Written by: Ye'elah Cooper
We travel along Route 38 everyday but we never stop to take a look at what is happening on both sides of the road.
Activities initiated by Partnership 2000 Beit Shemesh - Mateh Yehuda - Washington - South Africa of the Jewish Agency, here in our region, enables activists and volunteers in the community to get to know different businesses and organizations. This allowed us to enjoy a nocturnal visit to Har Tuv cement works which gave us a glimpse of what is taking place here, just on the other side of the fence, so close to home.
There are three cement works in Israel - in Haifa, Ramla and here in Har Tuv. The local Nesher plant was established in our region at the same time as the state. The initial name of the plant was Shimshon. In the 1960s it was bought by the Nesher company and was renovated in the early 1970s. The Nesher plant at Har Tuv covers an area of around 325 dunams, and incorporates large storage facilities, a grinder and a furnace. It has a production capacity of some 650,000 tons of clinker and around 1 million tons of cement a year.
Shimon Saadon, the human resources manager, arranged all the hosting at the plant, including the tasty refreshments which were provided throughout the visit.
The manager of the electricity department, Gilad Doctori, escorted us on the tour of the plant and enlightened us with professional explanations of the work carried out and the technological solutions used by Nesher, and which enable it to protect the environment.
Yaron Kaplan, the plant's general manager, completed the picture with a detailed presentation of the plant, production, sales processes and other cooperative arrangements.
The warm and welcoming hosting of the plant personnel gave us the feeling that, beyond the concrete (and cement) wall there are people who act out of a sense of social responsibility and a wish to contribute to the community.
In the second half of the evening, as part of Partnership 2000's activities relating to issues relevant to the state of Israel and the Jewish communities abroad, we heard a fascinating lecture by Eran Sasson from the Reut Institute.
One of the more relevant topics in which the institute engages is the challenge presented by the delegitimization of Israel: the deterioration in Israel's standing has, in many places, become a challenge to its very right to exist. Today, there is an extreme line which is leading world opinion from criticism of Israeli policy, with which we have been familiar for years, to opposition to Israel's very existence based on Arabic or Islamic nationalist ideology led by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, and through a network of delegitimization which denounces Israel's existence.
Eran Sasson's review, and the ensuing discussion, emphasized the need to allocate resources for hasbarah - dissemination of information, and the understanding that the arena in which Israel has to contend, beyond the security arena, is the area of hasbarah.
The fascinating evening closed with a review by Partnership director Gideon Vennor about the work being undertaken by Partnership 2000, and updates of the various activities. The partnership will continue with a format of sessions on behalf of its active members, and all interested parties are invited to join in!