On November 9, five US Congressmen ventured into otherwise uncharted territory, at least by the standards of traditional diplomatic delegations to Israel. A strong affinity to Israel and genuine frustration with repeated fatal failures of "peace processes" drove these American leaders to take a fresh look at Israel's heartland.
The tour is a manifestation of the "Judeo Christian" teamwork that has been growing deeper in recent years, as pioneering Jews in Judea and Samaria and Christian Zionist leaders in the US and elsewhere learn to trust each other. In the face of genocidal Muslim fanaticism, leaders of the nations that have the Bible in common are seeking common political ground as well.
The historic visit began with a bus tour led by Mayor Ron Nachman along the Trans-Samaria highway, where the delegates learned about Israel's narrow waistline, security needs and strategic provisions. At the Ariel and Barkan Industrial Parks Mayor Nachman discussed co-existence, the 4,000 Arabs employed at the factories and the indiscriminate boycotts imposed by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and European Union on products from the factories. Mayor Nachman also showed the group the layout of the Ariel Bloc of communities, and the short distance from the Tel Aviv Coastal Plain.
Before travelling north, the visit to Ariel culminated with the inaugural Samaria Summit luncheon, where municipal leaders, industrialists, business-people and professional athletes from across Samaria and the Jordan Valley gathered to discuss issues of relevance.
Rep. Randy Forbes (R -VA-4th) addressed the Summit by stating his unwavering support for Israel's peace and security. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5th) discussed Israel's inherent value and the commitment of the Congressional Republican Israel Caucus and the Israel Allies Caucus which he co-chairs. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-1st), who is known for his instrumental role in arranging for Prime Minister to deliver his acclaimed speech to both houses of Congress in May, 2011, explained how Israel cannot sacrifice its own security by relinquishing land to those who are committed to its destruction. They were joined by Congressman John Fleming (R-LA-4th) and Congressman Jim Jordan (R-OH-4th), who shared the sentiments of their colleagues.
Ha'Ivri introduced the delegates to Rav Eliezer Melamed, Rabbi of Har Beracha. The congressmen were pleasantly surprised to discover that Rav Melamed recently published an article which encourages Israelis to be welcoming rather than suspicious of Christians who choose to support Israel. The group then proceeded to the vineyards in the community of Har Beracha, where they met with the Director of the Samaria Regional Authority, Gershon Mesika. Tommy Waller and the Christian volunteers from across the US who accompany him in the fields of Samaria greeted the group with some of their original music.
Photos by Heather Meyers.