Farley Weiss
Farley WeissArutz Sheva

The Orthodox group that defended Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s deal with the Otzma Yehudit political party says that it was not speaking for all of its member synagogues.

“The short NCYI statement released in response to two news outlet requests concerning Prime Minister Netanyahu represented my personal views and that of many on our Board but may not reflect the view of all of the Young Israel Synagogues,” the email, from Young Israel’s president, Farley Weiss, says.

On Monday, The National Council of Young Israel sent the Jewish Telegraphic Agency a statement defending Netanyahu after he orchestrated a merger between the religious Zionist Jewish Home party and Otzma Yehudit. The statement called the merger a matter of political calculus and said, “We understand what Prime Minister Netanyahu did, and he did it to have ministers of the national religious and national union parties in his coalition.”

It was the first statement from a major American Jewish group defending Netanyahu’s actions. A range of major organizations have criticized it as normalizing a far-right party.

The statement was in the name of Weiss, but the subject line of the email said it was “a statement from the NCYI.” Nowhere did the email say that Weiss was not speaking for the organization.

But on Thursday, following some backlash, Weiss sent an email out to Young Israel member congregations clarifying that the statement represented the views of Weiss and many Young Israel board members, but does not speak for all member congregations.

Thursday’s statement followed an announcement by Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt that she would be cancelling her membership at Young Israel of Toco Hills in Atlanta due to the statement. That synagogue’s rabbi, Adam Starr, had also condemned the statement on Facebook.