Formal and Applied Counseling in Israel

Article excerpt

Israel's name is familiar to many people around the world. One of the main reasons for this is the intensive media coverage of events occurring there. However, why is it that the media is so interested in Israel? There is a widely held belief that what happens in Israel might have major impacts on other parts of the world. Also, many of the events that occur in Israel on a daily basis produce "real" news on which to report (e.g., the recent exchange of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier). Finally, the fact that Israel has it all--an interesting blend of various religions, peoples, ethnicities, and landscapes--creates an interesting story to tell.

Previous discussions about counseling in Israel have described related issues, such as its role within the school context (Karayanni, 1996), occupational guidance (Benjamin, 2007), specific ethnic groups (Shechtman, 2003), times of intensive community danger (Israelashvili, 2005), and implications of multiculturalism (Israelashvili & Benjamin, 2009). In this article, we focus on the description and analysis of the existing gap between the formal and the applied (i.e., practical) statuses of counseling in Israel.

* Israel A Meaningful Multiplicity

Regardless of the perspective taken, Israel is complexly diverse. The difficulty begins with locating Israel geographically, because it is settled at the junction between Asia, Europe, and Africa. This is why this region is referred to as the Middle East--not exactly "in the East" but somewhere "in the Middle." Israel's geography is characterized by a mixture of landscapes, with the desert in the South, the sea in the West, the hills in the East, and the winter-snowing mountains in the North. In Israel, one can also find an assortment of archeological findings dated 100,000 years old alongside modern, top-quality residential areas. The same diversity can be found in Israel's ethnic and religious groups. Approximately 80% of the Israeli population is Jewish, but individuals are subdivided into numerous subtypes (e.g., according to their level of religiosity). The remaining 20% are non-Jewish, but they are also subdivided into Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin, and so on (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, 2011). Also, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) consists of a multiplicity of Jewish soldiers, who are obliged to enlist for 2 years (women) or 3 years (men) of mandatory service, and non-Jewish soldiers (e.g., the Druze), who join the IDF as an act of loyalty to the State of Israel. The mandatory military service of Jewish women is a natural derivation of the prominent role that women have played in the establishment of the Israeli society. Thus, although the roles of men and women in Israel are far from being perfect, they are much more advanced than those in many other nations. Israel is also a mixture of political orientations, with more than 20 parties to choose from, rather than two to four parties, as is found in most Western countries. Israel is a combination of powerfulness and helplessness. On the one hand, today, the Israeli economy is considered to be one of the more promising in the world, with a very good and proven reputation as a "start-up nation" (Senor & Singer, 2009). On the other hand, when a major crisis emerges, Israel is often in need of help from its allies, even when the crisis is not salient. During a 1-day tour in Israel, one is exposed to a blend of holiness and sin. One can encounter holiness when walking in the quarters of Old Jerusalem and upon approaching the Wailing Wall (the only part left from the ancient Jewish Temple), visiting the monument of Masada, touring the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, visiting the Basilica of the Annunciation or the White Mosque in the city of Nazareth, and so on. As for sin, simply leaf through the pages of the Lonely Planet's Best in Travel 2011 (Lonely Planet, 2010) and explore why the city of Tel Aviv, Israel's business center, is described as "a modern Sin City on the sea" (p. …