- Neturei Karta
Neturei Karta (Jewish Babylonian Aramaic: נטורי קרתא, literally "Guardians of the City") is a Haredi Jewish group formally created in Jerusalem, British Mandate of Palestine, in 1938, splitting off from Agudas Yisroel. Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a peaceful dismantling of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah. They live as a part of larger Chareidi communities around the globe.
In Israel some members also pray at affiliated beis midrash, in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim neighborhood and in Ramat Beit Shemesh Bet. Neturei Karta states no official statistics exist about numbers. The Jewish Virtual Library puts their numbers at 5,000 in Jerusalem The Anti-Defamation League estimates that fewer than 100 members of the community take part in anti-Israel activism..
According to Neturei Karta:
"The name Neturei Karta is a name usually given to those people who regularly pray in the Neturei Karta synagogues (Torah Ve'Yirah Jerusalem, Torah U'Tefillah London, Torah U'Tefillah NY, Beis Yehudi Upstate NY, etc.), study in or send their children to educational institutions run by Neturei Karta, or actively participate in activities, assemblies or demonstrations called by the Neturei Karta".
The name Neturei Karta literally means "Guardians of the City" in Aramaic and comes from the gemara of the Jerusalem Talmud, Hagigah, 76c. There it is related that Rabbi Judah haNasi sent two rabbis on a tour of inspection:
In one town they asked to see the "guardians of the city" and the city guard was paraded before them. They said that these were not the guardians of the city but its destroyers, which prompted the citizens to ask who, then, could be considered the guardians. The rabbis answered, "The scribes and the scholars," referring them to Tehillim (Psalms) Chapter 127.
It is this role that Neturei Karta see themselves as fulfilling by defending what they believe is "the position of the Torah and authentic unadulterated Judaism." Neturei Karta is sometimes confused with Satmar, due to both being anti-Zionist. They are separate groups and have had disagreements.
For the most part, the members of Neturei Karta are descended from Hungarian Jews who settled in Jerusalem's Old City in the early nineteenth century, and from Lithuanian Jews who were students of the Gaon of Vilna (known as Perushim), who had settled earlier. In the late nineteenth century, their ancestors participated in the creation of new neighborhoods outside the city walls to alleviate overcrowding in the Old City, and most are now concentrated in the neighborhood of Batei Ungarin and the larger Meah Shearim neighborhood.
At the time, they were vocal opponents to the new political ideology of Zionism that was attempting to assert Jewish sovereignty in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. They resented the new arrivals, who were predominantly secular and anti-religious, and asserted that Jewish redemption could only be brought about by the Jewish messiah.
Other Orthodox Jewish movements, including some who oppose Zionism, have denounced the activities of the radical branch of Neturei Karta. According to The Guardian, "[e]ven among Charedi, or ultra-Orthodox circles, the Neturei Karta are regarded as a wild fringe". Neturei Karta asserts that the mass media deliberately downplays their viewpoint and makes them out to be few in number. Their protests in America are usually attended by, at most, a few dozen people. In Israel, several hundred is typical, depending on the nature of the protest and its location.
Neturei Karta stresses what is said in the mussaf Shemona Esrei of Yom Tov, that because of their sins the Jewish people went into exile from the Land of Israel ("umipnei chatoeinu golinu meiartzeinu"). Additionally, they maintain the view – basing it on the Babylonian Talmud  – that any form of forceful recapture of the Land of Israel is a violation of divine will. They believe that the restoration of the Land of Israel to the Jews should only happen with the coming of the Messiah, not by self-determination.
Neturei Karta believes that the exile of the Jews can only end with the arrival of the Messiah, and that human attempts to establish Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel are sinful. In Neturei Karta's view, Zionism is a presumptuous affront against God. Among their arguments against Zionism was a Talmudic discussion about portions in the Bible regarding a pact known as the Three Oaths made between God, the Jewish people, and the nations of the world, when the Jews were sent into exile. One provision of the pact was (1) that the Jews would not rebel against the non-Jewish world that gave them sanctuary; a second was (2) that they would not immigrate en masse to the Land of Israel. In return the (3) gentile nations promised not to persecute the Jews. By rebelling against this pact, they argued, the Jewish People were engaging in rebellion against God.
