Making the rounds

British Ambassador Matthew Gould, who is intent on visiting every part of Israel during his period of tenure, went to Arad and Beersheba last week.

UK Ambassador Matthew Gould 311 (photo credit: UK Embassy in Israel (YouTube))
UK Ambassador Matthew Gould 311
(photo credit: UK Embassy in Israel (YouTube))
■ BRITISH AMBASSADOR Matthew Gould, who is intent on visiting every part of Israel during his period of tenure, went to Arad and Beersheba last week. After meeting with Mayor Tali Ploskov in Arad, Gould visited the Schaller Medical Centre, named after Leon Schaller, a German-born British philanthropist whose unstinting generosity was a significant factor in the establishment of Arad’s first emergency medical center. In fact, there are several facilities in Arad named for members of the British Friends of Arad.
Gould also visited the Shuvu School, part of a unique network for secular and religious children, established by Leo and Sue Noe. Gould, who has been active in raising funds for Holocaust survivors, also met with veterans of the Red Army who fought in World War II and now, in their twilight years, are unable to make ends meet.
Before leaving Arad, Gould, together with Ploskov and chairman of the British Friends of Arad Foundation Sir Ian Gainsford, participated in a cornerstone ceremony for the proposed Re’im child care institution.
Gould said that he had been inspired by the residents of Arad and was pleased to see how much British Friends of Arad have contributed to the city.
Just as he has promoted support for day-care centers-cum-clubs for Holocaust survivors, Gould promised to promote the Re’im project. According to Ploskov, the Re’im center will serve as a model for quality care and will attract many young families to Arad.
In Beersheba, Gould met with Mayor Rubik Danilovich, who briefed him on the plans to improve the city’s image. Gould needed no convincing. The first time he had been in Beersheba was 30 years ago when he had been taken there by his grandparents, he told Danilovich. He said he could see the tremendous changes that have taken place in terms of Beersheba’s development from a sleepy town to a vibrant economic, cultural and academic center.
■ THERE’S A quiet revolution going on in Israel’s Arab community, with increasingly more Arab students entering Israeli universities. That shouldn’t really surprise anyone, other than to wonder how many highly intelligent Arabs are missing out on educational opportunities because they can’t master Hebrew. Prof. Faisal Azaiza of the School of Social Work at the University of Haifa recently hosted a programs on Israel Radio in which he presented a detailed analysis of the difficulties encountered by Arab students wanting to enroll at Israeli universities. He noted that until a little over a decade ago, there were no Arab lecturers at any Israeli university, and the Arab intake of students was considerably smaller than today. The university with the largest intake of Arab student is Tel Aviv University.
But the surprise statistic is that there are more drop-outs among male students than female students, with the result that 60 percent of Arab students in Israel’s universities are women. Even though they are getting higher education, they are still subjected to old traditions.
Azaiza told the story of a young woman who approached him with tears in her eyes to ask for a scholarship. It seems that her father, displeased that she had rejected the husband he had chosen for her, had burnt all her university papers, and now she needed to photocopy all the texts of the various subjects she was studying.
The cost of photocopying the material was around NIS 1,500, but that was money the young woman did not have. There was no scholarship available to answer her needs. Azaiza and a few other academics contributed a couple of hundred shekels each for the massive photocopy project.
Some four years later, a very confident young woman presented herself at his office and asked if he remembered her. He had to admit that he didn’t. “I’m the one whose work you saved,” she said. Having graduated law, she was working in the District Attorney’s Office. Azaiza said that his own eyes had filled with tears when he thought how perilously close this young woman had been to not having a career at all – and how far she had come despite the odds.
■ GENERALLY WHEN people refer to the Negev, they are talking about Ben-Gurion’s dream to make it green. But Silvan Shalom, the minister for the development of the Negev and the Galilee, has other things in mind.
He’s no less keen to build up the Negev, but he wants to turn it into Israel’s Silicon Valley because he’s convinced that once the area is permeated with top-notch hi-tech companies, people working for these companies will set up house in the Negev rather than commute daily from the center or the north of the country.