My task today is
to speak about Judaism and Zionism. Given the current assumptions
of the mass media that seems to be a redundant title. Aren’t
the two one and the same? Isn’t Judaism Zionism? Aren’t
Jews by definition Zionists? This is an impression which is,
as I hope will become absolutely clear by the end of this
talk, totally false. It is, however, an impression that is
today quite widespread, both among non – Jews as well
as misinformed Jews.
The correction of the historical record in
the case of any falsification is beneficial, for, as is well
known, the “seal of the Creator is truth.” In
the case of Zionism it is not merely an academic error. It
is one that has caused much death and destruction in the past
and will only continue to do so in the future, G-d forbid,
if it is left uncorrected.
In fact, it is my hope and prayer that today’s
talk will be the first step of a process which may yet lead
to a just solution to the Middle East’s agony or, at
least, a significant easing of its people’s suffering.
Triumph of Falsity
But first we must ask a simple question. Why has the lie,
which equates Judaism and Zionism, triumphed? Why, has what
is so demonstrably false, captured the citadels of Western
public opinion? And, in the end, what can we do about it?
History is invariably written by those who emerge victorious
from its struggles. In the case of the Zionist/Palestinian
struggle of the past century this factor immediately places
the Israeli state, its propagandists and international apologists,
in the ideological driver’s seat.
Second, the suffering of the Jewish people in the Second World
War in Europe created extraordinary sympathy among the peoples
of the earth and it was this sincere and commendable sympathy
that has been incessantly exploited by the Zionist propaganda
machine since 1945.
Last, Zionist propagandists are always given
to bullying tactics and censorship. It is very helpful in
this regard to read former Congressman Findley’s book,
They Dared to Speak Out. It is the sorry record of the immense
resources that the Zionist lobby invested in destroying the
careers of politicians all across the United States who had
voiced some qualms about this nation’s subservience
Of course, anti - Zionist Jews of all political
and religious orientations have long experienced the lash
of the Zionist movement. In 1924, a scholarly Dutch Jew, Dr.
Jacob Israel de Hahn, who functioned as a secretary of Rabbi
Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld (1849 - 1932 ) Chief Rabbi of Palestine,
(may their memories be blessed) was murdered as he returned
from evening prayers outside Shaarui Zedek hospital in Jerusalem.
His crime was that he had been involved in discussions with
Arab leaders that offered an alternative to Zionist hegemony.
His murderers were members of the Haganah, a Zionist, so -
called “defense organization.” In fact, Dr. de
Hahn may well be described as the first victim of Zionist
violence in the Holy Land.
Yet, outside of a limited circle of anti -
Zionist Jews, this cowardly and cold blooded murder is completely
Equally unknown to the general public was the
ease with which Zionists turned on their fellow Jews, as in
the sinking of Jewish refugee ships calculated to elicit world
sympathy such as the S.S. Patria in 1940 and the S. S. Struma
in 1941 which cost the lives of 276 innocent Jews in the case
of the former and 769 in the case of the latter.
More is known about pre - state terror campaigns
against Arab and British innocents. Clearly, this was a movement
that found human life cheap and public criticism intolerable.
Fortunately, though, Zionism is missing the
most potent weapon in any ideology’s arsenal. It doesn’t
have the truth on its side.
Thus, we find that, today, despite the power
of the Zionist lobby and the subservience, until recently,
of most politicians, media outlets and educational settings
here in America, to its dictates, the historical blackout
is coming to an end.
More and more people are questioning the Zionist
version of history.
At the United Nations and throughout Europe the questions
have already been raised and largely answered. The answers
are a variety of criticisms of the Israeli state. Some of
these center on Israel’s practices. Others point to
its underlying philosophy.
Neturei Karta International has always been in the forefront
of those voices that have been raised in opposition to Zionism.
Our opposition has taken us around the world,
to Yemen and Iran, to South Africa and Geneva to attend this
past year’s UN Conference on Racism (and I believe we
have copies available of the talks delivered there). Our supporters
have stood up to Zionist censorship and terror in the streets
of Jerusalem, Manhattan, London, Manchester, Montreal and
wherever Orthodox Jewish communities may be found.
But, we are getting ahead of ourselves. In
order to understand the sources of the current pain in the
Middle East, we must define our terms. What is Judaism and
what is Zionism?
Judaism is the faith of the Jewish people. It is rooted in
the revelation at Sinai where the Torah was given by G-d to
man. The doctrines and laws there revealed to the Jewish people
are forever binding. Throughout the centuries Jewish scholars
and saints have explained the Law. Those explanations are
also part of our tradition.
This definition of Judaism was universally accepted by the
Jewish people until the dawn of the so called Enlightenment
in Europe. In the wake of that mass abandonment of G-d, many
Jews, as well as many Christians and Muslims around the world,
came to reject their faiths.
It was in the spirit of creating a man - made
religion that movements such as Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist
Judaism were born. These movements had in common that they
rejected some, many or all the basics of Torah faith.
Exile and Redemption
One of the central tenets of Torah is that the Creator rewards
and punishes mankind.
