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Monday, September 20, 2010

Karl Vick tours Samaria

Time Magazine's Jerusalem bureau chief Karl Vick, who wrote the infamous cover story that claimed that Israelis are only concerned about money and don't care about peace or the 'poor Palestinians,' went on a tour of Samaria this week, accompanied by Yesha Council chief Naftali Bennett.
The day started out with a visit to the residential community of Beruchin, the town of 100 families inexplicably called an "unauthorized outpost" in the 2005 report prepared for the Prime MInister Ariel Sharon by Dalia Sasson, Vick saw for himself the tens of permanent homes and the town's infrastructure built with government aid, the government authorized connection to Israel's electricity grid and water system that characterize the town that was later termed "unauthorized".

Beruchin overlooks central Israel, and Vick was able to enjoy the view of Tel Aviv from the town, but also to understand the danger of ever leaving this hilltop area overlooking central Israel open to takeover by rocket launching terrorists.

Continuing to the nearby Barkan Industrial Park, Vick met and spoke freely with some of the 5000 Arab workers employed at the park and heard about their lives, what they think of the present situation and the prospects for peace, He saw Jews and Arabs working side by side in production lines.

The tour went on to Ariel, a thriving city of 17000 Israelis, many of them immigrants from Russia. but recently in the news when a group of leftist Israeli actors announced a much publicized boycott of its new Cultural Center. The town is home to many expellees from the Gush Katif "disengagement" expulsion, some still in temporary caravans due to the building freeze.

At Ariel University Center, University President, former MK Yigal Cohen Orgad, showed the visitor the new free electron laser unit that is being used in various types of scientific research. Bennett told Israelnationalnews that Vick admitted never imagining this level of research equipment in the Shomron. "It is clear", Bennett continued, " that Vick also never imagined that the Shomron is home to so many secular, kippa less Israelis. The picture painted in the media is that of an area of 'fanatically religious Jewish extremists'.

At Eli, site of the pre Army yeshiva (Mechina) from which Roi Klein and other IDF heroes stemmed, he met with Danny Dayan, outgoing head of the Judea and Samaria Council, spoke to residents and went on to meet a fresh group of recent immigrants from France whose new baby was just born in Israel, The Shilo vineyards and the view of the Jordan Valley from a lookout point, followed by the archaeological excavations of the Israelites Biblical Tabernacle at Shiloh completed the day .

"Vick could not help but notice the vast open and untouched spaces between all the communities in the Shomron, Jewish and Arab, and how the Israeli presence does not encroach on Arab villages or agriculture", said Bennett. "It is obvious that there is enough room for all of us and for Jewish expansion."

"I wasn’t aware of all this”, Vick commented, explaining that he did not write the headline for his article and that editing had made the article seem more critical than he meant it to be. He is considering a sequel to it.
While I understand the need to focus what are undoubtedly limited resources on opinion makers, I hope that these tours will eventually be expanded to include many Israelis from many walks of life. If you go to Tel Aviv and its environs, you will be astounded to find out how many Israeli Jews have never been to Judea and Samaria - or for that matter to Jerusalem - except in the context of their army service. A tour like this would undoubtedly sway a lot of votes in the next election.

Just to give you a taste of the sort of things that people see on these tours, here's a picture taken from Homesh, a Jewish town whose residents were expelled in 2005 (to mollify the Bush administration, the Sharon government expelled the residents of four Jewish towns in northern Samaria at the same time that they expelled all the Jewish residents of Gaza). Israelis will recognize the Hadera power plant - a critical site for Israel's infrastructure - and the Mediterranean Sea off in the distance. That's how close it is.


At 3:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The revanants guard so many strategic locations that an IDF withdrawal from those areas would put Israel at grave risk.

Many people in Israel and abroad don't realize how really tiny the country is and there is absolutely no margin for error and that the country literally has no strategic depth at all.

That's how important these tours are to Israel's future.


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