it well worth your time. Thank you for your generosity, gentlemen!
We are delighted to share the news of a newly published volume of collective knowledge from SIETAR Europa (Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research): the Intercultural Training Toolkit: Activities for Developing Intercultural Competence for Virtual and Face-to-face Teams.
“Inspired by many discussions in the SIETAR network, the idea of publishing a collection of SIETAR intercultural training tools came to light. …our intention was to create a consolidated resource of SIETAR members’ favourite and most effective tools and methodologies” according to the book’s editors. They continue:
“Every moment in a training setting is an opportunity for those in the room to reflect on and develop their own intercultural competencies. How we learn about navigating culture is shaped by our professions, travels, and personal interests. With this publication we want to support your learning environment by publishing selected go-to training activities from SIETARians for virtual or face-to-face teams that integrate modern technologies and emerging practice styles with materials and instructions.”
This practical, useful collection of 29 activities is organized into three sections:
- Opening and Warm-up Activities
- Feedback & Debriefing Activities
- Teambuilding Activities
Two of the Teambuilding Activities are authored by Dianne Hofner Saphiere and explore ways to effectively use Cultural Detective. The first provides step-by-step instructions on how to use stories and critical incidents to explore and bridge cultural differences,. The second focuses on developing and using Personal Values Lenses as a method of increasing cultural self-awareness, teaming and collaboration.
The Intercultural Training Toolkit is available as a very reasonably priced ebook via Amazon; hard copies are currently available via Books on Demand or in mainland Europe through national amazon.com sites. We hope you will take the opportunity to check out this new collection of ready-to-use intercultural training activities.
Hansen, Elisabeth/Torkler, Ann-Kristin/Covarrubias Venegas, Barbara (eds.): Intercultural Training Tool Kit: Activities for Developing Intercultural Competence for Virtual and Face-to-face Teams, SIETAR Europa Intercultural Book Series, 2018. 76 pages. ISBN 9783752810073.
Stories are the cornerstone of the Cultural Detective Method, and we have written about them on this blog quite often. Today I am very pleased to share with you a guest blog post by Joanna Sell, storyteller extraordinaire. She will be leading a complimentary webinar for us on 6th December 2018. Register now!
You might be asking why storytelling in intercultural communication? This exact question marked the beginning of my journey towards the storytelling approach. When I was setting the sails, I had no idea where it would bring me. I simply knew that my clients in the business world, my students at the universities, and many people working across cultures desperately wanted golden recipes on how to behave in intercultural contexts. Does that sound familiar to you?
Following the motto, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” people wanted to hear do’s and don’ts for communicating and cooperating with the “inhabitants of Rome.” What struck me, mostly, was the fact that they were deeply convinced that such “ready-made recipes” existed or were useful.
On one hand they acknowledged the diversity of their own groups and said: “Well, our group is very diverse in terms of age, gender, professional background, and nationality, and it is clear that our setting is ‘colorful,’ but we are here to hear about ‘Rome and the Romans.'” I asked myself why was it so easy to talk about a mosaic of cultures in their own groups while also asking for do’s and don’ts lists for communicating with “the others.”
Everything changed once we exchanged stories. Suddenly, the beauty of diversity became tangible and the focus moved towards practicing perspective change, self-reflection regarding communication skills, and a clear shift from “autopilot modus” towards curiosity and acceptance of differing thinking patterns.
As an intercultural trainer and coach I was overwhelmed—and I experienced my own personal change, as well. I still provided input on doing business and working in teams in countries of my expertise, and I addressed the challenges and rewards of virtual leadership. However, I began to incorporate the experience and knowledge of the participants into my programs much more. Why? Because the narrative approach and various storytelling methods guided me to get to know my participants better, allowing me to better tailor the content to their needs.
Additionally, thanks to the exchange of stories, they got to know one another from a completely new perspective and were willing to share their experiences in an open manner. A setting of psychological safety and an atmosphere of trust were the most wonderful gifts most of us experienced during time spent together sharing stories. Discussions about establishing trust and designing a team charter took on completely new dynamics. When we talked about action plans at the end of the meeting, participants were much more committed to following through, as well as to risk story sharing in their professional contexts and to apply storytelling methods in their daily lives.
