The famous West Side Institutional synagogue in Manhattan hosted a conference this week by the Samaria (Shomron) Regional Council. Over 300 people attended the landmark event, including leaders of US Jewish communities and the heads of major US-Israel organizations.
During the conference, Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika expressed sharp criticism of the US policy toward Jewish building in Judea and Samaria, as well as US Secretary of State John Kerry's inflammatory comments supporting the Palestinian Authority (PA).
"In every issue, the US administration has chosen to side with the Palestinian Arabs," Mesika stated. "The Jewish Nation returned to its land after 2,000 years of history in exile, and apparently the US has forgotten its obligations to Israel."
Mesika's remarks follow a public falling-out between Israel and the US, over different opinions regarding a nuclear Iran. The US and Israel are also butting heads after Kerry's visit this month to broker more peace talks between Israel and the PA turned into a diplomatic disaster, with Kerry calling Israeli building in Judea and Samaria "illegitimate" and making threats of a "third intifada" if talks fail.
Mesika added, "We live in Judea and Samaria on our own merit, not through the kindness of others, and it is time to say that without shame. This is our land, we didn't steal it from anyone." Mesika asked US Jews for their political and financial support.
Participating US Jewish organizations at the conference included Young Israel, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), American Friends of Likud, Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI), the chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation, and others. Jewish leaders of several Diaspora communities also attended the conference.
The conference was also broadcasted via a live stream to congregations and communities around the world.
Steven Goldberg, National Vice Chairman of the ZOA, said that "American Jews who support the Jewish building in Judea and Samaria should not apologize." He noted that "in the U.S, it is not considered politically correct to support the 'settlement enterprise' in Judea and Samaria - it's time to change the situation." He added, "It's time to fight back in public protests - even take to the streets [. . .] Israel is under threat of [a nuclear] Iran, and it's time to come out and show our support."
The conference was part of an initiative by the International department of the Samaria Regional Council, headed by Shai Atias, with the participation of Jews and non-Jews alike from both the US and Israel. The event also featured a wine-and-cheese tasting event featuring food from the Judean and Samarian hills.
Outside, a small group of protestors from the extreme Leftist Jewish groups in the US picketed during the event. Signs included statements like "say NO to settlements" and "Jews for Palestinian Justice."