Israel must maximize use of human resources, Peres says

President tells Holon Education Forum that 25 percent of the population who are unemployed must be included in work force.

Shimon Peres 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Shimon Peres 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
If Israel is to meet all the challenges confronting it, it must make maximum use of its human resources, President Shimon Peres told Holon Education Forum participants on Monday.
To do this he said, Israel has to renew the concept of “we” as distinct from “I” and to work as a team in a joint effort to supply the correct responses to the nation’s problems.
Such an effort, Peres continued, must be comprehensive, and within the framework of a national consensus.
It must also encompass the recruitment of goodwill of the whole of Israel society.
In essence this means that the burden of responsibility for the overall well-being of the nation must be shared by society as a whole, and the divisions of the effort must be justly apportioned.
The Peres plan comprises the inclusion in the work force of the 25 percent of the population who are unemployed.
This has to be done without religious, conscientious or cultural coercion, he stipulated, citing as an example the haredi population who he said must be permitted to work in accordance with their lifestyle, namely separation between men and women, kosher food and time allowed for prayers.
Those who don’t serve in the IDF must do some civilian form of national service.
Everyone, regardless of background or affiliation, must be given the opportunity to study from the earliest age through to the acquisition of a university degree.
Investments in education and security take precedents over all else, said Peres, noting that the world is advancing intellectually and Israel cannot afford to lag behind.
Education he stated was not an expense, but both a long- and short-term investment.
In the past, he recalled, Israel had invested in farming, and had some splendid agricultural achievements to its credit. Now he said, it is essential to invest in the classroom, and through the classroom in the future in order to have the required reservoir of knowledge and not necessarily a prime interest in real estate or in the stock exchange.
Peres voiced his belief that a dramatic change is possible if the government does its job, which is to administer in accordance with the rule of law and the public does its job, which is to give of itself in the spirit of volunteerism.
It all depends on the degree of goodwill, said Peres, adding that he had learned from experience that much more can be achieved through goodwill than through coercion.
Towards this end, he recommended an open dialogue between representatives of state institutions and voluntary organizations, between rich and poor and between majorities and minorities.
Because Israel is a democracy he said, there is no legal discrimination, but there is discrimination on the basis of income.
In those parts of the country dominated by high-tech enterprises, the average income is much higher than in those areas where there is no high tech, he said. It was imperative, he insisted to bring high tech to low-tech areas, because this was the only way to equalize income potential.
Peres also called for equality in treating the sick. He urged that all hospitals provide maximum treatment for any and every illness, regardless of the financial abilities of the patients.
He was pleased to see that more people from peripheral communities were being given the chance to demonstrate their abilities in sport, and that more members of minority populations were entering the legal profession at the highest levels.
His ambition for the country was to see equal opportunity at all levels, and the key to this, he insisted, was education.
Peres did not shy away from Israel’s security problems, and said that Israel must always be alert to the defense of its citizens, especially in view of the current unrest pervading the region.
“The Middle East today is burning. It’s ablaze,” said Peres as he warned of extremists who would take advantage of the situation and who must be stopped.
While Israel is defending itself against terror, he said, it must also speak to those who are seeking peace. A painful peace he noted is preferable to the wounds of war.