(photo credit: KKL-JNF)
Bahadim City (the Israeli Army training campus), which is currently being built in the sand dunes of the Negev, is one of the main projects expected to contribute towards Negev development. On Sunday, KKL-JNF World Marketing Conference participants planted the first trees of a forest grove here, which in the future will help create a more pleasant environment for the soldiers serving in the huge army base.
IDF Chief Logistics Officer Brigadier General Mufid Ganam, who is in charge of the Bahadim City building project, told WMC participants visiting the construction site that "our country is surrounded by enemies. Only last week we were attacked by missiles. We are a strong country that can contend with its enemies. Eleven thousand soldiers, officers and career soldiers will be moving to the Negev when Bahadim City is finished being built. This is how we are realizing Ben Gurion's vision."Brigadier General Ganam moved conference participants when he added that "in our struggle for peace in the Middle East, we are privileged to have tremendous support from Jews all over the world. Israel is your second home, and the soldiers of the Israeli Army are your children."
Mr. Shmuel Riffman, head of the Ramat Hanegev Regional Council, told the participants that "anywhere in the Negev where you put your thumb down, you will find KKL-JNF involved in important projects."
"Very soon, my city's residents will have over 10,000 new neighbors, military people who will be coming to the Negev," said Mr. Michael Biton, the mayor of Yeruham. "Of course, the government and the local authorities have an important job, but it is you, the Jewish communities of the world, who are our main partners in building the state of Israel and its continued development."
Mr. Daniel Shor, National President of KKL Mexico, spoke briefly on behalf of the conference participants: "All of the world's Jewish communities are grateful to the soldiers of the Israeli Army and wish them only the best," he said.
Before the tree planting began, the traditional Planter's Prayer was read by Mrs. Donia Schaumann, Vice-President of KKL in Milan, along with the army chaplain.
Tree planters included Mr. Laurence Franks, the president of KKL-JNF Spain. As he was covering the roots of the tree with Negev soil, Laurence said: "It is very emotional to be participating in such an amazing project on behalf of Israel's future. I hope we will be able to convey the feeling we all have now to friends of KKL-JNF throughout the world."
Mr. David Pacovsky (34), from KKL-JNF in Chile, also planted a tree in Bahadim City, Pacovsky is one of the younger representatives at the conference. His father Michael, president of KKL-JNF Chile, was not able to attend the conference, so his son filled in for him: "It is very important that members of the younger generation get involved, because this is the only way to ensure the future of KKL-JNF activities and to stay connected to the state of Israel," he said.