Moshe Hirsch, who was a leader of the smaller groups within Neturei Karta, has endorsed Yasser Arafat, the Palestine Liberation Organization and later, the Palestinian Authority as the rightful rulers of the Land of Israel, which includes the modern-day State of Israel. Other Jewish groups,[which?] including anti-Zionist ones, have criticised this alignment, describing it as condoning or even abetting Palestinian political violence or using Palestinians as a tool for the destruction of Israel.
The Neturei Karta synagogues follow the customs of the Gaon of Vilna, due to Neturei Karta's origin within the Lithuanian rather than Hasidic branch of ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Neturei Karta is not a Hasidic but a Litvish group, they are often mistaken for Hasidim because their style of dress (including a shtreimel on Shabbos) is very similar to that of Hasidim. This style of dress is not unique to Neturei Karta, but is also the style of other Jerusalem Litvaks, such as Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliashiv and his followers. Furthermore, Shomer Emunim a Hasidic group but with a similar anti-Zionist ideology, is often bundled together with Neturei Karta. Typically, the Jerusalem Neturei Karta will keep the customs of the "Old Yishuv" of the city of Jerusalem even when living outside of Jerusalem or even when living abroad, as a demonstration of their love and connection to the Holy Land.
The small faction of Orthodox Zionists were the most prominent representatives of Jewish religious communities when the United Nations voted to partition Palestine on November 29, 1947. However, representatives of another Orthodox party, Agudath Israel, actually asked the General Assembly to vote against partition. Nevertheless, since Israel was established, Agudath Israel has been a participant in most governments (though it still will not accept a ministerial portfolio as a result). Other Haredi groups, including the Edah HaChareidis and Neturei Karta, maintained their previous stance.
Their opposition to Israel and Zionism continued under the leadership of Rabbi Amram Blau. The community became more insular, while forming alliances with other groups that rejected the support given by Agudat Israel to Israel's secular government after independence. Among their allies were the Edah HaChareidis, including the large and affluent Hasidic group Satmar, under the leadership of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, formerly of Hungary and later of New York City, as well as other Hasidic groups, some in Israel and others in the Diaspora.
With their help, Neturei Karta was able to withstand paying taxes to the state that they did not recognize and conversely, to avoid obtaining any benefits from that state by revitalizing the halukka distribution of funds that characterized earlier generations. As such they became a self-contained community within Israel with few formal ties to the surrounding political infrastructure.
They maintain the same customs held by many other Yerushalmi Haredim, including the usage of American dollars instead of Israeli shekels in many financial transactions, and not visiting the Western Wall, feeling it has been befouled by Zionism and secularism, which they see as an abomination. These practices are common not only among Neturei Karta followers, but also inside the groups affiliated with the Edah HaChareidis.
While many in Neturei Karta chose to simply ignore the State of Israel, this became more difficult. Some took steps to condemn Israel and bring about its eventual dismantling until the coming of the Messiah. Chief among these was Moshe Hirsch, leader of the radical branch of Neturei Karta, who served in Yasser Arafat's cabinet as Minister for Jewish Affairs.
“ G-d is our King,
Him do we serve
The Torah is our Law
And in it we believe.
We do not recognize the heretical Zionist regime.
Its laws do not apply to us.
We will go in the ways of the Torah
In fire and water.
We walk in the ways of Torah
To sanctify the Name of Heaven
Neturei Karta nowadays[vague] consists of two branches: a larger and more moderate faction led by Zelig Reuven Katzenellenbogen, and a smaller and more radical faction led by the descendants of Moshe Hirsch in Jerusalem and by Yisroel Dovid Weiss and Moshe Ber Beck in New York. The latter branch, though it is significantly smaller than the more moderate branch, is more widely known and often referenced to as "Neturei Karta", leading to adherents of the larger and more moderate branch to be subjected to criticism for the actions of the radical camp. Hirsch has also claimed that Katzenellenbogen intends to get rid of his own group.
The radical faction led by Hirsch maintains that a community of (Haredi) Orthodox Jews can and should be a viable minority in an Arab-controlled Palestinian state. Their main synagogue is the beis midrash 'Ohel Sarah' in the center of Meah Shearim, barely a hundred meters away from the main synagogue and educational institution of the mainstream branch, called Toireh veYiroh. Hirsch claims that there is a striking accord between the views of Neturei Karta and those of Fatah, which was the dominant party in the Palestinian Authority until the 2006 Palestinian election: both favour a secular and non-sectarian government in Palestine.