I gathered the list of the reasons that storytelling works so well in the intercultural context, and I welcome your ideas to add to my observations.
- Storytelling allows discovering cultural roots from multiple perspectives.
- Storytelling offers insights into complexity of multicultural identities.
- Storytelling supports zooming in and out, i.e., perspective change.
- Storytelling adds the emotional layer to the cognitive level.
- Storytelling serves as means of transmitting cultures.
- Storytelling deals with new stories of belonging.
- Storytelling initiates change processes.
- Storytelling moves hearts.
We are thrilled to announce that this award-winning volume is newly updated with application questions for each chapter and fully integrates with your Cultural Detective Online subscription! Purchase it now for your classroom or for holiday gifting.
Perception and Deception: A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures, 2nd edition, by Joe Lurie, Cross-Cultural Communications Trainer, Speaker and Emeritus Executive Director of UC Berkeley’s International House
What do your experiences tell you when you’re in line behind a bald man: Is he a militant? A monk? A punk? A neo-Nazi?… Or perhaps a cancer patient?
With YouTube, tweets and fake news instantly crossing cultures without context in this time of globalization, it’s essential to understand the actual meanings and intentions behind words, images and actions that seem abnormal or provocative. In line, online and off-line, we’re meeting many more “strangers.” There’s new wisdom in the Lebanese proverb: “Every stranger is a blind man.” And so, we face an urgency to teach students and professionals far more about other cultures and give them the intercultural skills to navigate globalization’s turbulent waters. That’s why, in collaboration with Cultural Detective, I’ve greatly expanded the first award-winning edition of Perception And Deception, A Mind-Opening Journey Across Cultures.
Think globalization is bringing us closer together? Think again. With refugees crossing cultures without preparation on either side, the dangers of intercultural miscommunication are intensifying. Why do many refugees traumatized by violence find Western “talk therapy” alienating? As a Syrian refugee confided, “I can’t share my painful, humiliating stories with a stranger.” A Sudanese refugee was diagnosed “psychotic” because she seemed to be talking to herself; her Boston psychiatrist was unaware that in her world, conversing with ancestors is normal. Some French see a Muslim woman in a burkina—a full body suit—as oppressed or as a potential terrorist. Yet the woman considers her burkini liberating, because she can swim modestly. Recently, a UC Berkeley student with a Spanish last name was snidely asked when she’d return to Mexico. Her angered response, “I’m from Kansas and I don’t speak Spanish.”
To enable use of the well-received stories in the first edition as springboards for developing intercultural competence, I’ve added a broad array of interactive questions and activities at the end of each chapter in this expanded new edition, as well as a brand new chapter, “Globalization and its Disconnects—Convergence Without Context.” It focuses in large part on the spiraling misunderstandings across cultures, especially in the worlds of refugees, religion, and responses to technology.
To better cope with the disrupting forces of globalization, each chapters’ questions and activities are designed to develop and heighten cultural self-awareness and sensitivity to others, among students, individuals and groups of all backgrounds and professions. Some of the included interactive, personalized activities are available for those who take advantage of Cultural Detective‘s superb, research-based, internationally tested online platform providing access to nearly 70 packages of rich intercultural material: Cultural Detective Online; other questions are useful on their own, without a subscription.
Below is a two-minute video recorded at the Commonwealth Club of California, introducing the first edition:
May the new edition’s stories and interactive activities addressing the disrupting forces of globalization and migration offer positive paths for engaging with difference without fear and by seeing with new eyes!
For further information and reviews about the book, or to order it from Amazon, visit PerceptionAndDeception.com; and to learn more about Cultural Detective’s anytime, anywhere intercultural competence development toolbox and virtual coach visit: www.CulturalDetective.com/cdonline.
Seven success values and the immigrant women who cultivated them by Fiona Citkin, due to publish in December 2018 by a Simon & Schuster affiliate
How They Made it in America is a welcome dose of reality amidst a very worrisome worldwide rise in nationalism and xenophobia. With 40.4 million foreign-born people living in the USA—one in every eight residents—this book is enormously important and timely, providing an inside look at the personal journeys of 18 women from five continents who emigrated to the USA.
