Jews against Zionism



Some religious Jews also reject an immoral, outlaw Israel in the name of their religion.

AMONG the many religious Jewish groups that reject today’s Israel and its Zionist basis are Satmar, Dushinski and Neturei Karta (NK, or “Guardians of the City/Faith”).

 Cohen: ‘Any form of unjust violence is terrorism, whether state-sponsored or otherwise, and must be stopped.’

Present as communities in Israel, the United States and parts of Europe, they hold demonstrations to protest against Israeli atrocities and the creation of today’s Israel, saying that the Torah specifically forbids a Jewish state established by force and before the coming of the Messiah.

As a result, they are often sidelined by the Western mainstream media or attacked by pro-Zionist mobs, sometimes both at the same time. And yet among senior orthodox rabbis, religious Zionists form only a minority.

The three Talmudic oaths hold that Jews as a group must not forcibly create Israel, that they should not fight the will of the international community, and that the world would not unduly penalise Israel. Anti-Zionist Jewish groups find the very establishment of Israel to be a negation of these oaths.

NK is one of the most outspoken and controversial of these anti-Zionist groups because of its high-profile activism. Mainly resident in Jerusalem, New York, London and elsewhere in Britain, this has also led to misunderstanding from other groups.

In 2004, NK was censured by some Jewish groups when some of its rabbis held a prayer vigil for dying PLO leader Yasser Arafat. But NK said it shared some views with Fatah, such as a secular Palestinian state.

Two years later, some NK rabbis attended an international meeting in Teheran that Zionists labelled a “Holocaust denial” conference. Participants like NK were duly tagged as denying the Holocaust ever happened.

NK leaders replied that they went to affirm that the Holocaust did happen, while insisting that it should not be exploited by Israel today against other people like the Palestinians. They also said they needed to explain the difference between Judaism as religion and Zionism as politics.

One of these NK leaders is British-born Rabbi Ahron Cohen, whose grandparents emigrated to Britain about 100 years ago around the time that today’s Israel was conceived.

A religious family man, Rabbi Cohen is part of the Orthodox Jewish community in which he and his family “endeavour to live their lives entirely in accordance with the Jewish religion”.

He also describes himself as “one of many Orthodox Jews who completely sympathise with the cause of the Palestinians in their struggle against the Zionist state (Israel)”.

Cohen is one of the Jewish leaders I have discussed the Israel-Palestine problem with in recent years.

Here are some of his views expressed to me last week on Israel’s actions in Gaza today:

“The flawed illegitimate concept of the sectarian state of ‘Israel’ is not a ‘Jewish’ religious concept, but a secular nationalistic colonialist concept. It is the underlying cause of the 100-year-old confrontation and strife in Palestine.

“The immediate reason for Israel’s actions is therefore irrelevant. The nations of the world should begin to look at a peaceful dissolution of the Zionist state and concept, to be replaced by a single just regime acceptable to all. Only then can peace reign.”

On Israel snubbing world opinion: “The nature of Zionism is a selfish and forceful nationalism and is not concerned morally with world opinion. I presume that they are banking on the atrocities being forgotten by the world as other atrocities in history have been largely forgotten.”

On the consequences: “The medium consequences are difficult to predict. However, the long-term consequences must lead to an eventual dismantling of the rogue state, Israel.

“We cannot predict the sequence of events which will lead to this, but our prayer is that it should take place peacefully and speedily. The state of ‘Israel’ is a concept completely foreign to authentic Judaism.

“Judaism is a godly, ethical way of life which goes back thousands of years, whereas Zionism is a secular nationalistic amoral concept, barely 100 years old.

“Sadly, this fact is not immediately apparent to the world at large due to the popularity that Zionism has managed to achieve among people who are not prepared to approach the matter with an open mind, honestly and objectively.”

Terrorism: “Any form of unjust violence is terrorism whether state-sponsored or otherwise, and must be stopped. Of course great wisdom, national humility and the discarding of self-interests are required in order to establish what is ‘unjust violence’.”

US support for Israel: “Totally lacking in appreciation of the underlying problem and solution.”

US vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden calling himself a Zionist: “This is yet another example of the amazing but immoral success that Zionist propaganda has had in justifying and impressing its cause.”

President-elect Barack Obama: “Impossible to predict at this stage, but hopefully less bigoted and one-sided in favour of Israel than most of his predecessors.”

Anti-Zionist Jews: “Sadly, they are a minority but a significant one. They are not widely heard of mainly because of the tremendous Zionist or pro-Zionist effect on the media, and social pressures imposed upon anti-Zionists by Zionists or Zionist supporters.”

And the best solution for the Israel-Palestine problem? “A single state for all its citizens.”

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