Hiding Behind Hate
Since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the UK Labour Party in September 2015, news and stories have surfaced regarding both Labour and Corbyn’s antisemitic attitudes and long standing support and affiliation with Islamists groups and leaders.
On September 5th, 2018, large signs in bus stops across London, Westminster, Waterloo and Bloomsbury have appeared with the words: “Israel is a racist endeavour.” This was in reaction to Labour finally adopting the IHRA definition, which states that “claiming the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour” equates to anti-Semitism. The initial refusal by Corbyn and party was met with much grief and pain by the British Jewish community along with many revelations regarding Corbyn’s past antisemitic statements.
Channel 4 news saw it fit to go out and talk to a group of Orthodox Jews holding signs in support of Corbyn and against Israel. This is not a new technic designed to shore up support for explicit antisemitic views utilizing Jews and virulent anti Israel rehtoric. See a previous post on Hejo Meyer here.
Who are Neturei Karta, what are their goals, and who funds their endeavours?
As a swift summary, if you detest the state of Israel, Neturei Karta are right there with you. They went to Iran to participate in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust Denial conference. They claimed to do so not because they deny the Holocaust but because they object to using it as justification for the existence of Israel. During a protest outside the Iranian Mission to the United Nations in NY, on Holocaust Memorial day, they came to counter protest by burning an Israeli flag and claimed: “I Pray for Israel’s Destruction ‘In Peaceful Ways”, holding signs claiming zionists collaborated with the Nazis. They regularly disrupt Holocaust Day in Israel and clash with the locals. The NK activists drew a swastika on a flag of Israel and set it on fire during the two-minute siren honoring the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis. They view the holocaust as a punishment for not following true and one and only Judaism: “The Holocaust came as a punishment from God because of our sins”, said Rabbi Dovid Feldman, a London activist who regularly travels with these and more messages of hate.
They met with Louis Farrakhan, the antisemitic anti LGBT leader of the Nation of Islam. They march hand in hand with people waving Hezbollah flags while calling for the death of Jews at regular Al Quds day parades. They obtain funding from Arab groups and possibly even Arab governments (in the past they have had cordial relations with Yemen and Iran). Documents indicating that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat supplied Neturei Karta with more than $50,000 in late 2002 were obtained by the IDF and reported to the media.
Neturei Karta activists are quick to endorse anyone who opposes Zionism, and have publicly embraced such groups and movements as Al-Awda, a grass-roots organization that advocates on behalf of the Palestinian cause, the anti-war protest group ANSWER, the virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, Willis Carto and his Holocaust-denying Barnes Review Conference.
Denial of Jewishness:
“The Zionists are not Jews.” Neturei Karta see themselves as the only true Jews. Unlike the accepted religious pluralism well accepted amongst vast majority of Jews around the world, they do not accept any other form of belief or worship. Neturei Karta stress 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 — based 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 happen only with the coming of the Messiah, not by self-determination.
Treatment of Women:
In a comprehensive report by Inbari, Motti: “The Modesty Campaigns of Rabbi Amram Blau and the Neturei Karta Movement, 1938–1974”, Inbari dives into the extremism of the NK group from their days of inception. The article examines the modesty campaigns led by Neturei Karta circles in the period 1938–1974 under the leadership of Rabbi Amram Blau (1896–1974). This study was made possible following the discovery of Blau’s personal archive. It explores the defensive stage of the modesty campaign that was aimed mostly to strengthen the Haredi enclave and to separate it from secular Jerusalem with the establishment of the modesty patrols. It discusses the offensive campaign with the examination of the struggle against mixed swimming pools and against a club operated by Working Mothers’ organization. The second stage was intended mainly to reinforce Neturei Karta’s leadership position among the Haredi public in Jerusalem. It explores the zealotry ethos in the context of the torching of the Eros sex shop in Jerusalem.
“With the benefit of hindsight, the defensive modesty campaign can be judged a great success. Rules imposed on women’s clothing in the 1940s are still enforced today, with minor variations.” Here is a summary of their modesty rules, for which they sent their men to the street to harass any woman who broke them:
Sara Erenthal was born in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood into the Neturei Karta community, a small ultra-Orthodox group whose teachings call for the end of the State of Israel, and modesty and subservience for women. It shuns even the briefest of encounters with the outside world, whether it’s speaking with less observant Jews or flipping through a magazine.