The women interviewed represent all socio-economic origins, from some who grew up as daughters of government officials and business leaders, to those born into poverty, and everything in between. Some chose to emigrate; others’ lives depended upon doing so. Each has made her mark in disciplines as diverse as technology, development, business, education, journalism, and the arts; most of them are also philanthropists and community volunteers. The author’s choice of these specific women provides a broad and deep spectrum of experience in the book’s quick-reading 314 pages.
There are over one million foreign-born women business owners in the USA—that’s 13% of all women-owned firms in the country. This book offers an understanding of how starting a new life overseas not only changed these immigrant women themselves, but the economy and community as a whole—locally, nationally, and internationally. One woman’s impact comes from starting a company that has annual revenues of $3 billion, another developed a brand now sold at 10,000 stores in 68 countries, and another is changing the world through her micro-lending organization. We see how some immigrant women struggle to regain the status they had at home, while others begin on the ground floor and work their way up step-by-step.
Interview subjects include such well-known women as Chilean-born Isabel Allende and Ivana Trump, originally from the Czech Republic, to women I’d never heard of like social entrepreneur Alfa Demmellash from Ethiopia or Weili Dai from China, the only female co-founder of a major semiconductor company. By the end of the book most any US American reader will feel blessed to have such talented immigrants in our country!
We learn what these women love about the USA, what brought them in the first place, and what keeps them proudly living there. We gain insight about the effect immigration has on their relationships with those who stayed behind, with the children they birth in their new home, and with their American friends and colleagues. We hear about their struggles—from language, accents, and schoolyard bullying to the professional glass ceiling, assertiveness, and risk taking. Plus, we are privy to their hard-earned advice for others like them.
The author, Fiona Citkin, writes that she and her husband made the decision to immigrate because they wanted their 16-year-old daughter to “grow up in a country where she could fulfill her potential through her own efforts—not because of bribery, conformism, or her parents’ connections” (p. 7). Fiona’s first-hand experience informs the book deeply; she’s an immigrant who has had success as an academic, a corporate employee and executive, and an entrepreneur. “My own struggles in America have helped me understand what skills people need to develop in order to succeed in this U.S.—and the special set of challenges faced by immigrant women” (p. 8).
The book is divided into three parts, with two-thirds of it comprised of interviews with the women. From these interviews, Fiona distills seven “success values” that are explained in a second section, and the book concludes with an “Achiever’s Handbook” offered as a guidebook for immigrants wanting to succeed in the USA. Included is a Foreword by Cultural Detective extraordinaire George Simons and an Introduction by Carlos Cortés. The author has certainly done her research; the volume includes 15 pages of footnotes for those who wish to learn more.
Of particular interest and value to me was how the various women describe their blended culture experience. I most definitely wish I could share a copy of Cultural Detective Blended Culture with each of these women, individually and as a group! Most of the interviewees came across as “constructive marginals”—a term used to describe multicultural individuals who have integrated the positive aspects of their various cultural backgrounds into their identities.
- “I am an eternal transplant… My roots would have dried up by now had they not been nourished by the rich magma of the past,” states Isabel Allende (Chile).
- Verónica Montes (Mexico) tells us, “I had to reinvent my cultural practices in a different social and cultural context, and in that sense, I have consciously selected those practices that I find more significant and relevant to me. It is like becoming an orphan and needing to make your own cultural framework.” She sees herself as incorporating the best of American traits into Mexican culture, thereby enriching her world.
- Alfa Demmellash (Ethiopia) shares with us a frequent theme among the 18 women: “I consider myself a global citizen residing in America.”
- “Immigrants end up being hybrids with two hearts; two countries they love; two languages; and two cultures” is Ani Palacios McBride (Perú)’s take on the subject.
- Raegan Moya-Jones (Australia) relates, “My children will be culturally richer for having parents from Australia and Chile. Life and work are all becoming more global; this is nothing but a good thing for me personally and for my children.” Her proudest achievement, like mine, is raising “respectful, unbiased, globally-minded children.”
