The front-page story, “Beersheva’s Big Tech Break” (Feb. 21), should have included the real reasons why that city is poised to grow so rapidly. The city has experienced a sea change in its outlook and development in recent years. For more than a decade, the Jewish National Fund has led the effort to convert a garbage strewn ancient wadi in the heart of the city into the Beersheva River Walk Park, an urban park that is about four times the size of New York’s Central Park.
This project includes, among other new features, a new amphitheater, which is the largest such venue in the country, a new lake being filled with water from nearby recycled wastewater treatment plants, and a spectacular new Pipes Bridge spanning the river.
The park, with newly planted walking areas, bicycle paths and recreational areas, has added to the quality of life for residents of Beersheva and the surrounding areas. In addition, the old city of Beersheva, with buildings dating from Ottoman times, has become gentrified to such an extent, that its streets and buildings have become the “in” place to be in the Negev. When Prime Minister Netanyahu, for the first time in Israel’s history, held a cabinet meeting in Beersheva, the government members, some of whom had not been in Beersheva since their army days, were so impressed by these dynamic changes, that their enthusiasm generated the idea about making Beersheva the Israeli center of these new technologies.
Without the leadership of Mayor Danilovich, along with such local leaders as Rivka Carmi, president of Ben Gurion University, and the major support for the new projects furnished by the JNF, it is doubtful that the government would have made the same decision.
That is the real story behind your article.
JNF Vice President, Israel Relations
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