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Change from Without and Change from Within – Between Continuum and Dichotomy

​Participants in the Beer Sheva and Rahat programs met for a day of discussion about the importance of internal and external changes in leading social change

A joint study day was held in early May for participants in the Mandel local leadership programs in Rahat (cohort 2) and Beer Sheva (cohort 3). Under the title, Change from Without and Change from Within - Between Continuum and Dichotomy, the event sought both to explore this issue in different settings and to facilitate a shared experience for the participants from the two groups, in the midst of their studies at MCLN.

The day was led by faculty members Dr. Shani Bar-On and Dr. Itzhak (Kiki) Aharonovich, together with program participants Alham Azbarga and Snir Peleg. Introducing the day’s agenda, Peleg noted the importance of being internally ready in order to face the difficulties and complexities of the external conditions, and Azbarga illustrated this idea with the example of the disastrous failure in planning Rahat’s southern neighborhood, which was done without any involvement of internal forces,and without any consultation with residents.

MCLN director Adi Nir-Sagi introduced the subject of the study day and reviewed a number of leadership development concepts, in particular those used in Mandel local leadership programs. She described at length the leadership training approach on which the center’s programs are based, as relating to change from within and from without, and presented Harold Leavitt’s “diamond model,” which shows how organizations act internally and externally based on their goals and on the different interactions with the environment in which they are trying to lead change.

The opening session began with a short text by the Indian philosopher Krishnamurti, who wrote that humans must free themselves from any external authority, whether spiritual, religious, or psychological. Next, Dr. Rotem Bresler Gonen presented a number of key concepts that would serve as a bridge to the group discussions: protest, abandonment, and here-despite-it-all. These were based on the “exit, voice, loyalty” model developed by the economist Albert Hirschman, who observed that when public services are not delivered to the level required, this necessitates a public abandonment of these services and a search for a private alternative to replace atrophying public services.

The ensuing group discussions were very lively,and addressed the tension between internal and external forces in five main areas: economy, housing, education, culture and sport, and gender.

The day closed with a talk from Dr. Meir Buzaglo on notions of change from within and from without. “It is very important to recognize that, in order to lead change, individuals and groups must clarify the elements of their own identities and be willing to examine them bravely on the particularistic-universalist continuum,” Dr. Buzaglo said. He claimed that only identities that manage to rise above their particularistic component and move toward universalist components have the potential to lead change for the good of all.

In reviewing the day, the participants emphasized its importance and expressed a strong interest in developing the relationships between the two groups. They also noted that there is always noticeable tension in meetings between Jewish and Arab groups, but that holding these meetings can reduce this tension and encourage thinking about better ways of living together.