Students and teachers around the country logged online on Tuesday morning for 40
minutes of virtual learning about the Dead Sea, as part of the government’s
broad campaign to make the salty body of water one of the internationally
recognized “New 7 Wonders of Nature.”
The program, organized by the
Education Ministry, provided students with scientific information and historical
details of the sea, emphasizing its shared importance among Israel, Jordan and
the Palestinian Authority and featuring introductions from both Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar.
At the height of
the experience, The Jerusalem Post
noted that more than 170 users were signed
into the virtual portal, and many of these single users represented entire
classrooms of students.
“Everything starts with you, students of Israel –
I want you to show favor for the Dead Sea, and I request that you vote for the
Dead Sea,” Netanyahu told the students in his two-minute opening
The prime minister was referring to the international New 7
Wonders of Nature campaign that concludes on November 11, in which the Dead Sea
remains one of 28 finalists.
Together with Sa’ar and Tourism Minister
Stas Meseznikov, Netanyahu has been piloting a multi-million-shekel public
relations campaign –or “journey,” as he called it – toward getting the shared
body of water to the final seven. Last week, Meseznikov launched a giant
countdown clock to the contest’s end from the top of Tel Aviv’s Azrieli
“It’s a wonderful and enchanting place, the lowest place in the
world, a place with many colors, blue and white that mix with the colors of the
earth, and one of the exceptional crevices on the surface of the earth,”
Netanyahu said, also noting the archeological importance of the natural
“One of the ways to develop a special place like this is to bring
people there, bring tourists there,” he added, explaining that keeping the Dead
Sea “high on the ladder” in the competition would help achieve this
The classroom moderator, Dr.
Hanan Ginat, began the
lesson by emphasizing the uniqueness of the Dead Sea and that “there is only one
of it in the world.”
Made up of 34 percent salt, the sea is 10 times as
salty as the Mediterranean, yet still harbors life forms inside and around it,
said Ginat, who is the science director of the Dead Sea and Arava Science Center
and a lecturer at the Arava Institute.
But the salty water – “the lowest
place in the entire world” – faces its share of problems, he
“The Dead Sea drops one meter each year,” Ginat
While the Dead Sea water levels in the northern portion are
continuing to drop one meter annually, the waters in the southernmost pool are
actually dangerously rising 10 centimeters per year, and one solution to this
problem may be a salt harvest, he explained.
The cooperation of Israel,
Jordan and the Palestinian Authority is “without a doubt” necessary, Ginat
continued, in order to maintain and protect the Dead Sea.
Even in a black
and white photo dated 1931, people are pictured “coming to quarry salt” from the
region, an industry that continues into today.
At the conclusion of
Ginat’s lecture, a salt formation in the shape of an open-mouthed dragon conveys
through a speech bubble: “Please vote for me as one of the seven wonders of the
world. Yours, the Dead Sea.”
Netanyahu similarly opened and closed his
address to the students with pleas that they vote for the Dead Sea. He recalled
that one of his sons, a high school student, told him about a year ago, “Dad, we
must help the Dead Sea; it’s a thing that’s important, justified, right, and
beautiful – it helps the State of Israel.”
To which the prime minister
added, “So I am here on a mission for the student – for the students – to
request: Vote, and we’ll meet at the Dead Sea.”
Votes can be cast at