PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN, flanked by retired judge Tehiya Shapira and Prof. Shlomo Avineri, poses with the eight winners of the President’s Scholarship yesterday at the President’s Residence..
(photo credit: GPO)
Eight doctoral candidates – seven women and one man – conducting research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Bar- Ilan University, the University of Haifa and the Haifa Technion were on Monday the recipients of the President’s Scholarship awards.
Recommended to President Reuven Rivlin by a nine-member voluntary committee headed by retired judge Tehiya Shapira and Prof. Shlomo Avineri, the scholarships worth NIS150,000 each will be distributed by the institutions where the awardees are conducting their research and will be distributed over a threeyear period.
Though covering varied aspects of study, the combined research efforts which intersected with each other were part of what Rivlin called the New Israeli Order – based on equal opportunity, freedom and fraternity, which he said are universal values.
Avineri preferred to substitute the word solidarity for fraternity, saying that fraternity has been pushed to the sidelines.
Referencing the plan for the Jewish state as laid down in 1902 in his book Altneuland by Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl, Avineri observed that Herzl had realized long before women in most countries received the vote that women and minorities should be entitled to vote. He was also aware that the land had to be shared, and he was clever enough to know that while there would be liberal Zionists, there would also be racist Zionists, who would deny equal rights to minorities.
Quoting Herzl, Avineri said, “If we want self-determination, we cannot deny it to another people.” Herzl realized that Jews do not have a monopoly over the land and must share it said Avineri.
In the book, which Avineri recommended that everyone read, Herzl presented the arguments for both liberal and racist viewpoints. He also thought ahead about the economy and about religion and state. Although Herzl was not religious, he respected the tenets of the Jewish religion said Avineri, citing several examples. One was Herzl arriving in Jerusalem at sundown on a Friday and walking from the train to his accommodations, because it would be unseemly to take a carriage.
Avineri suggested that Altneuland could serve as a mirror for Israeli society “to see how we are faring, what we have achieved and where we have failed.”
Rivlin, who spoke before Avineri, noted that every fifth person in Israel is an Arab, and questioned whether the majority population could give Arabs not only freedom and equality, but also fraternity.
The eight recipients of scholarships included a broad cross section of Israeli society – Jewish, Arab, religious, secular. Their research in most cases dealt with equality, discrimination and stereotypes, most specifically on ethnic and political grounds. The scholarship recipients were: Sharon Yavo Ayalon, Jamila El Nashef, Revital Bar, Adam Yotfat, Inbal Michelson Dror, Yael Mayan, Moran Nagid and Kinneret Sadeh – some of whom were accompanied by three generations of their families, including babies and infants.