“I worked for many years in a school, and that has made me young in spirit. These days it’s harder for me to hold onto that. There is nothing you can do about chronological age. I smile a lot, which creates wrinkles, but I don’t like the expressive wrinkles between the eyes; they project wickedness. I call them wickedness wrinkles.”

“I am in favor of taking the long view, and regrettably I am not optimistic about the government in this regard. You have to provide immediate results all the time, because the ministers keep changing. I say in all modesty that if I were minister of education, I’d insist on investing in young children. If you want to build high, you have to create firm foundations.”

“I was twice the victim of dirty tricks in the Knesset. The first time was when I suggested spaying and neutering street cats. The chamber was almost empty, and after I left for a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Residence, all the Shas MKs came in together and torpedoed the motion. The second time was when I urged a ban on manufacturing, selling and importing fur. Rabbi [Menachem Eliezer] Moses from United Torah Judaism dragged things along for a year, constantly pulling another rabbit out of the hat and driving me crazy.”

“When I was director general of the Ministry of Education, I was invited to the Knesset Education Committee for a discussion about the reforms recommended in the Dovrat report. [Former Education Ministers] Yossi Sarid and Yuli Tamir hurled personal insults at me, but there is an arrangement whereby MKs are allowed to say whatever they want, while civil servants are forbidden to respond at the emotional level. I choked up with helplessness and tears welled up in my eyes − live on television.”

“I had reconstructive nose surgery at the age of 22. My nose drooped down and when I tensed my face, it even reached the lip. It was something that bothered me at the time, and I said: We’ll get rid of it, like a blister. It didn’t hurt and wasn’t even done under full anesthesia.”

“I find the militancy of speeches in the Knesset very unpleasant. We are setting a bad example for young people. A few months ago, the Knesset speaker reprimanded me when I clashed with the minister of education, and even had me removed from the chamber. I don’t remember what I said, but I was terribly ashamed. You get carried away: This environment drags you down.”