Here’s a great trivia question (which y’all know the answer to because you’ve read the headline): what do Ramat Ramat Negev Regional Council, Israel, and the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu, have in common? They were both picked on Thursday to be the ninth and tenth, respectively, sister cities of Boulder, Colorado, Daily Camera reported.
And before you poopoo the importance of Ramat Hanegev becoming sisters with Boulder, Co, you should know that, back in 2016, the Boulder City Council took in Nablus (that’s Shechem to you and me), in the Palestinian Authority, as their eighth sister city, reversing a 2013 rejection of the same city.
So now it’s even. But don’t be fooled by the fact that the council’s vote was a unanimous 6-0, with two councilwomen absent. The path to sisterhood had to get through one Nora Gayer, a Jewish resident who said her grandmother survived the Holocaust, and who fought tooth and nail against letting the Israeli municipality in. “To approve this sister city would be to make yourselves irrevocably complicit,” she said, referring to—you already know—territories, occupation, Palestinian State, the works.
Gayer was up against an old opponent, Tara Winer, who proposed Ramat Hanegev, saying, “We have been looking forward to an Israeli sister city for some time.”
According to Daily Camera, Winer was a vocal opponent of Nablus being made a sister city in 2016.
Winer noted the many similarities between Boulder and Ramat Hanegev: love of the outdoors, environmental stewardship, as well as a thriving university and tech startup scene.
Naturally, we became curious, never having heard of the Ramat Hanegev university. It turns out there’s an Experimental Center for Desert Agriculture, which is run by experts from several Israeli universities in Kibutz Revivim, which is part of the regional council. Incidentally, Kibutz Revivim was the home away from home of late Prime Minister Golda Meir, whose name is on the kibbutz culture center and a nearby park. But we digress.
There’s Midreshet Ben-Gurion, also known as Midreshet Sde Boker, an educational center and boarding school located next to kibbutz Sde Boker. It’s not a university, but we hear good things.
Back in Boulder, one supporter of sisterhood with Ramat HaNegev, Rabbi Fred Greene, told the council that “Israel, with all its challenges, is still a thriving democracy. There are people within Ramat HaNegev who are advocating for minorities and protesting government action.”
With friends like this…
Another supporter, Jerry Pinsker, said that “the sister city project is about people, not politics.”
Indeed, according to Daily Camera, the Council members agreed with Pinsker, explaining that the council’s job was “to judge if the sister city application was complete,” and not to examine the politics of the country where it happens to be.
The Kathmandu debate took a lot less time and featured no fighting at all. Narayan Shrestha, owner of the Old Tibet store at 948 Pearl Street, offering “Indian, Nepalese & Tibetan shop with jewelry & apparel, home decor, meditation & cultural items” told the council why the capital of her country of origin should be picked: “Because we are already establishing people-to-people relationship, why not between Boulder and Kathmandu?”