US Students Defy Obama's Policy

In defiance of the Obama administration's policy, Jewish students from the United States volunteered last week in hilltop communities in Samaria.

Baruch Gordon, | updated: 07:06

 Student volunteer plants trees in Har Bracha
Student volunteer plants trees in Har Bracha
Israel news photo: David Ha'Ivri

In an act of defiance against U.S. President Barack Obama's administration, a group of Jewish students from the United States spent last week working in hilltop communities throughout Samaria. Obama is pressuring Israel to cease all construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, and the students are volunteering in some of the very Jewish villages which the U.S. is asking the Israeli government to demolish.

Building the farm at Kfar Tapuach  
Israel news photo: David Ha'Ivri

The six day program, run jointly by the Samaria Liaisons Office and the Zionist Freedom Alliance (ZFA), brought the volunteers to Har Bracha, Yitzhar, Shalhevet Yam, Kfar Tapuach, Havat Gilad and Shavei Shomron for a week of building, planting, painting and study.

Executive Director of the Samaria Liaisons Office David Ha’ivri says, “Through this one week program, these kids get a unique hands-on opportunity to meet the pioneers settling the barren hilltops of Samaria and take part in reviving Jewish culture and agriculture in our ancient homeland.”

U.S. Students Working the vineyards at Har Bracha 
Israel news photo: David Ha'Ivri

Ha’ivri also emphasized that this was a pilot run for what he hopes will become a mainstream experiential program for Diaspora Jewish students.

“We are grateful for the cooperation of the ZFA and plan on jointly promoting additional such programs throughout campuses in America. This partnership between youth volunteers and Jewish farmers in Samaria is a blessing for both sides: the farmers need working hands, and the youth get an unforgettable experience that connects them to the Land of Israel.”

Painting the Jungle Gym at Gilad Farm  
Israel news photo: David Ha'Ivri

The students work the land by day and attend Israel advocacy training classes by night. ZFA leader Yehuda HaKohen says that learning to champion Jewish national rights while actually working the land and experiencing “settler” life creates the kind of Zionist leadership that no pro-Israel group has until now been able to produce. HaKohen says that most of the university students participating on the program voted for Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential campaign but "oppose his imperialist approach to the Middle East."
HaKohen expressed the students' sentiments: “The students feel that Obama and [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton are continuing Bush and Rice’s efforts to shrink the State of Israel and ethnically cleanse our people from the heart of our land. And foreign troops still occupy Iraq and Afghanistan. The students have transformed their disappointment in Obama into action by volunteering in the very communities that he is trying to destroy.”

In addition to training by senior ZFA staff, the participants heard lectures by Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher on aliyah and by Israel Is Our Home activist Danny Hershtal.
Group leader Binyamin Rubin explains the importance of the program:
“We are working to strengthen the Jewish people's hold on Samaria which foreign powers are trying to take from us. For the students, the main issue is not politics but justice. The Jewish people have every legal and historic right to this land, and the program affords an outlet to express our resistance.”

          Lunch hosted by Betsy and Iti Zar
            Israel news photo:  David Ha'Ivri