Truth, Not Name-Calling

Truth, Not Name-Calling
by Rabbi Dovid Feldman

Last week’s op-ed by Rabbi Daniel Green contained one true statement buried in a heap of falsehoods. In deference to him, since he is after all the rabbi of the only Orthodox synagogue in Hamilton, let’s start there.

“While certain Hassidic groups maintain the belief that the establishment of a Jewish state should await the coming of the messiah…” Actually, it’s not only Hasidic groups. When the Zionist movement began in the late 1800’s, almost all major rabbis opposed it, ranging from the German Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, to the Lithuanian Rabbi Chaim Brisker, to the Sephardic Rabbi Chaim Chizkiyahu Medini, author of Sdei Chemed. A generation later, Rabbi Aharon Kotler and Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman of the Lithuanian yeshivos, as well as Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, chief rabbi of Jerusalem, opposed the creation of a Jewish state. And even the minority of rabbis who supported settlement in the Holy Land did not advocate a state founded through warfare.

Thus Neturei Karta represents a viewpoint that was originally the normative Jewish one. It is only recently, with many Jewish communities unfortunately swept up in the enthusiasm of Zionism, that Neturei Karta has become outnumbered. But NK still represents large communities of hundreds of thousands of Jews. The world needs to know about these communities, and if not for Neturei Karta’s “professional protesters” as Rabbi Green terms them, the world would not know. Most anti-Zionist Jewish communities are insular and old-fashioned, and get little coverage in the media.

Now let’s get to some of the false accusations. Neturei Karta emphatically is apolitical and is not affiliated with any group or government. We are for peace in the Holy Land, and we think it’s time that Jews do some thinking and consider that perhaps the State of Israel may be responsible for the ongoing violence and conflict. Perhaps its founders should have thought twice before declaring their homeland in a place that was already inhabited by another people.

When we visited Iran, our clear purpose was to let the Iranians know about the existence of hundreds of thousands of Jews who are not Zionists. And they understand this message: in a 2011 interview with CNN, Ahmadinejad said he had nothing against Jews, only against Zionists, of whom there were at most 10,000 in the world, with only 2000 main members. The Zionists, he said, had lured Jews to Israel with promises of housing and employment. Rabbi Green would obviously be happier if the Iranians thought all Jews were Zionists and directed their grievances toward all of us.

We are not funded by any “Islamic entities.” One hundred percent of our funding comes from like-minded Jews.

We are not dedicated to the “destruction” of the Jewish state. We want Jews to realize that it’s wrong according to the Torah, and dismantle it peacefully, to be replaced by a state run by non-Jews with equal rights for all citizens.

We have not been “unequivocally disenfranchised and shunned by the most religious and pious Jewish communities.” There have been some who spoke out against us, but most anti-Zionist Jews encourage and support our actions, although they may not be able to say so openly for fear of the wider Jewish public.

It is not true that adherents of Neturei Karta are denied entry into synagogues. The man whose children were not accepted into schools in Europe is an unstable individual who is not connected with Neturei Karta in any way. The same is true of the person who was accused of spying for Iran – he is unconnected with our group.

We have never heard of any mohel denying his services to Neturei Karta members, and in fact among our members there are several active mohelim who regularly perform circumcisions in the general Jewish world.

Rabbi Green mentions the prayer against the traitors. Actually, the prayer is against both traitors and heretics. In our generation, the most powerful heretics are the Zionists, who have transformed Judaism from a peaceful religion centered around serving G-d and acting kindly to others, into a militant movement focused on conquering and retaining a piece of land. They are also today’s traitors, because with their actions in the name of the Jewish people they have stirred up anti-Semitism all around the world.

In conclusion, let’s note that Rabbi Green’s synagogue celebrates Israeli independence day. He is thus a declared Zionist, and his op-ed against us – with the full assortment of accusations, true and false – is exactly what we would expect of him. However, in the non-Zionist Orthodox world – the Yeshiva world and the Hasidic world, where Israeli flags are never displayed, there is a lot of support for Neturei Karta. NK’s actions can only benefit the Jewish people by making it widely known that we are a peaceful people, ready to live in harmony with the nations of the world.

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