At dinner last night a friend suggested that I should be proud of the very high number of Jews amongst Nobel Prize laureates. Apparently more than twenty per cent of all laureates are Jews. I was not quite sure why I should get brownie points for their achievements. Nevertheless, I went home with a smile and spent a proud night in bed.
My pride did not last long. This morning, I came across the following item in today’s Ha’aretz: Poll: Half of Israeli high schoolers oppose equal rights for Arabs.
So I have forgotten all about my pride and now I am just full of shame. After all, I cannot really see that I have done anything to produce all those Jewish Nobel Prize laureates. But I am responsible for the education of the young generation in my society, in the country that likes to refer to itself as “the only democracy in the Middle East”.
As a further slap in my face, Gavriel Avital, the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Education has recently come out with a statement that "If textbooks state explicitly that human beings' origins are to be found with monkeys, I would want students to pursue and grapple with other opinions. There are many people who don't believe the evolutionary account is correct.
Is the problem simply that Avital was once a monkey or is this the way that Israel hopes to produce more geniuses for the Nobel Prize?