New Land of Israel Campaign Earns Praise

Yakir Segev, the man behind Judea/Samaria's new PR campaign, says, "To re-define our 'national cultural anchor' we must remember our common land."

Contact Editor
Hillel Fendel,

Yakir Segev, the bareheaded man behind Judea and Samaria's new PR campaign, says, "To re-define our 'national cultural anchor' we must remember the place from where we all once came."

The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria is waging a new public relations information campaign, emphasizing the Jewish Nation's historic, cultural and religious ties to the Biblical areas of Judea and Samaria.   The name of the campaign: "Judea and Samaria - Every Jew's Story."

Themes such as the Maccabees, King David, the Matriarch Rachel and Joseph and his brothers are highlighted in dramatic photographs, with a smiling child in historic Biblical garb, on billboards throughout the country.  Additional activities are planned.

In addition, the campaign website - www.jstory.co.il - includes a page the story of each Biblical incident featured in the campaign, an explanation of its connection to the Land of Israel, and links to more in-depth articles on questions related to the subject matter.  For instance, the page on Jacob and his vision of angels ascending and descending the ladder, which took place in Beit El, includes articles on the long-standing fraternal tensions between Jacob and Esau, the "theft" of Esav's blessing by Jacob, the exact location of the ladder, and more.

Links for information on hikes and trips that are available in Judea and Samaria are easily accessible throughout the website.

Praise from Opponents
Betzalel Smotritz, an ideological opponent of what he perceives as the Yesha Council's weak-kneed approach to government plans for retreat from the Land of Israel, has only praise for the new campaign.  "As people who sharply criticize the Yesha Council for its approach to the current struggle, to the 'outposts agreements' it has made, and its over-patronization of the settlement enterprise, we must also congratulate the Council on this important and necessary step," Smutrich wrote in a pamphlet distributed in synagogues this week. 

Smotritz singled out Council chief Danny Dayan for praise: "He has succeeded very well in fulfilling his pledge to replace the usual public dialogue about 'security' as the justification for the settlement enterprise, with talk of 'Jewish values' as its justification instead."

Societal Crisis in Israel: Problem and Solution
Yakir Segev - a non-religious Jew who became a top combat soldier despite the fact that he has only one hand - is one of the men behind Judea and Samaria's new PR campaign.  He writes that he has come to understand that the crisis of leadership Israel is undergoing "stems from a deep and long process of loss of values in Israeli society. I sense that the values that are the basis for our existence and our identity - Judaism, Zionism, settlement - have ceased being formative values."

"It could be said," Segev continues, "that the young generation, of which I am a part, looks around and does not find that 'anchor of values' that enables it to live its life with a deep sense of belonging and pride... It was only natural for me to find allies in my search for a positive re-definition of our national values among the pioneer settlers in Judea and Samaria. The settlement and education enterprises that they have established, and their enlistment in the IDF and for other national causes, inspire me and arouse hope... We must again remember the place from which we all came, as the cultural basis for the Nation of Israel. Our land, including Judea, Binyamin, Jerusalem and the Shomron, is an inextricable part of our history and culture, and of who we are."

Other Biblical stories elucidated and featured in the campaign are those of:

* Joseph, his dreams, brothers and multi-colored cloak (Dotan, near Shechem);
* the crowning of King David in Bethlehem;
* Rachel (the Gush Etzion-Jerusalem highway);
* Avraham and the Three Visitors (Hevron);
* Judah the Maccabee (Beit Horon);
* Ruth and her kindness (Bethlehem);
* Deborah the Prophetess (Mount Ephraim);
* and the Holy Ark, which resided for a time in Shilo.

The Yesha Council plans to upgrade the campaign in the coming weeks with activities in schools and other institutions.  The overall goal, as Smutrich explains, is to "present to Israeli society its fundamental connecting links with Judea and Samaria, and to thus bring about a deep-seated, long-rang change in the nation's approach to these areas."