In 2018, guided by Boaz Haetzni, an amazing and knowledgeable Zionist Israeli, I visited the Samaria region, a tour I expressed in a log: Celebration of the “Occupation”: A Tour of Shomron (Samaria) – part one & part two.
Recently, in 2019, Boaz asked me to join him once again and visit another side of the Shomron (Samaria) region, the indigenous fabric of the land of Israel, a side unknown to me and many others.
It was one other day that left in me, a Jewess whose ancestors walked this land, a deep sense of connection to this biblical land, and an indelible impression of what is and what is not and what could and should be.
The Shomron (Samaria)
The Shomron was an ancient city in the Land of Israel, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel in the 9th and 8th centuries BC.
Shomron (in a foreign language “Samaria”) is the name of a historical and biblical city that became the capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel. Not long after, the town of Shomron had become Israel’s capital, when the name Israel was used for the entire kingdom. Nowadays, the name Shomron is used for the central region of the ancient Land of Israel, bordered by the Galilee region to its north and the Judea region to its south, the Jordan River to its east, and on a clear vision day, from the Shomron hilltops, one can see the entire Israel center’s sea shoreline and the blue Mediterranean Sea.
The Shomron territory largely corresponds to the biblical tribe of Ephraim land allotment and the western half of the tribe of Menashe. After the death of King Solomon and the splitting-up of his empire into the southern Kingdom of Judea and the northern Kingdom of Israel, the Shomron territory constituted of the southern part of the Kingdom of Israel.
For 2000 years in exile from the Land of Israel, the land was on the mind of every Jew wherever he or she lived. When, in 1948, Israel was recognized as a sovereign country by the nations of the world, a war broke out in which the nascent Jewish state, with hardly any army, lost the battle for the Shomron and the region was illegally annexed by the Kingdom of Jordan – annexation that was recognized by Britain and Pakistan only – for 19 long years and was named by the Jordanians “West Bank.”
In the 1967 Six-Day War, everything changed, dramatically, when Israel won the war and regained control over the Shomron region that legally belonged to its sovereign territory anyhow.
But the Israelis have made several hardly wise decisions, one of which, the disastrous Oslo Accords, in which Israel agreed to relinquish its full control over the Shomron and haphazardly divided it into Area ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C.’
In between the ridiculously intertwined area ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C’ demarcation lines, I traveled with Boaz to see what is, what is not, and what could be.
What Is – Entrepreneurship and Pure and Wise Ideology
The Shomron region has revived the Zionist spirit. It was then, in the early years of the nascent state, that Jews have returned to their ancient land, cultivated the neglected land, and enriched its productivity and also came up with amazing innovations. Those Zionists who have settled in the Shomron took off from where the previous generation left off when they jumped started the country in the late 1800s. Thousands of Jews are now cultivating agriculture land that was waiting for them for millennia, and others have started remarkable, fascinating business.
It has not been easy to settle the Shomron since 1967. Political obstacles have been and still are a thorn in the pioneering’s intent causing much frustration, But, with Zionistic ideology, step by step, with the Jewish Forefather Abraham obstinance spirit, the pioneers have progressed and succeeded against many odds
I visited places named after places mentioned in the Bible, such as Eli, Beit-El, Dothan, etc.
In the Tal Menashe community, I met Ortal, a 36-year-old mother of seven, designer, who, among other traditional Jewish ornaments she designs outstanding embroidery for the Holy Ark in synagogue curtains and coats for Torah scrolls, kept in the Holy Ark.
In her business, which she named Pa’amon Ve’rimon (meaning, a bell, and a pomegranate) with a panoramic view from its balcony, the beautiful smiley Ortal tells me: “I create my embroidery designs from my heart, trying to bring light and optimism and erase sadness.”
Those Who Love Israel
We went on to meet a surprise in the Shahak industrial zone, in the Shomron Northwest. Owned, established, and operated by the Beth-El community at Kibbutz Beth-El that has factories in various industrial zones, mainly in national priority areas, which provide work to residents of the regions.
Since the original company’s inception in 1974, Beth-El Zikhron Yaacov Industries Ltd. has spawned numerous daughter companies with the heart of the Group revolves around NBC protection and filtration; however, many of these innovations have grown to be a wide range of manufacturing facilities for Environmental Protection Systems, Mobile Medical Isolation, HEPA / ULPA Filters, Automated Machinery Lines, Natural Products, Fine Cuisine, & Technical Training.
