Sunday, August 20, 2006

New New Zionism

I am convinced that the cornerstone of Israel's future success as a Jewish state depends on education of her people. Israel must rise to the challenge presented by the world and excel in every way. We must push ahead with advances in every industry. Those advances need to become an integral part of life for people everywhere - making the importance of Israel an undeniable fact and her security a security interest for everyone.

These advances don't just spring up over night. There is already a strong tradition of educational excellence in Israel. However, it's not enough. We need continued investments in Israel's education system to ensure future generations of intellectual excellence. Y's brother will start teaching this fall and he has almost 40 children in his class! Reducing class size is a wonderful place to start. Increasing enrollment at our universities while reducing class size, funding research, paying scholars more, demanding academic excellence, and high levels of workforce training are all great ideas.

We already pay an incredible amount in taxes here in Israel, so I don't think that's where we can find the money. There is an terribly wasteful bureaucracy that is like a lead weight drowning us and keeping aspects of the government stuck in 1948. We need reform legislation and meaningful performance reviews to streamline the government and reduce waste. Use of technology and the internet may increase savings as well. It's time to end the culture of "Well, that's the way we do it here." or "That's how it's done in Israel." We need to really examine ourselves and decide if if can be done better - because it's important that we dedicate resources to where they're needed most.

What's the point of standing in line at a government office, that's over air conditioned, filling out loads of printed forms only to get a cold shoulder?! I think that just an accounting of energy waste would be revealing. All government rooms need to be regulated at a set temperature - no individual adjustments or personal heaters. When rooms are vacant, lights need to be turned off. One volunteer team in each government building needs to be established to develop ways to conserve in that building and then implement those ideas. Someone need to be responsible each day for turning off the AC, the lights, and making sure that the faucets are all closed.

I am not naive enough to think that huge amounts of money can be saved this way. The mind set that it's important to work toward a long term victory by putting our resources to work where it really makes a difference is the goal here. Education that leads to vital technological advances in a variety of fields is one of those key goals.

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