Jews against Israel

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Posted by Jeff from ( on Thursday, March 13, 2003 at 4:48PM :

Jews against Israel
Neturei Karta, a Zionism-denouncing, Palestinian-embracing subculture within ultra-Orthodox Judaism, is suddenly sharing the spotlight in the antiwar movement.

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By Michelle Goldberg

March 13, 2003 | MONSEY, N.Y. --

On Saturday, when thousands of antiwar activists converge on the White House, there will be a small, silent group of Hassidic rabbis in black hats and curling sidelocks among them. Because it's the Jewish Sabbath, a day when Orthodox Jews abstain from all work, the rabbis can't take to the podium. If they could, though, their message would mirror that of ANSWER, the zealously anti-Zionist group that called the march. Israel, the rabbis believe, is the source of all the world's suffering, as well as the catalyst for a war driving the world toward catastrophe. America, says Rabbi Chaim Sofer, has been "hijacked by Zionists. This whole war is to secure the assets of the Israeli occupation. We, as Jews, have an obligation to tell the truth about this war."

Sofer and the other rabbis are part of Neturei Karta, a strongly anti-Israel subculture within ultra-Orthodox Judaism. They're bound by a conviction, once shared by most Orthodox Jews, that Zionism is an affront to God and that peace won't prevail until the state of Israel is dismantled. The group, which claims thousands of members worldwide, was founded in Jerusalem around 1940 by rabbis opposed to attempts to create a Jewish state. There are branches of Neturei Karta in Israel, Europe and New York, where members make appearances from time to time to burn Israeli flags on Israeli Independence Day, which Neturei Karta's spiritual leader, the late Grand Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, called "the terrible Day of Blasphemy."

-- Jeff
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