"I opened the 'tribes' speech' a few years ago by saying, 'The face of Israeli society is changing.' I made no new revelation and proclaimed no new idea. I wanted to put a mirror in front of Israeli society to signal a transition from a society composed of a majority and minorities to a society composed of four sectors: secular, modern Orthodox, haredi, and Arabs," President Reuven Rivlin said today at the Globes Israel Business Conference.
Rivlin was participating in a panel on "Israeli Hope: Partnership as a Growth Engine" that also included Ministry of the Interior director general Mordechai Cohen, Ministry of Education director general Shmuel Abuav, Alpha Omega co-founder and president Imad Younis, and Prof. Rivka Carmi, president of Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
"The president of Israel does not wake up one morning in 2015 and reveal to the public something it did not know - but possibly it was something it knew and ignored,"Rivlin said. "The changes in the make-up of the population have been known for a long time. I asked that we look at them well and think about the challenge: integration of Arab and haredi society.
"That they account for 50% of first grade classes today is not a technical challenge for society and the economy. It does not even depend on the ability of Arab and haredi society to fit in and change. It depends on us. In order to meet the challenge, we must all change. It is not merely whether they get good grades; it is what we must do so that they will be able to speak 'Israeli' - so that their future employers, mostly secular and modern Orthodox people, are able to see their potential.
"The challenge is not for Arabs and haredim to be Technion graduates; it is for them to submit CVs and feel confident that they will be accepted - that someone on the other side is really looking for their talent. Although we have met the higher education accessibility targets, there will be no Arab and haredi academic staff for another 20 years if current academics are unable to foster their excellence.
"How do we ensure Israeli hope for everyone? Through higher education and the labor market. These constitute the entry ticket to the Israeli dream and the elite. The third system is a system of regional partnership between the authorities in the various sections of the populations, and we see this taking shape before our eyes, especially the regions for which partnership between the different sections is part of their DNA.
"The fourth system is the school education system - the system whose goal it is to create values and a common language, with all the differences that each section of the population wants to preserve for itself.
"The people sitting here are true partners in leading the heralded change. I thank you for the enormous effort you are making on behalf of our children to ensure our prosperity as a Jewish and democratic, democratic and Jewish country.
"The principle of equality, the value of equality, cannot be changed even by 120 members of Knesset."
In his speech, Rivlin mentioned his acquaintance with Haim Bar-On, the late founder of "Globes." "Over 50 years ago, Haim Bar-On was in Jerusalem. I was privileged to know him through my wife, Nehama. We were twin souls. Bar-On was a wonderful man. He was one of the admirers of Yigal Allon and the Achdut HaAvoda movement, while I was a disciple of Zeev Jabotinsky," Rivin said.
"He told me to read 'Globes,' and I would know what was in store for me the next morning, and every night, to this day, I read and know what will happen tomorrow morning. While as president, I am privileged to participate in the Globes Conference, I always think of Haim of blessed memory when I read the newspaper."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 20, 2018
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