News & Updates

Ongoing Updates From The Joint Council of Mechinot

Two weeks after calamity: An update from Dani Zamir, CEO of the Joint Council of Mechinot

“We’ll put in order all of the rules and regulations, and we’ll learn and apply all of the lessons regarding safety and security, but is there not always the human factor? That factor is we, and the things that need to be reassessed and reconstructed: our culture of discussion, our culture of readiness, the culture of investigating the accident ‘that almost was’ or any other event of ours, our staff’s culture of voicing doubts, the culture of complacency and hubris.”

14/05/2018 - 10:51

Two weeks have passed since the disaster, and all of us are trying to pick ourselves up and return to routine. I don’t know for how many of us I can speak, but for me, the unease from the disaster in Tzafit Gully has not let up. The feeling that most of us have of a deep rupture is a healthy sign of the central insight shared by many mechina (pre-military leadership academy) heads and directors: that the need to get back to educational work, the approaching end of the year, and how recently the event happened keep us from properly completing an internal process of inquiry and contemplation.

Because we’ll put in order all of the rules and regulations, and we’ll learn and apply all of the lessons regarding safety and security, but is there not always the human

factor? That factor is we, and the things that need to be reassessed and reconstructed: our culture of discussion, our culture of readiness, the culture of investigating the accident “that almost was” or any other event of ours, our staff’s culture of voicing doubts, the culture of complacency and hubris.

And it’s important to say that hikes and field activities are not the only areas that are not regulated today, where every mechina does whatever its heart desires:

  • Physical preparation for army service is not regulated by any person, and we do not receive such training from anyone.
  • The structures of many mechinot are dilapidated and not subject to any regulation, and a budget for construction is lacking.
  • Many of the mechinot have units in which students go to work together for payment that is transferred to the mechina treasury to reduce tuition or for various events. (The regulations allow this.) Here too, are the various safety rules in good order?

This Tuesday, at a hearing of the Education Committee of the Knesset, the chairman of the committee, MK Margi, opened the session and said with amazement mixed with pain that normally any hearing held by the committee on the mechinot is always positive, but here he had to start the hearing with a disaster that had happened because of an event that didn’t make sense and wasn’t becoming of the mechinot.

I sat there and inwardly cringed.

To be sure, the media are putting out complimentary items about the mechinot in the meantime. The Ministry of Education has committed itself to providing assistance in a way that’s breathtaking. Yet our abrupt change of status from “friends of the nation” to people whose level of responsibility is in doubt is wrenching. The proper conclusion, in my humble opinion, is not slogans and empty words about how strong we are, how great we are, and the future of the nation, but profound humility and recognition of our insufficiency, and necessarily, to go back and learn, go back and check, go back and lead always along a path of vision but also responsibility, hope but also safety.

And the path forward is still there, so long.

And on that path are the families of those who perished; there are the final victims injured who are still recovering; there are those who were in the gully and were saved but need to cope and carry with them sights that allow them no rest; there is Mechinat Bnei Zion, which is dropping the class and rebuilding its leadership; Yuval and Aviv, who are waiting for the authorities to make their decision and were an inseparable part of us for many years; and there is a country no less confused than we are as to what to do in the meantime and how to create a safe framework that suits this amazing enterprise in which we have been partners and pioneers for many years.

We are not afraid of a long path. That much is well known. We will follow it with integrity, courage, and humility.

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