US Jewish Federation to Allow Visits to Settlements During Israel Missions
JNS.org — One of the largest North American Jewish organizations adopted a new policy Wednesday, allowing participants on its Israel missions to visit Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), as well as cities under Palestinian Authority control.
“Six months ago, the IAN transitioned into the JFNA’s administrative structure,” the organization said in a statement. “Today, the JFNA Board of Trustees approved a number of appropriate and necessary protocols to support the advocacy and educational trips of IAN. This vote ensures that IAN will continue to travel to Israel and surrounding areas not historically visited by JFNA staff. We are pleased that the board reaffirmed the ability of IAN to continue this mission-critical work.”
David Ha’ivri, a prominent pro-settlement voice and former head of the Shomron Liaison Office, welcomed the news, telling JNS.org that he congratulated JFNA “for amending the rules.”
“Visits by the leadership of the American Jewish community to Shomron [Samaria] and Judea are long overdue,” Ha’ivri said. “Regardless of one’s personal thoughts on the future of this area, it is extremely important to see the reality on the ground. I would be glad to host personalized experience visits to Shomron by American leaders.”
Yishai Fleisher, the international spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron, said, “I think we can safely say this decision is long in coming, and I think this is going to give North American Jews access to very special holy places rooted in the Jewish story. [People] want access to these places and to see it for themselves.”
“There is absolutely no reason why somebody at the top should tell the people how to think or how to feel,” Fleisher added. “I think now, with this decision, we’re going to see Jewish Americans who care about Israel judge things for themselves, and they will connect with the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who care very much about Judea and Samaria and made these places the center of their lives.”