Syracuse University students recently learned about Judea and Samaria from a Zionist standpoint in a unique Skype-chat discussion that may spread to other campuses.
Trying to overcome a deluge of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist sentiment at universities, the innovative program at a Syracuse University's international diplomacy class allowed students to discuss Judea and Samaria with David Ha’Ivri, director of the Shomron (Samaria) Liaison Office.
Questions from the students represented a view of Judea and Samaria that is far from that of Zionists. Master student Yuri Borovski tried to link the Israeli-Arab conflict with the Serbia-Kosovo conflict, which was solved with heavy international involvement.
"Although the international community isn’t quite impressed with the religious aspects of this conflict, that is where our disagreement begins,” explained Ha’Ivri, a native of the United States and now living in northeastern Samaria.
Responding to another question concerning the “two-state” solution of a Palestinian Authority country in most or all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, Ha'Ivri pointed out that history shows that both benefited the most from an Israeli control of areas and sites as opposed to previous mandates where rights were very limited.
After Judea, Samaria and Gaza were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967, the local Arab economies flourished for the first time in decades, having been ignored by their Jordanian and Egyptian rulers. The Arab economy began to deteriorate only after the first Intifada, which brought a decline and virtual end to Jewish shopping in Arab markets and Arab employment by Jewish farmers and building contractors.
“This is the first time we have held this type of online conference with university students, Ha’Ivbri told Israel National News. "It enables our people to address university students via the Internet and gives a voice to the residents of Judea and Samaria.”
The idea actually grew out of a question by public diplomacy student Nati Katz, who contacted Ha’Ivri through Facebook and asked him if he could address the class. After an affirmative answer from Ha'ivri, Katz helped organize the online session.
“The students’ questions may have been provocative but show how little is known outside of Judea and Samaria about our motivation to live here,” Ha’Ivri said. “They do not why it is important for us to live here. When I address students and groups, I first brief them on our historic and Biblical background, which is an eye opener for them. They realize there is more than what they read in mass media reports, which generally view our building as a provocation."
He noted that the attitude on campuses is very negative towards Israel because “pro-Arab groups are well-funded, some of them by left-wing Jewish organizations. People should lobby the Jewish Federations and pressure them to bring speakers from our communities to American synagogues to hear our point of view."