Day 2: Beersheba and Tel Aviv
Today we started early on our journey to Ben Gurion University in the Negev desert.
We had an opportunity to visit with cutting-edge scientists using technology to solve real-world problems. The work at BGU is ground breaking in the use of technology to address aging and healthcare problems as well as the emphasis on collaboration between the government and private sector.
The first Prime Minister of Israel famously said Israel will bloom from the Negev, and this is exactly what is happening. Not only has Israeli ingenuity and hard work made the desert landscape bloom in fewer than 40 years, it has also become the site of government and private sector cooperation.
From there we traveled just a short distance to the city of Sderot, which borders Gaza. We had an opportunity to visit with leaders in that community and learn about the challenges associated with having the Gaza Strip as their neighbor.
Our discussions concluded with the Israeli Trauma Coalition (ITC), which works with trauma victims in the region and exports this experience to the world. We were joined for dinner by Terry Davidson, a veteran officer of the US State Department, currently assigned to the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Mr. Davidson shared his experiences as well as the United State’s role and work in the region.
You can view pictures from today here.
Reflections From Senator-Elect Mike Bernskoetter
The day started with an amazing Israeli breakfast that we’ve heard so much about.
On the way to Beer-Sheva, we saw the resourcefulness of the country turning a desert into a utopia with irrigation.
At Ben-Gurion University we saw the ingenuity of the students at the center of Digital Innovations and the Laboratory for Autonomous Robotics.
After lunch we saw the resiliency of the people of Sderot living a mile from the Gaza Strip. Also, their compassion for the trauma that could come at any time.
We ended the day on a good note with Terry Davidson, Counselor for Public Affairs of the Embassy of the United States. It was good to hear that the Israeli people have a positive opinion of Americans.
And just in case you weren’t keeping track, we didn’t have any beef today.
Reflections From Representative Tracy McCreery
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
Along the road to Beersheba was a visual reminder of the critical role that water plays in all of life. At times, east of the road was dry- a sandy desert land- while west of the road (with man-made drip irrigation systems beneath the ground) were lush, green productive lands.
Populations all around the world are aging. Research being done at Ben Gurion University emphasized that time is of the essence to use technology to provide care and compassion to seniors. Having a bit of empathy- and asking what is needed before development- is not only the right thing to do, but it can save money as well.
Don’t take peace for granted. It’s hard to fathom living in Sderot under constant threat of rockets (or balloons or kites) and always needing to be aware of where to take shelter in 15 seconds or less.
Therapists who work with domestic violence victims have shared it is easier to heal a broken bone than a broken spirit. Humans can be wounded in countless ways; not all wounds are visible. The partnership between the government and non-profits to address the multitude of needs for those experiencing trauma is a sound investment and will pay off down the road.