On Sunday, March 10, Bais Tefilah of Woodmere hosted a presentation titled, “BDS and Israel: An On the Ground Perspective.” Shomron Regional Chair Yossi Dagan and Ramallah religious leader Sheikh Abu Khamil al Tamimi participated. They were also joined by Chen Benloulo, Shomron Regional Council’s Head of International Relations. A special guest appearance was also made by Hempstead Councilman Bruce Blakeman.
After an introduction by Bais Tefilah Rabbi Ephraim Polakoff, Dagan spoke about the historical, religious, and strategic importance of the Shomron (Samaria) to the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Dagan informed the gathering that he had taken Members of Congress from both parties to the Shomron so that they could experience firsthand. “When they hear that Israel at its narrowest is nine miles, they don’t believe it. Then they visit and see with their own eyes.”
Mr. Dagan further spoke about the economic development of the region’s industrial zones and its employment of Israelis and Palestinians. Increased manufacturing for export, he reiterated, means better wages and a higher standard of living for all of the employees. As a result, efforts by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement to curtail Israeli economic development in the area could lead to factories shutting down, resulting in unemployment and poverty for Palestinians—the very group the BDS movement claims to be helping. Despite BDS efforts, Dagan believes the Shomron is prospering and has better opportunities for economic development under the Trump administration than it had under the previous one. Dagan specifically thanked Councilman Blakeman for his unwavering commitment to Israel in general and the Shomron specifically.
Sheikh al Tamimi from Ramallah followed. The Sheikh talked about how Palestinians and Jews working together for economic prosperity could present an alternative path toward peace. In Shomron, Palestinians work under Jews and Jews work under Palestinians, all with a common goal. He said many Palestinians want peaceful co-existence and he is working to “end the bloodshed.” He acknowledged that his position places him under threat of terrorist reprisal, but said, “Fighting for peace is a struggle, but in the end, we will win.”
The speakers presented a unique perspective of cooperation and co-existence and the audience appreciated this presentation.