An unusual visit took place Tuesday in the town of Itamar in Samaria (Shomron). Eighty youth from the left-wing Yitzchak Rabin premilitary academy came to visit the community, which has been slandered by the political left as home to “price tag” vandals and murderers.
According to those who were there, the visit led many of the students to change their minds about Samaria and so-called extremist settlements.
“It’s a left-wing academy, with people who have never crossed the ‘green line,’” explained Rabbi Avichai Ronsky. “The head of the academy, Danny Zamir, is a former senior member of the Labor party, and when he was an IDF commander, he refused to serve in our area.”
The idea of visiting Itamar came from the students themselves, he said. The students were curious about the continued survival of a community where so many people have been murdered by terrorists, he explained.
The town of Itamar was the site of the notorious slaying of five members of the Fogel family. Two teenaged terrorists broke in to the family home and stabbed the parents and three young children to death. The youngest victim, Hadas Fogel, was just three months old.
A similar attack in 2002 killed Rachel Shabo and three of her seven children.
Itamar residents welcomed the young Rabin Academy students into their homes, Rabbi Ronsky said. “The girls slept in our houses and the boys in the yeshiva. We talked long into the night. They tried to understand our lives here,” he recalled.
The visit led to real change, he said. “They were very cool when they arrived, and in the concluding conversation we had on the grass of Givat Olam, we saw tears.”
“Before the visit they saw us as strange people, extremists, ‘price tag,’ people who live in tin shacks and get by on government benefits,” he said. “We felt that something changed.”