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
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
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.
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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
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
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
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
Because Israel is a democracy he said, there is no legal
discrimination, but there is discrimination on the basis of income.
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
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
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.
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