Through many of the Prophetic books in the Old Testament the
Jewish people were warned that a serious rebellion against
the Will of G-d would result in the most severe of punishments.
Unchecked it could lead to the ruin of the Holy Temple in
Jerusalem and the exile of the entirety of the Jewish nation.
And, it is here, my friends, in those Old Testament
prophesies, that the quarrel between Judaism and Zionism begins.
Eventually the horrors foretold by the Prophets
came to pass. Jewry was exiled from the Land. The first exile,
also known as the Babylonian captivity, lasted only 70 years.
By a series of miraculous events the people were returned
to the land. This second entry into the land led to the rebuilding
of the Temple. The Second Temple stood from about 2500 years
ago until about 1900 years ago, then it too was destroyed.
This time the cause was once again the backsliding of the
people who were, as always, held to a very demanding Divine
But the prophecies of doom were accompanied
with promises of consolation. The exile would not be forever.
There would be years of dispersion, many of them endured under
persecution. Yet, there was the promise that the people would
yet return to the Land. But this return was not to be under
human control. It would be heralded by the advent of Elijah
the Prophet and accompanied with many miracles. And, this
time, the redemption would not just be for the Jewish people
but, rather for all men. All nations would cease to practice
war. All would rejoice together in the Creator’s care.
There would be no want or physical deprivation. It would be
a time of spiritual brotherhood, all men united in Divine
Thus, at the burning of the Second Temple,
the Jewish people were sent into an exile which extends till
today. For two thousand years Jews have prayed for the end
of their exile and the accompanying redemption of the entire
world. They were taught by the Prophets and subsequent Sages
that their exile was an expiation of their sins. This meant
that the only reasonable and permissible path to end the exile
were repentance and prayer.
To suggest that one could use political or
military means to escape the Creator’s decree was seen
as heresy, as a denial of the Divine stewardship over sin
and forgiveness. And, so, as the centuries rolled by the Jewish
people prayed and awaited the miraculous events of redemption.
Throughout these long years no Jew anywhere
suggested – and this among a people that studied its
sacred texts constantly and wrote about them voluminously
– that exile could be ended by human means.
The Holy Land was always venerated, of course,
and small colonies, almost uniformly devoted to prayer, contemplation
and study were established there.
It was only towards the end of the nineteenth century, among
Jews far estranged from their faith that the notion began
to be put forth that exile was the result of Jewish weakness.
Theodore Herzl and a handful of others, all ignorant or non
observant of Torah began to set the process in motion that
by the end of the next century would have produced untold
suffering for Jews and Palestinians.
These early Zionists were immediately opposed by the Rabbinic
leadership of that era.
The opposition was based on four assumptions.
1) The very concept of Zionism was a refutation of the traditional
Torah belief in exile as punishment and redemption and as
dependant on penitence and Divine intervention. 2) The Zionists
were overwhelmingly irreligious. There claim to represent
the Jewish people before the world was preposterous. How can
those who reject Judaism be Jewish leaders? Their natural
instincts were to uproot Torah and its observance. 3) Zionism
was woefully unconcerned about non – Jews in general
and the Palestinian people already living in the land. Its
heavy - handed policies were sure to cause much pain and suffering
and lead world Jewry into needless conflict with the nations
of the world. 4) Zionism would cause Jews to be less than
loyal to the governments under whose auspices they lived in
exile. This might weaken Jewish patriotism and exacerbate
Jewish – Gentile conflicts.
Throughout the world Zionists were a minority. Even those
Jews who had lost touch with Torah tradition were able to
see that Zionism was a recipe for disaster.
Within the Zionist movement itself a tiny faction
constantly criticized both the Labor and Revisionist mainstreams.
This small group, associated with the Brit Shalom movement,
advocated a bi – national democratic state and was willing
to accept Jewish minority status therein. In the words of
one of its foremost thinkers, Judah Magnes, Chancellor of
Hebrew University, “If we cannot find ways of peace
and understanding (with the indigenous population), if we
can only establish ourselves upon the force of bayonets, then
our whole enterprise is not worthwhile and it is better that
the eternal people should remain patient and wait.”
These were the words of a non – believer
but of essential decency. His ideas and those of his small
band of followers were cast aside by the Zionist mainstream.
Of course, in the Torah view the very notion
of Jewish sovereignty of any kind over the Holy Land is forbidden.
We note that even those who desired some degree of Jewish
return – saw this – provided they had some basic
decency, as something that had to be worked out with the approval
of the native Palestinian people.
Zionist immigration poured into Palestine during
the twenties and thirties. The British government tried to
be all things to all men but their efforts failed. At times
the Zionist conquest via immigration became an actual shooting
conquest with acts of terror against Palestinians, British
and other Jews becoming the order of the day.
But, despite Zionist machinations, if not for
the tragic fate of the Jews in the Second World War the state
of Israel probably would never have come into existence. As
stated before, after the Holocaust, the world took its sense
of pity for the Jewish people and bestowed it on the Zionists.
