An Open Letter to the People at the Rally

I am writing these words myself. No columnist nor night-desk editor is writing them for me. I am writing from the depths of my heart, to all the teachers and principals, to the heads of the teachers' organizations, and to all those who attended the rally last night. "I also used to be a teacher," and it wasn't even long ago.

This was a truly special rally, of a sort never seen before. For the first time in decades you crowded into the square, many tens of thousands of citizens, and not to protest against the occupation or for it, for the settlements or against them, in favor of some war or against it. It was no Annapolis-shmennapolis that summoned you together, the people of Peace Now and Gush Emunim, but rather a much more serious and urgent security problem. You already have grasped what the cabinet and its head still refuse to understand: With an education system like this one - our crown is not secure for all generations. With weakened teachers and lagging pupils and hopelessly overcrowded classrooms and tattered instruction hours - the country's safety is in clear and present danger.

Last night's demonstration revealed your heretofore hidden faces, which are Israel's beautiful face: You gathered, teachers already longing to return to your thankless labors. Even while on strike you taught a lesson: You did not disdain any temporary work, and in your misfortune, you taught once again that there is no shame in any job. In a place where there are no personal examples, you set an example.

And you gathered, pupils who already miss their teachers, identify with them, and suddenly are saying good things about them, are saying thank-you nicely.

And you gathered, dear and usually-absent parents, who can appreciate better than anyone now the contribution of the educators, who fill in the gaps you leave at home.

Those who did not want to receive a small delegation to the Prime Minister's Office, in Jerusalem on Friday, got a mass demonstration in Tel Aviv yesterday. They got it at the square that bears, and not in vain, the name of a different prime minister, one whose door was always open, even when no one came knocking.