David and Goliath may soon have a memorial worthy of their classic struggle. After six years of planning, approval for a monument in the Elah Valley near Beit Shemesh has been obtained from both the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council and the Interior Ministry after much promotion by the David's Victory Foundation.
The foundation has already raised just over $200,000 for the project, but needs a total of $3 million to start construction.
"It will take us six months to a year to raise the rest of the money from donations, and the names of the donors will be inscribed forever in the stone," said Foundation chairman and father of the project Prof. Vladimir Berginer.
The monument is a 10-meter representation of the slingshot David used to slay Goliath. Its planners say they wanted the design "to focus on David's victory and the positive aspects of the event," and not on the defeat of Goliath. "The site is given an optimistic, universal character, without militant connotations," said a representative of David's Victory Foundation.
"This site will be a symbol of spirit over physical strength," said Berginer. "People go to places like Masada to commemorate the past, so why not here? Over thousands of years, this story has become a symbol of the triumph of good over evil. This is a story about Jewish history."
The monument is to sit on the edge of the hill overlooking the Elah Valley in what is believed to be the exact spot where the battle between King Saul's army and the Philistines took place. The design for the monument was opened to the public as an architectural contest which, according to Berginer, surpassed the original estimates of anticipated participation. "I was expecting about 10 submissions, but there were over 48 that were judged by a committee."
"The government usually does not like to approve construction plans outside built-up areas, but this case was an exception," Berginer added. "There was a public hearing for approval but there was no opposition to a project located in green areas. The committee was persuaded that the monument can be a part of the forest as well as the open spaces around it."