How Businesses in Judea and Samaria are Beating BDS

July 22, 2016

3 min read

Every month, Michael Stines, 32, of North Carolina purchases a package of goods from Judea and Samaria, ranging from honey from Hebron and olive oil from Shiloh to handmade jewelry from Yitzhar and ceramic pottery from Maale Michmash.

“There’s something for everyone in my family to be found in each package, like candy for the kids and jewelry for my wife. We can’t wait to open up the goods each month. This is our way of supporting Judea and Samaria,” Stines told Tazpit Press Service (TPS) in an interview from his North Carolina home.

Nati Rom, founder of Lev HaOlam in his home with his daughter and one of the packages getting ready to be sent out. (Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS)
Nati Rom, founder of Lev HaOlam in his home with his daughter and one of the packages getting ready to be sent out. (Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS)

Stines, a general contractor, has led 15 church tours to Israel which have included visits to Judea and Samaria and believes that it is imperative to support Israel not only “through words but through deeds.”

The fervent backer of Israel purchases the packages through an organization called Lev Haolam, which was established nearly four years ago by Nati Rom, a lawyer from Esh Kodesh in Samaria, along with his wife, who looked for a way to help small businesses in Judea and Samaria fight the international boycott of goods from the region.

“We send around 1,000 packages each month of locally made products from some 20 local businesses in Judea and Samaria,” said Rom. Known as the Lev HaOlam Package Project, the goods are brought by many Christian and Jewish supporters from across the world including China, the USA, the Netherlands, Japan and Australia. A monthly package can be purchased for $99 via the organization’s website.

“There are millions of Israel supporters across the world who are looking to support Israel in some way – they want to be real partners,” Rom told TPS. “Supporting the Jewish residents and economy of Judea and Samaria is the way they do it,” said Rom, who has travelled around the world on lecture tours about Judea and Samaria and his organization.

Rom has a real partner in Stines, who met Rom during a visit to Samaria with a church group several years ago. “We saw the impact of the BDS movement and the strain that local businesses in Judea and Samaria were experiencing. I found Nati’s initiative inspiring,” said Stines, who noted that he was one of the first people in the United States to purchase a package from Lev HaOlam.

Stines works to spread the word about Lev HaOlam in the United States, helping to draw in more customers from North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and South Carolina.

One of the small business owners who has greatly benefited from Lev HaOlam is Hadas Sattler, 36, of Maale Michmash in the Binyamin region in Samaria, who creates ceramic pottery inspired by the land and biblical history of the region in which she lives in. “Lev HaOlam has made all the difference for my business,” she told TPS. “Nati consistently places orders for my work and does a great job marketing my wares.”

Shlomo Keshet, founder of the Saboneto soap factory in the Binyamin region, who works with Lev HaOlam, an organization that markets packages of products of Judea and Samaria to customers around the world to combat BDS. (Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS)
Shlomo Keshet, founder of the Saboneto soap factory in the Binyamin region, who works with Lev HaOlam, an organization that markets packages of products of Judea and Samaria to customers around the world to combat BDS. (Photo: Hillel Maeir/TPS)

Echoing Sattler’s sentiments is Shlomo Keshet, the owner of Saboneto, a family-owned natural soap factory in Binaymin region’s Kochav Hashachar, whose fragrant soaps are enriched with Dead Sea mud and locally grown herbs.

“Every two months, Lev HaOlam sends us massive orders. This is a great thing for our factory,” said Shlomo, who originally lived in Gush Katif with his family, where he worked in agriculture. The father of a child with Down syndrome, Keshet created a special job opportunity for his son and other special needs individuals within the framework of the family’s soap factory.

“The more soaps we sell, the more special needs people we can employ,” commented Keshet.

Many customers like Stines, appreciate the opportunity to purchase the goods of Shlomo Keshet, Hadas Sattler, and other business owners in Judea and Samaria. “We love all the products,” Stines said. “It’s a great thing to buy quality products that people work so hard to make in what is Israel’s heartland.”

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