Haaretz Reporters on Samaria Tour
The Samaria Regional Council and Samaria Residents Council achieved another goal for their successful "see for yourself" tours program this week, getting the staff of the radically left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz to tour Samaria, the biblical heartland. Haaretz staff join the staff of many other papers, as well as politicians, radio broadcasters, world leaders and more, who have taken part in the tour.
The one-day tour includes stops in Ariel, Itamar, and at viewpoints from which visitors can see the densely populated coastal region spread below them, giving them an immediate sense of the region's strategic security value.
Travelling the roads in the Shomron, the visitors saw the vast expanse of unpopulated and uncultivated land that fills most of the region, making it obvious that Israelis are not encroaching on Arab living space.
The visitors were shown Samaria's rich Jewish history, when they toured an archeological site from the times of Joshua son of Nun.
They saw the industrial complex in Barkan adjoining the city of Ariel, which provides employment for thousands of local Arabs.
They also got to sample some of the residents' products, tasting organic cheeses and yogurts made in Itamar and sampling wine made from the vineyards of Har Bracha.
Rabbi Nitzan Yemin, principal of the school in Itamar, met with the visitors from Haaretz, as did Benny Katzover of the Samaria Residents Council.
At the end of the trip, several of the editors and journalists said they would be interested in taking part in a second tour in the future.
The Samaria tours began more than a year ago as part of an outreach program aimed at making Israeli and international journalists, politicians and other opinion-shapers, many of whom are politically left-wing, less hostile to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. Among those to take part in the tours so far are former Justice Minister Professor Daniel Friedman, the staff of Yediot Acharonot and of Walla, Time Magazine's Jerusalem Bureau Chief Karl Vick, and popular broadcaster Avri Gilad.