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Not long ago Israel was accepted into the exclusive club of developed nations, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. We are ambitious children, albeit stepchildren.

There are only 31 countries in the OECD, but in the International Mathematical Olympiad we found ourselves in 53rd place.

Israelis love when people talk security to them. So we'll repeat it for the umpteenth time: Israel's true minister of defense is its minister of education, no one else. I've always tried to instill this understanding in my students, those in uniform and those who were once in uniform. Do they also think I'm exaggerating?

After all, for the last Mathematical Olympiad we drafted the best young minds we have. And yet we continue to plunge, and the parachute refuses to open. The ground is getting closer and soon we will be in for a crash landing.

The students are not to blame, they certainly did their best. But they are not well enough equipped for the challenge; we are not well equipped enough. If those excellent students failed, what can a million and a half others say, trudging along behind them? What can we say? How did we tumble from 11th place only a decade ago?

Israel is in the sixth group of 10, as opposed to Iran, for example, which is in the second group of 10. That's 40 places in between us. This achievement gap is the real threat. It should be ticking in our ears louder than any bomb.

But what difference does it make? The main thing is that they be good Jewish students and brave soldiers with a well-developed sense of nationhood that will save us from any trouble, even from nuclear calamity. And to hell with mathematics.