In the US, the Neturei Karta are led by Moshe Ber Beck of Monsey, New York. They affiliate with the radical branch led by Moshe Hirsch. Beck writes in his book קומי צאי מתוך ההפכה (the title taken from Shabbos liturgy means "Arise! Leave from the midst of the turmoil") that it is forbidden to live in or even visit Israel. He writes that it's forbidden to benefit from the Zionist State, even from mundane services such as street lighting and that any support of the State is forbidden, including paying sale taxes. Consequently, he concludes that it's forbidden to visit Israel, and one must allow himself to be killed rather than violate the prohibition. He emigrated from Israel in 1973, no longer wishing to live there. Beck has courted controversy by meeting with Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, who has been accused of inciting antisemitism and of describing Judaism as a "gutter religion" (although Farrakhan insists his words were misinterpreted ). In addition, after meeting with the representatives from Neturei Karta, Farrakhan indicated he would be more cautious in his choice of words in the future.
In 2002, during Israel's Operation Defensive Shield, the Israeli military announced that it had discovered numerous documents  from Arafat's headquarters, including records of payments from the Palestinian Authority to Rabbi Hirsch totaling $55,000. Rabbi Hirsch's son, however, denied that any payment was accepted.
In the United Kingdom, Neturei Karta member Yosef Goldstein testified on behalf of Abu Hamza al-Masri of the Finsbury Park Mosque, who was alleged to have called for the murder of Jews and infidels. Rabbi Goldstein characterized his interactions with Abu Hamza as "very pleasant, friendly and cordial." Goldstein also stated that he found Mr Hamza "very open, very cordial" when they were both involved in the pastoral care of a mixed-marriage couple.
Moshe Hirsch faction
- Relationship towards the Palestinians
After two men associated with the radical branch of Neturei Karta participated in a 2004 prayer vigil for Yasser Arafat outside the Percy Military Hospital in Paris, France, where he lay on his death bed, the radical branch of Neturei Karta was widely condemned by other Orthodox Jewish organizations, including many other anti-Zionist Haredi organizations both in New York and Jerusalem. Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, and what the Hirsch's faction described as an "impressive contingent" of other members, attended Arafat's funeral in Ramallah.
Almost a year after the Gaza Crisis a group of Neturei Karta members which crossed into Gaza as part of the Gaza Freedom March to celebrate Jewish Shabbos to show of support for Palestinians in the Hamas ruled enclave.
- Relations with Iran and President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad
In October 2005, Neturei Karta leader Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss issued a statement criticising Jewish attacks on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Weiss wrote that Ahmadinejad's statements were not "indicative of anti-Jewish sentiments", but rather, "a yearning for a better, more peaceful world", and "re-stating the beliefs and statements of Ayatollah Khomeini, who always emphasized and practiced the respect and protection of Jews and Judaism."
In March 2006, several members of a Neturei Karta's faction visited Iran where they met with Iranian leaders, including the Vice-President, and praised Ahmadinejad for calling for the Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem to vanish from the pages of time. The spokesmen commented that they shared Ahmadinejad's aspiration for "a disintegration of the Israeli government". In an interview with Iranian television reporters, Rabbi Weiss remarked, "The Zionists use the Holocaust issue to their benefit. We, Jews who perished in the Holocaust, do not use it to advance our interests. We stress that there are hundreds of thousands Jews around the world who identify with our opposition to the Zionist ideology and who feel that Zionism is not Jewish, but a political agenda... What we want is not a withdrawal to the ‘67 borders, but to everything included in it, so the country can go back to the Palestinians and we could live with them..."
A faction of Neturei Karta asserts that it has helped improve the situation of Jews still living in Iran, and was integral to the efforts to help free thirteen Iranian Jews who were arrested in 1999, convicted of spying for Israel in May 2000, and finally released in 2001 and 2003.
- Tehran Holocaust Conference
In December 2006, members of Neturei Karta, including Yisroel Dovid Weiss, attended the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, a controversial conference being held in Tehran, Iran that attracted a number of high-profile Holocaust-deniers.
