Peres at Technion calls for free undergrad education

President discusses future of R&D with three fellow Nobel Prize laureates; dismisses land swap proposal as "unpractical."

President Shimon Peres examines the race car built by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology students, January 8, 2014. (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres examines the race car built by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology students, January 8, 2014.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Shimon Peres toured the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa on Wednesday, where he was briefed on research and spoke of education reforms, and the peace process.
He was told about research in genetic engineering, nano-satellite clusters and aerospace engineering, new methods of treating cancerous growths, advances in computer sciences and robotics, and ultra-filtration membrane treatment of water.
Peres was also shown a racing car built and designed by the students of the Technion.
For more than three decades the Society of Automotive Engineering has been organizing competitions among engineering students for the design and manufacture of a Formula race car. A Technion group of aerospace and engineering students was among the more than 250 student teams from around the world who entered last year’s contest.
Ten or 15 years ago, Peres was Israel’s most ardent advocate for nano-technology.
Today, when nano-technology has become the norm – and in the field of medicine enables complicated surgeries that were not previously possible – Peres has turned his attention to brain research.
Peres is a proponent of every young Israeli going on to university. In the course of a panel discussion at the Technion with fellow Nobel Prize laureates Profs. Avram Hershko, Aaron Ciechanover and Dan Shechtman, Peres, while praising the Wednesday’s reforms introduced by Education Minister Shai Piron, called for free university education for all undergraduate students.
The Nobel quartet, three of whose members were awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, discussed the future of R&D in Israel and the place of technology in school curricula.
The discussion was moderated by Yossi Vardi, who spurs hi-tech creativity in Israel, and who has funded numerous hi-tech start-ups.
Peres also commented on the peace process and voiced his strong opposition to the land swaps proposed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Peres said that the idea was not practical, and that it was unacceptable to him that the State of Israel should deprive Arab citizens of their citizenship just because they are Arabs. “We have no right to do such a thing. Arab citizens are citizens like any other citizen of Israel.”
Over the next few weeks, Peres continued, it will be decided whether there will be peace or not.
The most urgent and vital thing for Israel is to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians, he said.
If there is peace with the Palestinians, he said, it will revolutionize the economy and inspire a completely changed budget. “It will be the biggest revolution since the establishment of the state.”
Peres reminded his audience that the state would not have come into being at all if prime minister David Ben-Gurion had not been willing to forfeit territory.
“Peace is in our hands, even if it is not perfect and includes risks. We have to decide what risks to take, but peace offers us great opportunities,” the president said.
Peres also related to the rallies by asylum-seekers and said that there is an international convention to which Israel is a signatory, and Israel must abide by it.