Rep. Mindy McAlindon, sponsor of the pro-Israel resolution, speaks in the Arkansas State House of Representatives. Courtesy.
by David Isaac
(JNS) — A resolution passed by a unanimous vote in the Arkansas House of Representatives, which includes a strong statement in support of Jewish ties to Judea and Samaria, has garnered growing appreciation among Israel supporters.
The resolution passed on April 6 calls on Arkansas to enter into strategic partnerships with Israel and build upon a Memorandum of Understanding then-state Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed with the Israel Innovation Authority in 2022.
Heartland to Heartland
“The State of Arkansas, which lies in America’s heartland, has a special kinship with Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland,” the resolution reads.
“Cities across Arkansas bear the names of biblical cities throughout Judea and Samaria, such as Bethel, Hebron, Shiloh, Salem, and numerous others,” the resolution continues.
Other U.S. states have also issued resolutions recognizing Israel’s connection to Judea and Samaria, including Florida in 2012, South Carolina in 2018 and Texas in 2023. They speak of historical and biblical Jewish ties but also offer a modern legal background to justify Jewish rights in those areas, referring either to the League of Nations or the United Nations, or both.
Arkansas’s resolution goes a step further. By skipping over references to modern international law, it takes for granted the natural right of Jews to Judea and Samaria, their ancestral heartland.
“The decision of the House of Representatives in Arkansas is unique because, unlike most decisions of [state] houses in the United States regarding relations with Israel, this decision for the first time speaks of the special relationship with the Land of Israel… including Judea and Samaria,” the Samaria Regional Council said in a statement.
Yossi Dagan, Samaria Council chairman, told JNS, “For us, of course, this is something that is quite natural. The right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel is already inscribed in the most famous book in the world, by which I mean the Bible. So we appreciate the Arkansas state House representative who sponsored this.
“We thank the entire state of Arkansas. We hope the whole world will recognize and understand that a nation cannot be an occupier in its own homeland,” Dagan said.
Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told JNS, “ZOA strongly praised this fabulous, almost sacred, Arkansas resolution recognizing that Jews are the indigenous people of Judea and Samaria as clearly stated in the holy Bible; that this land was given to the Jews by God.”
Yoram Ettinger, a diplomat who served as Israel’s consul-general in Texas (1985-1988), and has worked closely with American evangelicals, told JNS the resolution stands out not only for highlighting the “mutually beneficial U.S.-Israel strategic and commercial cooperation and the shared-values between the U.S. and Israel,” but for emphasizing the biblical and historic significance of Judea and Samaria, “the cradle of Jewish history, religion and culture.”
The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Mindy McAlindon of Arkansas’s District 10, told JNS that she hadn’t seen other resolutions that refer to Judea and Samaria in the same way, “but I think it’s really important that we do recognize that Judea and Samaria is Israel’s biblical heartland. We want to make sure that, as a state, we recognize that Judea and Samaria is Israel’s territory, and that it is not Palestine.
“We also need to recognize the special kinship that Arkansas has with Judea and Samaria,” she added.
McAlindon said “quite a few” constituents have reached out to her to express their excitement that the Arkansas legislature was not only supporting Israel, in general, but Judea and Samaria, in particular. “We tend to look at Israel as a whole and forget that there are crucial areas within Israel that we need to protect and defend. Even if we do so only in words, it is still important.”
McAlindon, who as a Christian feels “a strong affinity for Israel,” said she was motivated to propose the resolution after Hutchinson signed the MoU with Israel. “I just felt like I wanted to do a little bit more, something to continue to reinforce that relationship.”
She hopes to advance the relationship still further — ”maybe even a Memorandum of Understanding specifically with Judea and Samaria.”
Noting that Arkansas is home to a Raytheon Technologies Corporation facility that builds the Iron Dome air-defense system, she said she wants to see more such special partnerships, whether in archaeology, history, religion, technology or agriculture. “We’re a very strong agricultural state. It is actually our No. 1 export. So there’s a lot that we can do together to strengthen both the State of Israel and the State of Arkansas.”
McAlindon hinted there was a chance other U.S. states will pass similar resolutions. As a member of a group including legislators from other states, she shared her resolution with them and several expressed interest and asked for copies. “So I hope other states will follow suit.”
She said state resolutions could impact federal policy.
“If you had enough states that pushed the idea that these are areas that we need to recognize, I think you could see some movement on a federal level.” However, she admitted states are “very much secondary” on foreign policy matters.
“At least, we’re very fortunate in Arkansas to have such strong federal congressmen and senators, like Senator Tom Cotton, who are very supportive of Israel,” McAlindon said.