Letter to the Al-Quds committee at the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine conference to be held in Beirut, Lebanon

After decades of occupation in Palestine and settlement building, an important part of the problem is the issue of Jerusalem.

I would like to present on the topic of Jerusalem the religious Jewish perspective, a perspective that is based on Judaism, the Torah, the Jewish religion.

This is not a new perspective; it is the approach Jews have received by tradition from their forbears in past generations, and especially in the last few generations since Zionism began.

The first point I want to make is that the conflict in Palestine is relatively new. For centuries Jews and Palestinians lived in peace together, just as in other Arab countries, despite our differences of religion. We Jews are grateful to the Palestinian people for their tolerance and hospitality to us over the centuries. Thus it should be clear that the current conflict is not religious but political.

In past centuries, when Jews settled in Palestine, their only goal was to serve G-d and live peacefully alongside their neighbors, as we are commanded to do, as loyal citizens of our countries of residence.

This is the way things were until Herzl and other Jewish heretics invented Zionism. They created a new kind of Judaism, replacing service of the Almighty with nationalism.

From the beginning, the greatest rabbis in Palestine and the rest of the Jewish world opposed Zionism. For example, in 1929 Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, chief rabbi of Palestine, wrote an article in the Arabic press entitled “Truth and Peace” in which he wrote that Orthodox Jews have no desire to take any land or encroach on the rights of Muslims to their holy sites. In 1947, a year before the state came into being, the chief rabbi at that time, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, wrote a statement to the UN Special Committee on Palestine saying, “We are opposed to a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.”

It is clear from the Torah that not only Jerusalem does not belong to the Zionists; none of Palestine is theirs.

The Torah forbids us to steal from another people, oppress them or occupy their land. This is especially wrong when we are dealing with a people who epitomize kindness and hospitality, a people who welcomed us as their neighbors for centuries, respected us and protected us.

The Torah forbids Jews to have their own state, because we are in exile by Divine decree. We are waiting only for a heavenly redemption, by the hands of the messiah.

Jews never before attempted such a thing as Zionism, and there’s a good reason for that. It is completely anti-Jewish, anti-Torah.

Orthodox Jews opposed Zionism from its founding day, and to this day masses of Jews, including a large part of the Jewish community in the Holy Land, remain strongly and publicly opposed to the state. They pay a heavy price – almost every day Jews are beaten and arrested for resisting the government and its persecution, for example the forced army draft.

We feel it is crucial that more people know about these facts in order to bridge the gap and decrease the distrust that has unfortunately developed between Jews and Arabs. People should realize that the Zionists represent only themselves, not all Jews.

I would like to suggest that the committee adopt the following points as part of their resolutions.

1. Judaism and Zionism are diametric opposites. The Zionist state is against the Torah. Masses of Jews all over the world, including in Palestine, are opposed to its existance. The Zionist state does not represent Jewry or the Jewish Torah. Therefore, people should not call it a “Jewish” state.

2. We must remind ourselves of what all Palestinian leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, have said about Jews: “Jews have always been welcome in Palestine, in the past and in the present as well. We respect Jews and have nothing against them or their religion. We are against the occupation, and we want to live together in peace as in the past. This is not a religious conflict, but a question of political injustice. Anti-Zionism is therefore not anti-Semitism.”

We can hope that when these facts become clear to all sides, the conflict will be viewed in a different light and all the Zionist propaganda equating Palestinian activism with anti-Semitism will be exposed as false.