Long term program to eliminate social stigmas succeeding in schools

Rivlin congratulated those involved for taking responsibility for the future of Israel's children and helping them to acquire a mutual Israeli identity of equality in which they can all take pride.

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July 11, 2019 02:46
2 minute read.
President Rivlin hosted the end of the year event for "Israeli Hope Standard"

President Rivlin hosted the end of the year event for "Israeli Hope Standard". (photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

A long-term program aimed at eliminating social stigmas and encouraging youth from varied social backgrounds to get to know and understand each other without sacrificing their own traditions appears to be gradually succeeding, principals and teachers at haredi (ultra-Orthodox), National-Religious, secular and Arab schools agreed on Wednesday.

They were participating in the end of the school year program for leading managers and teams in the Israeli Hope project, initiated by President Reuven Rivlin soon after he came into office.

Rivlin continued to lament that the aforementioned demographics – what he terms the four tribes of Israel – have no engagement or interaction.

“They don’t even shake hands with each other,” he commented on Wednesday to the group of educators, who had come together at the President’s Residence.

Using the same terminology as he does in relation to Israel and the Palestinians, Rivlin said: “We are not doomed to live together. We are destined to live together.”

The essential purpose of Israeli Hope is the evolution of a shared pluralistic society that will adopt new social and cultural norms of tolerance for each other, rejection of violence and promotion of dialogue, while addressing the root causes of conflict, racism and discrimination. The project is being led by Prof. Eran Halperin, founder and chairman of the Accord Center.

Rivlin was pleased that Tel Aviv-Jaffa schools were the first to participate in the project, because Tel Aviv was the first Hebrew city in modern-day Israel and takes its name from the Altneuland (Old-New Land) concept of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl.

Although it was not mentioned, it is not surprising that Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai was a willing partner. An educator himself, he is the former principal of Tel Aviv’s historic Gymnasia Herzliya.

Rivlin congratulated all those involved for taking responsibility for the future of Israel’s children and helping them acquire a mutual Israeli identity of equality that they can all wear with pride.

He realized that this was not an easy task, “but it is a necessary process in understanding what needs to be done and how to do it,” he said.

Acknowledging that Israel is a very fractured society, Rivlin said that nonetheless, “We are together – Jews, Arabs, haredim, secular, East and West – and we must learn to know each other, because we are together whether we like it or not.”
Huldai said that the project was an important element in coexistence.

He was convinced that it will add to the spirit of democracy, especially in the face of diminishing dialogue and heightened disagreements. “The values we held dear are now becoming a source of dispute,” he said.

While everyone is free to criticize everyone else, Huldai said, “There’s nothing wrong with being different and having different points of view. But we must not resort to coercion and impose our views on others.”

Emphasizing that democracy and coexistence are the focal points of education in Tel Aviv, Huldai said that he hopes that a similar policy would be adopted nationwide.



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