Today, on the 31st anniversary of the death of David Ben-Gurion, I am honored to participate in the inaugural ceremony of the Adiel Village of the Ayalim Association – and in the planting of the first tree in the village (You also chose such a nice name for it – Ayalim [deer]. Each time I think of deer, I imagine them leap from step to step, and hope, accordingly, that you will also leap forward quickly.)
When David Ben-Gurion left Tel Aviv in the early 1950’s to live in Sde Boker, he did not believe that he was sending himself to a land of exile. He believed he was just preceding others, who would understand later what he already understood: the Negev was the future of the State of Israel. We must continue to build this future – and we must build it with deeds, not words. Otherwise, it will forever remain only a vision and will not be realized. And I am telling you this: never wait for the completion of all plans. All plans are never completed. Do today what you can do today. If you do, you will receive assistance.
The Government of Israel which I head is acting to fulfill Ben-Gurion’s vision: in the past few years, we have initiated a large-scale plan to set down railway lines to the Negev; the Trans-Israel Highway continues to approach Beer Sheva; we have added departments to hospitals in the Negev and built dozens of classrooms for all sectors of the population. The Government is acting to regulate ecological damage in Ramat Hovav, something which will immediately influence the quality of life in the area and allow the establishment of “the IDF training base city” in the framework of our activity to transfer IDF bases to the south.
We have renewed the momentum of settlement in the Negev. At a slower pace than we would have wanted. Four years ago today, I inaugurated the “Merhav Am” village. Since then, we have added three more villages, and will continue to add more (and Shmulik whispered in my ear about what goes on there, especially the number of children there (in Merhav Am) and I can only recommend it to you.) After years of bureaucratic obstacles, we have advanced the establishment of villages for the Bedouin sector. Anyone who has been in the area of the Mishmar HaNegev Junction has already seen the new school and the infrastructure of the village currently being built for the Tarabin Tribe.
I am determined to continue investing all the necessary resources in the development of the Negev. In the coming weeks, I intend to present a plan promoting approximately 10 national central projects in the Negev before the Government. This plan will bring the Negev closer to the center, and will generate a real change.
However, in order to realize Ben-Gurion’s vision, we must do more than make Government Resolutions. You, members of the Ayalim Association, renew not only on the land of the Negev, but also in the pioneering spirit of Ben-Gurion and the members of the first Aliyahs, many of whom were students like you, who came to Israel to renew, with their own hands, the connection between the people of Israel and their land.
The members of the Association come not only to establish a new village, but also to create a new ideological climate. They work in the development towns and environs, contribute to the advancement of education in the region, and thus lay the foundations for the blossoming of the people of the Negev.
I was also pleased to hear that they insisted on building their houses with their own hands, while they were on vacation from the University. This too proves something about their characters.
As a resident of the Negev, I welcome them as they join the region. I view you as an indication that pioneering acts still take place today in the State of Israel, and that a group of ideological and motivated young people can bring about genuine change in the character of the country and Israeli society.
And I wish to express my gratitude for that – good luck!
I wish to reiterate – I believe in young people – but not in young people who wait for instructions. Initiative! You have come up with an excellent idea, and you will lead it. Do not wait to be taken by the hand every step of the way. Take action, and I am telling you this from my experience, you will get help; fail to take action – it will remain pure talk. When you start taking action – and you do take action also in the educational and social fields, and there is much here in the Negev – you will get help. Do not wait for the completion of all plans – they will never be completed. Each part contributes to the cause. This is what I expect of you. And this generation, as I have mentioned before, is in no way inferior to our generation. We did not wait either, and if here, in the State of Israel, we would always wait for instructions from upstairs, things would not have happened.
You have an initiative, you have an idea – and exceptional idea – push it forward and you will get help from donors as well as from the Government.
Thank you – all the best.