Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – expressed its appreciation for President Bush’s condemnation of the desecration of synagogues in Gaza by Palestinians. Addressing a gala dinner in Washington, in which representatives of the Union participated, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the American Jewish community, the President stated:
“When we find anti-Semitism at home, we will confront it. When we find anti-Semitism abroad, we will condemn it. And we condemn the desecration of synagogues in Gaza that followed Israel’s withdrawal.”
Prior to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, the Orthodox Union had been very concerned about the fate of the synagogues and petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court and Prime Minister to ensure they would remain intact and protected. Upon witnessing their destruction and desecration by Palestinians, Union executive vice president Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb stated:
“The destruction of a synagogue is akin to a knife being thrust into our very being.”
Leaders of the Orthodox Union also welcomed reports that earlier in the day, in a meeting at the United Nations with Prime Minister Sharon, President Bush placed responsibility upon the Palestinian Authority for possible next steps in the region. The President is reported to have recognized that only by demonstrating a real capacity for governance in Gaza will the Palestinian Authority engender a willingness by the United States to support further diplomatic steps and overtures in the region.
Orthodox Union Public Policy Chairman Mark Bane stated:
“Once again, but in an even more dramatic fashion than in the past, Israel has demonstrated its willingness to undertake bold and painful steps in the pursuit of security and peace. No reasonable person can ask for Israel to do more without a concrete demonstration by the Palestinian Authority that it has the capacity to govern its population through the elimination of terrorist infrastructures and the development of free and transparent government institutions. We welcome President Bush’s leadership in making this perspective visible to the world.”