Henryk Goldszmit, better known by his pseudonym Janusz Korczak, was the leading Polish-Jewish educator, children's author, and pediatrician in 1930s Warsaw and his works are still studied today. In 1942, as director of an orphanage in Warsaw, he refused freedom and stayed with his orphans when they were sent to the Treblinka extermination camp. Korczak is known to have said: "The one concerned with days, plants wheat; with years, plants trees; with generations, educates people."
The commitment of one generation to the next is the foundation of a strong and healthy society. Every state has the fundamental obligation to protect, integrate, empower and educate its children.
Israel understands that effective education is a cornerstone for the healthy development of children. As such, we plan to implement a landmark law this fall that will provide free compulsory education for children from the ages of 3 to 18.
Since its inception, Israel has sought to fulfill its obligations to children with a broad range of legislation and government programs.
In 2008, Israel launched National Program for Children and Youth at Risk, encompassing five government ministries. The Program focuses on Community based care, Early childhood and preventative services and has offered a wide range of reforms: it de-centralized the decision-making process regarding budget allocation to at-risk children, identified all children at risk in the community, systematized data-based services through local inter-organizational forum, and has held each local community responsible for tracking the outcomes of all children served.
Israel’s vibrant civil society plays a leading role in protecting and empowering children.
For example, an NGO known as ELEM operates a variety of innovative programs nationwide that reach out to troubled children in all sectors of our society, including Israeli-Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox Jews, and immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. It offers preventive care and support through counseling centers, shelters, online chat forums, and other social services.
The National Council for the Child is the leading Israeli NGO for caring and advocating for the rights of Israeli children. Its Child Victim Assistance Program provides psychological counseling for children and youth who are crime victims, helping to guide them through the judicial process when they must testify in court.
Save a Child’s Heart (SACH) provides life-saving cardiac surgery and other life-saving procedures for children from developing countries whose parents cannot afford and cannot access such surgery. Over the past fifteen years, SACH has treated more than 3,000 children from 43 countries, many of whom do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The group also offers a full training program in Israel for medical personnel from developing countries. It recently received special consultative status in ECOSOC in recognition of its work.
Israel greatly appreciates UN agencies and leaders who are working to improve life for children. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ms. Leila Zerrougui on her appointment as the new Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict, and salute the former Special Representative Under-Secretary General Radhika Coomaraswamy.
Israel greatly appreciates the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, Ms. Marta Santos Pais and congratulates her for her strong dedication and for her excellent work. The numerous campaigns that she initiated represent central steps to improve awareness and sharing of best practices and guidelines for future action. We call on all member states to support the extension of her mandate this year.
Israel welcomes the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children’s annual report (A/67/230) and shares the concerns expressed by the SRSG in her report, in particular regarding harmful traditional practices. Too many countries still lack national legislation that prohibits such practices.
Israel appreciates the SRSG's initiative to launch a global survey, to which Israel submitted written contributions. We look forward to the full publication of the report.
Israel is always very active in negotiation on child-related resolutions. Last year, we co-sponsored three such resolutions: the Rights of the Child, the Girl Child, and the International Day of the Girl Child.
In 2013, Israel will join for the first time the Executive Board of UNICEF – we are looking forward to strengthening our ties with UNICEF.
Israel will host, in November, a program in cooperation with the OAS (Organization of American States), focusing on strategies to keep children and youths from dropping out of school. Other courses, in cooperation with countries such as Chile and the Russian Federation, focus on integrating children with disabilities into the normative educational framework.
At the international level, MASHAV – Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation – has trained hundreds of thousands educators and children from all over the world. It has been cooperating for a decade with the Organization of American States, to introduce entrepreneurship as a self-help tool for young people in the Americas. This project has trained more than 22,000 people across 29 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean islands.
MASHAV also facilitates a medical training program with staff from Soroka hospital in Beer Sheva, to improve maternal and child health services in Kumasi, Ghana. The model has proven its success in diminishing infant mortality, maternal morbidity and mortality by increasing access to ante-natal and post-partum care in a selected area; providing immunization coverage; and as an effective tool for health education for mothers.
In this spirit, Israel actively collaborates with other countries in children-related research in an effort to further deepen and share knowledge for policy development. One example is our participation in the International Network of Child Policy Research Centers consisting of research institutes from around the world, including South Korea, India, South Africa, Ireland, Great Britain, the U.S and others. We are also conducting an important research exchange with China, through the Health Behaviors of School-aged Children international survey of youth.
There is a Jewish story about a man who planted a carob tree – a tree that only bears fruit after seventy years. When asked whether he thought he would live to eat from the tree, the man replied: "I am doing as my ancestors did. Just as they planted a carob tree for me, I am planting one for my children."