Last week Tel-Hai College held the 8th annual Galilee Panhandle Convention in Memory of Elad Erlich ZL.
The focus of this year's conference was the University of the Galilee as the realization of a shared vision and narrative for regional development and growth.
The convention was born out of a need to deepen and expand cooperation between the communities of the region, in light of the growing disparities between Israel’s geographical center and periphery. Over the past few years, the Galilee Panhandle Convention has been dedicated to developing the shared vision and narrative, and to promote the region and its economic and social development.
In the eight years of the convention’s existence, the regional narrative has been fleshed out, taking form before our eyes. Year after year, it broadens further, taking on new dimensions, and incorporating additional and more diverse populations.
In light of the spreading political and social clashes and polarization taking place within Israeli society today, we would like to redirect the convention's focus back to its original purpose - the need to examine our shared narrative, update it, and broaden the scope of populations included in it.
The first part of the Galilee Panhandle Convention examined the diverse communities of the Galilee, the historical and political circumstances that led to regional growth, the prosperity and innovation therein, along with any feelings of mistrust that arise between communities in competition for land and resources.
The second part dealt with one of the most important regional efforts currently at hand: the push to gain official recognition by the Israeli government of Tel-Hai College and the Research Institute as the University of the Galilee in Kiryat Shmona – a university with its headquarters in Kiryat Shmona that will serve the entire region of Kiryat Shmona-Golan Heights-Hazor-Safed. In this portion of the convention we explored the expected effects of the university on the region in all areas of life, the challenges of this development, and what we as residents and parties of interest must do in order to ensure that this process reaches completion.
As every year, a commemorative ceremony was held with the distribution of scholarships in memory of the late Elad Ehrlich, followed by the third and last portion of the convention - discussion tables on current issues concerning the region: the role of local government in reducing health disparities in the periphery, women in key positions in Israel and the Galilee, the power of the younger population of the region, and alternative education in the Galilee.
We are proud to be part of such a diverse and cooperative community, working together to improve the Galilee and create a better quality of life for all its residents.