American Orthodox groups are gearing up to ensure that the needs of the settlers recently uprooted from Gaza are not ignored.
Jewish organizations, including the Orthodox Union, already have established a number of financial campaigns to raise money for the needs of the settlers.
But the most ambitious call for action came from the National Council of Young Israel — an Orthodox synagogue movement that led protests against the Gaza disengagement plan. The council, representing about 200 congregations, wrote a letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations requesting an emergency mission to investigate the complaints the settlers have made about their treatment at the hands of the government.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel has said that only 100 of the 1,700 families evacuated have found permanent housing solutions — and only 700 have found temporary solutions.
The executive vice president of the Presidents Conference, Malcolm Hoenlein, said his organization is not planning a mission to Israel, but it is talking daily with the Israeli government about the settlers’ needs.
“What we can do is prod and inform — and we have done that regularly,” Hoenlein said.
Hoenlein said the Presidents Conference has fielded calls from many organizations that are worried about the uprooted settlers’ plight. One of those calls came from Mort Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America. Klein said that he told Hoenlein, “In light of the fact that the conference fervently supported this misguided policy, we have a special responsibility to ensure that our fellow Jews are being reoriented to their new lives in the most humane and comfortable way possible.”
A spokesman at the O.U., Steven Steiner, said that the organization had yet to decide how the money it raised would be spent, and there was a question of whether funds would be extended to settlers who refused to accept the compensation packages being offered by the Israeli government before the pullout began last week. But he added, “It is safe to say that some funds will go for counseling and social services for youth.”