Politicians on the Left and Right called for schools to educate against violence
and racism at the annual Holon Education Conference on
President Shimon Peres, delivering the opening address,
pointed to increasing incidents of violence and racism as proof of failure by
educators to convey the most important human values in the
Profoundly disturbed by the near-fatal gang beating
of 17-year-old Jamal Julani in the capital, Peres saw this raw display of racism
as a national failure.
It was incumbent on everyone to teach those values
that were almost being forgotten, he said. “The state is dear to us. The land is
important, but the human being is no less important.”
Peres 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.
cast a negative light on the values of tolerance and love of fellow being, and
was a poor reflection of what was being taught, he said.
change!” he insisted, and emphasized the importance of investing more in
education so that the children of today will be the decent adults of
Israel cannot afford to ignore the values that guided its
pioneers and to fail to impart them in its children, he said.
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, the president advised
his audience not to invest in banks, but rather in children.
Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that humanist values were central to Judaism, and the
attack on the Arab boy was serious in terms of both violence and
Sa’ar announced plans to increase funding for youth movements,
which he said “have an important role in society. Strengthening youth movements
is the answer to a more egalitarian and less violent society.”
government was investing in education for every age, and the budget had
increased in every part of his ministry, Sa’ar said. Teachers’ salaries have
gone up in recent years, and their average pay is higher than the market
average, which the education minister said would help guarantee quality and
Sa’ar added that an increase in the defense
budget could not come through cuts in spending on education because, “at the end
of the day soldiers who went through our schools are sitting in our planes and
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin participated in a panel discussion,
in which he was asked how youth could be discouraged from violence and racism
when members of Knesset set the opposite example, such as MK Anastasia Michaeli
(Yisrael Beytenu), who threw water at Arab MK Ghaleb Majadele (Labor) in
“MKs who do things like that to Arab MKs are as a passing
shadow, and will not be in the next Knesset,” Rivlin responded, saying
Michaeli’s behavior was unacceptable.
Former Kadima chairwoman Tzipi
Livni said that problematic national and personal situations can lead to social
issues, and that fear is often translated into violence toward the weaker
sectors in society. In Israel’s case, she said, that is the Palestinians,
Israeli Arabs, work migrants and immigrants.
“The lynch in Jerusalem, in
which children almost killed a man just because he is Arab, is part of a
phenomenon that comes from increasingly extremist nationalism,” Livni said.
“Hundreds of citizens of the State of Israel, of which I am so proud, stood and
Livni commended Sa’ar for instructing teachers to
discuss the issues on the first day of school next Monday, but said it is not
enough, because 40 percent of Israeli schoolchildren do not attend state
“This should be an issue that crosses ideologies,” Livni said.
“It does not matter how it is explained – whether it’s against democratic
values, or for haredim that it is against the values of Judaism. The problem is
that there is not one direction [for all schools] that will be the basis of our
life here. We cannot depend on the goodwill of principals who do not accept the
state’s authority, its values or its institutions.”
Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino discussed the importance of preventative measures in
fighting crime, saying the police force’s job is not only to catch criminals,
but to find the motives and reasons behind the crimes.
“It is not enough
to enforce [the law], there must be prevention, a way to find young people at
the beginning of their moral downfall and the path to crime, and pull them out
of this violent cycle,” the police chief said.
In reference to the attack
on Julani in Jerusalem, Danino said such an event is very serious, and should
not take place in a democratic country.
Danino described a program to
discourage young criminals called Milah, an acronym for “The State of Israel for
Youth.” Anyone who completes Milah will be allowed to enlist in the IDF and his
criminal record will be expunged.
According to Danino, the program is a
great success, and he hopes that within a year, the number of Milah graduates
will be double what it is today.