Thursday, October 8, 2009

This is Our Land – It's Not About Tourism!

by Sara Layah Shomron

Yesterday I accompanied a friend living in Maalei Adumim on The World Likud Movement sponsored "Wine, Cheese and Water in the Heart of the Shomron" tour to support the residents of Yehuda and Shomron. We joined with people from within Israel as well as with those visiting the country in touring the communities of Elon Moreh, Yitzhar, Itamar, and Revava. Our lovely tour guide, Kareen, gave informative and detailed site explanations complete with biblical readings. The tour was well organized and I applaud all involved in putting this important event together.

The tour concluded with a "Salute to Yehuda and Shomron" at the community of Revava with speakers including the Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein, MK Danny Danon, MK Tzipi Hotoveli, Moshe Feiglin, and others. Read more here and here

I remain disappointed that there wasn't an urgent call for housing construction and development in our heartland communities. After all, these communities are strangled without housing options for young couples and families. I believe MUCH MORE is needed than a call to travel our land – we need to take possession by LOUDLY and STRONGLY calling for house construction and overall community development!


abigail said...

So true. Let us hope that as the world continues to isolate us (as per our prophets' predictions) we will have a government that realizes its responsibility to house every Jew who wishes to live here.

Netivotgirl said...

What a lovely pots!What beautiful photography! I was at Elon Moreh and posted here after our Ulpana's visit there in late June.

The view from the first picture on your post (I forgot the name of the mountain) is comparable to that seen from many areas in the Galil, something I never imagined before my visit.

We should DEMAND that Bibi and his government live up to pre-election promises. No more blah-blah. The country NEEDS the Shomron, a fact Ariel Sharon recognized years ago before his "about face." (I am quoting Beni Katzover here, who spoke to us on our siyur.)

As a sidebar, a VERY important well known Rav (whose name I will not mention for obvious reasons)said of Ariel Sharon in my hearing, "He is a Jew unwanted either in Olam Ha'ba or Olam Ha'zeh!"

Tonight on Hoshana Raba, may Am Yisrael be "stamped" for a year of Ahavat Yisrael, Aliya Ruchanit, and most importantly, the Geula Shleima!

Netivotgirl said...

(OOOPS, don't know how to delete a comment; I blooped!)

What a lovely POST, not post! Mea culpa!

Shifra said...

Your feeling of "too little too late" is, I am sure, echoed by many. However, in one of the links you brought it said: "'Freezing Construction – Like Going Without Air'
Dr. Yitzchak Ben-Gad, Israel's former Consul General to Florida, said Israel simply cannot freeze building in Judea and Samaria. “We cannot freeze the lives of 300,000 Jews, just as it is impossible to stop breathing,” he explained.

In Judea and Samaria, like elsewhere in Israel, couples are marrying and children are being born daily, Ben-Gad continued. Growth and construction is necessary to meet their basic needs and allow normal life to continue, he stated."

So perhaps the need to continue building there was slightly expressed - at least by one person...

Hadassa said...

While building is more important than tourism we should keep in mind three things: Some people aren't ever going to live in YESHA so they should know that tourism provides needed income for the residents and also brings a welcome Jewish presence to all parts of Israel. Tourism quite often leads to the tourists being interested in living in the area that they are visiting or introducing others to the area via tour descriptions. The people speaking may not have wanted to give a "hard sell" talk to people on vacation.
However, a "soft sell" talk would have been a good idea. The speakers could have easily mentioned that for those who leave Yehuda and Shomron wishing they didn't have to leave there is available housing, albeit not as much as there should be, and that an increased demand for housing does quite often quicken the building process.

Edward F. Villa said...

Great post Mrs. Shomron!

Though this gesture on part of the Israeli political establishment seemed like a step in the right direction, I remain still very skeptical on their true motives and intentions for the Settlement Communities of the Yehduah and Shomron...
I completely agree with your assessment that there should have been a more urgent call for housing and development in your communities; But I can't help to look back at the past actions of the Israeli government toward the Settlers - namely the disengagements - and what they really would like to see for the Settlers of the Yehudah and Shomron - especially with foreign governmental influence in Israeli politics.

It is my hope and prayer that there not only be much more housing and development in the Yehudah and Shomron, but that Israel expand their borders to the biblical promise outlined in the Torah. But sadly , I also feel that as long as there is a secular government without any real identity and feeling of responsibility and duty to their fellow Jews - in the Yehudah and Shomron - that doesn't share the promises and visions of a whole Eretz Isarel - there won't be much of a change in policy toward expanding building and settlement in The Holy Land.

Sara Layah said...

Abigail: If a country can't provide affordable housing options for its citizenry, then they will look elsewhere to meet this most basic of needs.

Netivotgirl: Thanks for the compliments. The pics were taken by my travelling companion. The first pic was taken on Har Kabir overlooking Nahal Tirtza and the fertile valley below.

Shifra: Yes,"too little too late" but it can be quickly remedied were our Knesset cabinet to stop talking and start doing.

Hadassa: Your points present a different and welcome perspective on tourism. It is troublesome to me that: 1)I didn't see any housing or other buildings under construction while on tour and 2) I didn't hear a call for the government to advertise for contractors to place bids to build housing projects or other community service buildings.

The demand for housing is high and the supply is low. Were affordable housing options readily available you'd see dynamic growth over night. And with this growth there'd be employment opportunities and eventually commercial centers to meet the needs of the growing population.

Edward: Yes, the visions of the government are myopic. We sure are living through difficult times - May we have the faith and determination to persevere.

Shtuey said...

Building is definitely more important. My dogs and I are going to need a place to live when we make aliyah there!

Unknown said...

Kol Ha-kavod Shifra - you hit the nail right on the head. Yes traveling our country is imperative - we need to show a constant presence EVERYWHERE - to assert with our feet that the land is ours. However, if we don't provide the means to live there for the people living there day to day - then we will lose it all.

Chag Sameach.

RivkA with a capital A said...

Nice post. I was impressed that they included Moshe Feiglin!

I was a bit disappointed that they did not talk at all about the legal battle going on for Hareisha

Sara Layah said...

RivkA: The government and media silence on Hareisha is deafening. Thank you so much for your informative link!

I believe it was MK Tzipi Hotoveli who made the foreboding point at the rally and I paraphrase - so goes the Shomron, so goes Jerusalem. It is way too similar to that of former PM Sharon's statement at the Herzliya Conference, "The verdict of Nitzarim is like the verdict of Tel Aviv."

Keli Ata said...

Beautiful post and stunning photo!

The subject heading also caught my eye. Israel should consider the hazards of too many tourists. Look at the people of Venice, Italy. Their beautiful city is being destroyed by a heavy influx of tourists. So much so that the very foundation of the city is being destroyed by the many cruise ships passing through.

Another thought--I sometimes think tourists go to Israel to view Israeli Jews as if they're somehow on display, not unlike the people who visit Pennsylvania in the US to take pictures and gawk at the Amish, who just want to be left alone and actually abhor having their pictures taken.

Sorry that was OT but it was on my mind.

Israel has such gorgeous landscape. Why shouldn't people build like the pioneers of the US did in the 1800s? It seems only natural.

Anonymous said...

would those extra settlements be legal?

Unknown said...

Keli Ata: The answer is not to curtail tourism - incoming tourism is a major source of income to many in Israel - not just the hotels and souvenir seller. Among others there are: restaurants, buses, drivers, cabs, attractions, tour-guides and many more.

Actually, every time we have tourists come here and see what life is really like in Israel - travel the country, see the people (and no they are not coming to gape at Jews) and mostly hear all about us, our history and centuries old connection to the country - it does more than any 2 min. promo, speech in the UN, etc can do.

Israel needs tourism in more ways than one - and needs to encourage more tourism by making it more affordable to visit Israel.

Oreet Segal
Licensed Tour Guide

Sara Layah said...

Housing Minister Ariel Attias recently said that since Benyamin Netanyahu became Prime Minister, "No tenders have been issued for building inside or outside the settlement blocs, nor in eastern Jerusalem," in the article "Housing Minister: Netanyahu Hasn't Even Authorized One Building" (INN Cheshvan 24, 5770 / November 11, '09)

Sara Layah said...

The link to the article is: