OU renounces Vatican-Hezbollah booklet


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Orthodox Union distanced itself from a pamphlet that implies friendly meetings between Vatican and Hezbollah officials.

The booklet, by a purported former Hezbollah fighter who converted to Judaism, stirred controversy this week In Israel after it was revealed that Israeli army officials had distributed it among their troops.

According to the booklet, the Vatican initiated meetings with Hezbollah figures and suggested to them that they sympathized with the Lebanese terrorist group’s aim of destroying Israel. The army ordered a stop to the booklet’s distribution.

The booklet includes an endorsement from the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

"Upon investigation, it has been ascertained that this endorsement was made by staff at the Orthodox Union’s Israel branch office, and was never submitted to, nor approved by, senior Orthodox Union management," the OU statement released Monday said. Its contents are "antithetical to the well-known views of the Orthodox Union regarding respect for other faiths and their leaders. The Orthodox Union rescinds the endorsement of the book and disavows any connection to the views expressed in it."

The statement also pledged a review of OU procedures to prevent a recurrence.

"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," it said.

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