As you have already been
told, I am an orthodox Jew (that is a Jew who endeavours to live
his life completely in accordance with the Jewish religion). I am
involved in ecclesiastical duties within the Jewish Community and
am particularly involved in educating our youth and in helping them
to achieve healthy and correct attitudes. It is therefore of particular
interest to me to be able to talk to you, a student body, today.
I have been asked to talk to you about Judaism and
Zionism. This subject is of course tremendously relevant in the
light of the current situation in Palestine, where you have - let’s
face it - one side, the Zionists (who are also Jews), wishing to
impose a ‘sectarian’ State over the heads of an indigenous
population, the Palestinians. A confrontation which has resulted
in horrific bloodshed and brutality with no end in sight unless
there is a very radical change.
My qualification to talk on this subject is by virtue
of my being one of many orthodox Jews who absolutely sympathise
with the Palestinian cause, and we protest vehemently against the
terrible wrongs being perpetrated against the Palestinian People
by the Zionist illegitimate regime in Palestine.
The spearhead group among us who are involved actively
in this matter on a regular basis are called Neturei Karta, which
can be loosely translated as Guardians of the Faith. We are not
a separate party or organisation but basically a philosophy representative
of a large section of orthodox Jewry.
Let me firstly state quite categorically that Judaism
and Zionism are incompatible. They are diametrically opposed.
The question must surely arise in the minds of many
of you here today that there appears to be a paradox. After all
everyone knows that Zionists are Jews and that Zionism is for the
benefit of Jews. The Palestinians are the enemies of the Zionists.
How come then that I, a Jew, can sympathise with the Palestinian
I would like to try to answer this question and to
revert to the subject of my talk - Judaism and Zionism - on two
levels, religious belief and humanitarianism. Bearing in mind that
to be humanitarian is also a basic religious requirement.
Firstly from a Jewish religious belief point of view. One has
to take a look at some aspects of the history of the Jewish people
and at their basic belief in the Al-mighty’s control of our
destiny and what the Al-mighty wants of us. All as set out in our
Religious teachings, our Toira, and as taught to us through the
generations by our great religious leaders. Against this we also
have to look at the history of Zionism, how it developed, what are
Our religion is for us a total way of life. Showing us how to
live a life in the service of the Al-mighty. It affects every aspect
of our life from the cradle to the grave. We are taught that it
was revealed to us by Divine Revelation, as described in the Bible,
some three and a half thousand years ago, and that is when the Jewish
People came in to being. All of our religious requirements, practical
and philosophical, are set out in the Torah which comprises the
Bible (the old testament) and a vast code of Oral Teaching handed
down to us through the generations.
As mentioned, our religion is a total way of life covering every
aspect of our life. One area of our religion is that subject to
certain conditions is that we will be given a land, the Holy Land,
now known as Palestine, in which to live and carry out various parts
of our service of the Al-mighty.
Now, before I go any further, I wish to point out something which
is very basic to understanding the difference between Judaism and
Zionism and that is that the orthodox Jewish concept of nationhood
is very different to the concept of nationhood held by most peoples.
Most peoples understand a nation to be a specific people living
in a specific land. The land is essential for the identity of the
nation. They may or may not have a religion, but the religion is
immaterial to the national identity. The orthodox Jewish concept
of nationhood however, is a specific people with a specific religion.
It is the religion that establishes the national identity. They
may or may not have a land, the land is immaterial to the Jewish
This is borne out by the fact that the Jewish nation has been
without a land for 2000 years, but as long as they retained their
religion they retained their identity.
Now I mentioned earlier that we were given a land but under certain
conditions. The conditions were basically that we had to maintain
the highest of moral, ethical and religious standards. The Jewish
People did have the land for approximately the first one thousand
five hundred years of their existence. However, regretfully, the
conditions were not fulfilled to the required degree and the Jews
were exiled from their land. For the last two thousand years or
so the Jewish people have been in a state of exile decreed by the
A-lmighty because they did not maintain the standards expected of
them. This state of exile is the situation that exists right up
to the present day. It is a basic part of our belief to accept willingly
the Heavenly decree of exile and not to try and fight against it
or to end it by our own hands. To do so would constitute a rebellion
against the wishes of the A-lmighty.
In practical terms, although we have maintained our Jewish identity
by virtue of our attachment to our religion, never the less exile
for us means firstly that Jews must be loyal subjects of the countries
in which they live and not attempt to rule over the established
indigenous populations of those countries.
Secondly, that we may not attempt to set up a State of our own in
This would apply even if the land would be unoccupied and it certainly
applies when, as is the case, there is an existing indigenous population.
This prohibition is a basic part of our teaching and we are forsworn
not to contravene it and we are warned of the dire consequences
of doing so.
It follows, therefore, that Jews have no right to rule today in
Now let us consider the Zionist movement. This was founded approximately
100 years ago mostly by secular people who were discarding their
religion but still retained what they considered as the stigma of
being Jews in exile. They considered that our state of exile was
due to our own subservient attitude - ‘the Golus (exile) mentality’
- and not by Divine Decree. They wanted to throw off the constraints
of exile and to try and establish a new form of Jewish identity.
Not religion based but land based. It was based on a typical, emotion
driven, secular nationalistic aim, similar to that of most other
nations. Their policy had as its centre pin the aim of setting up
a Jewish State in Palestine. But they were forging a new kind of
Jew. In fact not a Jew at all- a Zionist.