There I met Yisrael Younginger, a member of Beth-El Kibbutz, who grew up in a street in Germany with Holocaust survivor neighbors and whose grandfather fought and was killed in World War Two. His father was religious, and his aunt, Emma Berger, a nurse in WWII, founded the kibbutz; the Beth El members believe in the Bible and the New Testament, without any commentary and the prophecy of the Nation of Israel and see in Israel a spiritual awakening.
“The greatness of the Jewish people is that after the Holocaust, the state of Israel was prepared to allow Germans to come live in the country,” Yisrael, still surprised, recalls.
“It is not at all obvious that the Jews will accept us, and for that we are grateful,” Yisrael tells me while touring the northern Samaria factories. Their slogan is, “Whoever blesses the State of Israel and its inhabitants, is blessed” and the walls I passed boast pictures of Jewish heritage sites, alongside biblical prophecy verses that the kibbutz member sees come true before the world’s eyes.
“It wouldn’t have happened anywhere else. We are aware of the sensitivity of the Jewish state, and thus, we invite people to come and see our factories. My parents came here in ’64, less than twenty years after the Holocaust. They didn’t come here to be forgiven. There are no words to describe what was, and you cannot ask for forgiveness. We are here because the vision of the biblical prophets comes true, and we are excited to be part of the redemption process. I, as a non-Jewish German, feel it is my right to help with that,” Yisrael continues
At first, settling in Israel created a controversy. They were called “The German occupier,” “the German cult,” “the invaders”- among other nicknames affixed to them when they first arrived in Zikhron Yaacov, a town south of the city of Haifa, where they chose to settle.
After a long legal procedure, in 2004, the community members received permanent resident status in Israel, and the community’s conscription age youth serve in the IDF in technical positions.
They export products from Samaria to the world, bringing many supporters to visit them, an important element of their contribution to Israel’s public relations work. For them, the Shomron is part of the Land of Israel. They see themselves as people who come to help Israel, as combat supporters, without any political involvement.
Their main product, the anti-UV filters manufactured in Israel by Germans, is almost an oxymoron if one looks back at what transpired during the Holocaust. What they do is way beyond a regular factory when they have dedicated their lives to strengthening the State of Israel. Beyond their economic contribution, the Beth El community, of some 700 members, also volunteer everywhere.
Yisrael sees Germany that funds NGOs that constantly work to undermine Israel’s sovereignty and assist the Arabs with hostile occupation of land that does not belong to them, a foe. “Israel must declare Germany the enemy of the state,” Yisrael daringly declares.
The industrious Protestant Zionist Christians German-Israeli community of Kibbutz Beth El, many carry Hebrew names and who live mainly live in Zikhron Yaacov and the neighboring Binyamina, have developed an advance industry, starting in the 60s, today is employing some 800 people in an immaculate industrial zone in the heart of the Shomron region.
In 1977, members of the community began to manufacture air filtration systems, and in 1999, the Beth El Zikhron Yaacov Industries Company was established, owned by Kibbutz Beth El. Initially, demand was limited to their produce, but after the Gulf War, demands for products increased, and they export the product to about 70 countries. The community has also factories in Zikhron Yaacov, the NIS industrial zone, Bnei Yehuda industrial zone, Magen Shaul moshav and the Sapir industrial area in the Arava specializing in chip processing, plastic injection, which accounts for supplying 40% of the global market, and production of Kosher food lines such as breads and pastries, honey, jams, chocolate products and a variety of blankets and down pillows.
The symbol of the Bethel Industries is the Noah’s Ark, and above it, the arch, similar to Noah’s story that built the Ark to preserve humanity and the world’s species, their air filtration systems are also designed to protect the population.
Back to Jewish Zionism
We left Bethel to visit Mevo Dothan, a 42-year-old community, some 30 kilometers from Israel west Mediterranean shoreline, one other Israeli community in Northern Shomron hills. Located south of the Biblical Dothan Valley to its east is Tel Dotan, with archeological excavations from the Canaanite and Biblical period. Dothan is mentioned in the biblical story of Joseph and his brothers: “And the man said, ‘They have traveled away from here, for I overheard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.'” So Joseph went after his brothers, and he found them in Dothan. ~Bereishit – Genesis – Chapter 37:17
Visiting with Yael Ben Yaacov, a resident originally from Iraq, made me think about Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism, and why Israel.
