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“Look me in the eyes,” says Ruvik Danilovich, mayor of Be’er-Sheva. He wants to illustrate how straightforward the people of his city are but it’s also a demonstration of this dynamic 42-year-old’s personal style, somewhere between political showman and evangelical preacher.

This passion focuses on one thing: turning a long-neglected desert outpost, seen as little more than a comfort stop en route to Eilat, into an oasis of commerce, culture and tourism. If he is successful, Danilovich will not only be fulfilling the dream of Israel’s founding…

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