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BRYAN SCHWARTZ, Professor of Law, University of Manitoba, posted here May 31, 2012

[Editor's note: Law Professor Bryan Schwartz has conceived of and initiated a very successful exchange program for law students at the University of  Manitoba to study for several weeks in Israel at  Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This is the first in  aseries of reports to be published here about the program, which has this year expanded to include commerce students  at the Asper School of Busienss and students form the University of Saskatchewan law school. At the Winnipeg Chapter of the Hebrew University Tribute to Yude Henteleff , funds were raised to help raise funds to enable students to participate in the program. At the time, Schwartz spoke at the event saying that he decided to initiate the program as a way of "lighting a light, rather than cursing the darkness" when it came to enabling Canadian students on campus to better understand Israel,her citizens and her challenges.The program, it is hoped, will only grow and grow in the future. The following is Schwartz's first two installment in a series about the program to be reprinted in the Winnipeg Jewish Review ]

MISHPATIM II -First Installment

by Dr. Bryan Schwartz

The theme this year is Newcomers and Traditional Peoples in the Start Up Nation. 

We will continue to provide a general introduction to students to the nature of the Israeli legal system, its constitutional developments and its interaction with public international law.  Israel has had to face, often at an especially intensive and complicated level, many of the challenges that Canada has had in respecting individual and minority rights in general, and in the particular context of addressing security threats, including terrorism. 
We will also look at how and why Israel became the start-up nation; a world leader in high tech research and development and entrepreneurship, despite all of its apparent obstacles, including small size, social divisions and strategic peril.   We will look at many of these challenges were overcome, and how the need to so actually boosted Israel's ability to become a global leader in innovation.   We will have some lectures on how the intellectual property regime in Israel maintains appropriate incentives for risk-taking. We will pay special attention to the challenges of integrating traditional peoples and newcomers into that society.   How does Israel integrate into this cutting-edge society ultraorthodox Jews?    Minorities, such as Palestinian Arabs and the Druze?   Newcomers such as Ethiopian Jews?   Guest workers? Refugees?
We are hoping that the lessons learned will give Canadian student much to think about in terms of lessons to be emulated or avoided in addressing some of the comparable problems in Canada - itself a society with traditional peoples, such as First Nations citizens, many newcomers from all over the world, and interested in developing a culture of risk taking and innovation.   We are very grateful to the provincial government for its financial support this year, which is linked to its interest in having our students exposed to the various comparisons and lessons to be learned from Israel`s own successes and setbacks.
Last year's successful pilot run - a start up, if you wish - is being expanded in another ways. We are joined by two commerce students from the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba and three students from the University of Saskatchewan law school.   The hope is eventually to have a program that has a Manitoba core, but accessible to students across Canada in both law and business.
It took an intense effort from all of us involved in organization this year to line up events and guest speakers, but the results look very promising.   Unlike last year, we will have some organized out of city field trips for students.   We will visit Haifa, home of the Baha'i temple, a thriving Druze population, and known for the amicable relationships between its Jewish and Arab population. It is the site of Technion, a world leader in high tech innovation and business development.   We hope to hear about Technion`s success in integrating Arab Israeli students (about 20% of its student population, which matches the share of the Arab Israeli population generally), and about some specific Israel government programs to assist Arab Israelis in general, and women in particular, in joining the high tech economy.)
We will also visit Tel Aviv, hear from a pioneer in advocating for rights of migrant and other workers, and also visit Better Place, the locus of the private-public partnership in Israel to create the infrastructure  for electric cars.
The program so far has got off to an excellent start.   Our guest speakers have been impressive.
I sought out Michael Shalev, who visited Winnipeg last year under the aegis of the `Best of HU`program.   He is a sociologist at HU interested in income inequality in Israel.   He provided a statistical portrait of disparities in incomes in Israel, and focused largely on how they are the result of government policies or could be addressed by redistributive efforts.   I arranged to have him invited this year based on our course theme and the informative nature of his talk here in Winnipeg. Professor Shalev was gracious enough to address our group just yesterday, despite his very busy schedule.
Michael Eisenberg who is with a major venture capital fund in Israel provided a riveting lecture just this morning on Israel as the start up nation.   In his view, Israel is ground zero for innovation throughout the world, and this will include a new form of politics. The older generation of politicians, he believes, is out of touch with the younger generation, and there will be much tension and excitement as the later seek to recreate the forms and outcomes of politics based on their own values, which include connectivity, innovation and initiative.
Michael`s focus was on integrating traditional peoples and newcomers into the start up nation by empowering them to participate - to obtain skills and get jobs or start businesses. He believes that the redistributive model is not sustainable; it is not supported by those who must underwrite it (including Israelis who do not receive comparable subsidies and must serve in the army or national service) and fosters dependency by the recipients.   He believes that there is a desire on the part of many traditionalists to join the future, which they can do without compromising their beliefs and identities.   He pointed out that Israel is the only place in the world where ultraorthodox Jews do not routinely participate in the paid work force.
Obviously, the two Michaels see the world in very different ways, but the aim of Mishpatim is to expose students to a wide variety of different assessments of where Israeli stands and visions of what it could become.
I arranged for Shimon Lipsky a professor at the Rothberg School for Overseas Students, to talk about the history of Hebrew University today and its current operations and challenges.   It is an amazing story - from the creation of HU in a desolate Turkish Palestine, to Einstein and Freud serving on its board of governors, to its military defense during the War of Independence, its two decades of isolation and dormancy as an enclave inside Jordanian lines, and its ascendancy to its current ranking among top universities and its production of ten Nobel prize winners.
Shimon, many of you will know, was my first contact at HU when I wandered Israel several years ago looking for an academic partner. It was his immediate `can do` response that triggered all that has followed.
My thanks to everyone who supported this second installment of Mishpatim including Canadian Friends of Hebrew University and the government of Manitoba, and the law and business schools at U of M.
I will provide some updates, all going well, as the program proceeds.
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