By the time Sara was 16, she was promised to be married, a common age for girls in that community to get married and start having as many kids as possible while being denied any access to the outside world.
“Ever since I was younger I was always curious about the outside, but I didn’t think it was possible to leave,” Erenthal said. “I was a good religious kid but I followed the rules more because I was afraid of being punished if I didn’t.” Art was a way for Erenthal to deal with an increasingly unhappy childhood. Not only did Erenthal find the Neturei Karta lifestyle suffocating, she was the prime target of her father’s violence.
Stories like Sara’s are far and few between as the community is shut off from secular life and society and even more so for women and girls.
In Israel, Neturei Karta have campaigned against Jerusalem’s gay community, roads dug near ancient Jewish graves, shops, restaurants, cinemas and even airlines which operate on the sabbath, and against buses that do not segregate male and female passengers.
The community is also very vocal and can quickly bring large numbers of young men on to the street. Protests against a gay pride march in Jerusalem in 2006–7, sparked riots that left several police officers injured. The Neturei Karta is one of several ultra-Orthodox communities, though perhaps the most radical. Mr Krausz, a leader and spokesperson for NK, was one of the key figures behind ultra-Orthodox protests against the gay pride march in Jerusalem. In 2005, one of the marchers was stabbed and seriously injured by a religious Jewish protester. In 2006, the march was cancelled in the face of protests and had to be held in a sports stadium.
“We cannot keep silent any longer.” He accepts there are gay men and women living quietly in the ultra-Orthodox community, but says he regards their sexuality as an “illness”. “We can take care of it,” he says. “There is medication. It can be treated.” Of his opposition to the march, Krausz says: “If we accept the march today, tomorrow they will do worse things.”
Violence and Extremism:
In 2012, violence from the Haredi, and specifically Neturei Karta group, have escalated to such levels, ZAKA Chairman and Founder Yehuda Meshi-Zahav has lashed out, comparing their actions to those of terrorists.
Sikrikim is the name given to a fringe anti-Zionist vigilante group linked to Neturei Karta at the head of many of the violent protests and attacks.
Meshi-Zahav went on haredi community website Behadrei Haredim, to argue that “there would be outcry if terrorists dressed up as haredim, attacked a bus in Mea Shearim, broke its windows and injured innocent men, women and children.”
He went on to state: “This has been going on for too long, these so-called haredi hooligans have wreaked havoc through harassment and violence. It doesn’t really matter how they justify the actions, often they are just bored and find excuses later. Whatever the reason, they cannot be allowed to go on like this, at the expense of innocent men, women and children, whose only crime is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Alliance with Fascists:
In 2012, Neturei Karta’s Aharon Cohen, addressed a group at St George’s Tavern in London, led by ex- National Front member Troy Southgate, declares itself “opposed to liberalism, democracy and egalitarianism.” Holocaust denier Lady Michele Renouf, a champion of David Irving, was one of the 30 attendees.
Cohen was introduced to the group by New Right member Alexander Baron, as “one of the real Jews.” Baron wrote after the meeting: “While the Zionists use antisemitism as a big club to batter the goyim over their heads, for the devout Torah-true Jews it is a sign that they are doing something wrong. The Rabbi [sic] differentiated what he said was the ancient bigotry of antisemitism with the response particularly in the Muslim world to Zionist atrocities, and said the actions of the Zionists endanger Jews everywhere.”
Iona, another far right group, was addressed in London by German neo-Nazi Günter Deckert, of the National Democratic Party. Deckert has served five years in prison for Holocaust denial and incitement to racial hatred.
Current day, Neturei Karta make about 5000 of the Orthodox community and are largely reviled, rejected, and criticized even amongst other orthodox anti Zionist organizations and groups. To see the media or vocal anti Zionists use Neturei Karta cannnot possibly be excused by ignorance, nor can it be passed silently. Anti Zionist groups showcase Neturei Karta’s approval as a way of justifying or disguising their own anti-Semitism. Saying otherwise, renders the term anti Zionist as hollow as it always was; a dark and sinister cloak for a long and documented history of Jew hate.