"I hope we will be able to move from identity politics to the politics of ideas. To a political system in which there are ideological partnership as well as shared interests. That is the basis on which not only coalitions, but also political parties, are built."
"I hope we see clean and fair elections. Clean from incitement, clean from exploitation."
"We need to ensure a fair democratic process. We must insist, as citizens, that we have access to facts and opinions without distortion.”
Attached photo credits: Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin spoke this morning, Wednesday 26 December / 18 Tevet at the Dov Lautman Conference on Educational Policy. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘Challenges in Education towards Democracy and Partnership’. Chair of the Lautman Foundation, Noam Lautman, author AB Yehoshua and Mayor of Raanana Chaim Braude also participated in the conference.
The 2018 Dov Lautman Conference is taking place at the campus of the Open University, and for the fourth time it is a partnership between the Lautman Foundation, the Open University, the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin and others, in order to put the issues of education for democracy and partnership in Israeli society on the public and educational agenda.
The president addressed the conference, saying “Dovik Lautman had a special soul and a wonderful ability to see people, first and foremost. As someone for whom humanity was at the forefront of his mind, and as a man of business and industry, Dovik had that capacity, which is so important, to translate social problems into economic terms, and to see economic problems as social issues. Many years ago already, Dovik saw that we face two immense challenges. Two challenges that any government would face, because dealing with them was a precondition for preserving the economic and social resilience of the State of Israel. The first challenge is dealing with inequality in Israeli society. The second challenge is the ability of middle Israel to live a decent life. And in economic terms, the challenge of increasing productivity. In Israel, the connection between where you were born on one hand, and the opportunities you have, your income and the quality of education and social services you receive on the other, is still too strong. This is not something we can live with.”
Continuing his address, the president said, “the leaders of Israel’s economy understood that not integrating Arab and ultra-Orthodox Israelis, half of today’s first graders, and the low productivity of middle-class Israelis, is costing us a great deal of money and their effective integration into the Israeli economy is our next economic launchpad. From this point onwards, and gradually, something interesting is beginning to happen. Because, I ask you, is the integration of Arab and ultra-Orthodox Israelis into the workplace an economic or a social issue? It is the concern of the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services, the budget branch of the Ministry of Finance, the Office of the Chief Scientist, the Ministry of Education and local government. We will not make meaningful progress in integrating Arab and ultra-Orthodox Israelis into the economy without acknowledging the need that confidence building within our society carries an economic value.”
Speaking about the elections that are about to begin, he said “the Israeli political system is still largely constructed around identities. Tell me which tribe you are from and I will tell you which party you vote for. Over time, I hope we will be able to move from identity politics to the politics of ideas. To a political system in which there are ideological partnership as well as shared interests. That is the basis on which not only coalitions, but also political parties, are built.”
He added, “I would like to wish that in the future we will see ultra-Orthodox members of the government arguing with ultra-Orthodox members of the opposition, simply because they do not view things the same way. I also think that even if we are not there yet, the social and economic processes we are dealing with today will take us there. There already exists a willingness for Israeli partnership in the economic and social spheres. I hope that it will also come to the political sphere.”
President Rivlin emphasized: “I hope we see clean and fair elections.” He repeated his wish for clean and fair, fair and clean elections several times and reminded us that the late Menachem Begin taught us that even the obvious needs to be said. He added, “Clean from incitement, clean from exploitation. We are now in a world in which we are increasingly exposed to a combination of power, interests and interference that use technology, where cyber armies are available to sway the public agenda, to distort opinions away from facts towards ‘fake news’, towards scandal, speculation and slander. In such a world, we need to ensure a fair democratic process. We must insist, as citizens, that we have access to facts and opinions without distortion.”
“I wish for us all,” the president concluded, “that the elections will strengthen, not weaken, us as a society, and that they will be credit to Israeli democracy.”