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Neturei Karta: The Ultra-Orthodox Jews Who Support a Peaceful Dismantling of the State of Israel

In The Chosen, a book which was also produced as a movie, we learn about a strong difference of opinion among some Jewish people in the late 1940s regarding the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state. Followers of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism were opposed to establishing a Jewish state.

At one meal, Reuven mentions that some feel it is time to establish a Jewish state, which sends Rabbi Saunders into a fierce tirade against Zionism; for the ultra-orthodox, a secular Jewish state established by man without the coming of the Messiah is against God’s will.

Source: Wikipediaa – The Chosen

This opposition to a secular Jewish state continues today among some ultra-orthodox Jewish groups. One group, called the Neturei Karta, through their website, and various initiatives has become very vocal and well known.

Here is an excerpt from the Jewish Virtual Library about the Neturei Karta:

Neturei Karta (Aramaic: “Guardians of the City”) is a group of Orthodox Jews which rejects Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel. They believe that the true Israel can only be reestablished with the coming of the Messiah. They number some 5,000 and are concentrated in Jerusalem. Other, larger groups associated with Neturei Karta but not members of the group, can be found in Israel, London, New York City, and upstate New York state.

For the most part, the members of Neturei Karta are descended from Hungarian Jews that settled in Jerusalem’s Old City in the early nineteenth century. They were tradesmen and craftsmen, who devoted most of their time to studying the Talmud and other sacred texts. Most of their livelihood was based on the halukah, or distribution of charitable donations from wealthy Jews in the Diaspora. In the late nineteenth century, they participated in the creation of new neighborhoods outside the city walls to alleviate overcrowding in the Old City, and most are now concentrated in the neighborhood of Batei Ungarin and the larger Meah Shearim neighborhood.

At the time, they were vocal opponents to the new political ideology of Zionism that was attempting to assert Jewish sovereignty in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. They resented the new arrivals, who were predominantly secular, and claimed that Jewish redemption could only be brought about by the Messiah.

Source: Jewish Virtual Library

The Anti Defamation League has highlighted Neturei Karta as a group that periodically has interactions with those considered to be extremists such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Founded in 1938, “Neturei Karta” (Aramaic for “Guardians of the Gates”) opposes the contemporary state of Israel because it does not believe that the Jewish people have the right to self-determination and because only God can restore Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel by bringing the Messiah. NK has a very extreme agenda and has regularly aligned with international anti-Semites, Islamic extremists and groups that advocate violence against Israel. In recent years, leaders of Neturei Karta have met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on several occasions in New York and Tehran, as well as leaders of Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Source: ADL

The VICE News report below from 2015, offers some insights into the Neturei Karta community through members sharing their views. (Source: VICE News, 7 Sep 2016)

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com

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