In November, 2004, national leaders and community synagogue delegates of the Orthodox Union gathered in the holy city of Jerusalem for the organization’s biennial convention. At this gathering, the delegates debated and adopted policy Resolutions to guide the organization’s actions on a range of critical topics. Among those topics was Prime Minister Sharon’s “disengagement plan.” After extensive debate and consideration, the following Resolution was adopted by the convention:
The State of Israel remains a primary focal point of Jewish aspiration and prayer. We reaffirm our abiding commitment to a spiritually vibrant Medinat Yisrael and to the promise of a genuine and lasting peace for which the people of Israel and Jews throughout history have longed and sacrificed.
We meet in Jerusalem, our nation’s eternal spiritual heart and indivisible political capital. We meet at a time of great testing, resolute in our support for Medinat Yisrael, thankful for the unwavering bond of friendship between the people of the United States and the State of Israel, and deeply aware that questions of Israeli foreign policy and domestic security are best left to the citizens of Israel and the State of Israel’s democratically elected institutions.
At the same time, as concerned North American Jews, we have our own views on various Israeli policies. We have always sought to make the concerns of our constituents known to Israeli government officials in a forceful and effective fashion. It has always been the Orthodox Union’s belief that any discussion of Israeli government policy or initiative from Jewish communities outside the country be handled sensitively and in a manner that does not weaken Israel’s position or standing in the global community.
Thoughtful North American Jewish friends of Israel are to be found on every side of the various complex issues facing Israel today. In particular, the current Israeli debate over disengagement from Gaza and parts of Shomron has evoked strongly held feeling within the Orthodox Union family. The intensity of these emotions is compounded by the profound identification that so many in our community feel with the plight of Jews who face removal from their homes in areas that resonate in Jewish history, and where their presence was encouraged and supported by the State of Israel.
At the same time, there is so much we all agree upon, including:
our abiding belief that everlasting peace would be the greatest blessing that God could grant the State and people of Israel;
our abiding solidarity with the people of Israel, particularly their valiant armed forces and the victims of Arab terror and their families;
our admiration and encouragement for those in Israel and North America who express their differences with civility, eschewing behavior, language, and terminology of hatred and vigilantism;
our strong support for Israel’s security fence and other defensive measures taken to prevent terrorism and our outrage at spurious efforts to challenge these measures by the United Nations, the World Court and the media.
We accordingly resolve that:
The incoming administration of the Orthodox Union is mandated to continue to mobilize public and communal support for a secure State of Israel, while sharing, sensitively and with due discretion, the full range of our constituents’ views on divisive issues with appropriate representatives of the Israeli and American governments.
In the months since the adoption of this Resolution, its principles have been reaffirmed by the Orthodox Union’s Board of Directors and its mandate — to make the concerns of our constituents known to Israeli and American government officials in a forceful and effective fashion — has been implemented by the senior leaders of the Orthodox Union.
Orthodox Union leaders have initiated private in-person meetings and communications with senior Israeli government officials expressing the views and concerns of the Orthodox Union’s constituency with regard to the assessments of the disengagement plan’s impact on Israel’s security as well as the government’s plans for the actual relocation and transfer of Israeli citizens as well as religious infrastructure such as synagogues and cemeteries. Orthodox Union leaders have also stressed to government officials the need for the state to retain an environment within which public debate and disagreement is nurtured and not frustrated and we are encouraged by governmental efforts as well as the efforts of leaders of anti-disengagement protests to interact in a civil and peaceful manner.
Orthodox Union leaders have initiated private in-person meetings and communications with the President of the United States and senior American administration officials and leaders in the U.S. Congress. These communications and meetings have also been a productive means of expressing the views of the community, particularly with regard to the lack of sustained activity by the Palestinian Authority to confront and dismantle terrorist groups and activities.
Orthodox Union leaders have also tasked the organization’s Israel Center in Jerusalem to work directly with the residents who are being asked to move by making available to them the resources and programs of our Israel Center.
The Orthodox Union will continue these efforts as they constitute the most productive and unique role the Orthodox Union can play in the array of community activity directed at this historic moment in the life of the Jewish People.