WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Orthodox Union says it is "deeply troubled" by President Obama’s desire to play an "evenhanded" role in the Middle East.
"The Orthodox Union asks our President to recognize that there are no moral equivalencies between Israel, which has acted time and again to defend itself while actively seeking peace, and those who reject Israel’s legitimacy and make war against her," OU President Stephen Savitsky said in a statement following the White House meeting Monday in which he was one of 16 Jewish leaders to sit down with the president.
"We look to the United States to be Israel’s friend in a world of enemies and we support the view, expressed to the President in our meeting, that while allies may of course disagree on specifics, there ought not be significant ‘daylight’ between the United States and Israel that would give the nations’ mutual enemies comfort and encouragement."
While a number of other organizations that participated in the meeting issued statements, the OU was the first to openly express disagreement with Obama on an issue discussed at the get-together.
The OU statement did praise the president’s recognition that there was a problematic "perception gap" that the onus for peace lies with Israel, and welcomed "his stated intention to recalibrate his Administration’s actions in the coming weeks to make clear that the U.S. insists that concrete steps — with regard to incitement and other anti-Israel activities — must be taken by the Palestinians and others."
The group also thanked Obama for his support of Israel’s security and commitment to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.