114 years after the First Zionist Congress was held in Basel in 1897, the 31st National Youth Zionist Congress was held this week in the city of Arad and was attended by about 1,000 young people.
The two-day Congress was entitled “The Negev – From Vision to Fulfillment”. During the Congress, participants received tours of the Negev, conducted meetings with visionaries, and participated in study groups on issues such as immigrant absorption, settlement of the Negev, strengthening the periphery, the power of youth influence and more.
The Congress was attended by Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein, the Chairman of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs MK Danny Danon, the Chairman of the Knesset’s Committee on Education, Culture and Sport MK Alex Miller, the IDF’s Chief Education Office Brigadier General Eli Shermeister, World Zionist Organization (WZO) Chairman Avraham Duvdevani, Arad Mayor Tali Plosko, the head of the WZO’s Department for Activity in Israel and Countering Anti-Semitism Yaakov Haguel, and the chairman of the Zionist Council in Israel Yigal Bibi.
“The Congress talks about developing the Negev and is aimed at making the youth know about what’s going on here, about the Negev, and how to settle it in the future,” said Ofra Natan Bezalel, the Youth and Children Activity Coordinator of Arad.
“The teens had meetings with about 25 people in each session, and they came up with a few decisions, among them to come to tour the Negev in order to get to know it better,” she said. “The second decision is to settle down all over the Negev.”
Yaakov Haguel described the youth who participated in the Congress as “wonderful youth” and added, “I’m very happy that they came here. I’m very happy that this event was successful and, as you can see, there is a great celebration here.”
Haguel added that the teens reached a resolution that calls on the Prime Minister to continue to settle the Negev and the Galilee because that is what Zionism is all about.
“Zionism didn’t end in 1948,” he said. “It also continues today and we intend to continue to strengthen Zionism.”
“We should not be embarrassed to say that we are Zionist and we are proud to be in the land of Israel,” MK Danon told Arutz Sheva. “I was very happy to see more than 1,000 youngsters coming to Arad from different parts of Israel and speaking about Zionism today.”
He added, “I feel that we have a strong future and I told the youngsters to be involved and take leadership roles. With all the obstacles and challenges we have from Iran and other areas, if we believe and if we are strong, we will prevail.”