Bibi Tells First Graders: Be Zionists, Play Soccer

School year opens: prime minister doles out advice to pupils and President Rivlin reminisces about his first grade teacher Hava.

Gil Ronen,

Rivlin with first graders.
Rivlin with first graders.
Mark Neiman, GPO

Prime Minister Netanyahu visited first grade pupils at Amirim School in Ashdod and told them: "We want you to be excellent students and we want you to be Zionists. We want excellence and Zionism. Be loyal citizens of the state and also succeed – thanks to yourselves – in doing many things.

He had more advice for the kids, not all of it as high-minded: “Play football better and maybe solve math problems better. Maybe write a composition in Hebrew better. Do all of these things and maybe know English better too. We want you to excel. These are the two things we want. I very much hope that you will succeed and have fun. I hope that you all enjoy your lessons and the breaks and that you are good friends with each other. It is important that you be good friends. May you have much success."

President Reuven Rivlin, meanwhile, visited a first grade class at Tzor'a, a “kibbutz” type community west of Jerusalem. “Every day, from first grade until now, I learn something new,” he said.

"I remember, to this day, the moment I entered first grade. I remember my teacher Hava. One cannot forget the first grade teacher. You'll see that you will also remember her, when you reach the age of 76 like me.”

"It is important, to ask questions,” he added with a smile, “because then the teacher also learns things. For instance – what time do we go home today?”

Rivlin also visited the elementary school at Peduel, in Samaria, and called for unity within the nation. He noted that Peduel connects the mountains of Samaria with the coastal plain.

"Sometimes, today, people speak of 'the state of Tel Aviv' and 'the state of Jerusalem,'” he noted, and added that when one stands in Peduel, one can say: “Samaria is here, and Jerusalem is here, and Tel Aviv is here, and Haifa is not very far from here.” 

Rivlin was not just referring to geography but to the political attitudes that are associated with the different parts of Israel. “The state of Tel Aviv” is a phrase that is often used to described a secular left-leaning bubble that some of Israel's elites occupy, while Samaria is associated with nationalism.