- Rohini Anand (India), tells us of her blended culture experience: “The U.S. is home, not India. I’m comfortable with my cultural mix and can navigate cultures comfortably. I love the sense of the extended Indian community and an associated support structure. If my family were here, it could change the whole dynamic for me.”
A couple of the interviewees, however, either shared more deeply and realistically, or perhaps have not yet found a way to make peace with the various facets of their multicultural selves. In the intercultural literature, this is called being an “encapsulated marginal.”
- Irmgard Lafrentz (Germany), like most others, has felt her traditional values change since moving to the U.S. “I feel more American [than German], but as I get older, I long for more belonging somewhere. I am rooted neither here nor in Germany. I am not sure whether it’s possible to become totally integrated, and if it’s an emotional or intellectual issue. There is a social identity that unites all immigrants, regardless of country of origin.”
- Elena Gogokhove (Russia), “My Russian brain does the speaking with my Russian friends and sometimes my daughter. My English brain takes over when it comes to writing. I write only in English. Like a spy, I live with two identities, American and Russian—two selves perpetually crossing swords over the split inside me. There is no bridge between the two lives.” Unlike most of the interviewees who discussed themselves as changing drastically after emigrating, Elena says, “Moving to America failed to make me a different person… Russia, like a virus, has settled in my blood and hitched a ride across the ocean.”
While references to feminism in each of the interviews are interesting, they aren’t very well-connected to anything larger and feel a bit out of place. That said, this is an interesting and remarkable work that offers valuable insight into the creativity and perseverance needed to be a successful woman immigrant in the USA. How They Made it in America would be a terrific holiday gift for friends and family, and for any immigrants you might wish to help. And, of course, the best gift of all would be to combine the book with a subscription to Cultural Detective Online!
Guest blog post by Bego Lozano, who has lived and worked in different countries and cultures over the past 20 years. Right now, she calls home the Bay Area of California where she focuses on mindful leadership and coaching.
As a fan and user of both Cultural Detective® and Personal Leadership®, I was delighted to learn that there is a tool called EPIC (Essential Practice of Intercultural Competence) that combines both.
I recently used the EPIC Toolkit to design, deliver and facilitate a training for a California-based NGO that focuses on supporting those affected by Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that currently has no cure. This NGO had a unique challenge: funding for programs aimed at Spanish-speaking families had stopped with the 2008 financial crisis and had only recently returned. Their first attempt at organizing an event had fallen short of their expectations—both their internal expectations and those of their partners. They hired me to help make sure that didn’t happen again; they wanted to get the word out about prevention and treatment in powerful and meaningful ways. I turned to EPIC.
The beauty of EPIC is that participants develop awareness into what they personally bring to their work, plus gain insight and understanding of the core values of a culture different than their own. Quite often we forget that as human beings we bring our own cultural lenses to everything we do, and understanding a situation from our own perspective only gives us, at most, half the picture.
After an EPIC training, participants become more mindful of their own values and actions—why they respond in the ways they do. They learn to appreciate the values of the different culture, and most importantly, to build bridges to work better together.
EPIC is not a one-time fix; it is a process of continuous feedback and change, a mobius strip that has space for constant improvement and nuances. It is about competence, and therefore it includes practicing relentlessly and compassionately.
Last I checked, the programs for Spanish-speaking families were doing much better: employees had implemented small and significant changes that had increased participants’ engagement and comfort and their partner’s reported meaningful improvement. People were excited about their jobs and the positive impact they can have in their communities. If you’d like to learn more about EPIC or give it a spin yourself, it is available for license and is such a value!
We would like to thank Nicole Martin of the Rocky Mountain Institute for this guest blog post about her work with a team from SEED: Sustainable Energy for Economic Development . We are honored and privileged to know our materials aid work of this kind!
I just wanted to pass on some feedback. My group of 17 really enjoyed running Ecotonos: A simulation for collaborating across cultures and identified it as a highlight of our day. Team members from SEED drew some valuable insights and connections to their real life work from it.
Since I had not seen Ecotonos run before, it is a credit to the materials that it went so well. I followed the directions and it worked! I really appreciated the clear and complete instructions.
