City of Ariel

Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

West Bank Mayor Promotes Personal Vision of Coexistence

In Ariel City on February 24, 2010 at 5:33 am

by Elaine Durbach
NJJN Bureau Chief/Central
February 24, 2010

Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman, second from right, talks with, from left, Arnold Lidsky, Avie Zimmerman, and Gordon Haas. Photos by Elaine Durba

Ariel, the city whose mayor, Ron Nachman, visited Central New Jersey this week, is set on a hilltop 19 miles east of Petah Tikva, 37 miles northwest of Jerusalem.

It is about 11 miles from the Green Line and lies alongside the Palestinian town of Salfit, with Nablus northeast of it. The security barrier erected by Israel was to have stretched as far as Ariel, but its construction was halted by internal and international challenges. Instead, the city has its own security fence on three sides.

The town, the largest community included in the Samaria Regional Council, is regarded as the capital of the Samaria region.

Ron Nachman, the mayor of Ariel, wants people to come visit the West Bank town to see the facts for themselves. He has had his fill, he said of journalists and politicians and “peaceniks” who insist on their own vision — one that would prefer to ignore communities like his.

To begin with, he told a gathering at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains on Feb. 22, he would like them to stop using the words “settlers” and “occupiers.”

“Music is made by the words you use,” he said. “How can you be an occupier if this is your home?”

“Occupiers,” he said, come from a foreign land; Ariel is in Samaria, part of the Jewish homeland as defined in the Bible, and its citizens are residents, like everyone else.

Nevertheless, Ariel is beyond the Green Line separating Israel from what the United States calls the West Bank, territory it considers “occupied” by Israel. In most conceptions of an eventual two-state solution — which Nachman opposes — Ariel is usually considered among the Jewish communities to be included on the Israeli side.

In 1978, Nachman, then employed in the Israel Military Industries, led a group of 40 families in establishing the community, to boost security in the area. It was a pioneering role familiar to the non-religious, fourth-generation sabra; his grandfather and father had also been civic leaders.

His four daughters grew up in the modern, hilltop community, as his six grandchildren are doing now. Nachman became Ariel’s first elected mayor in 1985 and has served in that role ever since, guiding its growth and development. He also served in the Knesset from 1992 to 1996, the only Likud member from Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.

The town now has a population of over 18,000, including a large contingent of Russian immigrants and a smaller cohort of Ethiopians. Its Ariel University Center of Samaria, with around 9,500 students, is striving to get official classification as a university from Israel’s Council for Higher Education. Ariel is designated a “Smart City,” because of the innovative telecommunication syste shared by its inhabitants, linking them via the Intranet and Internet with municipal services and educational, cultural, and business information.

Talking over lunch with lay and professional people from the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, Nachman said he is hoping to attract foundations and individuals who will make a commitment to his city. He underlined the fact that — despite its controversial identity as a Jewish center — the town has a Muslim-Arab city manager, and some 3,000 Arab families derive income from its industrial park.

“I believe in equality, liberty, and freedom of thought,” Nachman declared. He said that what he wants is not just “coexistence” but real cooperation, with shared services and improved infrastructure. Some of the nearby Arab communities have actually sought to be incorporated into Ariel, he said, to benefit from the services it offers.
But desperately needed financial aid — American and European — gets blocked, he said, b boycotts and policies that prohibit support for Israeli-led projects in the West Bank.

Nachman was in the United States for a week, traveling with Avi Zimmerman, the Ariel-based executive director of American Friends of Ariel. He was speaking to congregations and private groups. “I go where we have personal connections,” he said, acknowledging the antagonism he encounters on account of Ariel’s geographic location. He also had met with reporters from Newsweek, The New York Times, and The Economist.

Asked about his vision for the future, Nachman dismissed the familiar two-state suggestion, and instead outlined a more “holistic” solution. He proposed an investment of $20 billion over 10 years for development of Gaza — in coordination with Egypt — and another $20 billion for the West Bank Palestinian Arab areas, to be linked with Jordan. To work, there would also need to be cooperation from Lebanon and Syria, and the Muslim states beyond them — like Saudi Arabia, Iraq an Iran, and Pakistan.

“If one of those circles is missing, you can’t finish the holistic plan,” he said.

He isn’t optimistic about that vision being fulfilled, especially with Israel facing the threat of aggression from Iran — probably alone, without U.S. military support. “There is no solution,” he said. “That’s why we have to be strong.”

Gene Reiss of Scotch Plains, a member of the federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council, said he visited Ariel on a business trip to Israel many years ago. “It really is set on these hilltops, and it’s beautiful,” he said.


Pictorial History of Ariel

In Ariel City on February 18, 2010 at 1:06 pm

A video history of the city of Ariel, Israel through the words and eyes of Ariel founder, Mayor Ron Nachman.

The Israel Project (TIP) Thanks Mayor Nachman for Ariel Visit

In Ariel City, Ariel Happenings, International on February 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

Dear Mayor Nachman,

On behalf of the entire communications staff of The Israel Project, I want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with us last week and to give us a personal tour of Ariel. Our team really learned a lot from you and I am deeply grateful for the fact that you shared your time and talents with us.

Your briefing imparted us with new knowledge that helped us to understand the complexities and challenges facing Israel today and tomorrow.  Moreover, your insights provided us with important information and awareness which will help us as we work with the media, opinion-makers and leaders as well as pro-Israel advocates throughout the world.

We are planning to do a fact sheet on Ariel that we will send to 76,000 reporters around the world. I will be in touch with you about this very soon.

As The Israel Project continues to grow and work for the security of Israel and Jewish communities worldwide, we look forward to seeing you again in Jerusalem or Washington and staying in touch during the critical weeks and months ahead.

Mayor Ron Nachman takes TIP Staff on Tour of Ariel

In Ariel City on February 4, 2010 at 3:31 pm

The Israel Project

Israel, February 4

TIP-Israel Office and TIP-DC Office met with Ariel’s Mayor Ron Nachman regarding “Ariel and the Future of the Settlements” and toured the city of Ariel.

Highlights of the tour included Ariel’s Recreation Center and Pool, theater, shopping and houses.  In contrast, the tour included the temporary housing for people relocated from Gaza during the 2003 unilateral withdrawl; permanent housing has not been built due to the building freeze on houses in the West Bank.