The Negev - The southern semidesert portion of Israel. It is wedge-shaped, extending south from about Beer Sheva and narrowing to a point at Eilat on the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea. The Dead Sea lies in the northeastern corner of the region, and attracts many tourists to its salty, bouyant waters. The industries in the Negev include mining, particularly for copper and phosphates, chemical processing, farming, tourism (mostly from the Dead Sea and Eilat), and some manufacturing. Rainfall in the region is not sufficient for viable farming, so the Israelis have constructed a system of pipelines and canals to bring water from the Sea of Galilee in the north called the National Water Carrier. The Negev is also home to Israel's largest nuclear reactor at Dimona. The name Negev comes from the Hebrew word meaning south.
David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, loved the Negev and believed that taming and building up the desert would invigorate Israel and her people. He held this belief so strongly that he took a leave of absence from the government in 1953 to live on kibbutz Sde Boker, where he worked alongside other kibbutzniks. He is even quoted as stating his belief that the Negev is more important to the Jewish people than the Old City of Jerusalem, Judaism's holiest site. His grave is also located in the Negev, overlooking an awe-inspiring area of mountains and canyons.
The Negev offers the Jews their greatest opportunity to accomplish everything for themselves from the very beginnning. This is a vital part of our redemption in Israel. For in the end, as man gains mastery over Nature he gains it also over himself.
David Ben Gurion
Having been to the Negev, I must say that while Ben Gurion's dream for the desert is inspiring to some, it is rather impractical, and has certainly not been fully realized. The Negev is still largely barren desert, and perhaps this is the way it is meant to remain.
Thanks to: gn0sis and amnesiac for their help on this node.