The Face of Israel’s Last Frontier
May 12, 2011
“Ask most Israelis or visitors to Israel, and chances are they’ve not spent any significant amount of time in the Negev,” writes Jessica Hanewinckel, editor of the San Diego Jewish Journal at the start of an eight-page spread following her recent trip to Israel.
Hanewinckel herself was apprehensive about visiting the Negev just two days after a missile strike. But once she arrived, she found the humor and strength of character of the people she met at BGU helped to ease her mind.
“This is the last frontier of the state of Israel,” says Amos Drory, vice president for external affairs at BGU. “[The Negev] is where the future will go; there’s no doubt about it.”
“The center of Israel is heavily overpopulated…the vast land is here in the south. If you think in terms of the next generation, 30 years into the future or more, there will have to be a massive movement of population, industry and life in the Negev.”
The article focuses on several different ways the University is making a difference in the Negev:
Giving Back to the Community. At BGU, some 40 percent of the student population participate in volunteer community service. She also visited Cafe Ringelbloom, a two-year-old restaurant that combines a for-profit business plan with a program that gives at-risk teens job training and experience.
Preserving the Region’s Sand Dunes. She met Dr. Yaron Ziv, a landscape ecologist and macroecologist who teaches at BGU. Ziv and his research students are looking for ways to retain the complex ecosystem that exists in the sand dunes of the Western Negev.
Developing Water Desalination Technology. Israel recycles 70 percent of its municipal wastewater for agricultural use, by far the highest extent anywhere in the world. BGU professor and researcher Jack Gilron shares how Israel can take water treatment even farther by building desalinization plants for drinking water.