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Towards a Lasting Middle East Peace

At the National Press Club, Washington DC , 11 December 2001
By: Rabbi Yisroel D. Weiss of Neturei Karta International

With G-D’s help May the Creator grant that my words find favor in His eyes.

Each day’s news brings with it horrible tales of suffering from the Holy Land . The death toll on both sides mounts steadily. Indeed, so overwhelming is the seemingly never-ending stream of death and mayhem that it requires an exceptionally bloody day to merit significant media consideration. We have all grown accustomed to the fact that the Israeli state and its Palestinian opponents are locked in mortal combat. So it has been, so it is and so, it seems, it always will be.

Indeed, this pessimistic prognosis seems rooted in a century of precedent. The first Jewish settlers who came to Palestine with the intention of establishing a sovereign Jewish state there arrived towards the end of the nineteenth century. Palestinian nationalism – then generally subsumed under the title Arab nationalism but soon to assume its more particularistic title – began to flourish at about the same time.

The clash of these movements was played out through various wars, atrocities, revolutions and dispossessions throughout the twentieth century. Various strains of ideology in these rival nationalisms have attempted to bring the matter to closure, either by force of arms or, at times, by recourse to the negotiating table.

All these efforts, be they military or compromise oriented, have one fact in common. Their result is always the same. They have failed – failed utterly and totally. We may delude ourselves by yet dreaming, as many do, that there is one final war or one last peace plan which can calm all those concerned. Unfortunately there is no indication that such is the case.

We of Neturei Karta International find the toll of dead and wounded on both sides to be intolerable. We feel that it is high time for a radical departure from the assumptions that have governed and, effectively stifled free debate on the subject.

Our perspective is far from new. It is the centuries old view of the Torah. It was once universally shared by all Jews and it is only our people’s recent flirtation with assorted secularist dogmas that have caused it to be forgotten of late in some quarters.

Simply stated – The essence of Judaism is our faith -- our belief that G-d spoke to Moses and the assembled multitudes at Sinai and there gave His Revelation to the world. This was, is and always will be, Judaism.

The Jewish exile from the Holy Land , which followed the Roman destruction of the Second Temple close to two thousand years ago, was always viewed by our people as a Divine punishment. The state of exile in which we found ourselves was not seen as the result of military or political weakness. Rather, the Creator had decreed that until such time as He would chose to redeem the world, world Jewry was to remain in exile. The only possible means to alter what was and is a metaphysical state are spiritual. Repentance, prayer, Torah study, deeds of kindness and the like could hasten redemption. Nothing else would be effective. Any other means of ending exile is metaphysically doomed to failure.

Zionism was a movement dedicated to altering this traditional view of redemption. It posited that political maneuvering; revolutionary terror, war and dispossession would yield Jewish salvation.

Nothing could be further from the truths of Judaism.

However, Zionism not only broke with the teachings of our faith, it also entered upon a campaign, now over one hundred years old, to persuade and, eventually, force, when possible, Jews to abandon their allegiance to G-d and the Torah and recreate themselves as secular nationalists.

The Zionist movement was not only a heretical departure from Judaism and a practical attempt to lure Jews from their Torah. It was also monstrously blind to the indigenous inhabitants of the Holy Land . In the 1890s, less than 5% of the Holy Land ’s population was Jewish, yet, Theodore Herzl had the nerve to describe his movement as that of “a people without a land for a land without a people.”

Time and again both Revisionist and Labor Zionists, the former overtly and the latter under the clouds of deceptive rhetoric, have sought the elimination of the Palestinian people from their state. They have dispossessed thousands and refused them the right of return or minimum compensation. They have kept the people of Gaza and the West Bank stripped of basic political and human rights and denied them the dignity of self-determination.

This aggression has plunged the region into its never-ending spiral of bloodshed.

Sad to say, the bloody results of Zionism were not unexpected. They were foretold in the Talmud. There we read that a human based attempt to return en masse to the Holy Land would result in terrifying loss of life. This is an unpleasant truth but its seems quite validated by the past century’s events.

People of the Press, I have come before you today to offer a new perspective on the Middle East, a new explanation as to why all previous attempts at peace making have failed. It is our belief that they are inherently doomed to fail. All of them share one fatal assumption. They find it axiomatic that the state of Israel should exist. And, in contrast to the plain evidence of the past half-century of Jewish history they see its existence as a positive development for the Jewish people.

Only blind dogma could at this date see Israel as something good for the Jewish people. Established as a so-called safe haven it has consistently over the past five decades been the most dangerous place on the face of the earth for a Jew to live. It has been the source of tens of thousands of Jewish deaths, of families torn apart and has left a trail of grieving widows, orphans and friends in its wake.

Not to mention the countless thousands of Jewish souls diverted from religion. And our Rabbis state “If you cause one to sin, it is worse than killing him”.

And, let us not forget that this tale of physical Jewish suffering is far magnified among the Palestinian people, a nation condemned to poverty, persecution, homelessness, all pervasive hopelessness and all too often, a far too premature, death.

This web of pain, the cries and tears of the grieving, demand of us as Jews that we return to the wellsprings of our faith. We must accept our task to serve G-d in humility and peace. This is the essence of a Jew.

And, when so doing we will inevitably reject the bizarre and malicious doctrines of Zionism, the falsification of Judaism.

We will realize that defying the Divine decree of exile is doomed to bloody failure.

We will realize that our people’s hopes cannot be built by shattering those of another people.

We will demand and with G-d’s, help live to see the peaceful dismantling of the state. We will return the land to those who dwelt upon it for centuries, the Palestinian people. Under their sovereignty, we will work towards a just solution to any Jewish – Palestinian problems created by the brief period of Zionist ascendancy.

There are I’m sure some skeptics here in the audience who feel that a Palestinian state would represent a threat to the Jewish people. My friends, I have been there time and time again as Neturei Karta International has visited Palestinian and Islamic organizations and I have been greeted with extraordinary warmth and brotherly concern. We have visited Iran , been hosts of the government. We were allowed to speak in Iran to both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, without any prior censorship. We have discovered time after time, that Muslims in general actually yearn for good relations with Jews and, that when the evil face of Zionism is stripped away, the naturally good relations between our peoples bubbles to the surface.

Actully history bears witness that through out the centuries Muslim countries were extremely hospitable to the Jews. In fact as a general rule the Jews faired far better in those countries than in other host lands.

And in Palestine alone our grandparent have testified to the fact that the Muslims and Jews lived in peace and harmony up until the advent of Zionism.

Many stories of the close friendship that existed at that time circulate in the Jewish communities, for instance, baby sitting each others children was a daily occurrence

We also operate a web site. There isn’t a day goes by when we don’t receive e- mails from around the Islamic world. They are all positive. They bless, express love and brotherhood. Often they credit us with having cured them of anti Jewish sentiments. From Yemen to Great Britain the delight these people experience in finding anti Zionist Jews is palpable.

This then is the image we offer as an alternative to the current horror – of a Jewish people free of the need to kill and be killed, free to pursue their Divine task of Torah practice and free to live in peace and respect with all men. May the Creator grant that we all be worthy of seeing that day. And ultimately the day when all will recognize the one G-D and serve Him in harmony. AMEN

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Copyright 2003, Neturei Karta International