Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, whose support for the state of Israel has always been unyielding, issued a ringing endorsement of the idea that the Jewish people have the strongest claim to the biblical heartland of Israel – using the terms “Judea” and “Samaria.”
DeSantis did not use the terms “West Bank” or “Occupied Territories,” which are sometimes used by opponents of Israel to ignore the biblical connection of the Jews to Judea and Samaria.
Hebron is considered the burial place of the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and where King David was crowned; Shiloh was where the Tabernacle rested for roughly 370 years; Joseph, who became the Egyptian pharoah’s right-hand man, is buried in Shechem; Elon Moreh is where the Bible says God promised the Land of Israel to Abraham; and David fought Goliath in the Valley of Elah. These are just some of the Jewish biblical connections to Judea and Samaria.
“In terms of Judea and Samaria, I’ve always rejected this idea that it’s ‘occupied territory,’” DeSantis said in an interview with Israel Hayom, referring to the term sometimes used by those opposed to the Jewish state. “I mean, these are some of the most historic Jewish lands going all the way back to biblical times.”
He gave historical perspective: “Yes, there was a partition plan with the UN in the 1940s. But the Arabs rejected the Partition Plan. It’d be one thing if they accepted it. Israel was willing to accept, they rejected it. And then they chose to wage war for many decades.”
“And so it’s not ‘occupied territory,’” he concluded. “It is disputed territory, and I think Israel’s claim is the most superior in terms of anybody else for it.”
DeSantis noted that he was the first major elected official (after he had been elected governor of Florida) to do public events in Judea and Samaria in 2019 at Ariel University.
“We wanted to break the stigma that somehow this is not appropriate to be doing, and when we have imposed our anti-BDS sanctions on companies that have targeted Israel, it’s usually been they’ve been targeting Jews living in Judea and Samaria,” he recalled.
DeSantis ripped President Biden for not having invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit the White House in the six months since Netanyahu was elected prime minister once again.
“I think it’s disgraceful,” he charged. “The U.S.-Israel relationship should be ironclad. We have no better ally in the Middle East. And we have such strong cultural and religious ties to the State of Israel, for [the administration] to be treating Israel really with the back of their hand. I think it’s a mistake, but I think it’s part and parcel of how this administration sees the world. I mean, they’re more interested in kowtowing to Iran than standing by our allies.”
“My view as president would be we’re going to have a really strong U.S.-Israel relationship, and that’ll be something that Americans can be proud of,” he concluded.
In late April, DeSantis visited Israel, where he signed Florida House Bill 269, which provides law enforcement agencies with new enforcement mechanisms to punish perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents and those who target religious communities.
Vis-à-vis Iran, he explained, “The whole Obama-Khamenei deal [2015 nuclear agreement] was a total disaster and Biden is trying to resuscitate that. … When you give concessions to the Iranians, they use that money to be able to foment terrorism. They will put that money into weapons development. … I think squeezing Iran, making sure that they understand that their pursuit of this is going to be bad for them economically, diplomatically, and potentially even militarily, that is the way the only thing that the mullahs understand – strength. You can’t try to cozy up to them. It just doesn’t work.”
“I don’t think Biden’s fully committed to keeping the embassy there,” DeSantis said of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. “He doesn’t believe Jerusalem is going to be the undivided capital of Israel, but I think that their [Biden’s] view would be pre-1967 and we reject that. … Jerusalem is the indivisible, undivided capital of the Jewish people.”
DeSantis has a visceral connection to the Jewish state: When DeSantis was still a U.S. representative for the 6th congressional district of Florida, he and his wife, Casey, visited the Sea of Galilee. Casey filled a plastic bottle with water from the sea to use for the baptism of their future children, but around the time their second child was baptized, a cleaning staff mistakenly disposed of the bottle. After that news spread to Israel, someone collected more water from the Sea of Galilee and sent it to DeSantis, who kept it on his desk.