Before getting into what has happened this past year, we want to thank you, who have sowed so much into Judea and Samaria and into our amazing Israeli producers! Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our friends have struggled to keep their businesses in operation with the lockdowns and indefinite suspension of Israel’s $6 billion tourism industry.
But because of your purchases from Blessed Buy Israel, all our producers are able to continue even during this difficult season, during a time when many are losing jobs and paychecks. All this is possible because you stepped up and connected to these wonderful families, and believe in their vision, not to mention the awesome products they make! Because of you, our producers in Israel are able to continue bringing action to the words of the prophets from so many years ago!
This year has been another difficult year felt all around the world, but it’s been a year of triumphs as well. Here’s a look at some of the things that have transpired in Israel, specifically Judea and Samaria, over this past year.
Peace deals bearing fruit
Since last year's Abraham Accords, where the US brokered a peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, several other countries have followed suit. As a result, trade between Israel and the surrounding countries in the Middle East and Northern Africa exploded in 2021.
Trade with the UAE increased by over 1200%, Jordan nearly doubled its trade with Israel, while Egypt, Morocco, and Bahrain also made steps in increasing their trade with the Jewish state. With this happening at such an enormous scale, relationships are being formed between nations, which prior to 2021 had little to no connections whatsoever. This also weakens Palestinian attempts to control the surrounding Arab/Moslem nations with their narrative, allowing the truth of Israel to bring positive change to the region!
Recognition of Judea and Samaria
Judea and Samaria experienced an immense wave of support from you last May, when the news came out that 42 acres of vineyards were under a demolition order. (See: Vineyards are about to be bulldozed: Make your voice heard!) Blessed Buy Israel works with Meshek Achiya, the owners of the vineyards, who also produce olive oil. Fortunately, the demolition date was postponed until next fall. We hope and pray that the destruction will not come to pass, and in the meantime are doing what we can to stand with the farmers threatened by it.
Over the course of this year, the Biden Administration has consistently harassed Israel for its position regarding the settlements in Judea and Samaria. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently met with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz. The plan was to discuss the Iranian nuclear threat, but, reportedly, Secretary Blinken wanted to lambaste the Israeli approach regarding the settlements, as much as he wanted to discuss the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal, which the United States is in discussions to re-enter.
Ned Price, Spokesman for the US State Department is quoted as stating the Biden administration’s position, “We strongly oppose the expansion of settlements, which is completely inconsistent with efforts to lower tensions and to ensure calm, and it damages the prospects for a two-state solution…” (The likelihood of any land concessions bringing peace can be safely guessed by looking at history. Israel has conceded huge amounts of land, only to have huge increases in terror)
Also, last May, Israel experienced a wave of terror as Hamas fired barrages of rockets, and Arabs within Israel rioted violently and attacked Jews. By the time the violence deescalated, fourteen Israelis had been murdered.
During June of this year, 73 Democratic US House Representatives sent a letter to President Biden, demanding that he “Make clear that the United States considers settlements to be inconsistent with international law by reissuing relevant State Department and U.S. customs guidance to that effect.” The Biden administration and his allies have been hounding Israel from all sides.
Aliyah to Israel & Construction in Judea and Samaria
Regardless of the current Political pressure from the Biden Administration and the current Pandemic restrictions, Aliyah (immigration) to the Land of Israel is up by 30+% compared to last year’s numbers. As of October 2021, more than 20,360 new Olim (immigrants) had restarted their lives in the Jewish homeland.
New construction in the community of Rechelim
Also, despite ongoing US pressure, Israel plows forward with construction on new housing units built in Judea and Samaria. Israel’s Civil Administration committee recently approved the building of 3,144 new buildings. 1,800 of those received final authorization to build, while the rest received the necessary groundwork/paperwork to finalize building plans.
This tells us the settlements of Judea and Samaria are growing! The Israeli Minister for Housing and Construction, Ze’ev Elkin, said regarding the announcement of these building projects, “We’re doing just as we promised…I will continue to strengthen Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.”
The high cost of terrorism
The stats for the year of 2021 come to a total of 6,633 Arab Terror Attacks in Judea and Samaria, which is an Average of over 18 per day (many more however still remain unreported). All of this was a sharp increase in comparison to other recent years.
Yehudah Dimentman, 25, husband and father, was murdered in a terrorist attack in December 2021
Tragically, people like Yehudah Dimentman, 25, a father of one, from the settlement of Shavei Shomron, who was leaving from his yeshiva (religious school) to return to his wife and child, never made it home alive. The car he was in was randomly sprayed with bullets as the violent hatred of Arabs brought this man to an early end. Or, how about Yehuda Guetta, 19, from Jerusalem, who was studying Torah in the hills of Samaria; While standing at a bus stop at Tapuach Junction, a terrorist drive-by shooting left him fighting for his life for 4 days, only to eventually succumb to his wounds.
These are the harsh realities which daily confront the Jewish people who live on the frontlines of the Heartland of Israel. Unfortunately, these two stories aren’t the only ones from this year, but because of their courage, sacrifice, and memory, the Land of Israel will continue to flourish, being rebuilt and established.
Israel has a government… finally!
In March 2021, Israel held its fourth round of national elections in two years. This time, Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yamina party, managed to form a government. While the Yamina party only won a small portion of the vote, it held more power because of its unique position between the camps either supporting or opposing Netanyahu.
Bennett managed to compromise with enough parties—including an Arab party and one on the far left—to form a governing coalition. In doing this, he ousted Israel’s longest serving Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Unfortunately for Judea and Samaria, governing with parties on the left—who often support a two-state solution—means that Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria will most likely not receive serious consideration in the near future, and new Israeli construction faces more roadblocks.
Keeping Iran at bay
The US/Biden administration continues to attempt to coax the Iranian regime to restart discussions regarding the “Iranian Nuclear Deal.” Though thoroughly warned by Israeli politicians regarding the threat of a nuclear Iran, America continues on course, allowing Iran to continue their nuclear project. Israel has been preparing for war over the course of the past year, looking at every possibility to hinder Iranian nuclear goals.
Thanks be to God, Who, according to Psalm 121, is “the Protector of Israel who will neither slumber nor sleep.” Instead, He will continue to accomplish what He promised concerning the people and land of Israel, as He Himself declares in Amos 9, “‘I will firmly plant them in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land that I have given them,’ says the LORD...”
God is causing prophecy to become reality as it says in Isaiah 27: “In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.” We are living in those times! Come and be a part of the restoration by partaking of the fruit and products, which are being made by beautiful people in the beautiful Holy Land of Israel!