(JNS.org) One of the United States’ largest Jewish organizations will allow participants on its Israel missions to visit Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as well as cities under Palestinian Authority control.
Senior leaders of The Jewish Federations of North America, an umbrella organization representing hundreds of local Jewish federations and communities in the U.S. and Canada, decided on the new policy during a conference call Wednesday ahead of a high-profile trip run by the affiliated Israel Action Network.
“Six months ago, the Israel Action Network (IAN) transitioned into The Jewish Federations of North America’s (JFNA) 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 the federations “for amending the rules to allow their missions to visit Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.”
“Visits of the leadership of the American Jewish community in Shomron and Judea are long overdue,” he said. “Regardless to one's personal thoughts on future of this area, it is extremely important to see the reality on the ground. I would be glad to host personalized day experience visits in Shomron [Samaria] for 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 access to North American Jews to very special holy and root places for the Jewish story…[people] want access to these places and to see it for themselves.”
Fleisher added, “There is absolutely no reason why somebody top down should tell them how to think or how to feel. I think now with this decision we’re going to see Jewish Americans, who care about Israel, judge things for themselves and connect to the hundreds of thousands of Israelis, who care very much about Judea and Samaria and made these places the center of their lives.”