President Shimon Peres has come out sharply against flaws in the education system. Delivering the opening address at the Holon Education Conference on Wednesday, Peres pointed to increasing incidents of violence and racism as proof of failure by educators to convey the most important human values in the classroom.
Profoundly disturbed by the gang beating last week of 17 year old Jamal Julani who was almost killed in the attack, Peres saw this raw display of racism as a national failure .
It is incumbent on everyone to teach those values which are almost being forgotten, he said. "The state is dear to us; the land is important, but the human being is no less important."
Peres also referred to a survey published on Tuesday in which the majority of Jewish students in Israel said that they did not want to live alongside Arab citizens. The survey cast a negative light on the values of tolerance and love of fellow being, and was a poor reflection of what was being taught, said Peres. "This must change!" he insisted, and emphasized the importance of investing more in education so that the children of today will be the decent adults of tomorrow.
Reviewing Israel's achievements, Peres said that they could not be attributed to natural resources such as water or territorial expanse, but only to the quality of human endeavor.
Israel cannot afford to ignore the values that guided her pioneers and to impart them in her children, he said.
Peres rejected lack of financial resources as an excuse for deficient education. Israel always lacked resources he said, and therefore the most important resource was education, because education teaches values and provides the tools that enable young people to reach their potential.
Conscious of the economic crisis that is threatening to overtake Israel, Peres advised his audience not to invest in banks, but to invest in children.