A Rap on the Knuckles for Yuli Tamir

Just as not every citizen can be defense minister, we may soon find out that not every citizen can be education minister.

It's hard to believe that someone is really playing with the delusionary idea that's discussed here - not to mention taking it seriously. Therefore, the following sentences should be seen as a type of prophylactic, or a preventive means, being used just to be on the safe side.

In recent days there have been many articles about Ehud Barak's intention of bringing about a change of personnel in the Education Ministry: Yuli Tamir will leave her job and will ceremoniously be transferred to the Ministry of Culture, while Ami Ayalon will take her place. Barak, who seven years ago took Tamir away from the classroom and unexpectedly appointed her absorption minister, is now considering transferring her from her position and offering her a consolation prize, according to media reports. And from experience we have learned that there are no information leaks without someone standing behind them. So who is behind these rumors?

Tamir was placed in charge of education only a year ago. She has yet to make her contribution, and they are already signaling her to leave. A year is too short a period to judge an education minister, certainly too short a period for giving her bad marks. Truth be told, so far Tamir's term has not been a particularly impressive success, perhaps because of the expectations of her, which were very high, and perhaps because of the overall functioning of this government: There is simply no one to work with. And yet the hopes we had for Tamir have not been completely shelved as yet, and she is in the midst of a mission that should not be interrupted.

Education is the last place where there should be frequent changes in leadership; it is not the proper field for hasty human-resource experiments. The education system is the largest and most complex in the country, several times larger and more complex than the defense establishment. It is certainly just as important as the defense establishment, if not more so. The quality of the young Israeli horseman is more critical than the quality of the Israeli chariot, even if that chariot is a tank or a plane. When there are seven ministers in 10 years, it is impossible to repair the ruined education system; one year is not enough both to plow deeply and to sow in the scorched earth left behind by previous education minister Limor Livnat.

Ami Ayalon is an admirable person, and I mean that seriously. But he is not a natural candidate for the job being designated for him, if it really is being suggested for him. During the past year it was proved that not every citizen can be a defense minister, and it's not a bad idea for the citizen to know something about his area of responsibility, too. Are they now insistent on proving that not every former general can be an education minister? Is that the hidden intention?

And if only in symbolic terms, it's not a good idea to appoint a former general, of all people, and a former head of the Shin Bet security services to boot, to be education minister of all possible ministers. There is no job more civilian in nature and in its goals than that of an education minister. Are we suffering from any shortage of generals?

It's true that our generals by definition are gifted people, with multiple talents, who are capable of carrying out any assignment handed to them, from defense minister to transportation minister, to public security minister, to infrastructure minister, but we have not yet had a general as education minister; that's something new.

Therefore Barak would probably do well to leave education alone, and find another field for his maneuvers. It's true that Yuli Tamir did not support him in the primaries, and that in itself may be seen as a kind of sinful offense, but it carries no disgrace. She deserves a punishment, there's no question about it. But she should receive an individual punishment rather than a collective one - which is unacceptable even in the field of defense, not to mention in the field of education.