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Bedouin, Jewish Children Join Together on “Clean up the World Day” in Israel

October 26, 2007 -- New York, NY -- On Monday, October 22, hundreds of Bedouin and Jewish children in the Western Negev participated in an environmental clean up effort as part of Israel’s Clean up the World Day

Observed in 120 countries throughout the world on September 18, the event was postponed for a month in Israel out of respect for the period of Ramadan.

Jewish National Fund (JNF), the organization responsible for Clean up the World Day in Israel for the seventh year in a row, responded to requests made by Muslim participants to postpone the day's events until after the month of Ramadan and Eid al-Adha. The postponement was approved by the Clean up the World Day headquarters in Australia.

In the town of Rahat, the largest Bedouin city in the Negev Desert, Jewish and Bedouin children from nearby villages and local kibbutzim joined Israeli soldiers for the clean up effort.  Armed with biodegradable garbage bags, the group spent the day beautifying the city. 

The day’s activities culminated with a central ceremony in a large Bedouin tent.  Guests of honor included Mayor of Rahat Talal al-Qarnawi, Australian Ambassador to Israel James Larson, JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler, and JNF Vice Chairman Yigal Yasinov.

After being presented with a Clean up the World Day certificate, Mayor al-Qarnawi expressed his gratitude to JNF for being a partner in the development of Rahat.  “This is a day on which, thanks to JNF’s initiative, all the various sectors of Israel’s populace are working together on a project that concerns us all- keeping our world clean,” he said.  “JNF not only plants trees, it spreads love between people with a common goal.  Today, when Jewish and Bedouin children cleaned the streets of Rahat with their green garbage bags, I saw how much this meant for the residents of my city.  JNF is building our common future, and together we will create a better and cleaner Negev for all to share.”

Throughout Israel, 106 local authorities and 17,000 volunteers participated in Clean up the World Day.   Thanks to a contribution made by JNF of America, activities were expanded this year to include areas in the Negev.
Across the highway from Rahat, eighth graders from the Mevo’ot Hanegev School at Kibbutz Shoval spent the day cleaning the garbage-strewn streambed of Nahal Kamah, finding creative uses for the trash they collected.  Instead of simply discarding abandoned plastic bags, they wove them into bracelets and water bottle carriers.     

The class also visited an abandoned building that until 1948 served as the headquarters of the British mounted police.  After Israel’s founding, the building became a clinic for local Bedouin, and when Rahat was built, it was abandoned.  Since then it has become an eyesore and a garbage dump. 

As the children cleaned the building and whitewashed the walls, a Bedouin girl excitedly told her teacher that her father used to come there as a child when he was sick. 

The Mevo’ot Hanegev School has adopted the Nahal Kamah streambed.  Said principal Ido Argaman: “We are working with JNF on fixing the area up and making walking and cycling trails, in addition to picnic tables and benches.  There are ancient water cisterns and agricultural terraces on the nearby hills.  This could become a very special place, and a joint project like this would be really educational for the kids.”

The History of Clean up the World Day

Each year, some 40 million people from 120 nations head out to clean their nations’ cities, beaches, forests and open spaces on Clean up the World Day. The event was born in 1989 by an Australian man who had a simple desire to make a difference in his own backyard -- Sydney Harbour.
An avid sailor, Ian Kiernan had always dreamed of sailing around the world. In 1987 he competed in the BOC Challenge solo around-the-world yacht race. As he sailed through the oceans of the world he was shocked and disgusted by the pollution that he encountered.
The polluted state of the world's oceans motivated him to act. Once back in Sydney, Kiernan enlisted the help of his friends and focused on his goal.
Clean up Sydney Harbour Day in 1989 received an enormous public response with more than 40,000 Sydneysiders donating their time and energy to clean up the harbor. The next year Clean up Australia Day was born with 300,000 volunteers turning out for the inaugural event. Then, after gaining the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Clean up the World was launched in 1993. In its inaugural year, Clean up the World involved approximately 30 million people in 80 countries.
Since then, it has evolved into an organization that brings together businesses, community groups, schools and individuals in a range of activities and programs that positively improve local environments. It is a community-based environmental campaign that inspires and empowers individuals and communities from every corner of the globe to clean up, fix up and preserve their environment.

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Jewish National Fund (JNF) began in 1901 collecting coins in blue boxes to purchase land and return the Jewish people to their homeland. In over 106 years, JNF has evolved into a global environmental leader and become the central address for the land and people of Israel.  JNF has planted 240 million trees. Built over 1,000 parks and recreational areas. Constructed security roads. Educated students around the world about Israel. Created new communities so that Jews from around the world would have a place to call home.  Discovered drip irrigation and new means of growing plants under arid conditions, bringing green to the desert. Built over 190 reservoirs and water recycling centers, increasing Israel’s water supply by 10%.

As a United Nations NGO, JNF sponsors international conferences on desertification, shares afforestation techniques and funds research on arid land management. Is restoring northern Israel, making it home again to its residents. Is supporting Israel’s newest generation of pioneers by developing the Negev Desert, Israel’s last frontier.  For more information on JNF, call 888-JNF-0099 or visit  JNF is a registered 501(c)(3) organization.


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