But these guys are not among them!
So – who are these strange looking people attired like Polish noblemen from the 17th century?
They are members of an ultra-orthodox Jewish sect known as the “Neturei Karta“. The name can be translated as “Guardians of the City” but they regard themselves as more than just guardians. They see their role as defending, what they believe, is “the position of the Torah and authentic unadulterated Judaism”.
However , their beliefs do do not include Israel, at least not in its present incarnation.They maintain the view – basing it on the Babylonian Talmud that any form of forceful recapture of the Land of Israel is a violation of divine will. They believe that the restoration of the Land of Israel to the Jews should only happen with the coming of the Messiah, not by self determination.(wiki)
Although formed relatively recently – around 1938 – they were active enough within 10 years to campaign against the United Nations resolution in 1947 approving the creation of the Jewish state.
Of course, in the best traditions of Jewish sects, they soon divided into two groups.
The larger group is considered to be the more moderate and the smaller to be the more extreme. For a secular outsider it is difficult to tell the difference, but the smaller part is certainly more high profile in its actions. There are internal divisions on issues such as even living in Israel. Some members do, primarily in the Mea Shearim area of Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Ramat Beit Shemesh.
Outside of Israel the majority live in America , in or near New York, with a small number in other cities.There is also a small community in the U.K. Estimates as to their size vary from a few hundred up to 5000. Certainly the more vocal and violent section is numbered only in the low hundreds.
Those living in Israel manage to pull of the trick of existing in a state that they do not acknowledge.
This means for example, that they do not speak in Hebrew but converse usually in Yiddish or English. They use American dollars for most financial transactions, instead of the Shekel. If forced to use Shekels they eradicate the name of the state from the banknote. I haven’t worked out, yet, how the notes are accepted. The rumours suggest that a limited number of such notes are just constantly re-circulated within the community and those shops that accept them – a sort of parallel currency!
They pay no taxes but exist on donations from goodness knows where.
( in 2002 , during a military operation , the IDF discovered documents in Yasser Arafat’s office showing payments of $55,000 to Rabbi Moshe Hirsh, then the leader of the most active pro-Palestinian faction.) Hirsh served in the Palestinian Authority as “Minister for Jewish Affairs.”
And, whilst claiming to take nothing from the state ( and not paying any taxes), they do take advantage of all the amenities that the state, or the local municipality, have to offer. For example, infrastructure, roads, transportation, street cleaning, garbage removal, street lighting, public parks etc. All paid for by other taxpayers!
When demonstrating , which they do quite frequently, they even have a tendency to destroy some of these same amenities.For example, setting fire to garbage dumpsters. And when not burning them, using them as surfaces on which to stick anti Israel posters. I personally witnessed this phenomenon in Ramat Beit Shemesh: Posters with slogans like “No Zionists here” and “Zionists not welcome” on all the dumpsters in the neighbourhood.
When not protesting government actions, or burning the national flag on Israel’s Independence Day, or deliberately, and very publicly, ignoring the minutes of silence on the Memorial Day for Israelis who died fighting for the state, they indulge in a bit of globetrotting.
In March 2006, several members of a Neturei Karta’s faction visited Iran where they met with Iranian leaders, including the Vice-President, and praised Ahmadinejad for calling for the Zionist regime occupying Jerusalem to vanish from the pages of time. The spokesmen commented that they shared Ahmadinejad’s aspiration for “a disintegration of the Israeli government”( wiki)
In December 2006, members of Neturei Karta attended the conference on Holocaust denial held in Tehran.
Also in 2009, members of Neturei Karta were present at the infamous Durban Conference held in Geneva. They refused to stand for for a minute of silence in honour of victims of the Holocaust.
It would be true to say that they are hated by almost every Israeli.
Even other Orthodox Jewish sects disown them. And yet they continue to live amongst us and enjoy all the rights and privileges of a free society. The soldiers of the state they don’t recognise, fight and die to protect their freedom to be different.
So, the next time you hear people condemning Israel for its transgressions, real or imagined, ask yourself a question. Do I know of any another country that permits a group to live there, in complete freedom, whilst that group openly declares its commitment to the destruction of that same country? And, not only on a philosophical basis, but actively supports, and meets with, its sworn enemies?
No one should lecture us about real democracy in action!
Andyboy- telling it like it is!
- Neturei Karta Clash with Israel Supporters at UN (israelnationalnews.com)
- Ultra-Orthodox Jews campaign for dismantling of Israel (rt.com)