This Zionist movement was a complete abandonment of our religious
teachings and faith - in general - and in particular an abandonment
of our approach to our state of exile and our attitude to the peoples
among whom we live.
The practical outcome of Zionism in the form of the State known
as ‘Israel’ is completely alien to Judaism and the Jewish
Faith. The very name “Israel” which originally meant
what are known as the Children of Israel i.e. the Jewish People
was usurped by the Zionists. For this reason many orthodox Jews
avoid referring to the Zionist State by the name ’Israel’.
The ideology of Zionism is not to rely on divine providence but
to take the law into ones own hands and to try to force the outcome
in the form of a State. This is completely contrary to the approach
to the matter of exile which our Toira requires us to adopt, as
handed down to us by our great religious teachers.
I have spoken till now from the religious belief point of view.
But let us consider the humanitarian point of view (and to do so
is also a religious requirement as I mentioned earlier).The Zionist
ideology was and is to force the aim of a State irrespective of
the cost in life and property to anyone who stands in the way. The
Palestinians stood in the way. We have a fact that in order to achieve
an ill conceived nationalistic ambition, a shocking contravention
of natural justice was committed by the Zionists in setting up an
illegitimate regime in Palestine completely against the wishes of
the established population, the Palestinians, which inevitably had
to be based on loss of life, killing and stealing.
Most Orthodox Jews accept the Neturei Karta view to the extent
that they do not agree in principle to the existence of the Zionist
State and would not ‘shed a tear‘ if it came to an end.
There are however a range of opinions as to how to deal with the
fact that for the time being the Zionist State exists. These opinions
range from positive cooperation to pragmatic acceptance to total
opposition in every way. The latter being the Neturei Karta approach.
There was and is however, an additional Zionist phenomenon which
confuses the picture. That is the Religious Zionists. These are
people who claim to be faithful to the Jewish Religion but they
have been influenced by the Zionist secular nationalistic philosophy
and have added a new dimension to Judaism - Zionism, the aim of
setting up now and expanding a Jewish state in Palestine. This they
try to fulfil with great fervour. (I call it Judaism-plus) They
claim that this is inherent in the Jewish religion. But the fact
is as explained earlier that this is absolutely contrary to the
teachings of our great religious teachers.
Furthermore, from a humanitarian point of view, their ideology
too was and is to force their aim irrespective of the cost in life
and property to anyone who stands in the way. The Palestinians are
standing in the way. This is all the more shocking as it is done
in the name of religion. Whereas in reality there is a totally contrary
requirement of our religion and that is to treat all peoples with
To sum up. According to the Torah and Jewish faith, the present
Palestinian > Arab claim to rule in Palestine is right and just.
The Zionist claim is wrong and criminal. Our attitude to Israel
is that the whole concept is flawed and illegitimate.
We have another problem and that is that the Zionists have made
themselves to appear as the representatives and spokespeople of
all Jews thus, with their actions, arousing animosity against the
Jews. Those who harbour this animosity are accused of anti-Semitism.
However, what has to be made abundantly clear is that Zionism is
not Judaism. Zionists cannot speak in the name of Jews. Zionists
may have been born as Jews, but to be a Jew also requires adherence
to the Jewish belief and religion. So what becomes abundantly clear
is that opposition to Zionism and its crimes does not imply hatred
of Jews or ‘anti-Semitism‘. On the contrary Zionism
itself and its deeds are the biggest threat to Jews and Judaism.
The strife between Arab and Jew in Palestine only began when the
first Zionist pioneers came to Palestine with the express aim of
forming a State over the heads of the indigenous Arab population.
That strife has continued until this very day and has cost and continues
to cost thousands and thousands of lives. The oppression, abuse
and murder in Palestine is a tragedy not only for the Palestinians
but for the Jewish people as well. And is in fact part of the dire
consequences of which we are warned if we transgress our religious
requirement not to rebel against our exile.
I wish to add that the connection between Muslims and Jews goes
right back into ancient history. Mostly the relationship was friendly
and mutually beneficial. Historically, the situation frequently
was that when Jews were being persecuted in Europe they found refuge
in the various Muslim countries. Our attitude to Muslims and Arabs
can only be one of friendliness and respect.
I would like to finish with the following words. We want to tell
the world, especially our Muslim neighbours, that there is no hatred
or animosity between Jew and Muslim. We wish to live together as
friends and neighbours as we have done mostly over hundreds even
thousands of years in all the Arab countries. It was only the advent
of the Zionists and Zionism which upset this age old relationship.
We consider the Palestinians as the people with the right to govern
The Zionist State known as “Israel” is a regime that
has no right to exist. Its continuing existence is the underlying
cause of the strife in Palestine.
We pray for a solution to
the terrible and tragic impasse that exists. Hopefully based on
results brought about by moral, political and economic pressures
imposed by the nations of the world.
We pray for an end to bloodshed and an end to the suffering of
all innocent people - Jew and non-Jew alike - worldwide.
We are waiting for the annulment of Zionism and the dismantling
of the Zionist regime, which will bring about an end to the suffering
of the Palestinian people. We would welcome the opportunity to dwell
in peace in the holy land under a rule which is entirely in accordance
with the wishes and aspirations of the Palestinian People.
May we soon merit the time when all mankind will be at peace with