Swearing-In Speech

Good Evening.

This is an emotional and proud moment of grace for me, as I join the Knesset, representing the Israeli Labour Party. David Ben Gurion, the founder of our State and its first Prime Minister, who headed our Party, believed that education was the key to the success of the State of Israel. Together with such outstanding Ministers of Education as Prof. Ben-Zion Dinur, Zalman Aranne, and Aharon Yadlin, Ben Gurion established Israel’s public education system that in the early decades of the States was among the best in the world.

However, for a long time now we have been witnessing the deterioration of Israel’s education system. I shall devote my service in the Knesset to contributing to the effort to save the education system. This is a most important social and solidary act. This is also a necessary precondition if we are to ensure that Israel will achieve excellence and prosperity and fulfill its mission. The basic problem of the education system, above all others, is the lack of discipline, the anarchy that prevails in most classrooms. This anarchy turns the schools into places without security. It prevents most of the teachers from teaching and most of the students from learning. This state of anarchy makes us think, wrongly, that there are a lot of bad teachers, when in fact there are a great many wonderful and knowledgeable teachers who simply do not know how to control a class in a state of anarchy.

This state of anarchy causes a high drop-out rate of good and even excellent teachers and leads to an unnecessary shortage of teachers. Because of it, a lot of children spend their days in school in fear. And most importantly, it causes the failure, time after time of all the reforms and good intentions. Those good intentions that were behind the attempts to understand the feelings of the violent children while ignoring their actions have led to the total breakdown of the system.

Today it is clear that we need to be more strict in rule enforcement, and to bring back to the schools the idea that lies at the foundation of the survival of any healthy society: alongside the rights, there are also duties.Recent months have produced a unique opportunity to rescue the system. The Minister of Education and the Director General of the Ministry have taken steps to create rules to be enforced by all schools and to give back to the teachers tools that were taken from them in the past. Now that the infrastructure for change has been laid down, there is no longer any need for the teachers to remain silent in face of acts of violence and a total lack of discipline. There is no longer a need to ignore the fact that a violent minority that is undermining the majority that wants to teach and wants to learn is leading to an enormous waste of teaching hours, the principal resource of the education system.

The teachers and the other members of the education system must exploit the opportunity that has been created in order to bring back an atmosphere of learning to the schools. Without you nothing will change. You must utilize the tools that have been returned to you to ensure that the classroom is a place where learning happens. You have to make it clear that anyone who will not allow this learning to take place – should not be in the classroom. Anyone who tries to control through fear or who puts videos of bullying on YouTube – will not remain in the school. We cannot afford ambiguity, and certainly cannot allow permissiveness. You will have backing for this approach. I intend to devote myself to this.

Everyone talks of education and seeks solutions from around the world. But experienced teachers prove that it is possible to successfully educate Israeli children in 2010. These teachers know that the solutions are simple, but implementing them is difficult and demands total commitment and uncompromising determination. We should learn from them. You, more than any others, have the knowledge of how to save our public education system.

Before the turmoil of work begins – in just a moment – the turmoil of debates and votes, I would like to thank my devoted team, that has taken upon itself to do all they can. This is the moment to thank all those activists, supporters and those who voted for the Party, who prove day by day that there are many good people who seek to see the Party succeed and prosper. Due to them and to many others, including young people, who I am sure will join us, I am proud to be counted as part of the Labour Party and to represent it in the Knesset.

Before I end, I want to thank two guests, fighters from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, who have honoured me by joining me here today: Simcha “Kazik” Rotem, who, in a daring effort, rescued the commanders of the uprising and the last of the fighters from the burning Ghetto and cared for them until the end of the War in hiding places in buildings and forests; Luba Gwisser, the signal operator, who hid in her apartment leaders of the uprising – Zivia Lubetkin, Antek Tzukerman and Marek Edelman, who risked her life running errands for them. Simcha and Luba – you are examples to us all.

I would like to say thank you for the privilege of becoming one of the Members of the Knesset of the State of Israel, and particularly of the women members. I look forward to sharing productive work with you, to learning from your experience and to having the privilege of your advice. I shall do everything I can to justify the confidence placed in me.

Thank you very much.