In June 1987 I conducted this interview for “Palestine Focus,” the newspaper of the November 29th Committee for Palestine. It was published in the July-August edition. Of course many things have changed since then. However, the explanation given by the late Rabbi Moshe Hirsch regarding the critical differences between political Zionism and the Bible–based hope for the return of the Jews to the promised land is still necessary to understand. Rabbi Hirsch’s most salient point is that the Palestinians are the legitimate rulers of the land, and their law must be the law of the land from the river to the sea. This must be so until G-d says otherwise. To see more on Neturei Karta, go to nkusa.org.
Edwin Krales, May 28, 2013
Rabbi Moshe Hirsch is the “foreign minister” of Neturei Karta, a group of anti-Zionist orthodox Jews living in Jerusalem, which is associated with the two hundred and fifty thousand worldwide adherents of the Satmar Hasidim. This interview was conducted in New York on behalf of Palestine Focus by Ed Krales. In respect for orthodox custom, we write the deity as G-d.
What is Neturei Karta?
Jewish people as individuals have always aspired to elevate to the Holy Land in order to serve G-d in G-d’s so-called backyard. These Jews never had any political aspirations of ruling the land or part of the land. Their prime and only motive was the adherence to G-d’s will, which was their philosophical approach to life on earth. At the outset of the Zionist ideology, the Jewish settlers organized themselves into a group called Neturei Karta, which in Aramaic means “the Guardians of the City,” referring to the Holy City, Jerusalem, in order to disassociate from this Zionist movement which the Jewish people found to be infringing on principles of the Jewish faith.
This was at the very beginning, following the First World War, when Zionism first began to be felt. These were simple Jews who had no organizational tenets, who saw that it would be a matter of losing their whole raison d’etre of being in the Holy Land or of being a Jew if they would submit to Zionism. They did get together and kept
“We can never recognize Israel.”
apart from the Zionist movement and its facets to this very day.
The Jewish code of law teaches us that a Jew is to be loyal to any ruler he finds himself under during this period of Jewish exile. The Torah, the Bible, teaches us that G-d gave the Holy Land to the Jewish people. They were there for two periods, over four hundred years, with their Holy Temple, in which they served G-d, and they were exiled because they sinned to G-d, Who stipulated that the giving of the land to the Jewish people was stipulated with the adherence to G-d’s will. When this stipulation was forfeited, the land was taken away. One of the principles of the faith teaches us that G-d will return the land to the Jewish people through His messiah inHis good time. Any attempt to accelerate this redemption would bring disastrous consequences.
The late chief rabbi of our organization in the Holy Land was Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, the Satmar Rebbe, who passed away several years ago. He wrote that the Holocaust is a consequence of this violation of a divine oath, which is based on a passage of the Song of Songs, which is thrice repeated: “I charge you, Jewish daughter, by the deer and antelope of the forest, not to awaken thy love [G-d’s love to the Holy Land] until thou wills it.” The Talmud refers to this passage, telling us of three divine oaths which G-d charged the Jewish people with. One is not to take over the Holy Land by force against the will of those residing there.
How Zionists Exploit Religion
The Zionists are exploiting the Holocaust as they exploit the religion. They have two chief rabbis in their employ, and their opinions are not even accepted by the establishment. Exhibit A: There was a City of David controversy several years ago when they were digging up an archeological site on an ancient Jewish cemetery, which was declared an ancient Jewish cemetery by the rabbinate, both rabbis. They referred this issue to the high court, and the high court says this isn’t a Jewish state, where the halacha, the code of law, guides the country. It’s guided by secular Turkish and English law, so therefore you are permitted to continue desecrating the Jewish cemetery.
The high court said exactly what the Neturei Karta was saying all along: This state is not a Jewish state. It is a state run by Jews, just like any company managed by Jews, but whose produce is not Jewish. They exploit the rabbinate, and say, look here we have the wailing wall, we have the rabbinate, we have people with long beards in the parliament, and we have certain laws which are Jewish laws, sort of giving it a Jewish taintage, but in reality it is just a mask of political expansionists.
