- Ultra-orthodox Jewish group that opposes Israel’s existence
- Membership consists of no more than 5,000 people, mainly in Jerusalem and New York
- Has strong links to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority
Neturei Karta (NK), Aramaic for “Guardians of the City,” is an ultra-orthodox Jewish group which holds that Israel’s existence is “contrary to Jewish law.” According to NK, God punished the Jews with exile for their indiscretions, and consequently they are forbidden to establish a Jewish state in the holy land before the coming of the Messiah.
NK was founded in Jerusalem in 1938 when it broke away from another ultra-orthodox group, Agudas Yisorel, over the question of Zionism. Contrary to NK’s claim that it represents several hundred thousand orthodox Jews throughout the world, informed estimates place NK membership at no more than 5,000 people, most of them located in Jerusalem (where its headquarters are) and New York.
Declares NK: “Among its [Zionism’s] fruits are the persecution of the Palestinian people and the spiritual and physical endangering of the Jewish people”; “[Zionism] encourages treasonous, dual loyalty among unsuspecting Jews throughout the world”; and “The so-called ‘state of Israel’ stands rejected on religious grounds by the Torah.”
A prominent NK member, the Rabbi Dovid Weiss, summarizes his organization’s creed as follows:
“Zionism, from its inception, advocated and urged cruelty towards the Palestinian people. … Zionism advocates and executes war against all nations. … Zionism sadistically abuses [the poor and suffering]. … There is no excuse for the Zionist takeover of the Holy Land. It was achieved only after a series of wars and incessant brutality. … The Palestinian people have graciously agreed to participate in a so-called peace process with the Israeli government. That is most kind of them. However, we must warn them that it is our belief that until the scourge of Zionism, incarnated in the state of Israel, is removed from the Middle East there can be no peace. We are a people in exile. We are forbidden to attempt to reconquer the Holy Land. … We call for a peaceful dismantling of the Israeli state without violence or bloodshed. … We look forward to the day when Jews and Palestinians may live together under a Palestinian government.”
In its effort to bring about Israel’s destruction, NK cooperates with frankly anti-Semitic groups such as the Nation of Islam (NOI). At the invitation of Louis Farrakhan, Rabbi Weiss spoke at the NOI annual convention in 2000, where he denounced Zionism and the Jewish state.
NK also had close ties to the late Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization. After NK members flew to Paris to show support for the hospitalized Arafat in 2002, the Orthodox and Hasidic community literally excommunicated the organization:
“[W]e hereby reiterate and declare that hareidi/hassidic/Orthodox Jews everywhere absolutely reject the treacherous and contemptible conduct of that insignificant and irrelevant group of misfits and Mechalelei Hashem [desecraters of G-d’s Name], who have again raised their ugly heads and besmirched and blackened the reputations of observant Jews worldwide.… [T]his contemptible and minuscule gang of traitors to Judaism were decades ago barred from our Synagogues and communities. Their refusal to abide by the pronouncements of religious and lay leaders of our communities has made them persona non grata.”
Among the many documents later seized in Arafat’s compound by the Israeli Defense Forces were allotments of money from Arafat to Neturei Karta’s “foreign minister,” Rabbi Moshe Hirsch. The money amounted to $55,000, which had been paid over a two-month period for “expenses for activities.”
Rabbi Hirsch, NK’s leader in Israel, today works closely with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and holds a position as its Minister of Jewish Affairs. He staged a graveside memorial service for Arafat in the West Bank shortly after the Palestinian leader’s death in November 2004.
NK spoke at the infamous 2001 UN Conference Against Racism (in Durban), an event which degenerated into an anti-Jewish, anti-Israel hate fest. The group also attended the “Peace in Palestine” Conference in Malaysia in March 2005, and supported the resolution calling for a worldwide boycott of Israel.
In December 2006, eight Neturei Karta rabbis traveled to Tehran to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a Holocaust denier, embracing him and endorsing his stance that Israel has no right to exist. “We tried to appease them [the Iranians],” Rabbi Dovid Weiss told the New York Daily News. “We explained how the Holocaust is used to intimidate people who want to speak against the unjust Zionist regime.”
This was not Neturei Karta’s first visit to Tehran. In March 2006 the organization had also sent a delegation to meet with senior Iranian officials and express support for Ahmadinejad’s calls to eliminate Israel. In a statement to Iran’s official IRIB radio, the group called for “the disintegration of the Zionist regime” and said that it “is a dangerous deviation to pretend that the Iranian president is an anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic personality.” Neturei Karta added that it was “upset about the recent ploys, propaganda and tensions which have been created by the West regarding the statements of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about a world free of Zionism, since this is nothing more than wishing for a better world dominated by peace and calm.”
Parts of this profile are adapted, with permission, from Stand4Facts.org.