PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN meets with representatives of the Lev Haolam organization, which fights the BDS movement, at his residence on Wednesday..
(photo credit: GPO)
Notwithstanding BDS and the labeling of goods from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights, Israel has friends in Europe and the United States who buy made in Israel products from beyond the Green Line by subscribing to Lev Haolam’s monthly €90 package.
Founded by Nati and Yona Rom, the couple sends Lev Haolam subscribers 12 surprise packages annually that may include cosmetics, chocolates, olive oil, wine, fresh fruit and anything else produced or grown in Judea, Samaria or the Golan Heights.
Angered by the effect of boycotts on small businesses there, the Roms began their direct marketing campaign. Each package they ship includes an explanatory note about the history of the area from which the products came, from biblical times to the present day.
Over time, Lev Haolam – which is Hebrew for “heart of the world” – has built up a global following of subscribers who wish to fight the BDS boycott and stand in solidarity with Israel, and thus help small businesses in Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights survive.
Some of the suppliers and subscribers, along with the Roms, met on Wednesday with President Reuven Rivlin at his Talbieh residence. The president was described by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan as “a true friend of settlement.”
Dagan said that made in Samaria products find their way not only to Europe, Africa and the US, but also to some Arab States.
“We have friends in Israel and abroad – Jews, Christians and even Arabs – who believe in coexistence and who are helping us fight BDS. Whoever wants to defeat BDS must buy products made in Judea and Samaria,” said Dagan.
Among the Lev Haolam subscribers in attendance were people from Holland and the US. Though Christians, they emphasized they are not evangelists but simply people who understand the importance of standing with Israel.
Arjanne Klaus, a nurse who cares for Alzheimer patients in the Netherlands, told Rivlin, “I want to say as a European how ashamed I am that again in Europe, Jewish products are being labeled. I am ashamed that Europe is using double standards, and is singling out the Jewish state. Have we not learned from our history?” Klaus insisted that “the world and especially Europe needs a strong Jewish state. Israel is and should be our strongest ally.
Instead of labeling Jewish products, Europe should support the Jewish state in every way, not demonize it.”
Speaking of her own reaction to receiving a products package monthly, she said, “For me, this is not just a package with products. Behind every product, there is a name, a face, a family, a story.”
Klaus told The Jerusalem Post that although she comes from a Christian background, she was disillusioned by the Church.
Eight years ago she began reading the Hebrew Bible differently, and learning about the Jewish heritage to the Land of Israel.
Linda Wyatt of Atlanta, Georgia, is a frequent visitor to Israel. She recently discovered Lev Haolam and has been promoting its direct marketing campaign to her relatives and friends. “This is now a lifetime commitment,” she told the Post. “We do not need to turn against Israel. We need to support Israel.”
It was a great honor for her to meet Rivlin, who to her represents “the heartbeat of Israel,” she said.
Wyatt first came to Israel in 2005, and said that visit was a life-changing experience.
Researching about Israel and the Jewish people, she learned things that she had never been taught. The learning process led her to acquire an apartment in Jerusalem, and bring other Americans here. “I introduce people to the land and the truth,” she said. “You have to come to see the truth.”
Among the small business owners from Judea and Samaria who met with Rivlin was Shlomo Keshet. The proprietor of Saboneto in Kochav Hashahar, he manufactures fragrant soaps – made from organic plants, oils and Dead Sea mud – which have healing properties. Keshet’s adult son, Elnatan, has Down’s Syndrome. His father today employs him and a number of special needs adults at the Saboneto plant wrapping the soaps.
Rivlin expressed his appreciation for Lev Haolam’s campaign to combat BDS.