A lot of the news centered on the country of Israel is usually akin to death, destruction, social struggles, war and much more gloom. A country marred in warfare might not seem like a place that can thrive, let alone provide an outlook for the people of Israel. Well we should all know that what we see in the news is what sells papers and get viewers, as the latest documentary presented and hosted by Dr. Tal Ben Shahar, explores the positive aspects of Israel, from the humanistic side of the country and to the thriving innovation that comes from the country.
Dr. Shahar, who is a phenomenal professor and creator of the book Happier and Being Happy, narrates the exploration of the traits that make up The Actualizers that leads Israel into an age of innovation and growth. Dr. Shahar came up with the Actualizers of Family, Adversity to Advantage, Chutzpah, Education, Taking Action and Tikkun Olam, all of which are explored in their own segments in this 55 minute documentary.
To me, the documentary isn’t really a documentary as it more or less feels like a presentation that Dr. Shahar helped put together as part of a lecture series at Harvard. The documentary plays out like a “best of” reel, championing the great strengths within the country of Israel from technological advancements to the humanitarian efforts of the people to better their lives and the lives of those across the globe. It is enriching to see this side of a country that usually is only shown with dramatic headlines in our news.
Each of the Actualizer qualities are explained and explored with examples from testimonies of leading people in Israel, a veritable list of future guests on The Daily Show, but again the documentary feels more like lecture rather than a deep exploration into these traits. Examples of companies, humanitarian organizations, and people all highlight each characteristic, but it is more surface info rather than a much deeper conversation or insight. I think in part, this might be due to the small run time, but also solidifies my thought that this is more of movie that a tourism and business board would use to court companies to come to Israel because of their innovative spirit.
Aside from my issues with how the documentary presents itself, I did find myself being pulled into the triumphs of this country. Given a country ravaged by war and desert setting, the people of Israel have banded together to come up with innovative ways in order to turn around their misfortune into this thriving country of technological expansion and culturally diverse setting. In some ways, it’s hard to not compare it to the early times in America’s history with the rapid expansion of industry and mass influx of immigrants coming into the country. Israel itself is primed to become this country that others turn to for insight and advancement. We are shown many times in the documentary of their global action and reach into other societies, either through technology or humanitarian efforts.
I don’t know if this could be more documentary or presentation in terms of how to describe Israel Inside. I get the notion, mainly from what was presented and how it was presented, that this would be used in a future lecture by Dr. Shahar rather than a documentary that dives deeply into the cultural and societal structure of the Israeli people. It could have more reach if it posited about how the characteristics they champion would apply to other cultures or how they will work with other nations to further a more harmonious world.
I guess I was wanting more from this documentary other than a live action presentation on the core characteristics of one society and how they have advanced in the midst of turmoil. It does accomplish the goal of showing people a much different and expansive side of Israel, but that can be taken as more superficial and boasting. While impressive none the less, I still believe that it is missing something a lot more compelling that would make it standout and be catching for viewers.
I give Israel Inside 3 Falafel balls out of 5
by Nick Guzman