Rivlin: Social Gap Must Close in Israel

Moshe Rivlin, director general of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, warned here this weekend that the social gap in Israel must be closed “or Israel faces the danger of having two Israels–and two Israels is the greatest present we can give the Arabs.” Rivlin made this observation in an address to more than 400 Zionists attending the Greater New York Region Labor Zionist Alliance leadership conference.

The Jewish Agency official said that nobody can deny that “we have a social gap in Israel,” but stressed that the main effort to reduce it must be in education. He cited the present compulsory education system for those between five and 14 years of age, the longer school day and the free high school tuition program being developed in most of the new immigrant centers as examples of reducing the social gap. Another example cited was the expansion of the junior college system in Israel.

Rivlin also noted that one of the greatest social experiments in Israel was the 500 agricultural settlements established in the last 25 years with new immigrants from Morocco, Yemen and Iraq.

At another session of the LZA weekend conference Yaakov Morris, an Israeli diplomat and press counsellor to the Israel Mission to the United Nations, declared that “too little attention is being paid to the social problems within the Arab states as a factor determining their foreign policy and their ability to make peace with Israel.”

Morris who has held Israeli diplomatic posts in India, Scandinavia and the U.S. said there are, for example, “beginnings of signs within the Egyptian society of a growing demand for social change, and it is to this that Israel looks with growing optimism.” He also said that “the double cry of Egyptian students for war with Israel on the one hand, and greater democracy within Egypt on the other hand are self-contradictory. As time goes on these Egyptian students will realize this contradiction and will themselves have to face up to the reality that peace with Israel is the only alternative.”

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