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Philistines With Yarmulkes

         If Neturei Karta (NK) did not exist, anti-Semites, Islamist terrorists, and neo-Nazis would have to invent it. In fact, in many ways NK is little more than an invention of such people (or at least the bulk of NK funding seems to come from such groups).
 
         The latest fundraising junket by its pseudo-rabbis was to the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran last week – an action that in effect granted pseudo-rabbinic approval by the NK cult to the worst Jew-haters since the 1940′s.
 
         Many in the Jewish community have been comparing NK cult members to the kapos who collaborated with the concentration camp officers and other Nazis during World War II. That comparison is improper and insulting to those who were forced to make unimaginable moral choices by the horrific conditions of the Shoah.
 
         Neturei Karta members are not collaborating with terrorists and neo-Nazis out of duress but rather out of an intense sense of self-indulgence, delight, and amusement. These are quite simply Philistines with peyos, well-paid underlings of Amalek.
 
         And I am hardly the only one who thinks so. In recent days Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger called for members of the Neturei Karta sect to be excommunicated. He was joined not only by the national-religious rabbinic organization Save the Nation and Land and by a group calling itself the Front for National Judaism, but even by members of the Eida Hachareidit, Israel’s council for ultra-Orthodox groups.
 
         Former Israeli chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, himself a Holocaust survivor, said of Neturei Karta: “It is something completely insane… Is it conceivable that any Jew, for whatever reason, would support a Holocaust denier in a generation when people with numbers tattooed on their arms are still among us? It is an insanity that has no justification and no explanation.”
 
         I have long argued that members of Neturei Karta should not be called to the Torah in any real synagogue, and now it appears that even the Satmars have come to share the revulsion felt by most other Torah Jews toward the NK cult.
 
         Breathes there a normal Jew who can feel anything but revulsion upon reading the words of one Ahron Cohen, a leader of the NK cult in Britain, who was quoted this week by the London Sunday Times as saying the Six Million got what they deserve?
 
         “There is no question that there was a Holocaust and gas chambers,” Cohen said. “There are too many eyewitnesses. However, our approach is that when one suffers, the one who perpetrates the suffering is obviously guilty but he will never succeed if the victim did not deserve it in one way or another.”
 
         Cohen also described Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who has vowed to destroy Israel and denied the historical reality of the Holocaust, as “not a man of war. He is a man of peace.”
 
         Neturei Karta’s collaboration with the worst enemies of the Jews did not begin with its pilgrimage to Tehran. NK has collaborated with Palestinian terrorist for decades and would not hesitate for a moment to join an anti-Israel coalition led by Osama bin Laden. The Neturei Karta prescription for the Middle East is for Israel to be destroyed.
 
         The NK cultists oppose all acts of Jewish self-defense (proving once again how little they know of Torah and Judaism). A Neturei Karta bumper sticker shows a Jewish boy waving a Palestinian flag with the slogan “Surrender Is the Torah Solution!”
 
         In 1999 NK members held solidarity meetings with the Afro-fascist anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan. NK members attend the pro-terror, anti-Israel (and anti-America) rallies of the neo-Stalinist group ANSWER. And Neturei Karta has been active in promoting the tales invented by neo-Nazis and anti-Semites about a Jewish neoconservative-Zionist cabal that controls American foreign policy.
 
         It should be emphasized that the only thing “Jewish” about NK is the clothing and sidecurls favored by its members, who strike me as inverted Marranos. The anosim or Marranos in Portugal and Spain passed themselves off as Christians while secretly living as Jews; NK members dress like Jews but behave like Philistines. No wonder, then, that in London many synagogues do not allow NK members entry, or that in 2002 an American umbrella group comprised of Satmar, Bobov, Belz, Vizhnitz, Munkacz, Kiryas Joel, Monroe, and others issued a statement sharply condemning those who openly collaborate with the PLO.
 
         Neturei Karta cult members have always reminded me of Christian missionaries who know very little about the Bible but make up for their ignorance with their obsessive aggressiveness. The NK cultists recite a small number of sentences from the Bible and Talmud, and spin these to any anti-Semite willing to listen to them to serve as justification for their treasonous activities. Every anti-Semitic barbarian on earth then proclaims NK the exemplar of “true Judaism.”
 
         Among the NK cultists’ favorite pocket phrases is one from Song of Songs, which they interpret as prohibiting settling in the Land of Israel until the Messiah comes. They also like to cite a phrase from the Talmud (Tractate Ketubot, 111a) which they take out of context and which they think means Jews should never use armed force to establish political sovereignty within Eretz Yisrael.
 
         Let us be very blunt about this (and Chanukah could not be a better time for clarifying the point): The Torah affirms the right of the Jewish people to control all of the Land of Israel. The only legitimate reasons not to exercise such sovereignty immediately would be the temporary weakness of the Jews or considerations of realpolitik and statecraft.
 
         The Maccabees used force to reestablish Jewish sovereignty over Jewish land. They decidely did not wait for the Messiah, because there is no such religious obligation to do so. Had the Neturei Karta minim been around at the time, they would have been making pilgrimages to Antiochus and accepting cash handouts from the Seleucids. Their banner? “No force must be used to remove pigs and idols from the Temple until the Messiah comes!”
 
         While later generations of sages and rabbis regarded some of the kings who descended from the Hasmoneans as evil, none regarded the political sovereignty established and maintained by such kings to be illegitimate. Indeed, even when an Edomite usurper, King Herod, seized the throne as a Roman satrap, the legitimacy of remaining political autonomy in Judea was never challenged by the sages.
 
         Even after the destruction of the Second Temple, there were a series of attempts to reestablish Jewish sovereignty over the Land of Israel or parts thereof without waiting for any Messiah. Rabbi Akiva himself led one such movement, and he not only knew perfectly well the sentence in Song of Songs used by the NK to argue against use of arms, he himself made the ruling to include Song of Songs in the Jewish Bible.
 
         We are used to thinking of our contemporary Hellenists as assimilationists, leftists and secular anti-Zionists. But modern paganism comes in many a disguise – even the disguise of an Orthodox Jew.
 

         Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com

About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at steveneplaut@yahoo.com.


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