Nurit Gil

The threat to an Arava paradise

Kids playing in Be'er Ora. (courtesy)
Kids playing in Be'er Ora. (courtesy)

So you did it. You planned your new life in Israel minutely and crossed the ocean, leaving behind the tropical country where you were born to raise your children where there was future. The security of what we had already conquered by the insecurity (and enthusiasm) of starting over. You, beginning from scratch at almost 40, chose to live in a place where you could make a difference, and so, made the not obvious choice to find a paradise… in the middle of the Arava desert.

Be’er Ora Street. (courtesy)

Your children are happy. They have learned Hebrew, they have made lots of new friends, they run free through the narrow streets and your husband has already taken over as a doctor in the local hospital. It is when you receive, with surprise, a warning saying that in just two months, a quarry will be established only two kilometers north from the yishuv, which means making your children breathe an unhealthy amount of dust for the next 20 years.

I live in Be’er Ora, a yishuv of almost 1,000 inhabitants in the middle of the desert at south Israel, 19 kilometers north from Eilat. Our aliyah, however, began in Ra’anana, north of Tel Aviv, where we lived for a year and a half. Would it be more comfortable to live in the central region? No doubt. There you are surrounded by convenience and first-rate services. A few miles down the road and you can get anywhere. But it is here, in the middle of one of the most inhospitable places of our small country, that we find not only quality of time and relationships, but true pioneers following Ben Gurion’s dream of transforming the desert. In the midst of this arid immensity, there are Zionists who create, seek, inspire, and, despite the lacks we live with, truly transform. Just a visit in the area to see a handful of miracles happening.

Thus, a quarry next to us would not only influence the landscape. It would sink a hundred dreams, as it makes it impracticable to live here, where so many families have built their homes and raise their children. The plan, in a bidding process — but already approved and expected to begin soon — was considered well before the settlement of Be’er Ora was established, more than a decade ago, and before the construction of Ramon airport, which today we see from our windows, was mentioned. In order for us to keep transforming, we need to be able to breathe. The desert is vast and one can explore the region commercially without interfering with the health of hundreds of people.

Residents of Be’er Ora protest the construction of the quarry. (courtesy)

“So you did. You planned your aliyah minutely and crossed the ocean, leaving behind your tropical country of origin to raise your children where there was future.”

They can not destroy it.

There must be a future.

About the Author
Nurit Masijah Gil is a Brazilian-Israeli writer with nearly 100 chronicles published in Portuguese in both countries. In 2014, she launched her book titled "Little Ms. Perfect," in which she tells about her tragicomic wife-and-mom life. In 2017, she moved to Israel with her family. In 2019, she changed her busy suburban life as a content writer at a startup company, in Israel's central region, for a peaceful life at her own oasis at the Arava desert -- a 1,000-member ishuv -- where she has crowned her aliyah.
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