“The Bible is the Book, and from the history, it tells how it all began, not Tel Aviv or Ramat Gan,” Yael begins telling me about her move, based on ideology, from the comfort of her established home to a life of a pioneer. “The Dothan Valley, Hebron, and Beer Sheva tell the Jewish history in our land. The Bible is the testament to our right to the land and our legitimacy here; from here we must begin and establish a grip on the cradle of Jewish history and culture and practice our rights to the land of Israel, a statement that must be practiced, not only said,” Yael proceeds.
One may see in what Yael did a momentary madness, but her smile and the way she tells me the story of relocating to the Shomron wipes this thought right out.
“Our starting point was nine families living in tents that the army provided. We had one public shower and a dining room in a small shack. We were a group or observant and secular Jews who held the ideology of the land of Israel and the nation of Israel, as one. People came and left. The living conditions were harsh, but eventually, we, the residents, are mostly secular, made it.
“During the first ten years, the relations with the local Arabs were fine. We thought we could live together in coexistence and harmony; our legitimacy was accepted. All that was broken with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and the Oslo Accords.”
“The Oslo Accords caused us tremendous harm. We had to put our heads down, and from being the salt of the land, proud pioneers, we became despised.”
It worth mentioning here that the Hijazi Railway, established and operated in the early 20th century, between Damascus, Syria, and the Al-Madinah city of Hijaz, part of Saudi Arabia since 1932, based on an ancient traffic route that ran along the Red Sea’s eastern coastal ridges inner slopes to the southwest of Arabia, today’s Yemen, passed through the Dothan Valley.
And, during WWII, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and a Nazi collaborator, intended to establish a concentration camp in the Dothan valley that will serve to exterminate the Jews who lived in Israel.
“But the past is the past. We are progressing, and at this time, we are building a new neighborhood. I believe that by settling here, we did something significant for the existence of the State of Israel and its future,” Yael makes the statement while serving us fresh tea.
The lyrics of the song Jerusalem of Gold say, “The mountains’ air is like pure wine … ” and that is what you sense when you inhale the air of Mevo Dothan, the pastoral world of Judea and Shomron.
What Is Not
You can twist Winston Churchill’s quote and say, the Arabs are always either at your throat or at your feet.
You drive through the Arabs villages in the Shomron, and you see heaps of filth – it is not their land so they could care less. Their neighborhoods lack the greenery the Israelis so much love, plant, and cherish.
The issue is that any legitimacy one gives the Palestinian Authority (PA) is delegitimizing and is against Israel.
We should thank President Obama for bringing about the Arab Spring, that turned out to be the Arab dark winter. This phenomenon took strong Arab communities into a state of confusion and dismantled many of them. It caused huge Arab-Muslim migration that brought about Antisemitism in lands to where they migrated. The result, Jews from many counties have been making Alyia-arrive to Israel and are settling in their ancestral homeland, Israel, many in the Shomron Region.
Among many others, two crucial problems which Israel is facing are the Arabs’ encroachment into Area ‘C’, which the Civil Administration, in charge of managing the Shomron and works to perfection in favor of the Arabs and against the Jews, totally ignores, meaning, allowing the Arabs to steal lands that legally belong to the state of Israel. The second one is the illegal immigrants who infiltrated the country through the porous southern border. These illegals are gaining status, creating unwarranted neighborhoods, and a parallel society to the Jewish people in the nation-state of the Jewish people, Israel. This harmful case of illegal immigration has become a problem for the government of Israel that appears to be unwilling to solve it.
To strengthen their enmity toward the Jewish state, the Arabs etched in their mind the belief that the Jews are not a nation; rather, they are communities and the government if Israel is a community committee.
What Should Be
After crisscrossing the Shomron, on two separate occasions, I hereby state that the Shomron pioneering enterprise is here to stay and will continue growing bottom-up.
The shortage of affordable housing in the center of the country is driving young couples to purchase a more affordable home in the Shomron, rough it for a while, and thus grow the population there.
If then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was able to execute the unilateral expulsion of Jews from the Gush Katif area in the Gaza Strip, this crime of Jews against Jews will not repeat again.
Now, with President Trump declaring the Israeli “settlements,” a term that Israel’s detractors made derogatory, in Judea and Shomron are deemed legal, the government of Israel must first eliminate the Civil Administration; second, they must build and build the Shomron, including encouraging industries to either relocate to the region or, start an industry there.
Jews must not compromise one iota on what the bible clearly says that the land of Israel was promised and dedicated to the nation of Israel by God. One does not negotiate on a Godly gift.