Little if any thought was given to the deep
and just desire of Palestinians to be a sovereign people in
their own land or to the anti – Zionist Jews living
It was as if a man having been chased from his home by a mob
comes upon someone else’s else home and decides to chase
out its inhabitants and take it over. Surely the suffering
the man has endured at the hands of the mob is not enough
for another family to be evicted from their centuries old
place of residence.
I have little doubt that if a Palestinian people,
sovereign in its own land, would have been asked after the
Holocaust, along with the other nations of the world, to take
in Jewish refugees that they would have easily agreed. But
they could not be expected to abandon, their homes and property
and their very identity to make way for hundreds of thousands
of Jewish refugees whose goal was to dispossess them and rule
Throughout the twentieth century a large segment
of Orthodox Jews has remained immune to Zionist temptation.
Unfortunately, during this same period, some orthodox Jews
actually embraced Zionism while others attempted to co –
exist with it.
Those who have maintained our faith as it was
handed down to us over the centuries have fought Zionism in
the Holy Land and throughout the world. These Jews, many of
whose descendants live in Jerusalem to this day, have refused
to recognize the Zionist state. They do not vote in its elections
or serve in its army. They do not accept any financial support
from the government for their schools, thus plunging their
schools into a never ending fund raising crisis.
In their view the state of Israel exists in
violation of Torah basics. In its daily policies it wars against
Torah practice. Its claim to represent the Jewish people is
vile and ludicrous. By positing non - believers as Jewish
leaders it desecrates G-d’s Great and Holy Name in public,
a very grave sin in the eyes of the Torah.
The pious Jews of whom Neturei Karta is only one of many are
seasoned veterans in the anti - Zionist struggle. We, of all
people know how hard it is to break through the media black
out, especially in the United Sates.
Yet, we must break through if there is to be
any real peace in the Middle East. We have been informed by
our Talmudic sages that any premature attempt to end exile
will result in massive bloodshed.
The bloodshed is here. Israel has caused more
bloodshed than anyone could have possibly imagined. Decades
before the state the Zionist desire to rule over the land
led to riots, assassinations and endless death and suffering.
To this day the death toll mounts. Both hardliners
and soft liners have had their hopes dashed. They have both
been behind the wheels of government. And both have failed
Friends, there will be no peace in the Middle
East until there is no state of Israel.
The Torah cannot be violated. Our task in exile cannot be
fulfilled by trying to end exile by human agitations. Nor
can our hopes for redemption be realized in the Israeli state.
Of course immediately part of the solution is, we’d
like to see the West Bank and Gaza settlements dismantled.
The people living there must leave as soon as is humanly possible.
But, this is only one part of the solution.
Yes, the immediate decision in keeping with common sense,
is to begin a Palestinian state. But these solutions are only
for the interim and only a part of the solution.
The true Torah solution, the key to peace is
the immediate return of Palestine to the Palestinians in its
entirety including the Temple Mount and Jerusalem. This would,
of course, include a full right of return for all Palestinian
That is what elementary justice demands. This is the path
of the Torah and of common sense.
The Jewish people have many mitzvos (commandments)
to pursue in their exile. Fighting and killing Palestinian
children are not among them.
Of course, today, millions of Jews reside in
Palestine. Whether some, all or none of them might stay under
Palestinian rule is, of course, up to the land’s rightful
rulers, the Palestinians.
This will inevitably begin the process of true
peace with justice and healing between the Palestinian people
and the Jewish people.
In the meantime, though, given that at present
many Jews living in the Holy Land are victims of Zionist propaganda
what path should be pursued?
For our part the obligation remains steady. It is to educate
the Jewish community about the doctrinal errors and practical
evils of Zionism.
It is to join our Palestinian cousins in protest
against the evils of Zionism. It is to pursue peace with all
men and all nations. It is to practice our faith. It is to
worship the Creator with humility, with modesty and piety.
But let us go a step further and examine what
the impact of Jewish anti Zionism might be on the Islamic
world. First, it is important both practically and morally
that Palestinian and general Islamic ideology not confuse
Zionism and Judaism and by so doing leave themselves vulnerable
to the charge of anti - Semitism.
Further, it could well prove beneficial to the Palestinian
cause if they would publicize thier good relations with anti
Zionist Jews thus undercutting the stereotype of them in the
Zionist dominated media as bigots and baseless haters.
This coalition of anti - Zionist Jews and Palestinians who
see the inhumanity of Zionism might well become quite a moral
force for good in the world.
In any event, let us resolve to leave here
this evening with our mutual moral compasses set right. Let
us understand that Torah Jewry is in no way an antagonist
of the Palestinian people in particular or of the Islamic
world in general.
The hour is late. The civilian death toll mounts
daily. Innocents on all sides suffer.
May it be the Creator’s Will that the
state of Israel be peacefully dismantled speedily in our days,
that Jew and Palestinian live yet in peace with each other
around the world and in the Holy Land and that speedily in
our days all mankind may merit the advent of Divine Redemption
where G-d’s Kingdom will be accepted.