Some 150 rabbis and community leaders, representing a remarkably diverse range of countries, took part in a special solidarity and fact-finding mission in Samaria (Shomron) Wednesday.

The trip was sponsored by the World Zionist Organization (WZO), and led by Rabbi Yechiel Wasserman, who heads the WZO's Religious Affairs Department. The rabbis and community leaders were given a tour of the Biblical heartland of Israel which focused on the 3,500-year Jewish presence there from a number of different perspectives, including religious, strategic and moral.

The delegation included rabbis from communities across the world, from Europe to South America. The Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Warren Goldstein, also took part, as did the Chief Rabbi of Turkey, Rabbi Yitzhak Haleva. Rabbi Haleva was particularly impressed with the tour, telling Arutz Sheva that the relatively short trip had had a profound impact on him, and that he would relate what he had seen to the Jews of Turkey.

International delegation of rabbis in Samaria Uriel Gavriel

Officials from the Shomron Regional Council, which represents the Israeli communities in that region, placed great importance on the trip, saying they hoped the delegates would serve as "ambassadors" for the Jews of Samaria and for Israel - both to the world in general and to their communities in particular.

"At a time when many throughout the world are calling to boycott Israel in general and Judea and Samaria in particular, it is important to remember that we have supporters across the globe," explained Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika.

Mesika noted that the leaders of Diaspora Jewry were in a unique position to explain "the absurdity" of attempts to boycott Jewish communities, as well as to fight it at its source, and added that he hoped those present would voice their opposition to anti-Israel activities in their countries upon their return. To that end, the foreign relations team of the Shomron Regional Council presented the rabbis with information packs to distribute to their congregants, community members and the wider public.

The Council's Deputy Head, Yossi Dagan, addressed the group directly. 

"We are engaged in a battle for hearts and minds," he declared, acknowledging the rise in global anti-Israel sentiment.

"We invite you to be our emissaries in the world (at large) and in your own communities, and to make the case for the Shomron - for Judea and Samaria and for the State of Israel - on our behalf, in places we are unable to reach, and to say with heads held high: Judea and Samaria are an inseparable part of the Jewish state!"

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