The name of 19-year-old Mohammed Zeidan, of Kafr Manda in the Lower Galilee, rose to the headlines this month, after the news site Al-Monitor reported that he is Israel’s smartest student for the 2015-2016 school year.
Zeidan, according to reports, is the only student in this academic year to score a perfect 800 on the Psychometric Entrance Test — Israel’s college entrance exam and SAT equivalent.
Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi and Education Minister Naftali Bennett both congratulated Zeidan, the son of a gynecologist father and teacher mother, on his achievements through social media site Twitter.
“When Knesset member Ahmed Tibi called to congratulate me, he said that the test was culture-dependent. In other words, it has to do with the culture you come from. But I hated to tell him that it has nothing to do with it. It doesn’t reflect intelligence, either. It only reflects the time you put into it. The harder you work, the more you’ll succeed,” Zeidan told the Al-Monitor reporter.
According to the article, Zeidan is headed to study electrical engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. His sister is a medical student there.
Asked what he can contribute to Israeli society, Zeidan said: “I can contribute to my country and to my village. I have no issues with the State of Israel. I feel that it’s my country. If, for example, the State of Israel did not exist and there werean Arab state in its stead, it wouldn’t feel the same. It wouldn’t be the same state and we — Arabs — wouldn’t be in the same situation. It could have been much worse, but let’s not go too much into that. You know what I’m getting at.”
In the interview, Zeidan talks about how people have told him he will never integrate into Israeli society but that he hasn’t encountered racist remarks in his brief interactions with Jewish peers.
“I was training for two months with some Jewish youths in Misgav Am [a kibbutz in northern Israel].The coach was also Jewish. They were wonderful people. I never ran into any extremists and they were even happy when I joined them. But that was thefirst time that I actually interacted with Jewish Israeli youth.”
Zeidan said it was “a shame you don’t get to meet Israeli Jewish people until you turn 18. That’s really bad. Jews and Arabs don’t mix, and that’s bad. Hopefully that will change in 10 years.”
Asked where he will be in 10 years, Zeidan said the future looked promising. “After scoring 800, I’ve recalculated. This is a very good opportunity that comes once in a lifetime,” he told Al-Monitor.