Weiss's speech, as presented in the audio recording of the conference, contained the following statement about the Holocaust:Now maybe I can say that at the discussion of the holocaust, I may be the representative, the voice of the people who died in the holocaust because my grandparents died there. They were killed in Auschwitz. My parents were from Hungary. My father escaped and his parents remained. He wasn’t able to get them out of Hungary and they died in Auschwitz as were other relatives and all the communities that they knew. So to say that they didn’t die, to me you can not say that. I am the living remnant of the people who died in the holocaust and I am here, I believe sent by God, to humbly say, simply to speak to the people here and say, 'you should know that the Jewish people died, and do not try to say that it did not happen. They did die.' There are people throughout the Jewish communities, still alive in their seventies and eighties and every one of them will tell you their stories. It is something which you cannot refute, but that being said, it doesn’t mean that the holocaust is a tool to use to oppress other people."
They praised Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and expressed solidarity with the Iranian position of anti-Zionism. Rabbi Yonah Metzger, the chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel, immediately called for those who went to Tehran to be put into 'cherem', a form of excommunication. Subsequently a group of Rabbis claiming to represent part of the recently split anti-Zionist Satmar Hasidic group called on Jews to "to keep away from them and condemn their actions". However the newspaper 'Der Blatt' which represents the largest part of the Satmar group refused to denounce the actions of Neturei Karta. In addition Neturei Karta claim that the late Rabbi Avrohom Leitner, one of the major Poskim (Halcachic decisors) of Brooklyn's large Satmar community publicly supported their activities.
On 21 December, the Edah HaChareidis rabbinical council of Jerusalem also released a statement calling on the public to distance itself from those who went to Iran. The Edah's statement followed, in major lines, the Satmar statement released a few days earlier  In January 2007, a group of protesters stood outside the radical Neturei Karta synagogue in Monsey, New York, demanding that they leave Monsey and move to Iran, the Neturei Karta and their sympathisers from Monsey's Orthodox community responded with a counter protest.
2008 Mumbai attack on Nariman House
One of the targets of the 2008 Mumbai attacks was the Nariman House which was operated by the Jewish Chabad movement. Neturei Karta subsequently issued a leaflet criticising the Chabad movement for its relations with "the filthy, deplorable traitors – the cursed Zionists that are your friends." It added that the Chabad movement has been imbued with "false national sentiment" and criticised the organisation for allowing all Jews to stay in its centres, without differentiating "between good and evil, right and wrong, pure and impure, a Jew and a person who joins another religion, a believer and a heretic." The leaflet also criticised the invitation of Israeli state officials to the funerals of the victims, claiming that they "uttered words of heresy and blasphemy." The leaflet concluded that "the road [Chabad] have taken is the road of death and it leads to doom, assimilation and the uprooting of the Torah."
Sikrikim Splinter Group
In 2011, the Sikrikim, a NK affiliated gang gained worldwide attention when they violently protested in front of a girls school in Ramat Bet Shemesh.
- ^ Neturei Karta at Jewish Virtual Library
- ^ www.nkusa.org, Judaism is not Zionism
- ^ a b c Odenheimer, Micha (Spring 2006). "We Will Not Obey. We Will Not Follow". Guilt & Pleasure 2: 71–77. http://www.guiltandpleasure.com/index.php?site=rebootgp&page=gp_article&id=17. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- ^ Neturei Karta
- ^ Neturei Karta: What is it?
- ^ a b c What is the Neturei Karta? (NKUSA) Accessed: December 24, 2006
- ^ In a state over Israel by Simon Rocker (The Guardian) November 25, 2002
- ^ Connections Magazine "In 'Honor' of Yom Haatzmaut: A Few RBS Haredim Wore Sackcloth and Hung Palestinian Flags" Temura, 1 May 2006
- ^ Talmud, Tractate Kesubos, 111a
- ^ Sela, Neta (December 15, 2006). "Satmar court slams Neturei Karta". Ynetnews. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3340592,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- ^ Wagner, Matthew (December 14, 2006). "Haredim slam fringe over Iran parley". The Jerusalem Post. http://fr.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1164881888875&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- ^ Berkman, Jacob (December 19, 2006). "Orthodox furious at anti-Zionist sect". Jewish United Fund. http://www.juf.org/news_public_affairs/article.asp?key=7684. Retrieved 2007-03-06.
- ^ R Amram Blau, in a 1974 interview with Yitzchak Kahan, published in Sha'ah Tovah, 10 July 2009
- ^ Moshe Beck, קומי צאי מתוך ההפכה
- ^ Klaushofer, Alex. "The unorthodox orthodox". The Observer, Sunday 21 July 2002
- ^ Third meeting held between Nation of Islam and rabbis by Saeed Shabazz (Final Call) January 11, 2000.
