Tikkun Olam Impact Update: July 2011

The Reut Institute, in seeking to reassess Israel's foreign assistance concept, is exploring the question of how to harness Israel and the Jewish people to make a significant, and distinctly Jewish and Israeli, contribution to the quality of life of the world's poorest citizens.

The Reut Institute, in seeking to reassess Israel's foreign assistance concept, is exploring the question of how to harness Israel and the Jewish people - including the Government of Israel, along with civil society organizations, private sector firms, academic and research institutions, philanthropists, and communities and movements across Israel and the Jewish world - to make a significant, and distinctly Jewish and Israeli, contribution to the quality of life of the world's poorest citizens.

In the current phase of our work, the team is focused on consolidating operational principles of a Jewish and Israeli foreign assistance mobilization. A milestone in this process was an extended study visit, which began with a conference hosted by partners in the team's efforts, the Alliance for Global Good.

Study visit

The June study visit comprised nearly three intensive weeks in the United States, including in Boston, New York City, Princeton, and Washington, D.C. In that period, the team met with more than 50 leading thinkers and practitioners among diverse sectors and fields. Among the highlights are the following:

  • Academics, including economists, physical scientists, political scientists, and social scientists, from Columbia University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, MIT, Tufts University, and Princeton University

  • Practitioners from the bilateral and multilateral donor agencies of USAID, the World Bank, and the International Finance Corporation

  • U.S. Government officials from the State Department and the U.S. Senate

  • Practitioners from leading Jewish and secular NGOs implementing a wide variety of projects abroad and advocating on behalf of the necessity of foreign assistance at home

  • Jewish community and social organizations, including those fostering volunteering opportunities and with other social justice focuses

  • Philanthropies and organizations that help philanthropists spend their money effectively

In our meetings, the team focused on the key question of how a country the size of Israel can 'punch above its weight' in global contribution, with an emphasis on the concepts of leverage and on the intersection of areas of global need and the Israeli and Jewish unique value proposition.

Insights here deepened our understanding of properties of sustainable and transformative change, developing global partnerships and collaborative efforts, generating scalable interventions, the role of innovation, and the added value inherent in multi-sector collaborations. Additionally, a consensus emerged that Jewish and Israeli expertise can address critical existing challenges in developing countries including gaps in:

  • Low levels of entrepreneurship, manifested in large numbers of micro-enterprises, but few small and medium ones

  • Enabling technologies - Low- and high-tech solutions for businesses and general quality-of-life uses

  • Resource resilience, including adaptive agriculture and water needs

  • Society and community organizational models, specifically cooperative farming

  • Capacity building, specifically training, in the spheres of agriculture, medical practices, disaster preparedness/response, and others

Consolidation of Conceptual Framework

At this point in time, we have begun to write the first part of the document, which focuses on the needs and opportunities that serve as the background of our call for an Israeli and Jewish foreign assistance mobilization. The team is in the process of mapping and strengthening other major insights from our research.