The Joe Alon Center
Welcome to the Joe Alon Center for Regional Studies, named after the late Colonel Joe Alon and opened in 1974.The center lies in the heart of Lahav Forest, in the southern highlands of the Judean Plain, and commands an impressive view of much of the northern Negev.
Lying in the middle of Lahav Forest, Joe Alon is an educational visitors` center specializing in the geography of Israel, particularly that of the Negev.
The center includes a Bedouin hospitality tent where tea and coffee are brewed, a Museum of Bedouin Culture, an exhibit about the Bar Kochba revolt, a presentation on Jewish settlement in the Negev, a stunning panoramic view of the entire region and much more besides.
The Museum of Bedouin Culture
The Museum of Bedouin Culture, the only museum in Israel devoted entirely to the Bedouin culture, was established in 1985 when it became apparent that the formerly nomadic Bedouin tribes of Sinai and the Negev were in a process of transition to a more settled way of life, moving to established towns and villages. The Bedouin have recently acquired a modern way of life, reflected in cultural, social and economic changes as well as changes in housing, dress etc. As a result, many of the former Bedouin ways of life are disappearing, and with them the objects and traditions of Bedouin society, prompting a need to collect, preserve and record them before they completely disappear. The museum`s collection came from two main sources: Kibbutz Lahav, and a Bedouin museum established in the Sinai Mountains by Orna and Avner Goren.
The museum reflects the life of the Bedouin in the Negev and Sinai over the last century. The colorful display includes historical exhibits alongside modern objects, demonstrating both daily life and spiritual aspects of Bedouin tradition.
The entrance leads to the upper floor, where exhibits display the means of survival characterizing the Bedouin in the deserts of the Negev, northern and southern Sinai, exposing the complex layers of Bedouin culture. The visitor walks around the display in a circle, resembling the wanderings of the Bedouin and the cycle of the seasons. Displayed here are different types of dwelling, articles of clothing, examples of crafts and traditional economies, pieces of jewelry, toys etc. A display of authentic woven carpets hangs down from the ceiling into the central hall. The visitor continues down a flight of stairs to the lower floor, devoted to more spiritual aspects of traditional Bedouin life: history, society, the cycle of life, traditional medicine, and the customs of the Bedouin market. All are displayed using original photographs alongside rare and fascinating objects.
Groups are accompanied by Bedouin guides, who share their unique personal experiences of Bedouin culture with visitors.
Chief curator: Daphna Mor Katzir
Permanent display design: Dodik Gal
Architect: Tzvi Lisher
Joe (Joseph) Alon was one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force – one of the men behind the legend.
Joe was born Joseph Placzek at Kibbutz Bet Alpha, in 1929. Due to ill health, his pioneering parents returned to Europe. At the outbreak of World War II, at the age of 10, he was sent to England with his brother, where he was adopted by a childless Christian couple.
At the end of the war, the young Joe returned to Czechoslovakia, where he learned that his parents had perished in the Holocaust. He studied jewelry until he and a friend enlisted in the Hagana as overseas recruits, participating in the first Israeli pilots` course, held in Czechoslovakia.
In 1949, Joe Alon emigrated to Israel and served as a pilot in the 100th Squadron – C Wing – in Beer Sheva, before commencing advanced pilot training.
He advanced in rank and position in the IAF: in 1953, he piloted a Meteor; in 1955, an Ouragan; in 1956 he trained as a Mystere jet pilot, and in 1960 was assigned as commander of the Mystere Squadron. Joe Alon`s last operational position was as commander of the IAF`s first Mirage Squadron.
In 1965, after a year`s staff and command course in England, Joe Alon joined IAF central command and was appointed commander of the Flight Safety Division. The height of Joe Alon`s military service was the establishment and command of the IAF base at Hatzerim in the Negev. It was the first air-force base built entirely by Israel, a fact of which he was very proud.
Joe Alon`s love of hiking and nature was well-known. On Saturdays, he would go hiking with his family, looking for flowers and interesting sites that he had spotted from his plane.
In 1970, Joe was appointed air attaché at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C. One of his favorite duties was to give lectures to Jewish youth, who were always very impressed to meet him.
On July 1st 1973, a month before finishing his term of office in the US, Joe Alon was murdered at the entrance to his house in Maryland. The mystery of his death has never been solved …
Joe Alon was survived by a wife and three daughters. His widow, Dvora, passed away in 1995.
The road from Beer Sheva and Hatzerim is named Joe Alon Rd. in his memory. Joe Alon is also commemorated at the Joe Alon Center by its complex of museum displays and study facilities dedicated to social, cultural, environmental and artistic activities alongside its visitors` center, offering a wide variety of unique activities. Love of the countryside, of man and of nature, which were so much a part of Joe Alon`s life, are expressed here, at the center built to commemorate him.
May his memory be blessed
How to reach us
The Joe Alon Center lies right in the heart of Lahav Forest, near Kibbutz Lahav, 20 km north of the city of Beer Sheva.
By car: from the north, take route 6 or route 40 to the south as far as Beit Kama junction, continuing on route 40 to Dvira junction. Turn left at Dvira junction towards the Joe Alon Center (signposted in brown) and Kibbutz Lahav.