Surfside, Florida becomes sister-city to Samaria Regional Council

The agreement was signed Thursday despite BDS efforts to derail the act of friendship.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The mayor of Surfside, Florida, signed a sister-city agreement with Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council Thursday, despite pressure by the anti-Israel BDS movement to prevent the official act of friendship.

Shlomo Danziger, a businessman who took office by beating two opponents in March by a combined 56 votes, is the town’s first Orthodox Jewish mayor. During the signing ceremony at the Council’s office in the Barkan Industrial Park near the Samarian city of Ariel, he spoke of the reasons why the two areas should be twinned.

For one, “Israeli citizens in Samaria were victims of Palestinian attacks, and they remained strong because of their resilience and the place continues to flourish,” he said. “This is something we can understand after the devastating collapse in Surfside,” he said, referring to the sudden collapse of a 12-story condominium in June last year where 98 people lost their lives.

“I could have picked a tourist city in Israel, but this bond has a reality [to it],” Danziger said, adding that the residents of the region are the ones “fighting on the frontlines to make sure that Israel is safe.”

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A second reason was gratitude to Israel for immediately sending an IDF mission to the disaster site, where many Jews had lived. For two weeks, the army search and rescue team combed through the rubble, unfortunately finding only bodies and some precious family mementos but no survivors.

Still, Danziger said, their  to the townspeople, who had breathed “a sigh of relief” when they saw the soldiers, who had given them “a lot of hope.”

“With this [twinning] gesture Surfside could show its support and admiration for the people of Israel and the State of Israel, who were at our side during our darkest hour,” he said.

Dagan had raised the idea when he met the new mayor on a fundraising trip to Miami in May. Danziger had enthusiastically agreed, and stuck to the plan even though members of the antisemitic Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) group campaigned against the move because Samaria “is a controversial region that sits on occupied territory.”

At the ceremony, Dagan hailed the agreement as “another victory over the obsessive attempts of BDS to hurt Judea and Samaria, the cradle of Jewish culture and history.” The “intense industry of lies” was countered by “the truth and people who are not afraid to tell the truth,” he said.

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According to Dagan, the agreement will “lead to educational, cultural and economic cooperation” between the southern city and Israel’s heartland.

The town’s burgeoning friendship with the Jewish state also manifested itself prior to Danziger’s election. In February, Surfside’s governing commission approved the adoption of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism.