The Neturei Karta are the poster boys of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). They loyally show up to all PSC events whether during the week or on Shabbat.
In January I saw one of them, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, at an anti-Israel conference at SOAS on a Shabbat morning carrying a briefcase. The Neturei Karta make up the laws of Judaism to suit themselves.
I realise that many Jews also now make up the laws of Judaism to suit themselves, but the latter don’t claim a higher moral authority like the Neturei Karta do.
Neturei Karta means Guardians of the City, but if they refuse to be guardians of Shabbat, the holiest day for Jews, how can they be trusted to be guardians of Judaism in any way.
That said, it is fascinating to think that hundreds of years ago all ultra-religious Jews used to think like the Neturei Karta still think concerning returning to Israel to live; that there should no forcing of such a return, which should only happen at the behest of the Messiah.
Political Zionism took root in the 1890s and the way the ultra-religious approached it was to support it from a pragmatic point of view only in light of the continuing persecution of Jews, but they refused to see in it any kind of Messianism.
It was Rabbi Avraham Kook, born in Lithuania and who was Chief Rabbi of Jaffa from 1904-1914, who started to infuse events with Messianism.
However, it was only after the establishment of Israel and the winning of both the Six Day War (1967), which reunited Jerusalem, and the Yom Kippur War (1973) when religious Zionism finally took off. Many of the ultra-religious saw these events as Messianically inspired.
This, in turn, gave rise to the settlement movement of Gush Emunim, led by Kook’s son Rabbi Yehuda Kook. The national-religious movement was born.
Tiny sects like the Neturei Karta and the Satmar stayed outside this tent.
At last Thursday’s PSC anti-Israel Downing Street protest I spoke to the Neturei Karta who, after refusing to speak to a “Zionist”, agreed that they also want a Jewish state, but only when the Messiah comes (switch browser if viewing problems):
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and their ilk on the far-left either don’t realise this or turn a blind eye to it as what they really want is to lap up the the Neturei Karta’s so-called anti-Zionism.
But, the PSC and their supporters are in for a rude awakening when the Messiah does finally descend from the heavens as they won’t see the Neturei Karta for dust as they will all be heading off to the Jewish state, probably on El Al, at the Messiah’s behest.
Not that most of the Neturei Karta aren’t in Israel anyway. Their presence and synagogues in Mea Shearim are ubiquitous (see below). No one bats an eyelid there where they are viewed as cranks who oppose Israel’s existence while receiving government funding. Meanwhile, in the UK they are closely embraced by the cranks on the far-left and in the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
A few years ago I stopped an ultra-religious guy in Jerusalem to ask for directions and by-the-by I asked him what he thought of the ultra-religious anti-Zionists, like the Neturei Karta, in Israel.
He answered that every Jew living in Israel is a Zionist, he just hasn’t realised it yet.
Avraham Kook, himself, couldn’t have given a better answer if he were alive today.
The Neturei Karta living in Mea Shearim, Jerusalem.