I also wanted to share a tweak that I made. In the acculturation section, I had them create visual identifiers for their groups using craft materials. It helped them acculturate and get talking and moving.
Of course, my creative facilitation idea was sparked by forgetting the buttons back at the office 🙂 Here is a picture of a debrief. You can see the watch necklace (monochronic time group) and the mobius strip hat (polychronic time group) on the left side.
Thanks for the great tool!
We are proud to announce a brand-new, complete update to Cultural Detective India. As you know, we update our Cultural Detective packages a few times a year, in minor ways, as things happen around the world. Values seem to be the slowest things to change. Societal shifts take time and then, once they happen, boom! Big changes are afoot. We have a best-selling India package in our series, one that gets rave reviews, and we have been looking a long time for fresh eyes and new energy to update Professor Madhukar Shukla‘s terrific work. I am pleased as punch to report to you that two incredibly talented interculturalists have added to the greatness of this package: Shilpa Subramaniam and Melanie Martinelli. Read on for a bit of back story on this wonderful new version.
When we first discussed updating the Cultural Detective India package, we realised that we were both very drawn to the work. Being interculturalists, avid travellers and facilitators of intercultural sessions, we both felt that we could bring a different flavour to the package.
Our biggest challenge was collaborating, as our travel schedules and calendars didn’t really put us in the same geography! So it might not come as a surprise that our first brainstorming session was in a car when we were travelling out of the city (Bangalore in this case) to co-facilitate a session.
The picture above is the two of us sitting next to the river Cauvery and brainstorming our way through the package! What was so interesting about that conversation was that both of us have such different perspectives: Melanie is a Swiss national who has lived and worked in India for more than a decade and is married to an Indian; Shilpa is Indian born, was brought up all over the country and has lived and worked outside of it. And yet, we found powerful experiences and threads that we had in common when living/ working / experiencing this wonderfully diverse country. Cultural Detective strives to have authors work in teams on packages, to have this insider-outsider joint perspective, and we quickly learned why that is invaluable.
We had quite a few “breakthroughs” during the process of brainstorming and writing the CD India package, but perhaps the most interesting one was when we tested out the idea of “privilege” being one of the core Indian values. In India, privilege isn’t just hierarchy and status, it is this clear-cut idea that if you belong to a certain social strata, then there are certain privileges that are ascribed to you, and these privileges differ across strata, class and religion. Yet the word “privilege” could have such negative connotations to some that it might not fit the golden rule of core country values—no value is positive or negative, they are neutral because they can be perceived both ways. So, while we both agreed on the fact that we needed to talk (or rather write) about privilege, we wanted to find ways to present multiple facets and sides to the concept and how it manifests itself in India.
Another interesting moment was recognizing that the reason India as a culture can be complex to understand is because it has so many shades of grey. For example, communication can be direct yet indirect depending on the situation. So what could we tell our participants/readers about the communication style in India? Therein was born our new, cool (even if we say so ourselves!) table that makes distinctions among the ways in which different values are manifested across urban or rural environments, generations, in multinational corporations and domestic business. The objective of this table is to help the reader understand how the same value can be demonstrated in different—and sometimes even opposite—ways. We hope that the underlying message that is the integral CD message: always analyse the context of any situation while trying to understand or decode it.
The newly revised CD India package builds on the previous version and is updated based on current social, economic, political and business contexts. It has a lot more practical and hands-on tips and best practices for those who are living and working in India, because that’s what we as authors look for when we take off to another country. We’ve ensured that there are elements that speak to what this information means to you if you’re working and/or doing business in India. It’s been written with a lot of care (we’ve tried to stay away from declaratives), excitement (we’re getting to shape how the country is perceived!) and thought (we discarded version after version until we were satisfied with it)!
Come and take the journey to India through our new Cultural Detective India package, now available in CD Online as well as via printed PDF, and explore its vastness, complexity and uniqueness! Happy travels!
We are extremely proud and excited to announce the debut of a new package in our series: Cultural Detective Ukraine, written by Olga Collin and Elena Shliakhovchuk.
Below is a blog post written by them, introducing this terrific new package.
