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Mainstream U.S. Jewish Coalition Endorses Palestinian Statehood: Orthodox Union’s Abstention Draws Angry Criticism

JERUSALEM – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella group of major mainstream U.S. Jewish organizations, has for the first time endorsed the idea of a Palestinian state.

The decision is generating an angry backlash, most of it directed against the Orthodox Union, which abstained from voting against the resolution that calls for a “two state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The OU is one of the largest and most influential Orthodox Jewish organizations in America. Surveys have consistently shown that American Orthodox Jews overwhelmingly oppose a Palestinian state.

“It is an outrage that Jewish organizations would support a Palestinian state and it’s a shock the OU would abstain,” Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told The Jewish Press.

“When the Palestinian Authority refuses to arrest terrorists, engages in and glorifies murder against Jews, and puts out maps showing all of Israel is Palestine surrounded by rifles, it becomes clear any Palestinian state will be a terrorist state which will greatly harm Israel,” Klein said.

At a vote last week during its annual meeting in Atlanta, the JCPA resolved that “the organized American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states – the Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine – living side-by-side in peace and security.”

The resolution recognized American Jewry’s “diverse views about current and future policies of the Israeli government towards settlements,” and blamed the standstill in the peace process on Palestinian intransigence.

The JCPA is a coalition of 14 major national Jewish groups and 125 local Jewish community relations councils. Among the groups represented are such giants

as the American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, National Council of B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and Hillel, the largest Jewish university outreach group.

While the other groups all voted in favor of the resolution, the OU has drawn the brunt of public criticism for its abstention. According to a source at the organization, e-mails have been pouring in from outraged Orthodox Jews.

In a widely circulated e-mail, Pesach Aceman, a Canadian immigrant to Israel and a diarist for the BBC website, lambasted the Orthodox group as a “terror supporting organization through your silence.”

Ted Belman, who runs the Israpundit blog, wrote, “To my mind this resolution is very detrimental as it makes it harder for alternates to be forwarded. By endorsing this resolution are the OU and the others saying they support a two state solution regardless if it necessitates the division of Jerusalem?”

In an official clarification, the OU released a statement saying that while it abstained from the final vote endorsing a Palestinian state, the group still managed to insert into the resolution’s text a statement explaining that Israel’s repeated offers to establish a Palestinian state “have been met, time after time, by violence, incitement and terror.”

The organization also successfully vetoed a clause which would have stated that the American Jewish community views the establishment or expansion of Israeli communities in the West Bank as an “impediment to peace.”

Nadia Matar, director of Woman in Green, a nationalist activist group in Israel, wrote in a widely circulated e-mail that the OU’s clarifications are not enough.

“So now,” wrote Matar, “after the OU’s clarification, we ask the one million dollar question: Why is the OU still part of the JCPA? Where is the OU’s outrage?”

Asked by The Jewish Press whether the OU supports a Palestinian state, the organization’s executive vice president, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, answered “no.” Rabbi Weinreb said his group abstained from the vote rather than vote against the resolution “for procedural reasons.”

David Luchins, an OU officer who represented the organization during the vote, said abstaining “gives the OU more of a platform afterwards to explain to everyone why we abstained from the vote. If we would have just voted ‘no,’ that would have been the end of it.”

Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, another major Orthodox group representing hundreds of synagogues, said his organization, which is not part of the JCPA, opposes a Palestinian state, as do most Orthodox Jews.

“What two state solution? We just need just to look out the window and see the Kassams and Grad rockets and bullets flying. We need to read the papers and listen to the radio. There is a war going on. Now is the time to discuss defense, to guarantee security to the citizens of Israel,” said Lerner.

“The only solution that we should be thinking of is securityand the ability to live like normal human beings – without the concern of being shot at,” Lerner said.

About the Author: Aaron Klein is a New York Times bestselling author and senior reporter for WND.com. He is also host of an investigative radio program on New York's 970 AM Radio on Sundays from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern. His website is KleinOnline.com.


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