Neturei Karta (“Guardians of the City” in Aramaic) was created in 1938, mainly by Hungarian Jews, as a breakaway group from the more mainstream Agudath Israel movement.
The organization openly calls for Israel to be destroyed and openly supports the worst genocidal anti-Semites on the planet.
Recently, in response to one of my columns, I received a series of e-mails from someone associated with the Neturei Karta movement. He and I carried on a correspondence of sorts for quite a while. Below I have taken the essence of the notes I sent him and compiled them into an “open letter.”
In the Amida prayer, which Jews recite three times every day, there is a section in which the minim are denounced. The minim were small groups of treasonous Jews who collaborated with the Roman enemies of the Jewish people, and the prayer explicitly mentions that these minim were tattlers, snitches, people who served the anti-Semites of their day as agents, and worked against Jewish existence and survival. Since then, of course, the segment in the
daily prayer has been understood to be a curse in general upon anti-Semites, and especially Jewish anti-Semites working against their own people.
I mention all this because I can think of no more apt illustration of a cult of minim than Neturei Karta. Your cult is nothing more than a pseudo-Jewish pagan group working against Judaism and in collaboration with the worst enemies of the Jews. You would have no problems serving the Romans or Assyrians if they were still around.
You claim that you are simply opposed to Israel because it is full of people who trample upon Jewish observance. Well, let me tell you something. The most secularist pork-eater on any kibbutz in Israel is halachically more Jewish than the “rabbis” in the Neturei Karta cult. Why do I say this? Because, as you know, there is a clear halachic rule that says that living in the Land of Israel is equivalent to observing all 613 religious commandments or mitzvot. All of them – even the ones reserved for priests and even the ones that may only be performed in the Temple (and so may not be performed today).
No, I am not suggesting that living in Eretz Yisrael should be regarded as a blanket exemption from the observance of all other Jewish religious precepts. I am simply saying that even someone who observes nothing at all, but who lives in Israel, is on a very real level more Jewish than the “rabbis” of your minim cult.
When you march in anti-Israel demonstrations alongside anti-Semites, when you endorse Arafat and his stormtroopers and serve as their public relations agents, when you support terrorists and excuse mass murders of Jews, you are acting as followers of the evil Bil’am, not as sons of Jacob or disciples of Abraham.
You say you want Israel destroyed because it was not set up properly, because the Messiah has not yet come. Do you really think that Israel can be destroyed without there also transpiring a second Holocaust? Do you not realize this is the unavoidable consequence of what you are proposing, and what the people you are supporting seek?
A ketuba, or marriage contract, that is signed on the Sabbath is still a valid one and must be respected, even though signing it on the Sabbath is a violation of the day. A kohen who marries a divorcee has sinned, because such a marriage is prohibited by the Torah, but the marriage must be acknowledged and even accepted and honored. It stands.
Whether or not Israel was created properly or at the correct time, the fact that it exists changes how Jews must behave and requires a certain amount of responsibility and arvut ze l’ze, or mutual support and defense, even from the most smug, self-righteous pretenders at ultra-religiosity.
Whatever you think about the establishment of Israel, you have no right to endorse those who seek to destroy it and its Jewish population through violence. And if you do endorse such people and march with them, you are collaborators with Haman. You are worse than Dotan and Aviram.
Had you lived in Shushan in Persia in the days of Queen Esther and her Uncle Mordecai, you would have been marching arm in arm with Haman. After all, among those Persian Jews were no doubt many who violated the Sabbath and other religious principles. Neturei Karta would have supported Haman as a way to “punish” them.
In Elijah’s generation, all but a handful of Jews were acting as pagans. Strange, but I do not recall Elijah justifying anti-Semites murdering them. Indeed, Elijah enthusiastically endorsed the very worst pagan of all, King Ahab, when the king went on the warpath to kill the enemies of Israel.
The Neturei Karta “rabbis” are not recognized as Torah authorities by real Torah authorities outside the cult – not by Sephardic rabbis, not by Ashkenazic rabbis, not by misnagdim, not by chassidim. In essence, virtually all Jews see Neturei Karta as a pathetic minim cult. Can you name a single rabbi outside Neturei Karta who endorses the view of your own “rabbis”? Of
course you can’t.
So you think collaborating with the worst anti-Semites on the planet, people who openly endorse genocide of Jews, is better than collaborating with misguided Israeli secularists, people who perhaps need to be pulled back to the traditions of Israel? You believe that when a Jew sins, he ceases to be a Jew and should be murdered? I wonder what books you are reading as replacements for the Torah.
You insist the Zionists are the Devil, not the Palestinian terrorists. And of course, if the Palestinian terrorists are not the Devil, why should anyone think the German Nazis were? Since you defend the Palestinians? right to murder my family – and, as it happens, my family does not eat pork – then what is wrong with the Germans murdering my grandparents?
In the interest of consistency, why not march around in your pro-PLO parades wearing swastikas? Why not put one on your website?
The Neturei Karta cultists are inverted Bil’ams. Bil’am was ordered to curse Israel, yet ended up blessing the Tents of Jacob. You are the reverse. You are ordered by the Torah to bless Israel, but you curse the Jewish people. You have no concept of Jewish solidarity because you are, at best, a pseudo-Jewish minim cult.
Steven Plaut is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.