An estimated 8,000 people visited the Tel Aviv Port on Tuesday to take part in
the Negev and Galilee Development Ministry’s settlement fair, organized to
introduce Israelis to the range of living options in the country’s outlying
The event, whose slogan was “Don’t just stand there, settle down,”
brought representatives from over 100 regional and local authorities to try and
convince residents of the country’s central regions to move to the North or
Every participating authority did its utmost to distinguish
themselves from its neighbors and aside from picturesque landscapes and
highlighting its advantageous location, every community tried to provide
extra touch so that it would be remembered favorably.
The Golan Regional
Council, for example, gave passersby apples picked from their orchards,
the Eilat booth they handed out popsicles.
Some booths held activities to
entertain the children, while others offered wine tastings for the
At the Yavne’el booth, passersby were enticed to stay and chat
with a bag of popcorn.
While the visitors were munching away, volunteers
extolled the virtues of the small town north of Afula.
wouldn’t be able to locate Yavne’el on a map. They might think it’s
close to the
city of Yavne, but actually we are at the other end of the country,”
Lember, a volunteer spokeswoman for the town of 3,000.
“While we might be
considered out of the way, we’re really not that far from the center.
only takes an hour-and-ahalf to get from there to Tel Aviv and we’re
minutes away from Haifa,” she said.
“People come to Yavne’el if they want
a high quality of life for a reasonable price. Whereas in the center,
owning a house is only possible for the very wealthy, land prices in the
periphery mean that ordinary people can own a house with a backyard,”
“True they sacrifice the convenience of living in the center, but
they also ‘sacrifice’ things like traffic jams and pollution.”
Local Council Chairman Roni Cohen said his town would welcome anybody
to live there and was even holding aside plots of land for young
chose to make the move. Cohen congratulated the ministry on the
said that he would definitely come to another such event, if one were to
organized in the future.
While most of the attendees seemed to be young
couples or young families pushing baby carriages, Tal Ochana, who manned
booth for Yeroham, said that many of the people who stopped by her booth
sharks looking for a good real estate investment.
“I could tell by their
questions and their bearing who they were, but that’s not the reason
here,” she said.
“We’re here to show off our village to people who are
considering moving away form the center and attracting them to live in
We tell them about the job opportunities in the region and the high
education and recreational activities out of hope that they will choose
and strengthen our community.”
“The goal is to try and bring about
momentum to aid the Negev and the Galilee, to assist in settlement of
periphery and to get people to better know the regions,” said Vice
Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom.
“I think that many
people who live in the center are unfamiliar with the Negev and the
said. “We brought in 100 booths representing a majority of the cities,
villages. We have mayors and local council heads and all of them are
sell their product to the Israeli public.
“I believe they have a winning
product and I really hope that it will lead to an awakening.
We have seen
thousands of people come through and I sincerely hope that we will be
realize the vision that I believe in, of bringing an additional 300,000
residents to the Negev and another 300,000 to the Galilee.
“The fair is
targeted for anyone who is considering moving to the Negev and the
also to give a boost of encouragement for the people who already live
to get them to stay.
“Every group that is presenting here today has its
own unique characteristics to offer.
Cities provide one thing and rural
villages provide something completely different. The point of the fair
have everybody in the same place where they can express their strengths
to see,” said Shalom.
Throughout the day the festive atmosphere was kept
alive by bands and street performers from the represented towns.
highlight of the event was a friendly exhibition game between two
soccer clubs: Hapoel Beersheba representing the South, lost to Ironi
Shmona, playing for the North in a game that ended with a penalty
Among the people handing out flyers at the fair were Beduin
representatives of the unrecognized villages in the Negev.
invited and we don’t have a booth, but we’re here to make sure that
forget that we are part of the Negev, too,” said one of the volunteers.
think there is plenty of land for everyone to come and settle, we only
it not be at our expense.
The event lasted into the night with speeches
and concerts on a central stage.