Amram Mitzna 58.
(photo credit: Ron Friedman)
As Amram Mitzna prepares to leave his post as Yeroham’s mayor and concern over
what will develop in his absence lingers, the town recently received a burst of
fresh energy in the form of Ronnie Flamer, one of its newest
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At 32, Flamer is one of the most influential people in the
Negev. The CEO of the Or movement, an organization established in 2002 with the
aim of developing and populating Israel’s periphery, Flamer recently moved to
Yeroham to make sure that Mitzna’s leaving does not lead to a backslide in the
Like Mitzna, Flamer is a firm believer in public
When he was just in his early twenties, he and three friends
founded the movement, choosing to take action and implement a vision of
populating Israel’s frontier lands.
“We started out with four guys from
During the army, we all went on a six-month journey across
the country. In the course of our travels we met up with hundreds of people, and
at the end of it we came to a decision. We decided to forgo our positions in the
army – we were all officers at the time – and return to civilian life. There
were a lot of things that we thought were important, but we decided to focus on
settlement as our primary cause,” said Flamer.
Since the establishment of
the movement, Or has been responsible for the creation of six new communities,
facilitating 22 core groups of young people engaged in various stages of
relocation to 70 communities, establishing dozens of public facilities and
community projects, relocating 4,000 families with another 10,000 in the process
of relocating, and becoming the one-stop shop for all enquiries about the Negev
OR’S EXPRESSED goal, when it comes to settlement of the
periphery, is the same as what the government has set out – to have 300,000
people move to the Negev and 300,000 people move to the Galilee by the year
2020. And Flamer is convinced that it will happen.
“If we managed what we
have with the existing conditions and with minimum resources – without available
housing, without infrastructure, without the massive government support that is
now in place, I am sure it is possible,” said Flamer.
“Our goal is for 80
percent of the people to be new residents coming to the periphery, and the rest
to be people who remain there. There is something we are beginning to hear
pretty often in places like Yeroham: ‘I could have left, but I chose to stay.’
They choose to stay because they know that something good is
People are no longer looking to flee.
agenda rests on three main pillars: creating new towns and communities,
relocating groups of young people en masse, and strengthening the existing
development town. It is the third pillar that Flamer said he sees the most
“People will go there because everything is waiting for them.
They have the master plans in place, they have the necessary infrastructure,
they have the education systems, they have the institutions – now all they need
is the people. It won’t happen at once, but I believe we will see the
breakthrough in 2013-2015, and the towns have to be ready for it,” said
“Mitzna has done some amazing things in his time in Yeroham, but
it will be no less amazing for the next guy to maintain them,” said Flamer.
“Mitzna enjoyed conditions that won’t be available to his
“While Mitzna didn’t have to worry about [internal]
politics, the next guy will suffer from a situation that at best will be bad,
and at worst disastrous.”
“I decided to move there because I recognize
the importance. If Yeroham fails, the whole Western Negev will fail. I went
there to shoulder part of the burden and, as we say, ‘get under the gurney,’”
“I hope the residents will give the new mayor the benefit of
the doubt and try to assist him in achieving the goals that Mitzna laid out. At
the end of the day, the change has to come from within. Bringing in an outsider
cannot be a lasting solution.”