A report in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, dated July 19, 2009, discusses the distribution to members of the Israel Defense Forces of a booklet which asserts that the Pope and the Vatican identify closely with the ideals and purpose of the terrorist group Hezbollah. The report states that one of the booklet’s publishers was the Israel branch of the Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America). Upon investigation, it has been ascertained that this endorsement was made by staff at the OU’s Israel branch office, and was never submitted to, nor approved by, senior Orthodox Union management.
While the Haaretz report certainly sensationalized the book’s contents, there is no doubt 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 OU rescinds the endorsement of the book and disavows any connection to the views expressed in it. The OU’s senior leadership has directed that an internal review of this incident take place, and that the organization tighten its procedures to ensure that such a situation is not repeated. The Orthodox Union expresses its sincere regret to those of other faiths who may have been embarrassed or offended by the publication of this work.