Galia Maor’s Remarks at 2012 Gala

Dear Inge Rennert, President, American Friends of the Open University,
Professor Hagit Messer-Yaron, President of the Open University,
Honorees – Senator Joseph Lieberman, Hadassah Lieberman, and Alberto Sutton,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good evening to you all.

It is a great honor and privilege for me to be here with you tonight.

I am deeply grateful that you have found me worthy of the
Max Rowe Award
, and I am proud to join the esteemed list of this award’s recipients.

Even though it is I, who stands here before you, I cannot but give honorable mention to my colleagues from the Leumi Group – some of whom are here with us tonight – my partners in vision, deed, and achievement.

I truly believe that this prize is being awarded to us all.

The award is particularly meaningful to me, as I have always been a great believer in education, as a miracle cure against many social ills: violence, inequality, prejudice, crime, and hatred.

A society as stratified, divided, and complex as the Israeli society, needs this crucial and essential elixir.

The future that we all seek for Israel is one of independence, strength and security, based on economic prosperity, scientific and medical progress, and a rich cultural life.

For all this – education is the vital key.

And, the Open University offers this vital key in a unique manner.

Over the course of nearly forty years, the Open University has made higher education available to all. At the same time, it has remained a high-quality institution, with the highest academic standards.

In fact, for most of its 40,000 graduates, earning a degree from the Open University is far more difficult than at a conventional university. However, the students are all granted a uniquely “level playing-field”, which makes no distinction between those with available time and financial resources, and those, for whom these resources are scarce.

These students represent the widest spectrum of the population: young, old, Jews, Arabs, secular, ultra orthodox, graduates of elite schools and others, who never even completed their secondary education. They come from the center of the country, as well as from the outlying regions, where academic education is not readily available. And all of them are equal contenders for recognition of their abilities and hard work.

This is empowering on the personal level: Every graduate who attains a degree, regardless of his background, can acquire a profession with potential, and can so change his personal destiny.

But, above and beyond the personal level, the very success of the Open University has tremendous social and economic significance.

Over the years, the Israeli Economy has proven its strength, resilience and capacity for growth, even during times of recession. However, Israel has also demonstrated that rapid GDP growth is not enough to diminish poverty and inequality.

We are very proud of Israel’s economic success, but understand that we do need a major structural change. Growth must be deployed over the entire population, on a viable and competitive basis, leading to a rise in employment and the effective utilization of its means of production.

We have learnt that it is not merely about creating jobs, or providing compensation and support for low socio-economic groups, as this only leads to the perpetuation of their status quo.

Israel should achieve “inclusive growth.” It must focus on strengthening the capabilities of the weaker social strata and providing it with the necessary means for successful integration into the labor market, in those sectors and fields, where there is significant added value to the economy.

This is crucial to ensure the ongoing stability and resilience of the State of Israel against external turbulence.

And, this is precisely the importance of the Open University – With its flexible acceptance criteria, it represents a real affirmative action mechanism, allowing individuals from every sector of the population to acquire education, to achieve a productive professional life, and to contribute to economic growth.

Finally, I would like to thank you for your wholehearted support.

The involvement, backing and assistance that you provide to the Open University, as well as to education and to the society in Israel, especially during these difficult times, is exactly what we need, in order to continue building, improving and flourishing.

So, in conclusion, permit me to express my wish that we all continue to serve this commendable cause and to advance the realization of the great potential embodied in the Israeli society.

Ladies and Gentlemen – The Future Is Open.

Once again –

Thank you very much.