Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Neturei Karta, Shunned by Media, Makes Jewish Anti-Zionism Known

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Neturei Karta, Shunned by Media, Makes Jewish Anti-Zionism Known

Article excerpt

Neturei Karta, Shunned By Media, Makes Jewish Anti-Zionism Known

There it was in the Sunday New York Times on an editorial page that usually trumpets hard-line Zionist views -- an ad branding Israel "an illegitimate state" and baldly declaring: "All forms of Zionism, be they of the `right' or `left,' are inherently antithetical to the teaching of our faith."

As unexpected as it was to read such blunt sentiments in the Times, the eighth-of-a-page ad was even more bracing in that it was not published by Palestinians or other Arabs. The Central Rabbinical Congress of the U.S. and Canada, and its affiliate, Neturei Karta, have been publishing such "heresy" for 20 years, signing it, and, in case anyone should dissent, providing two telephone numbers.

But what is true "heresy"? The real heretics, it insisted, are the Zionists who don't understand or abide by the teaching of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). For, according to the Torah, "the Jewish people have no `claim' to the Holy Land at present. They have no right to conquer it or to rule over it." The Torah connects the advent of "Israel" with the coming of the Messiah, not with a conquest of arms or armies as the Zionists have done.

During a 20-year educational campaign, Neturei Karta had proclaimed in advertisements similar to the Times ad: "There can never be real peace there until Zionism disappears." The most fervent Palestinian nationalist couldn't have phrased such convictions more directly or unabashedly. But, coming from rabbis, such sentiments tend to excite a few extra shock waves.

Despite the fact that theirs has been a long-term educational effort, it unquestionably still rankles many Times subscribers. For days after the latest ad appeared in July 1996, the Rabbinical Congress' two Brooklyn telephone lines were tied up, and, according to H. Karchmer, who wouldn't identify himself further, many called to protest. Undaunted, the Rabbinical Congress is mailing collections of its ads to those who request them. The collections, which are free from 85 Division Ave., Brooklyn, NY, 11211, come in a portfolio entitled "Jews, Not Zionists." "Not" is underscored in color.

The Central Rabbinical Council's ad in last year's Times was even more provocative than this year's. Signed by Neturei Karta, it laid out such convictions as "All Palestine should be returned to the Palestinians, and other occupied lands should be returned to their owners. And the Zionist enterprise should cease to exist. Only then will the misery wrought by Zionism disappear."

There seems to be no thicket that the Rabbinical Congress, or its Neturei Karta affiliate, is afraid to enter. How many others dare accuse the Zionists in public of complicity in the Holocaust? "In 1941 and 1942," a 1995 advertisement reads, "German offers to deport all European Jews to Spain...were rejected by the Zionist leadership." The offers, the ad charges, were rejected in order to assure the creation of a Zionist state in Palestine.

The group objects even to the Biblical name "Israel" being associated with the Middle East state. "Zionism must go," it proclaims. "According to the Torah, all of Palestine should be returned to the Palestinians, and the other occupied lands in Syria and Lebanon should be returned."

The phenomenon of organized Jews championing the Palestinian cause, and speaking the unspeakable about Israel, raises intriguing questions. Would The New York Times publish such provocative advertisements from non-Jews? Or would the Times of fervent Zionists A. …

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