In Flanders Fields the poppies grow; between the crosses row on row.
Lines of poetry from my school days came back to me as I wandered among the graves in the Beersheva war cemetery, the resting place of 1,239 British and Australian soldiers who died in World War I (1914-1919).
Even if you are not a great fan of cemeteries, the Commonwealth Military Cemetery on the edge of Beersheva's Old City is worth a visit.
The rows of white grave markers lined up with soldierly precision, the lush green of the lawns, the carefully tended flower bushes, the silence. It is such a contrast to the world outside: the parched yellow that overtakes any untended patch of ground in this desert city, the hubbub of the streets where Jews, Arabs and Bedouin mingle, the high-rises and building cranes visible above the cemetery wall.
Few people know that Beersheva was the site of one the most important battles in military history. On October 31, 1917, the Australian 4th Light Horse Brigade, 800 soldiers with only horses and bayonets, broke through Turkish defenses and captured the wells of Beersheva. There were 17 wells, which the Turks were poised to blow up. Toward evening, as the sun was setting, a daring cavalry charge was launched that took the Turks by surprise. They had not adjusted their gunsights and ended up firing over the horsemen's heads.
At first glance all the gravestones look alike: rectangular slabs of marble inscribed with a cross. But one is different. On the last row on the right (coming in from the entrance gate), is a grave marked with a Magen David - a Jewish star.
This is the grave of Captain Seymour Van den Berg of the Middlesex Hussars, a British Jew who was killed five days before the capture of Beersheva. You can see it from afar because there are always pebbles on it - an old Jewish custom signifying that someone has visited.
Engraved on his tombstone are these words: Far from home, close in the hearts of those who loved him.
In the battle for survival, little thought is given to preserving the old. Mainly, the urge is to push ahead, modernize, build tall buildings, join the march of “progress.” People are in too much of a hurry to stand back for a moment and look at what they have. They don’t see that there is beauty in the old and it is worth safeguarding. Renovating the old parts of town begins when it is almost too late, when the wreckers’ ball has already destroyed much of what makes the place unique.
So it is in Beersheva, with its remnants of old Turkish and Arab architecture. In the last few decades, the city has grown tremendously due to an influx of new immigrants, mainly Ethiopian and Russian Jews. Alongside soaring monuments of marble and blue glass like Heichal Hamishpat (the new court building), new 30-floor residential towers with names like Manhattan Gardens (complete with miniature Statue of Liberty in front) and a nouveau-Ethiopian cultural center shaped like the traditional tukul, or thatched huts of Ethiopia, are crumbling remnants of beautiful Arab mansions.
Beersheva is still fighting for survival, but it has reached the point where it is able to step back for a moment and look around. The importance of restoring these old buildings and keeping the architectural heritage alive has begun to seep into the city’s consciousness. Some of the old buildings are being restored or waiting for some wealthy philanthropist to fall in love with them and finance their renovation.
When you visit Beersheva, make a point of touring the Old City (get a map from the tourist center) where most of this wonderful architecture is clustered – the old Governor’s Palace (now an art museum), the old Turkish train station, the villa of Aref al-Aref, the old mosque, the school for sheikhs’ children, and more.
Go into any kindergarten and ask the kids what they want to be when they grow up. At least one will say “I want to be an astronaut.” One boy who grew up in Beersheva actually became one.
That boy was Ilan Ramon, who flew into space on the Columbia Space Shuttle on January 16, 2003 and spent a total of 15 days, 22 hours and 20 minutes there. On February 1 – exactly four years ago – Ramon and his 6 crewmates died as the shuttle burst into flame upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon was a handsome and charming guy, praised by his crewmates not only for his professionalism but for being incredibly nice. He was born in Tel Aviv in June 1954, and moved to Beersheva as a child. Who knows if the desert terrain around Beersheva, often compared to a moonscape, didn’t influence his choice of career…
Clearly though, it influenced the scientific experiment that he was conducting up there. It was called Mediex, which stands for Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiments. Ramon was also the first NASA astronaut to request kosher food and consult rabbis about Sabbath observance in space. He carried with him a drawing called “Moon Landscape,” by a 14-year old boy named Petr Ginz who was murdered in Auschwitz.
Another item in his flight bag was a tiny Torah scroll given to a 13-year old boy in Bergen-Belsen by the rabbi of Amsterdam, so he could study for his bar-mitzvah. This boy, Yehoyahin Yosef, survived the Holocaust, immigrated to Israel and became a professor of planetary physics. He was the supervisor of the dust experiment.
Ilan Ramon had four children. During a preflight interview he described watching their births as the most exciting moments of his life. Beersheva’s Astronaut Park, with its spaceship slides, is thus a fitting commemoration. “The world looks marvelous from up here, so peaceful, so wonderful and so fragile,” said Ramon as he looked down from space. Watching children play in the playground named for him, the view from down here doesn’t seem so bad either.
