Bedouin students from Rahat's Al-Razi School plant trees for Tu Bishvat in Mishmar HaNegev.
(photo credit: YOAV DEVIR KKL-JNF)
During the week of Tu BiShvat some 2,000 young Jews and Bedouin planted around
1,000 saplings in Mishmar HaNegev Forest. This project was supported by JNF Canada.
The ceremony was attended by senior officials from Israel’s Ministry of Education, by
residents of local communities and by KKL-JNF staff members.
“You are our hope for good neighborly relations and for conserving the unique character of
each one of us,” Simon Elbaz, Deputy Director of KKL-JNF’s Education Division, told the
youngsters. “Could anything be more unifying than planting a tree in the soil of the Land of
Israel, where we all live together?”
JNF Canada, which has adopted Mishmar HaNegev Forest, supported the planting all the way
from preparation of the ground to the planting stage and subsequent care of the trees. The
planting activities reached their climax precisely on Tu BiShvat with the participation of
hundreds of schoolchildren from all over the Negev, including the Bedouin communities of
Rahat, Lakiya and Tarabin and the Jewish cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod and Netivot.
This planting ceremony was the high point of the Planting Israeli Hope initiative organized
jointly by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund and Israel’s Ministry of Education,
in which different groups from the Negev met up for Tu BiShvat planting events. The project
was designed to present the broad spectrum of Israeli society, strengthen the connection
between the various different population groups, to help them to get to know one another
better, promote tolerance and shared living, and deepen their sense of solidarity and national
“Planting trees gives you a good feeling, because trees give life to people and their
surroundings,” explained 12-year- old Ibrahim Ziadna, a seventh-grade student at Rahat’s Al-
Razi School. “When Jewish and Bedouin children plant together, it proves that we can have a
good future of peace between us all.” As Ibrahim plunged his hands into the soil to plant his
sapling, he was glad to feel that the ground was damp. “It’s great to see that a lot of rain has
fallen, and that’s a hopeful sign, too,” he concluded.
Rahat’s Al-Razi School and Ashkelon’s Comprehensive School 4 are both taking part in an
educational initiative for partnership and cooperation in which pupils and teaching staff hold a
variety of meetings and shared activities, and on this occasion the youngsters planted trees
“We believe in living in partnership in the Negev and throughout the country,” said Sheli
Zorovsky of Ashkelon Comprehensive 4. “Today, together, we planted a hope for a shared
life in our country.”
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