Dispatch from Beer-Sheva

March 16, 2012

Negev Development & Community Programs

New Jersey Jewish News — When Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of New Jersey Jewish News, arrived in Israel he was looking forward to reporting about Israel beyond the conflict, with a focus on BGU’s research projects in the Negev.

Then missiles started raining down on Beer-Sheva, and the journalist got a chance to learn firsthand how the University handles the conflict of continuing to educate some 20,000 students while ensuring their safety.

This week’s attacks forced BGU to postpone the start of the spring semester at its Marcus Family Campus in Beer-Sheva and postpone make-up exams.

“This is a place where people have learned—from experience—what to do when the Grads start falling,” says Silow-Carroll.

Silow-Carroll’s first meeting on the Marcus Family Campus was with BGU’s president, Prof. Rivka Carmi, just two hours after a missile strike. He writes that she “had intended to boast about the 20,000-student university’s impact on the region, and she did, even as we heard and felt the sonic booms of jets coursing overhead.

“She, the IDF, and a number of multinationals have big plans to turn a once sleepy frontier into a high-tech research and development hub.

‘The Negev is the future of this country,’ she said. ‘The center is overpopulated and polluted. The only place to expand is the Negev.’

“The school is also investing in the region’s human capital, with research and outreach aimed at the South’s underprivileged populations, from its 200,000 Bedouins to the children of immigrants who are being taught that a college education is a real possibility.

“Their stories are every bit a part of Israel as are the jets and missiles.”

Read more of Silow-Carroll’s first person account on the New Jersey Jewish News website >>