What do you think of when someone mentions Ukraine? Beautiful women? Bread basket? Chernobyl? Formerly part of the USSR? Conflict with Russia? Those who are fortunate to have traveled to Ukraine would most likely add a few more descriptors: the country is huge (largest one in Europe), diverse in landscape and culture, and the greenest capital of Europe.
Those who know Ukrainians would likely say they are warm and hospitable (once you get to know them), resourceful, proud of their ethnicity and heritage, well-educated and hard-working. Ukrainian food is delicious and the country is rich in history. But to truly understand Ukraine and its people one has to look deeper.
Recently we were presented with the task of describing the Ukraine that is less known to the world. How can people most effectively get to know and partner with Ukrainians? What secrets are hiding behind the stereotypical ideas? What discoveries can one make going off the beaten path? What could we write that would set Ukraine apart? Thus began our proud authorship of Cultural Detective Ukraine, the newest entry in the esteemed series.
“My Ukrainian team always has a plan A, B, C, D and…. E”
—French plant manager working in Ukraine
Well, here are just a few things to begin with: Ukraine became independent in 1991 but people understood the true meaning of the word in its fullest only in 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity. Our previous belief in one strong charismatic leader who would come and save the country is fading away, with people adopting a brand-new mentality of volunteering and actively participating in all aspects of community life.
A highly educated, hard-working population with an extreme level of adaptability and flexibility make Ukrainians the most-wanted working migrants in the world. In 2018 Poland and Czech Republic eased the rules for working visas for Ukrainians.
Once nicknamed the bread basket of the USSR, Ukraine today is the fourth largest supplier of IT professionals in the world. Resourcefulness and creativity have always been part of the national character, but now these qualities are finding completely new applications. PayPal’s co-founder was born in Ukraine, as were the founders of Grammarly (online grammar-checking), Ugears aka “Ukrainian gears” (3D wooden puzzles of mechanical objects), Kwambio (platform for creating 3D products), People.ai (AI based solutions for managing sales departments), Roopor (live audio-streaming app), Jooble (job search engine), and Effa (eco-friendly toothbrush)—some of the better known Ukrainian start-ups which have attracted millions in investments lately. And Ukrainian companies, such as Sleeper, whose “walking sleepwear” is sold at Barneys and Harrods, or IENKI IENKI, whose puffer jackets are a big hit around the world, are leaving their distinct marks in the seemingly saturated fashion industry.
Ukrainian art life may surprise you, too. The music band Onuka has smashed European charts while the songs of another Ukrainian music band, Daha Braha, are used by David Beckham in his 2018 promotional fashion campaign. The Ukrainian movie “Donbass” received a special prize in Cannes in 2018. The paintings of Anatoly Kryvolap, Arsen Savadov, Vasily Tsagolov and Alexander Roitburd cost thousands of dollars at auctions of Sotheby’s and Phillips.
Ukraine is modern, green, and full of history and adventure! Its biggest asset are people who work hard to create the future to which they aspire! Come and discover the new Ukraine for yourself! And be sure to make the most of your experience by using Cultural Detective Ukraine, now live in your Cultural Detective Online subscription!
A new law threatens to tear apart communities and mutual agreements in Israeli society and brings up questions that haven’t been discussed—more democratic or more Jewish? There may be hope yet.
Guest blog post by Cultural Detective Israel co-author Anat Kedem
I wanted to share with you what has been going on in Israel. A new law declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people, the so-called “Jewish Nationality Bill,” was passed last week. It has the weight of a constitutional amendment because it’s a “basic law.”
It fits right in with similar laws passed recently in other parts of the world. Sections of the law formalize symbols of statehood such as the national anthem and emblem, something that lawmakers say was missing from the Israeli legislative basis. Israel has 15 Basic Laws that require a 75% majority in the parliament to change. They constitute the legal foundation of our different institutions and are intended to be the basis for a future constitution.
The controversy is around the timing and impact of the new law and mostly around two sections in it.
- The first makes Hebrew the only official language, downgrading the position of Arabic to a “special” language—no longer a formal one.
