Realising Ben-Gurion’s dream

February 14, 2018 by Henry Benjamin
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Eran Doron is the mayor of the Ramat HaNegev Regional Council in which its territory represents 22% of the land  of Israel. He talks to J-Wire.

Eran Doran
Photo: Henry Benjamin/J-Wire

ED: My land is a lot like of Australia. It’s a huge area with few people. My goal is to bring more and more people to populate the Negev…and to make an alternative to the urban life which most of Israelis live in the centre of Israel.  In  2048, 30 years from now, Israel 100 years  from its establishment will be home to 15 million people. The only  place which can populate this growth will be in the Negev. We will need to create the correct platform…housing, education and opportunities for employment. This is the future. But in the past this is  what Ben-Gurion wanted to happen…to populate the Negev to make the desert bloom. I live in Ben-Gurion’s village Sde Boker and so almost every day I pass his grave. When you live so close to the resting place of this great man, maybe the greatest since Moses, you have to be visionary and look to the future but work hard in the present.

JW: Are you far from Beersheva?

ED: Far in Israel is relative! The entrance to my regional council is close to Israel. But the other end of the  region is far from Beersheva. To cross my region is about one and a half hour’s drive.

JW: Since there is no city within your region, how does the population live?

ED: We have fifteen diverse communities living in villages, moshavs, and kibbutzes. Some are religious, others are secular, some are mixed and we have one which lives inside an air force base. They all live together harmoniously.

JW: Are there long-term plans for a city or some towns in the region?

ED: No. It will continue to be a rural area. We have a spectacular desert. We have craters and the incense trail through which the ancient Nabataeans brought perfumes from Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Israel. From Gaza they shipped them to Rome. In those times the Nabataeans had constant conflicts with the Romans so there are scattered fortresses and the ruins of ancient cities along the trail within in our region. Today we have the highest thermal tower in the world which has 51,ooo mirrors reflecting the heat creating for turbines. The future of the area will be amazing.

JW:  Is being the mayor full-time work for you and how is JNF involved with you?

ED: It is full time…and the JNF is a strategic parter. They can provide resources which neither the government or the regional council can. JNF Australia can see on the spot what is needed regardless of what is needed in other parts of the country. The  government has to equalise its efforts. So JNF Australia can focus on a single project. Their efforts can leverage that project and involve others. The way we see things together makes a difference. It’s not only the money, it’s about people. We share the values of Jewish life and developing the Negev.

Eran Doron is in Australia to speak at JNF Australian 2018 Campaign functions



One Response to “Realising Ben-Gurion’s dream”
  1. David Zyngier says:

    Terra Nullius again My land is a lot like of Australia. It’s a huge area with few people. My goal is to bring more and more people to populate the Negev.”

    What about the Bedouins?

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