Walking down the streets of Israeli cities, you will not encounter colossal bronzes of emperors on horseback or towering statues of the country’s founding fathers. In fact, you will not see much figurative art at all in public places.
Municipal by-laws, particularly in Jerusalem, have always taken religious sensitivities into consideration. “You shall not make for yourself a graven image,” it says in the Bible. This verse has been interpreted by some rabbis as a ban on statuary. Fundamentalist Islam also forbids the depiction of human or animal form.
The monument to General Edmund Allenby, an unadorned block of stone that sits in the middle of a small park in Beersheva’s old city, seems to conform with that idea.
As the British conqueror who marched into Palestine and put an end to 4 centuries of Turkish rule with a surprise attack on Beersheva, one might have anticipated some majestic statue of the man on a galloping steed. His looks would seem to call for it, too. Allenby was a tall, imposing Englishman known to his soldiers as “the Bull.” The Arabs were terrified of him, and referred to him as “Allah Nabi” – the man sent by God.
Actually, the park now called Gan Allenby was one of the first public parks in Palestine. The Turks planted it in 1906 and held public assemblies and ceremonies there. But park culture was not yet engrained. Bedouin brought their flocks to graze and the trees were cut down for firewood. In 1915, the park was restored as a formal Islamic garden: 4 paths leading to a central column celebrating the victories of the Ottoman Empire. After the British conquest, a bust of General Allenby was mounted on this column, but the Arabs tore it down.
Since then, the monument has remained bereft of any image. The simple inscription reads: “Allenby, 1917-1918.”
water tower of the turkish train station his part of the site of the train station, to be used since 1915, to soply water to the steam engine of the trains which arrive to the station.
on his roof was two big water tank and at the first floor was the pump .
after the station be closed the tower supply water, which come to him from arabs wells, to the jewish people of the city, until to the establishing of the pool at 1950.
the structure of the bedouib children school build at 1906. the turkish build it at the effort to closeness to the bedouin population.
but the building used as school short time inasmuch as at the war war 1 time wich bigan 8 year afterward the building turned to use as army hospital of the turkish army.
today the building under construction.
"ABRAHAM'S WELL" IN BEER SHEBA TRADITIONAL SITE OF THE WELL WHICH ABRAHAM BOUGHT FROM ABIMELECH 'that it may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
" Wherefore that place was called Beer-sheba; " GEN 21:31
the Ottoman government cooperat with the germany in goal to stop the british colonialism undressing. as part of this they build railroad track who connect between Damascus and Saudi Arabia.
at 29/10/1915 the railroad track inaugurated , and in 1916 begin to build the continuation of railroad track to Sinai peninsula .
length of the bridge 190m, width 1.05m, and he have 20 rainbows.
the bridge build 118 jewish wich work at hard condition, it's finish at end of 08/1916.
at 1948 in independence war part of south bridge blow by Israel Defense Forces, IDF .
in goal to stop the egypt army and to prevent from him to removing supply to his soldier wich park in beer sheva.
at the war war 1 the turkish cooperation with the German in exertion to conquest egypt.
at the frame of war exertion they built railroad track wich lead from Damascus to beer sheva.
in 30/10/1915 be inaugurated beer sheva train station with attendance of turkey army commander "jamal fasha" , and seniors government people.
the line was activ until the british conquest.
at the israeli independence war the station be used as headquarters to egypt army.
today it's close and not use, jast next to it you can see the the station manager house.
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was established with the aim to spearhead the development of the Negev, a desert area comprising more than sixty percent of the country. The University was inspired by the vision of Israel's first prime minister David Ben-Gurion, who believed that the future of the country lay in this region.
"Aaref el AarEf house" the private home of the district officer and arab historyon.
[Aref el aref 1892-1973] built in 1938
the facade of the house made from spasial stone [reddish] whiche to be brought from jerusalem area.
duration years the building used as store.
recently be bought by local contractor which rehabilitate it, in guidance of preservation committee site .
"saraia" was the first public building in the city whice be used as negev government house.
the building style typical to the turkish public structure at these time.
the police structure to be added to by the British be used by the beer sheva police.
at the Ethiopian jewish center craft be displayed spectacular exhibit of the ethiopian material colture of jews ethiopian.
at the exhibit we can see the sculpting special craft of ethiopian woman, which be made at traditional technique.
at the site be given lecture about the museum .
open: monday , tusday , thersday at 08:30 - 12:30
the entrance coordination in advance .
chiseled stone house, wall separate between the house and the street and it have internal garden.
the house be kept well at his origin condision.
since 1961 used as ceramic art workshop , in exhibit and sold her work of Yehudit Meir .
at the corner of the streets "trumpeldor" and "haavot" we can see the messianic community house which established at the city founded at 1903, and designed at turkish style and used as I know to be residence of turkish officer maybe the police commander.
at 1911 purchased by the american messianic organisation.