(Editorial Note: To read the Orthodox Union’s own policy statements on the unity of Jerusalem, Medinat Yisrael & Kedushat Eretz Yisrael, please see the OU’s most recent resolution here which states, in part “We believe that there is no part of Eretz Yisrael in which Jews should be prevented from living, absent the most compelling of circumstances,” and Thus, while we strive for security and peace, we are skeptical of any policy that relinquishes part of Eretz Yisrael without real evidence that Israel will receive peace and security.”)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nathan Diament
June 2, 2009
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS WRITES PRESIDENT OBAMA REGARDING SETTLEMENT POLICY
Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – wrote to President Barack Obama regarding his administration’s recent statements and actions regarding the Israeli settlements in the West Bank area.
Please find the text of the letter below:
Dear Mr. President,
We hope this letter finds you well.
We write to you with regard to your recent efforts to begin a new chapter in the journey toward peace in the Middle East.
We appreciate your stated commitment to Israel’s security. We understand that it is your view that working for a “two state solution” is a means of achieving that security.
But we are deeply troubled by your statements with regard to Israel’s policy on settlements.
Mr. President, across a broad range of issues you have demonstrated your ability and leadership by acknowledging the complexity attendant to most challenges and proposing appropriately nuanced policies. Such a nuanced approach, however, is glaringly absent from current U.S. policy toward Israel’s “settlements.” To the contrary, this policy has, to date, reflected a blunderbuss, one-size-fits-all attitude toward everything from building a new house on an empty lot in the midst of the city of Ma’ale Adumim, to erecting new houses on an empty hilltop in Samaria.
The current simplistic and indiscriminate approach is not only illogical, it is also counterproductive to your goals since it forces Israelis and their supporters into a defensive posture, as opposed to one open to negotiations and creative solutions.
It is time, Mr. President, to inject constructive energy and momentum into the conversation by adjusting U.S. policy to recognize that the United States understands the policy implications and practical distinctions between, for example, major Jewish population centers (such as Jerusalem’s eastern neighborhoods, Ma’ale Adumin, or Efrat) and other locations in Judea and Samaria.
Members of Congress, among many others, recognize these distinctions and your Administration should as well.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further.
Stephen Savitsky Rabbi Steven Weil
Mark Bane Nathan Diament