Friday, November 14, 2014

Neturei Karta: The Jews Who Stand Against Israel

With Israel set on a collision course with not just Palestinians, but the broader Muslim community, over its long-standing religious dispute at Al-Aqsa Mosque – one of Islam’s holiest sites after Mecca in Saudi Arabia – tensions in Jerusalem have reached a tipping point.
Latent anger against Israel exploded in late October, after the state ordered Al-Aqsa to be shut down, citing security concerns. Jerusalem became the scene of violent clashes between Jewish settlers and Palestinians following Israeli calls for Al-Aqsa to be burned down and for more Palestinian territories to be annexed.
A number of media outlets reported that Israeli police forced open the doors of Al-Aqsa in what was understood as an attempt to damage the holy edifice. After police violated the sanctity of the mosque, an affront unheard of since 1967, outrage swept across the Islamic world, with many calling for swift retribution.
Tensions were such that Jordan, which administrates Haram Al Sharif, the site of the mosque, broke its usual silence on Israel, warning that such acts of unwarranted aggression against Islam and Palestinians would lead to severe repercussions and potentially threaten regional peace.
In response to the forced entry, Amman has also recalled its ambassador to Israel, a move which directly jeopardizes the 1994 peace agreement between Jordan and Israel (one of just two peace accords between Israel and Middle East countries). Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told the press on Nov. 5: “We have sent repeated messages to Israel directly and indirectly that Jerusalem is a red line.”
Judeh further noted that any Israeli-imposed restrictions that prevent Muslims from worshiping freely are “infuriating” to Muslims around the world.
While other major world powers have been notably silent on Israel’s latest “blunder,” one very tenacious Jewish group, the Neturei Karta, is taking a stand against the injustice, determined to hold a mirror to Israel’s settler-colonial narrative in the name of true Judaism.
Demonstration in Jerusalem against the Gaza war. July, 2014
Speaking to MintPress News from his home in Jerusalem, Rabbi Meir Hirsh, a leading member of the Neturei Karta, stressed:
“Israel’s attack against Al-Aqsa needs to be understood as the manifestation of decades of fascism, religious extremism and state-run, state-supported racism against Palestinians.”
“Israel might seek to deflect blame onto Arab states and Palestinians, but in truth it is its policy of hate which has led us where we are today. Jews, Christians and Muslims are locked in a vicious cycle of violence, which Zionists feed to better further their agendas,” he continued.
Describing the Zionist goal as one that will “destroy all religion,” Rabbi Hirsh said, “Religious extremism is by essence antithetical to God, it is a negation of the holy.”

“True to the Torah”

Rabbi hirsh visits those wounded in Israel's latest assualt on Gaza. July, 2014.

A long-standing supporter of the Palestinian cause, the Neturei Karta opposed the idea of Israel well before it became an institutional reality in 1948. The group, founded in Jerusalem in 1938, is especially outspoken against Zionism, a philosophy they understand as antithetical to true Judaism. They say Zionism, which refers to a Jewish national movement that advocates for the return of all Jews to the homeland and the resumption of Jewish exclusive sovereignty over Israel, stands in negation of God’s commands, and thus, should be eliminated.
Rabbi E. Beck, a member of the Neturei Karta in New York, told MintPress that Zionists are “no more than radical extremists working to defile true Judaism.” He categorically rejected the notion that only Jews hold a legitimate claim to the “Promised Land,” stressing that “any ideology which bases itself on the rejection of others is inherently nefarious.”
“Israel’s descents into fascism and world powers apathy toward Jewish radicalism stand at the root of regional instability,” Rabbi Beck warned.
Rabbi Hirsh
Noting that Israel has come to embody the very definition of an apartheid state, he said the situation is actually much worse than apartheid, “as Israel seeks not only to affirm its supremacy over all but to annihilate and negate the very existence of Palestine.”
In an open letter addressed to the State of Israel last month, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, Rabbi Hirsh and Rabbi Eliezer Hochhauser wrote: “Orthodox Jewish Rabbis, true to the Torah, stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people, to protest the Zionist zealots – extreme right wing, supposed ‘orthodox Jews’ – who have aggrieved the Muslim people and disrespected what is precious to them – Al Aqsa Mosque.”
Rabbi Ahron Cohen, a member of the Neturei Karta in the United Kingdom, told MintPress, “Jews have no legitimate claim whatsoever on Al-Aqsa. Any intention, at this time in history, to rebuild the temple is against Jewish religious teaching and any attempt to do so is illegitimate. Those groups who are trying to do so are promoting a new and religiously distorted version of Zionism, and their activities are in no way compatible with authentic Judaism.”

Hate is not of God

Beyond Israel’s latest stunt to humiliate and harm its Muslim population, the Neturei Karta said it has worked to denounce Tel Aviv’s systematic targeting of Palestinians as part of its ethnic cleansing campaign.
“It is impossible to not see the design behind Israel’s attacks on Palestinians. If anything, Gaza should stand as a reminder of the horrors the authorities are willing to commit in the name of their Zionist dream,” said Rabbi Hirsh.
Rabbi Meir Hirsh
During Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s summer bombing campaign in Gaza, over 2,200 Gazans died — 70 percent of whom were civilians. Images of slain and maimed children still haunt the minds of countless Palestinians, a painful reminder of a life under Israel’s brutal occupation.