Tuesday, 29 November 2011 16:54
Written by Wally Sacks. Photos: Michael Shain Outside Etzel Museum
Ranging from the approaches to the Negev to the foothills of Mount Hermon, the third and latest of BBUK’s arranged missions to Israel could certainly claim to have covered impressive distances. On the last night before departing for home, the 29-strong party sat around in a circle and reviewed their own personal highlights. By common agreement, the tour, entitled appropriately enough The Real Israel, was deemed to have certainly justified its title by the sheer scope and variety of its programme. Not surprisingly, our group found the visit to Qiryat Gat particularly moving. This is the development town which has been the focus of a major part of BBUK's fund raising during the last 30 years. Originally, a development town at the northern gateway to the Negev, Qiryat Gat had a population of 20000 in 1990 which has since risen to over 55000. This increase is mainly due to the 30000 immigrants from 40 different origins, including Ethiopia, Russia and Central Asia, which has given the town an unemployment figure which at times has touched 13%. Good to learn, though, that the electronic giant Intel has established a massive presence in the town giving welcome employment to IT workers but that does not replace the loss of the textile factory run by Polgat. In a way, the dilemma of the town parallels the problems faced all over the western world: the transference of labour intensive industry to the Far East.