The decade's most triggering comedy
The Jewish population currently residing in Judea and Samaria, the heartland of Israel where the seminal Biblical Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob once lived, has exceeded half a million people, according to a recent report published by former MK Ya’akov Katz. The report, drawing from the Israeli Interior Ministry’s Population Registry, indicates that as of January 1, 502,991 Jews were residing in Judea and Samaria. This figure does not include the nearly 350,000 Jews living in the eastern part of Jerusalem, an area contested by Palestinians despite being a lawful part of Israel’s unified capital.
Judea and Samaria, which are the historical heartlands of the Land of Israel and the center of the Jewish State in ancient times, are currently branded by the mainstream media as the property of the Palestinians, and Jewish residency is considered by many an illegal “occupation.” Yet, over 90% of the geographical sites mentioned in the bible are concentrated in Judea and Samaria, such as Hebron, where Abraham bought the cave of Machpela as a burial site and where the Jewish Patriarchs and their wives are buried. Hebron was also the site where King David was crowned and it served as his capital until the capture of Jerusalem.
Other prominent biblical sites include Elon Moreh, where the Bible says God promised the Land of Israel to Abraham; Shechem, where Joseph, who became the Egyptian pharaoh’s right-hand man, is buried; Mount Gerizim and Ebal, where the Israelites, under the guidance of Joshua, first gathered after they entered the land; Shiloh, where the Tabernacle rested for roughly 370 years; and the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath.
As reported by The Daily Wire, current Republican presidential nominee and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently issued a ringing endorsement of the idea that the Jewish people have the strongest claim to the biblical heartland of Israel. In an interview with Israel Hayom, he stated “[Judea and Samaria] are some of the most historic Jewish lands going all the way back to biblical times. And so it’s not occupied territory. It is disputed territory, and I think Israel’s claim is the most superior in terms of anybody else for it.” DeSantis was the first major U.S. elected official to do public events in Judea and Samaria.
Yigal Dilmoni, the former CEO and current director of International Relations for the Yesha Council (Yesha is an acronym for Yehuda and Shomron – Judea and Samaria) and a board member of American Friends of Judea and Samaria (AFJS), lauded the accomplishment at the Israel Heritage Foundation conference in Jerusalem. “We passed half a million Jews in Judea and Samaria. This is the embodiment of a miracle, especially when we consider that in 1967, the number of Jews residing in Judea and Samaria was precisely zero.”
Dilmoni vividly described how he took a friend to see the vineyards in the community of Elon Moreh. “I told him, ‘Look, a miracle has happened because before 1967, there were no vineyards and wineries in the Shomron (Samaria). When we returned to Judea and Samaria in 1967, we not only reconnected with the land, but we also reconnected with our history. We revisited the Bible and absorbed the words of Jeremiah, who prophesied, ‘You will plant vineyards again in the Samaria mountains.'” He passionately emphasized that after 2,000 years, the realization of this Biblical prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes. “Now you can see thousands of dunams of vineyards in Judea and Samaria. Miracles happened.”
“The Jewish nation has come back home,” said Rafi Lazerowitz, chairman and co-founder of AFJS. “It is our legal right to live in our biblical heartland. It is also our strategic duty to reside here and keep it under full Israeli control, for without it we can not have a state of Israel.”
Shlomo Neeman, mayor of the Gush Etzion Regional Council and chairman of the Yesha Council, highlighted how the region continues to grow, regardless of opposition from both previous governments and international pressures: “The region is flourishing and thriving with over 150 communities, among which are four cities, a university, numerous tourist locations, and high-tech industries. Unfortunately, even after 25 years, we are still governed by the military, whose actions do not correspond with the realities on the ground. We will continue to work with the present government with the aim of adapting to the changes and maintaining the momentum of construction and the development of roads and infrastructure in the area for our residents and for all of Israel.”
Dilmoni, in a 2017 op-ed, noted that government policies such as planning and construction freezes, dating back to 2010, played a role in hindering growth. He emphasized that had these restrictions not been in place, more people would have moved to Judea and Samaria, and he pointed out examples of settlements where housing restrictions weren’t present and where significant growth was evident.
According to a survey commissioned by the Israel Defense and Security Forum (IDSF) and conducted among a representative sample of 1,191 citizens, 70% of Israelis feel a historical connection to Judea and Samaria, 63% an emotional connection, and 48% a religious connection. In contrast, only 37% of Israeli Arabs feel a historical connection to Judea and Samaria, while 32% feel a religious affinity to it.