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      Towards Independence Day: Rabbis' Tour to Strengthen Shomron

      More than forty rabbis toured Samaria on Tuesday. "We came to show them support but found ourselves strengthened," they said afterwards.
      By Elad Benari and Yoni Kempinski
      First Publish: 5/5/2011, 4:27 AM / Last Update: 5/5/2011, 5:18 AM

      Over forty rabbis, heads of yeshivas and rabbis of the Religious Zionist "Derech Emunah" [Path of Faith] movement took a special tour of Samaria on Tuesday. The rabbis visited the Samaria Regional Council as guests of Mayor Gershon Mesika.

      Among the participants in the tour were Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, Rosh Yeshiva and Rabbi of Beit El, Rabbi Yaakov Filber, one of the leaders of the religious Zionist movement and a founder of the Mercaz Harav yeshiva, Rabbi Shlomo Ben Hamo of Kiryat Gat, Rabbi Reuven Hiller of Hod Hasharon, Rabbi Isser Klonsky of Givat Mordechai, Rabbi Elisha Vishlitzky, Director of Beit Midrash Mahut, Rabbi Shlomo Ishon, head of the Hatora Vehamedina kollel in Raanana, Rabbi Yosef Toledano of Givat Ze'ev, Rabbi David Greenwald of the community of Nechalim, Rabbi Avshalom Katzir of El Al Israel Airlines, Rabbi Yosef Artziel of Kedumim, Rabbi Shalom Zadok of Ariel, Rabbi Yosef Badihi, who was Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook's personal assistant for nearly ten years, and Rabbi Yehuda Stern of the community of Elkana.

      “Today we are hosting a group that could be hosting us,” said Yossi Dagan of the Shomron Residents Committee. “We are encouraged by the presence of the Rabbis in such great number, and by their statements. They are our teachers and mentors. We appreciate their vast knowledge.”

      As part of the tour, the rabbis visited the yeshivas in the Shomron communities. They later had an in-depth conversation with Mayor Mesika, enjoyed the organic agricultural products of the Gvaot Olam farm near Itamar, and also observed the ruins of Chomesh and Sa-Nur, two communities that were evacuated and destroyed in 2005.

      “We came to Samaria to represent hundreds of rabbis from all over the country and to strengthen and support the Israeli settlement in Samaria,” the rabbis wrote in a press release after the tour. “We felt that it is appropriate, especially after the terrible murders in Itamar and in Joseph’s Tomb. We came to show support and found ourselves getting strenghthened because of the courage, bravery, and sense of righteousness of the residents of Samaria.”

      The Rabbis also issued a call to the Israeli government: “It should be made clear to the world that the land of Israel belongs exclusively to the people of Israel and will always stay in its possession. No foreign country should ever be established in the holy land of Israel.”

      The rabbis also called to “stop all dealings with the Arab terrorists. The PA ‘security forces’ murdered Ben Yosef [Livnat] in cold blood, as they have killed several times in the past, sometimes even using weapons supplied to them by irresponsible politicians.”

      The rabbis called on Israel to regain control in all Judea and Samaria, beginning with Joseph’s Tomb.

      The tour took place as part of the Samaria Regional Council and Samaria Residents Council’s “see for yourself” tours program, which 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, Walla and Ha’aretz, and popular broadcaster Avri Gilad.

      “These tours are acutely necessary for the future of the settlement of the land,” said Dagan. “The foremost enemy of the settlement is ignorance. Many reporters and politicians who express their views about us have never visited here, and are easily affected by the influence of the extreme leftist movements. We are delighted that touring the Shomron has become a new trend, with tours being booked two-and-a-half months in advance. If the people of Israel come to visit, the Shomron will become five or six times more strong and beautiful than it already is.”

      (INN staff asked for and enjoyed, thanks to Yossi Dagan, a tour this past Sunday. in order to keep abreast of the growth, new projects and inspriing initiatives in the Shomron, ed.)

      All photos below courtesy of the Shomron Regional Council and of Derech Emunah.