KKL-JNF Sits with Regional Authorities, Academics and Planners to Discuss Strengthening the Negev and Galilee

“Project 2040 will breathe new life into Israel’s periphery”, said KKL-JNF World Chairman Danny Atar, at the Israel 2040 conference in Nof HaGalil
A one-day conference on the topic “On the center and the periphery-KKL-JNF strengthening the Negev and the Galilee” - initiated and led by KKL-JNF, took place at the KKL-JNF House for Excellence in Nof Hagalil (formerly known as Upper Nazareth). Conference participants included KKL-JNF representatives led by KKL-JNF World Chairman Daniel Atar, mayors from northern Israeli cities and towns, academics, planners and students.

“Project 2040 will breathe new life into Israel’s periphery,” Daniel Atar began by saying. “Within only twenty years, the Negev and Galilee will become centers of innovation with extensive influence and engines for growth for the entire state of Israel.”

The innovative Israel 2040 plan rests on three major axes: relocation, employment and education. Goals include facilitating the relocation of 1 million residents to the Negev and half a million to Galilee; incentivizing 150,000 new immigrants to move to peripheral regions; building 400,000 new housing units; incubating 750 start-up companies; establishing 30 campuses for entrepreneurship and R&D, and 20 KKL-JNF Houses for Excellence for youth in outlying Israeli communities.

The decision to host the conference in the KKL-JNF House for Excellence in Nof Hagalil was not by chance. KKL-JNF House is a hub that equips youth in Israel’s outlying communities with the tools to take part and excel in Start-up Nation, narrowing social, educational and economic gaps between central and peripheral Israel. This House is the first of its kind, with plans to establish similar Houses for youth throughout the north and south of Israel. The centers will empower youth to excel in hi-tech and encourage young leadership.

In his greetings, Nof Hagalil Mayor Ronen Plot related to the Israel 2040 vision: “If each and every one of us plays a part, then together, we will all be able to connect the pieces of this puzzle and create a huge project.”

KKL-JNF Chief Scientist Dr. Doron Markel addressed the students who were present in the audience: “You are our future. The Project Israel 2040 vision sets some very ambitious goals in the fields of education, employment and academic studies. Our meeting here today is an important step towards realizing this vision.”

KKL-JNF Education Division Director Sar-Shalom Djerbi emphasized that quality education is what attracts new residents to communities. “The basis of educational activism is first and foremost for students to believe in themselves. Our aspiration is that gifted students will return to the cities they came from, find employment in leading enterprises and become role models for their communities.”

Zionist History Institute Director Dr. Motti Freidman related in his remarks to the importance of strengthening the ties between KKL-JNF and academia.


Education and Employment

The one-day conference included a mayoral panel moderated by Dr. Doron Markel and with the participation of Shuki Ohana, the mayor of Tzfat; Ronen Plot, the mayor of Nof Hagalil; Shimon Lankari, the mayor of Acco; Ronit Ovadia, CEO of the Ministry of the Interior’s Beit Hakerem authorities cluster, and Dr. Orna Simhon, Director of the Education Ministry Northern Region.
“Education is a critical subject for new residents who come here,” Ohana said.

“It’s hard to believe what a huge difference KKL-JNF has made in this city, and what accomplishments we have been able to achieve,” Plot declared.

“We need to look at the Galilee from a regional perspective and cooperate with all its cities,” Lankari suggested.

“Education is connected to employment, and we need to begin a long-term process with a wide perspective,” said Ovadia.

“The job of the Ministry of Education is not only to impart knowledge, but also to impart values and to prepare students for the future,” Simhon emphasized.

Afterwards, a panel discussion on the relationship between academia and the periphery was held with the participation of representatives from Oranim College lead by Dr. Lee Kahaner, head of the college’s research authority. The conference concluded with a guest lecture of Dr. Zvi Tzameret, a historian and an educator.

Youth of the Future

During the course of the day, Daniel Atar met with a group of high-school students who are participating in a computer sciences course at the KKL-JNF House. The course awards students with academic credits at Tel Aviv University, along with an exemption from the psychometric exam when applying for the university.

Students spoke to the KKL-JNF chairperson about what drew them to the course and what they’re gaining from it: “We’re acquiring a profession that will open doors up for us and also help us advance in the future,” said Anna.

“We feel that people believe in us here,” Hodaya added.

“The high-quality curriculum develops our ability to think,” Lior noted.

This course is only one example of the many and varied activities taking place at KKL-JNF House, including learning reinforcement, courses and group activities, enrichment lectures, educational field trips and social activities. The center is designed in a youthful manner, with bright colors, wall murals and various technological venues. The establishment of the house was made possible thanks to the support of friends of KKL-JNF from all over the world, starting with France.

“The next twenty years can be the beginning of an amazing future that will transform the Negev and Galilee into hubs of expertise and hi-tech,” Atar summed the day up. “In 2040, Israel will be a strong, innovative and exciting country.”