Israel Isn’t Kosher
In 1912, Agudath Israel was established in order to combat the new-established ideology of Mizrachi. Mizrachi is the NRP [National Religious Party], which came out with the ideology that we must establish a state according to the Torah, a “kosher” state. This the sage leaders of the agudas, the orthodox community, found to be in contradiction with the Jewish principles of the faith, that the Jewish people are in exile and are forbidden to establish any form of state in the Holy Land unless it is chosen by the Palestinian residents. Just as in the United States, they can have a Jewish president, if they wish, but not to force any rule over the Holy Land, be it kosher (or what they claim to be kosher), or not. So that was Agudath Israel and Neturei Karta.
In 1924, the chief rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld, visited Sharif Hussein and was honored there. He told Hussein and other Arab leaders of the Middle East of that time that the Jewish people had no aspirations for any political gain or rule. All they wished was to live side by side with their Arab neighbors and serve G-d.
But today the Agudath Israel have rebelled against what their forefathers stood for. At first they joined the Knesset to fight Zionism from within. Slowly but surely they became a pillar in the Zionist establishment. So they went in to change laws to make them look Jewish just to characterize the state.
The NRP was Zionist from the beginning; that’s their whole being. The Agudath Israel were anti-Zionists. They were the veteran Jewish settlers, pioneers in the Holy Land who organized themselves against Zionism. In 1935, there were elections in the orthodox community organization, and Agudath Israel lost out to Neturei Karta. And slowly but surely they started leaning toward Zionist philanthropies.
They were led astray because of the bait which was extended by the Zionists to support their institutions. It’s difficult to run an institution; it takes money; and Zionists know that.
How Neturei Karta Functions in Israel
We’ve reached a point where the Zionist government recognizes us—but we do not recognize them. We have a sort of autonomous principality in which we have no ties. Our institutions do not receive any monies from the government; the families do not receive any national insurance. We do not pay taxes. We certainly won’t serve in the army. If we would serve in the army, we would fight against the Zionists.
According to our theology, we are to be loyal to any rule which is chosen by the population in that region of the world. Just as we are to be loyal to the American administration and even to the Thatcher administration, we have to be loyal to the rule chosen by the people living in Palestine, which is the PLO. There were elections held under Israeli rule; there is the 1974 Arab Summit which chose them—and which has been reiterated by the King of Jordan and many others—that the PLO represents the people living in Palestine. And the rule chosen by the PLO is the rule we are loyal to. The dominating rule has no lawful position, besides the fact that it is contrary to Jewish theology, so, therefore, we do not recognize the state of Israel.
“We have to be loyal to the rule chosen by the people living in Palestine, which is the PLO.”
If in the future a Palestinian entity is established, we would like to appendage Mea Shearim and vicinity to it in order to get out of thetreyfa, the nonkosher Zionist establishment, to the kosher establishment. I was once asked on the army radio in Israel, “What do you find bad in Mea Shearim that you want to get out of the treyfa state of Israel? What doesn’t please you there?” I said, “Sometimes people eat treyfa, nonkosher foods, and it’s ta’im, it’s tasty, but nevertheless the soul suffers. And Jewish philosophy teaches the Jew that he is not on earth to enjoy tasty foods, but only to nourish the everlasting counterpart of the human, the soul which lasts on after the body is cast aside after a certain number of years.”
If the Americans or those who run international politics give a Palestinian state or a Palestinian-Jordanian state a franchise, then we would be more than just willing, we would fight to be included in that. An article of ours in Al-Fajr [pro-PLO Palestinian newspaper published in Jerusalem] went something like this: Would the Neturei Karta disassociate itself from the PLO if the PLO recognized Israel? The PLO is at war with the Zionist establishment because of a material claim—lands taken away from them. Material-claims compromises may occur if the deal is approved or is worthwhile. “Good, give us this part of the land and we’ll recognize you, and you have the other part.” But our war is a theological war which cannot bear any compromise, so, therefore, if they would recognize Israel, that would be an opportunity for us to get out of the nonkosher land and join with the other half. We can never recognize Israel, not in Tel Aviv and not anywhere else. The PLO may because there it is a material war, a material claim.
We are as Palestinian as Yasser Arafat. There are Jewish Palestinians, and there are Muslim Palestinians and Christian Palestinians. In regard to issues relating to the Palestinian people, we also have our interests. If a state is established, we would like to have our representation in the government.
EDWIN KRALES can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org