President Shimon Peres and Education Minister Shai Piron condemned on Monday the murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir from east Jerusalem by suspected Jewish terrorists last week while speaking at a celebration of the Future Scientists and Inventors educational project at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
The murder of Abu Khdeir, the president said, proves a “major crisis in education” in the country, adding that “this is not just a criminal crisis, it’s a moral crisis.”
“A moral crisis is worse than a political crisis,” he added, emphasizing that it was an educational issue more than a political one, and that “we have to deal with it immediately and uproot it.”
Peres said that nobody believed that Jews were capable of such brutality, and that the murder goes against the grain of all Jewish values and that it must be addressed with the greatest seriousness.
A mother’s tears have no color, he said, noting that the tears shed by the mothers of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gil-Ad Shaer were the same as those shed by Abu Khdeir’s mother, just as his blood was the same color as that of the three Jewish boys who were murdered.
“Today shame goes forth from Zion,” the president said, adding that the murder should shock the entire nation and that “the world cannot remain silent when a child is murdered and burned to death.”
Also speaking at the Future Scientists and Inventors program that encourages top high-school students to take up scientific studies in order to become the scientists and inventors of the future, Piron said that the Jewish world takes pride in the high ratio of Jewish Nobel Prize laureates, and suggested that perhaps the reason that Jews forge ahead intellectually is because they ask so many questions.
“But today we have to ask questions of a different kind,” he said. “We have to ask what brought about this mega impairment and lack of respect for human life to our morality. The Torah tells us that respect for human life takes priority over all other considerations. Today the blood of all our brothers screams at us from the earth.
Today, all four grieving families become one family.”
Itzik Turgeman, the director of the Rashi Foundation and one of the founders of the program, said that the project had evolved from an issue Peres had addressed in 2008, when he voiced concern at the decline of science and technology studies in schools.
The president said that a far greater investment in science and technology curricula and studies at high-school level was required, as well as the united efforts of the Education Ministry, academia, industry, the IDF and philanthropic organizations.
The program is an important investment in strengthening the periphery and reducing the socioeconomic gap, said Turgeman.
The project is run with the cooperation of Tel Aviv University, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Program director Eli Ben Eliezer said that it will be expanded next year to include the Hebrew University and Tel-Hai College. He anticipated that by 2024 there would be at least a 1,000 alumni.