- The other section allows communities (like the communal village where I live) to turn away people not belonging to the same ethnic group. Before this law, someone denied permission to live somewhere could sue on the basis of discrimination. With this new law there can be religious towns that will be allowed to deny secular people; Jewish villages that can turn away Arabs wanting to live there; and Arab villages that can not accept Jews. This is where the potential for division and destruction in this law is most apparent.
The new law is quite a coup for Bibi and his supporters, with protests by opposition who say it runs counter to the Basic Laws of Israel, including “complete equality of social and political rights” for “all its inhabitants” no matter their religion, race or sex. The Druze minority has found themselves excluded by the law, becoming second-rate citizens in spite of the fact that they shoulder citizen duties such as service in the military.
There was a major demonstration last Saturday evening, one of the largest in history, where side by side Jews and Druze showed solidarity. Our Arabic language learning group attended together. The protest finished with a loud and emotion-filled singing of the national anthem. It was very strengthening to come together and show that we have more unity than divisiveness.
It is a heartbreaking moment here, a death-inducing blow to everyone who believes in different groups living together, anyone that holds a vision of Israel being democratic and Jewish at the same time with equality for all. Holding both sides, as good Cultural Detectives do—being a democracy and a Jewish state—has always been a work in progress, necessitating gentle maneuvering, extensive dialogue and bridge building, but now the very fabric of our mutual existence here has been brutally torn apart. I see this as a state-generated act of exclusion, drawing a line between those that “belong” and those that are required to live in a permanent sense of existential insecurity, dependent on the good will of the government.
That said, we don’t yet know if this law will stand up to supreme court scrutiny. It was legislated by a very narrow margin and major lawmakers are conceding it will need to be changed. The Israeli parliament is out for summer break so nothing can be done now. Things in Israel change all the time adapting to new circumstances—so who knows?!!!!
We’ve been holding counsel with friends and neighbors, and have witnessed lots of grass roots initiatives going on now. This might be a change for the better after all. People need to be much more involved with the daily work of representation—no more ballet once in four years and believing that things will be taken care of. We are in for interesting times. Passing the law has had the opposite of its intended impact, bringing us closer together. All around there are acts of solidarity. One of the hospitals had the staff stand outside with signs: “Jews and Arabs working here will not be made into enemies.” Impromptu Arabic learning groups have gathered, and Israel’s president, who must sign the law, said he will sign it in Arabic. A well regarded Israeli Arab lawmaker resigned from parliament, and writers and former chiefs of Army staffs are speaking out.
David Grossman, an Israeli writer who won the Man Brooker award and who serves as our moral compass, wrote an open letter in the August 3rd newspaper. He wrote,
“For hundreds and thousands of years, the Jewish people were a minority in the countries in which they lived. The experience of being a minority shaped our identity, sharpened our moral sensitivity. Now we Jews are the majority in our country. It is a tremendous responsibility to be a majority, and it is a great challenge, political and social, and especially human: to understand that the attitude towards the minority is one of the major tests of the majority in a democratic regime. … Equality is the starting point of citizenship, not its product. It is the land from which citizenship grows. It is also what allows the highest freedom—the freedom to be different. Different, and yet equal to everyone else…. Perhaps this law does us a great favor, and reveals to us all, from the left and the right, without illusions or self-deceit, where we are, the point to which Israel has deteriorated. Perhaps this law will finally shake all of us, from all sides of the political map, who fear for Israel; for its spirit, its humanity, its Jewish, democratic and human values. I have no doubt that there are so many, on the left, right and center, decent and sober people who know that this law is a disgraceful act and a betrayal of the state by its citizens.”
Netanyahu, as usual, presents this as a struggle between the left and the right. But it is a much deeper and fateful struggle, a struggle between those who have given up and those who still hope. Those who have succumbed to nationalist and racist bias, and those who continue to oppose it, who insist on preserving in their hearts a picture, an image, a hope of how things can be in a proper country.”
To subscribe to Cultural Detective Online and learn from over 70 intercultural skills development packages including CD Israel, or to license printed materials of this world-class, theoretically-grounded and immediately useful series for your classroom, training, or coaching, click here.