With the ongoing boycotts around the world of products made in Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron), the Shomron Regional Council’s public diplomacy delegation scored a victory this recently when it launched an alliance between Shomron winemakers and the Italian Winemakers Association.
The alliance was formed when a delegation of winemakers from the Shomron, along with the head of the Shomron Regional Council Gershon Mesika, held a weekend visit to northern Italy, as guests of the local association of winegrowers and winemakers. They managed to put together an alliance of European parliament members, local mayors, chambers of commerce and farmers to break the economic boycott on Judea and Samaria and promote agricultural trade between Samaria and northern Italy.
The winemakers were invited to Italy following a visit to Samaria by a group of European MPs who were led by the deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European parliament, Dr. Fiorello Provera from Italy. During his tour of the region, Provera visited local Samaria wineries and became a close friend of the heads of the settlement enterprise and of local residents.
The delegation to Italy was made up of winemakers who have been recognized for their outstanding achievements and whose wines have received international awards. The climax of the visit was a working meeting and joint press conference between the Israeli delegation and the Italians.
In addition to Mesika, the delegation was headed by the head of public relations at the Ministry of Information and Diaspora Shai Atias, Shomron Regional Council strategic affairs director Yossi Dagan, and the Shomron’s director of public affairs David Ha’Ivri.
During the press conference, Mesika explained the importance of creating a connection with areas outside of Israel, saying, “Samaria is the heart of Israel. We landed yesterday in Rome, we flew to Milan and then we travelled another four hours to get here. When the distinguished parliamentarians who are with us here visited us in Samaria, it took them 20 minutes to drive from the hotel in Tel Aviv to the communities in Samaria. The width of all of Israel, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, is 70 kilometers, and Samaria is 55 kilometers of that.”
Provera responded to Mesika by saying, “During my visit in Samaria I noticed that there is an amazing wine crop there which is very much like our wine. These are crops that require a lot of dedication and have the same features that characterized the wines terraces built by our ancestors in northern Italy. I discovered that you are just like us, and then I got the idea to organize this visit, to organize co-operation with our friends from Israel.”
He added, “Our friends in Israel have another reason to produce wine - a historical religious reason, to bring their land, the land of Israel, back to being a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Provera also noted that “the visit here by the people of Samaria is definitely also a political statement for us. I visited Samaria with other members of parliament, and I can definitely say that now we do not call these areas ‘The West Bank’, but rather ‘Judea and Samaria.’”
Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein also praised the new alliance, saying, “After ten years of delegitimization of Israel that spawned the BDS movement and the boycott of products from Judea and Samaria, we were able to fight back and break the boycott. The real connection that was established between farmers from Samaria and farmers from northern Italy makes the boycott attempts a farce.”