Israeli News: A Daily Analysis

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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

April 26, 2009--Hezbollah and Fatah- Education in Israel

Tomorrow new talks will be held in Cairo between Hamas and Fatah attempting to reach an agreement. There is no expectation of any progress in the talks. Relations between Hamas and Fatah have been deteriorating in recent weeks. In the West Bank, the Fatah has been cracking down on members of Hamas. There was even an attempted killing of one of the leading spiritual leaders of Hamas in Nablus. In return, Hamas has been arresting any remaining members of Fatah in Gaza. There is a clear sense of stalemate at this point both in Gaza and the West Bank. In Gaza, the decision by Hamas to hold out for better conditions for returning Shalit is seen as a mistake. At the same time Abu Mazen's unwillingness to agree to an agreement presented by Olmert- which is reported to have been better than what Barak offered, is also now seen as a possible mistake. With Netanyahu as Israel's prime minister, better offers are not likely to come.

There is growing talk in Israel that Netanyahu was not prepared to assume the Premiership. He has not succeeded in getting anyone to agree to be the head of his office, a job that was considered very prestigious. Allegedly, he has asked 20 people to take the job and up to now, none has agreed or worked out. Before the election Netanyahu said nothing about his diplomatic plans. Most political observers believed this was brilliant campaign strategy. Now, however, it appears like it was not a strategy, but rather, Netanyahu said nothing because he had no plan. He has until his meeting with Obama to come up with one. Even Netanyahu’s economic program does not seem like a product of careful thought, but rather, something he was forced to come up with quickly.

There was an interesting interview with Gideon Sa'ar, the new education minister. Saar has been getting good initial interviews. Saar spoke about the McKinley report on Israeli education. The report states what is obvious to anyone who understands education– it does not really matter how much money is spent on education, or how the administration of the Ministry of Education is organized. The only thing that really matters is the quality of the teachers. Improving the quality of classroom teachers will, of course, require more money, to attract better people to become teachers. Sa'ar also talked about the need to make sure not everyone can get into Teachers' College and that not every graduate becomes a teacher. He spoke of the need for much closer supervision and mentoring of all the new teachers in the first three years of their teaching. Scores of Israeli students on international standardized tests have been going down steadily over the course of the last thirty years. He stated, correctly, that if the deteriorating scores cannot be turned around, its “game over”. Achieving that, however, will require a revolution that is beyond the steps Sa'ar has mentioned so far.

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