- ^ http://www.noi.org/statements/rift/Wanniski12-22-1997.htm
- ^ Exile and Redemption: The Torah Approach by a Friend of Neturei Karta (NKUSA) February, 2000.
- ^ Photocopies of documents and receipts (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, ITC CSS)
- ^ Amir Rappaport. Arafat transferred funds to (Hirsch's) Neturei Karta: Captured PA documents reveal that $55,000 given to leader of the anti-Zionist sect. Critics of this claim state that Israel has forged documents before to further project legitimacy along with other tactics of deceit, and that even if they are real, that accepting funding from those it regards as the true claimants to Palestine until the Messiah's return is no different from the Israeli government's material support of Palestinians who support Israel and call for the expulsion of Palestinians from the 'Holy Land'. Maariv International, 2 April 2004.
- ^ Neturei Karta "Rabbi" Received $55,000 from Arafat (IsraelNN) August 16, 2004.
- ^ Neturei Karta: What is it?.
- ^ Rabbi and vicar give evidence in defence of Abu Hamza by Duncan Campbell, The Guardian, January 27, 2006.(retrieved on December 15, 2008.)
- ^ Hamza 'unaware' of Bin Laden link, BBC News, January 26, 2006.(retrieved on December 15, 2008.
- ^ http://www.haaretz.com/news/anti-zionist-ultra-orthodox-jews-celebrate-sabbath-in-gaza-1.265558
- ^ The Orthodox Jewish response to the criticism of the Iranian President (statement for Al Q'uds Day) (NKUSA) October 28, 2005.
- ^ Neturei Karta in Iran: Zionists use Holocaust by Roee Nahmias (YNetNews) March 12, 2006
- ^ Neturei Karta sect pays visit to Iran by Michael Freund (Jerusalem Post) March 8, 2006
- ^ Ingrained Prejudice (NKUSA).
- ^ Rabbis visiting Iran say brethren duped by Israel by Ali Raiss-Tousi (Reuters) June 9, 2000.
- ^ Why are Jews at the 'Holocaust denial' conference? December 12, BBC 2006
- ^ "Rabbi Yisroel D. Weiss — Speech Delivered at Holocaust Conference". http://www.nkusa.org/activities/Speeches/2006Iran-WeissSpeech.cfm.
- ^ Anti-Zionist Neturei Karta Sect Visits Iran, Praises Ahmadinejad by Amihai Zippor (Israel Hasbarah Committee News) March 9, 2006
- ^ Rabbi Metzger: Boycott Neturei Karta participants of Iran conference (YNetNews) December 14, 2006.
- ^ Satmar court slams Neturei Karta (YNetNews) December 15, 2006
- ^ Black Eye For Black Hats After Tehran Hate Fest (The Jewish Week) December 22, 2006
- ^ "Anti Neturei Karta protest". Neturei Karta International. http://www.nkusa.org/activities/demonstrations/20070107.cfm.
- ^ Neturei Karta: Chabad punished for alliance with Zionists by Kobi Nahshoni, Ynet News, December 15, 2008.
- ^ Leaflet: Mumbai Chabad attack ‘God’s punishment’, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), December 15, 2008.
- ^ [|Sherwood, Harriet] (2011-10-31). "The Battle of Bet Shemesh". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/oct/31/bet-shemesh-haredi-jews-school. Retrieved 2011-11-07.
- Yakov M. Rabkin, A Threat from Within: A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism. (Zed Books/Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) ISBN 1842776991
- Menashe Darash, Neturei Karta Of Meah Shearim. Atnata 2010 ISBN 978-965-91505-0-2 (Hebrew language)
- Neturei Karta International home page
- Neturei Karta UK home page
- Ultra-Orthodox Jews make rare visit to Gaza members of Neturei Karta observe Shabbos in Gaza. News article, 1 January 2010
Links supporting Neturei Karta
- Declaration on ‘the Palestine issue’ by Neturei Karta of the UK
- Interview with Rabbis Weiss and Cohen of Neturei Karta on Iranian Television
Links opposing Neturei Karta
- From the Language of G-d to the Language of the Devil, by Prof. Beer Chaim, Ben Gurion University of the Negev
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