David and Goliath might soon have a memorial worthy of their classic struggle - if the giant of bureaucracy can be overcome. Plans for a 10-meter-tall monument commemorating their story are in the final stages of approval.
"This site will be a symbol of spirit over physical strength," said ministry district planner Guy Kav-Venaki. "People go to places like Masada to commemorate the past, so why not here? Over the past thousands of years this story has become a symbol of good over evil. This is a story about Jewish history."
Kav-Venaki said the monument would sit at the edge of a hill overlooking the Ela Valley near Beit Shmesh, and would include a courtyard where ceremonies could be held.
The design was presented as a public contest for architects, and Kav-Venaki said he was surprised at the response: "I was expecting about 10 submissions, but there were 48 that were judged by a committee."
The design chosen is of the sling David used to overcome the mighty Goliath.
There is already a commemoration of the biblical events in the British Park in the valley, with plaques bearing verses from I Samuel telling the tale, but Kav-venaki said his plans were completely different.
"They are incomparable," said Kav-Venaki. "The British Park is small. This monument will be exactly where the battle took place and is beautiful."
The plan must pass a public hearing before it can be built, and there is often opposition to projects located in green areas.
Prof. Vladimir Berglier, father of the project, agreed that the ministry did not usually approve plans for construction outside built-up areas, but said this project was an exception.
"We like to keep spaces open and don't like to have dots of construction," he said. "But the committee was persuaded that the monument can be a part of the forest and the open spaces around it."
The plans have been in the works for six years, according to Kav-Venaki; now the emphasis is on raising funds.
"The names of donors will be inscribed forever in the stone," he said. "Now only the money is needed, and then it can be built within two years."
(From the August 2006 edition)