Giving credit where credit is dueLast week, I panned the OU for inviting Ehud Olmert to address their biannual convention here in Jerusalem. So it's only fair that when they do something right, I should give it the same exposure.
On Saturday night, the OU's convention resolutions did well by the former revenants of Gush Katif. (Maybe it was all the right wing bloggers waiting for the NCSY reunion? :-) Arutz Sheva reports:
Among the resolutions passed was one that appeared to provide a sterling example of learning from mistakes and rectifying them.Read the whole thing.
In its convention two years ago, the OU did not take a strong stand against the Disengagement plan, to the consternation of many of its constituents in Israel and the U.S. Instead, the OU sufficed with a statement that it is "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."
The OU resolved at the time only "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."
This, despite what the OU called "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."
(It is of interest to note that several months later, in the summer of 2005, the OU did take a stand in demanding that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz protect citizens' right to protest against the expulsion plan.)
At last week's convention, however, the tone was very different than that of two years ago. Many speakers spoke of the "tragedy" and "fiasco" of the Disengagement plan, and of the OU's failure in not speaking out against it. As such, the following resolution was passed: "The Orthodox Union, in exceptional circumstances, may take public positions contrary to those of the Government of Israel. Such action shall be taken upon approval by the Board of Directors of the Executive Committee."
The resolution, though accompanied by intense debate, was passed by what participants called a "very healthy" margin.
Another resolution passed by the OU - this one unanimously - called for continuing aid to the evacuees from Gush Katif and northern Shomron. It is a call "not to 'stand by your brother's blood,'" one delegate said.
The resolution calls upon the OU's constituent communities to provide financial aid for a host of programs and causes designed to help the evacuees. In addition, "the OU shall continue to advocate, in the Jewish umbrella organizations in which we sit, to raise awareness regarding [the evacuees'] plight and seek necessary support for them."
Regarding the Israeli government, the OU resolved to "advocate in its meetings with Israeli government officials for the full compensation and rehabilitation of the Gaza and Northern Shomron evacuees, requesting that the [government declare this] a national mission of appropriate priority."
The OU specified that the government should "allow for appropriate flexibility in the Compensation Law to provide the necessary compensation for property, housing, farms and businesses... [and] encourage the preservation of communal ties and [provide] support to rejuvenate their once-rich communal lives, and work to addresses the alienation [felt] by the youth... and continue to provide services until they have sufficiently settled in permanent dwellings."
As a sign of the enthusiasm with which this resolution was accepted, one delegate pledged a sum of several thousand dollars towards the work that the OU is already carrying out in Nitzan. Several hundred former Gush Katif families live in temporary dwellings in Nitzan, just north of Ashkelon, rendering it the largest concentration of such families in the country.