Photo Credit: By Angela George, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27006667
Jon Voight

Oscar-winning American actor Jon Voight, who visited Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria on Wednesday, declared the region to be the “heart of Israel.”

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Voight, 83, is in Israel to shoot a new movie.

During his visit to the Jewish community of Har Bracha, escorted by Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan and Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbis Levi Yitzchak Cunin and Chaim Cunin, Voight was presented with a bottle of wine from the community’s winery.

“You will plant vineyards in the mountains of Samaria,” Dagan said to Voight, quoting the Biblical prophecy of Jeremiah.

“What I hold in my hand is not just a bottle of wine; 2,000 years ago the prophet Jeremiah promised that one day the people of Israel would return to their land, return to Samaria and plant vineyards.

“Over the course of a thousand years of Muslim conquest, other peoples managed to grow vines in the north, south — but not on the lands of Samaria.

“And . . . 25 years ago when Jewish settlement returned to Samaria, [the Jews] began planting vineyards, and suddenly they were growing vines that today yield wine that wins international awards, and is considered one of the best in the world.

“When I give you wine from the Har Bracha settlement at the top of Mount Gerizim, it’s not just a bottle of wine; you are actually holding a prophecy of Jeremiah that is being fulfilled right here,” Dagan told the movie star.

“I do not understand why Judea and Samaria are called the “West Bank,” Voight commented, according to a statement by the Samaria Regional Council.

“If you look at a map, it is clear the area is the heart of Israel.”

Voight won an Oscar for his role in the 1970 film, “Coming Home.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.