'500,000 Jews in the Galilee, 1 million in the Negev'

JNF chairman explains organization's growth and activities since its founding 118 years ago.

Eliran Aharon ,

Danny Atar
Danny Atar
Eliran Aharon

Arutz Sheva met with Jewish National Fund (JNF) Chairman Danny Atar at Shuni Park to discuss the preparations for thousands of vacationers during the Passover holiday and the organization's activities in recent years.

"This place will absorb thousands of young people here every year to nurture the values ​​of KKL-JNF and bring it to the Jewish people," Attar said, describing the JNF's activities throughout the years, beyond planting trees as in the past and redeeming land, as the organization had done since its founding 118 years ago:

"We are continuing the process of redeeming the lands even now. Over the past year, the JNF has also been engaged in afforestation (planting trees to restore forests) and solutions to the water problem, and we have added activities that are dominant in education, to prepare youth to be leaders in this country. We recognize that the people have arisen on their land thanks to the youth. We work with youth movements and prepare and we have amazing youth and we are preparing an outstanding future generation," he said.

In addition, Atar described the JNF's activities in the Diaspora to enhance Jewish identity and ties to the State of Israel and the Land of Israel. "We are approaching a situation in which seventy percent of the Jewish people is in the process of assimilation ... We have a successful state that serves as a lighthouse for the world and for us to lose that amount of world Jewry is a disaster. We decided that we would work in any way to stop this trend. The JNF is an asset of the entire Jewish people, and therefore we must strengthen the people in the periphery and in the Jewish world and stop assimilation with increasing ties to the Jewish people and strengthening ties with the State of Israel."

Within the framework of the JNF's activities, Attar related, a project was established for two weeks in which thousands of volunteers spread over 160 sites throughout the country and worked in nursing homers, in centers of activity, in the homes of Holocaust survivors and people with disabilities "We want to give them the best years they deserve, the generation of founders and founders of the state."

Atar stressed that this involves and includes encouraging immigration to Israel and promoting settlement in the Negev and the Galilee. "Only here is the home of the Jewish people, and it is our job to encourage them to come here."

"It is clear that when young people are allowed to get out of their screens and tablets and access them to the forests and parks and create a value-based educational activity that speaks of our roots and affinity to the Land of Israel, the youth are thirsty for it more than we parents think. People create a community process in the forest near the neighborhood and the forest becomes the neighborhood playground and they continue to maintain it through activities and their love for the country and the connection to the place of residence increases.People become volunteers in the community, help others and it turns out that we have amazing youth that takes responsibility for Israeli society. When they reach the age to enlist in the army, 35-40 percent go to the army and 75 percent of those go to the best units of the IDF, finish the army and go to the university and choose to live in the periphery, establish student villages and urban kibbutzim in the periphery and engage in education and volunteers in the communities. A wheel has been created here that is growing in terms of the scope of its activity.

Atar spoke about the continuous connection with JNF emissaries to Jewish communities in the Diaspora. "They do not know about the State of Israel and its power. They do not know how to strengthen their connection to the Jewish people and the State of Israel and our emissaries are moving from place to place, performing activities and games on the map of the Land of Israel and the children becoming part of the Land of Israel."

On his plans for the JNF in the coming year, Atar said that the task is to create a demographic process in the Galilee and the Negev and bring half a million new residents to the Galilee and another million to the Negev. "We want to bring a thousand young Jews to Israel in order to learn high-tech," he said, recalling the goals of land redemption and the acquisition of land that is also continuing. In this context, Attar's vision is the establishment of hi-tech enterprises and projects in the periphery in order to strengthen it, and in his estimation the Jewish world can enlist and assist the Jewish people in this mission.