Questionnaire: Olympic thinker

Arik Kaplan believes racism and hate are the biggest problems this country faces – and that education is the key to solving them.

Arik Kaplan (photo credit: Courtesy)
Arik Kaplan
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Name: Arik Kaplan
Profession: President, Ayelet – The Federation of Non-Olympic Sport in Israel
Place of birth: born in Netanya, raised in Arad
Current residence: Jerusalem
What issue gets you out of bed in the morning?
Wanting to contribute to Israeli society and Israeli sports. I feel that creating better foundations for sports culture in Israel will help solve some of the major problems in today’s society – health, education, racism and many more.
What issue keeps you up at night? Trying to find new and different ways to improve support for our sports federations and our athletes, in order to get the best results for them as sportsmen and for us as a country.
What’s the most difficult professional moment you’ve faced so far? Every time one of our 30 different sports or one of our non-Olympic athletes is hurt or mistreated, it is difficult for me. I take pride in my sportsmen and sportswomen and try to give them the best opportunities that we can.
How do you celebrate your achievements? I like to gather all of those who were a part of that achievement – the athletes, the coaches and their families, and celebrate together. This coming weekend, we will celebrate all of our achievements in 2012, in the eighth Ayelet Games, three days of sport events in Eilat – our traditional annual event for all non-Olympic athletes. This year, almost 2,000 participants will come to Eilat and celebrate with us.
If you were prime minister, what’s the first thing you would do? I would think of new, more creative ways to bridge the gaps between different sectors in Israel, especially between us and Arab Israelis, like we in Ayelet are doing in our work. Perhaps sport would be the answer? I’m sure it can be at least one of the answers.
Which Israeli should have a movie made about him/her? My parents, Dalia and Menachem Kaplan, who both worked in education all of their lives and raised me and my three siblings with values in Arad. Even today, at work or as a parent, their values are with me in every step I make.

What would you change about Israelis if you could?
I wish Israelis would learn to be happy for others when they succeed.
iPad, BlackBerry or pen and paper? Pen and paper.

If you had to write an advertisement to entice tourists to come to Israel, what would it say?
Come and see for yourself what everyone has been talking about for over 3,000 years.
What is the most serious problem facing the country? Racism and hate.
How can it be solved? I think education is the key; but heavy punishment is necessary.
In 20 years, the country will be: One of the leading countries in the Western world – unless we don’t come around and solve our main issues.