Interesting to compare the politics of Orthodox Jewry in Great Britain, to the corresponding arena in the United States.
It will be recalled that many American Orthodox Jews were disappointed when the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU) deliberately refrained from expressing an opinion against Israel’s disengagement from Gush Katif more than a decade ago – when the disastrous nature of same was still a mere prediction rather than a fact.
In contrast, the OU has now (in the context of addressing the David Friedman nomination) acknowledged legitimacy of opposition to the so-called “2-state” policy — which calls for establishment of a new Palestinian state.
The OU recently said: “We would not deny that many American Jews and others …indeed believe in the ‘peace process’ and ‘two-state solution’ as the preferred means of resolving the conflict.
“But there is also no denying that many American Jews — certainly in the Orthodox Union’s constituency — and other pro-Israel Americans share Mr. Friedman’s deep skepticism toward this decades-old approach which has been tried and tested and failed repeatedly to deliver security and peace to the people of Israel, the Palestinians, and the region.”
The OU’s coming out with this welcome statement was preceded by Young Israel, another American Orthodox organization, whose president, Farley Weiss, wrote two years earlier, in 2015: “Those advocating a Palestinian Arab state are completely divorced from reality….President Obama …cannot provide a substantive reason why Israel should favor a Palestinian Arab state – basically because there isn’t one. A Palestinian Arab state would not bring peace and there is no demographic reason for Israel to cede more land. …President Obama… is pushing for Israel to take a step that it rightly believes would jeopardize its security”.
Next item on the Orthodox American Jewish (and British Jewish) agenda needs to be supporting the recent Israel government-initiated law on settlement regulation. Settlements are used as a weapon against Israel, in diplomatic and media circles. But Israel’s new law merely says that in places where Israeli families built homes on land in Judea-Samaria, which they did not know was privately owned, or received governmental consent for building the homes, the homes will not be bulldozed so these families, numbering between 2000 and 4000, will not be rendered homeless. Instead, if an actual owner ever comes forward, she or he will receive full compensation for the value of her or his land – more than full compensation in fact (125 percent of the assessed value of the land).
This law is being abused by the usual detractors of Israel, who are aggressively accusing Israel of ”land theft”. But “adverse possession” is a well-known legal principle – in all 50 states of the USA, for example – see Wikipedia on “adverse possession”. “Adverse possession” means that if a land-owner does not use her or his property and somebody else starts to use the property, then after a certain number of years the “owner”’s claim to the property is cancelled — the person actually using the property becomes the owner, because land is a scarce resource. Israel is not even applying this well-known principle fully here, because Israel is fully compensating the original owner for the full value — and then some — of the land.
Which Jewish groups will stand with the Government of Israel and defend both her reputation and, indirectly, their own? Stay tuned.