The OU Booklet

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pamphlet.jpgA couple of days ago, the Israeli daily Haaretz broke a story about a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers asserting, among other things, that the pope and the cardinals of the Vatican “help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to
wipe out Jews.”
Purporting to tell the story of a Hezbollah leader who spied for Israel, the booket, “On Either Side of the Border,” describes an alleged visit to the concentration camp led by Vatican officials: “We came to the camps. We saw the trains, the
platforms, the piles of eyeglasses and clothes … We came to learn …
Our escort spoke as he was taught. We quickly explained to him: Every
real Arab, deep inside, is kind of a fan of the Nazis.”

Privately published and given to the IDF for distribution, “On Either Side of the Border” has the imprimatur of the Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America (OU), in cooperation with the chief rabbi of Safed,
Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu
.The OU is the mainstream umbrella organization for Orthodox synagogues in America.

To its credit, the OU has now apologized and disavowed the booklet, saying that its endorsement “was made by staff at the OU’s Israel branch office,
and was never submitted to, nor approved by, senior Orthodox Union
Besides declaring that “some of what it contains is antithetical to the well-known views of the OU regarding respect for other faiths and their leaders,” the organization said that an internal review had been initiated “to ensure that such a situation is not repeated.”

It would inspire more confidence to hear that the branch office staff responsible for endorsing the pamphlet will be fired. It would also inspire more confidence had OU acted before Haaretz broke the story. After all, the booklet has been distributed to thousands of IDF soldiers, and the story it has to tell has been circulating on Chabad and Orthodox websites for months. Had OU leadership never gotten wind of the fact that it was identified as the publisher?

I wouldn’t mind seeing Palestine Media Watch, which keeps a gimlet eye out for any expressions of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bigotry emanating from Palestinian leaders and media, weighing in on this scurrilous booklet. And what about the ADL? Its brief is not only to combat defamation of the Jewish people but to “secure justice and fair treatment to all.” What’s sauce for the goose and all that, eh Abe?

(H/T on this story to Bingo Prof.)