On the antecedents of Jewish ethnic relations in Israel.
Israel is a Western, democratic, pluralistic enclave in the Middle East. Multiple ethnic groups, mass immigration, religious diversity, and the current ethnic dilemmas experienced there provide ample opportunity for study. The social work role in addressing the ethnic and cultural challenges in Israel is discussed without minimizing or reducing the complexity of the issues. A closer examination of social work as a vehicle for ethnic sensitivity and understanding of ethnic diversity is required. Knowing how to work with diverse populations and ethnic conflict is imperative in Israel and elsewhere.
As Chairman of Admissions at the Hebrew University School of Social Work, the author received permission to admit a group of socially and educationally disadvantaged students who did not meet the regular academic criterion for admission. During a four year period, approximately 16% of the incoming classes were “opportunity deprived students”. These students were chosen on the basis of specific social and educational disadvantagement criteria, plus the fact that they had not excelled in the two sole entrance criteria used for all other students, the psychometric exam (like the S.A.T.*) and the average high-school matriculation score.
Once admitted, the disadvantaged students were randomly divided into a control and an experimental group. The experimental group was told about the special Project and offered tutorial help, scholarship assistance, and pocket money in order to help them take advantage of the rare admissions opportunity, and to see whether these benefits made a difference in grades. Control group students were never told about the Project, and to this day believe that they were admitted to the University by regular admissions criteria. Another group, the regular-admissions students, comprised the third comparison group. At the end of their studies the performance of all three groups was compared. Faculty were not told who the disadvantaged students were, so that academic standards would not be influenced one way or the other.
Results showed remarkable coping habits developed by the disadvantaged students, along with academic performance very similar to the regular-admissions students. No significant grade differences were found between the control and experimental groups.