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Neturei Karta: What is it?
 
Posted: December 14, 2006


The black-garbed Jews who appear in support of anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic events are known as “Neturei Karta.”  This miniscule group on the farthest fringes of Judaism advocates the “dismantling” of the State of Israel until their messiah comes.  Members of Neturei Karta have a long record of extremist statements and support for anti-Semites and Islamic extremists, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who has called for the destruction of Israel.

What does Neturei Karta mean?

What does Neturei Karta mean?
Neturei Karta (pronounced ne-TOO-ray KAHR-tuh) is Aramaic and means Guardians of the City.  The phrase in its original context refers to the holy men and scholars in whose merit it was believed that God protected Jewish enclaves. The contemporary Neturei Karta movement adopted the name in order to stress its belief that only spiritual growth, prayer, Torah study and acts of kindness are permissible means of advancing Jewish interests.
What are Neturei Karta beliefs?

What are Neturei Karta beliefs?
Neturei Karta is founded on the idea that Zionism is a demonic force responsible for many of the world’s evils.  Their spokesmen routinely call for the dismantling of the State of Israel and the empowerment of the Palestinians who would then decide whether to allow any Jews to remain in their new state. Neturei Karta adherents believe that a promised messianic age cannot begin until Zionism is eliminated from the Middle East.
What is the Neturei Karta’s internal structure, and how many Neturei Karta are there?

What is the Neturei Karta’s internal structure, and how many Neturei Karta are there?
On one level, Neturei Karta is an ideological movement at the farthest fringes of Orthodox Judaism; it is not a formal organization. A number of Neturei Karta activists, however, have joined together to form an organization called Neturei Karta International, which runs two Web sites. There are probably fewer than 100 actual Neturei Karta activists (the ones carrying placards and speaking at anti-Israel rallies), but the total number of people who would identify themselves as Neturei Karta in New York, England and Israel could be as many as a few thousand.  Neturei Karta members often claim that tens or even hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews and Hassidim share their beliefs, but this is patently false.

Although there are segments of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community and some Hassidic Jews who do not embrace Zionism (which they view as a secularist and godless movement) and in the early 1900s opposed on theological grounds the creation of a Jewish state, these movements are sufficiently pragmatic to permit their members who live in Israel to pay taxes, use social services, vote and even form their own political parties. By contrast, Neturei Karta adherents who live in Israel do not vote, do not accept any government assistance, and reportedly even refuse to use Israeli passports. Some ultra-Orthodox, who may not be conversant with these distinctions, might support Neturei Karta just because they appear to be pious men expressing opposition to Zionism.
How are Neturei Karta activists funded?

How are Neturei Karta activists funded?
It has been assumed that Neturei Karta obtains funding from Arab groups and possibly even Arab governments (in the past they have had cordial relations with Yemen and Iran).  The Israeli newspaper Maariv reported that the Israel Defense Forces had obtained documents indicating that former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat supplied Neturei Karta with more than $50,000 in late 2002.
What characteristics does the Neturei Karta share with other extremist groups and ideologies?

What characteristics does the Neturei Karta share with other extremist groups and ideologies?
Neturei Karta activists are quick to endorse anyone who opposes Zionism, and have publicly embraced such groups and movements as Al-Awda, a grass-roots organization that advocates on behalf of the Palestinian cause, the anti-war protest group ANSWER, the virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, Willis Carto and his Holocaust-denying Barnes Review Conference.  In turn, these groups showcase Neturei Karta’s approval as a way of justifying or disguising their own anti-Semitism.
Characteristic Neturei Karta claims
Characteristic Neturei Karta claims
Neturei Karta has developed several conspiracy theories to explain the success of Zionism and its own lack of influence; these theories often echo the slanders emanating from radical Islamic groups and New World Order conspiracists. The movement is also very conservative on social issues, and quick to blame Zionists for the moral decline it perceives in modern society. It claims that:

  • Zionists control the United States and other Western countries.
  • Zionists control the media.
  • Zionists are intent on flooding Western society with immorality, pornography, greed, and abortion, and on stripping all vestiges of godliness from public life.
  • Zionists have purposely cultivated anti-Semitism throughout the world by issuing statements that non-Jews would find inflammatory and by staging fake acts of anti-Semitic violence as a means of inducing Jews to immigrate to Israel.  The most extreme example of this is the claim that Zionists were complicit in the Holocaust in order to force Jews to flee from Europe to Palestine. Neturei Karta propaganda alleges that Zionists intentionally infuriated the German people and fanned the flames of Nazi hatred, and they helped the Nazis, with trickery and deceit, to take whole Jewish communities off to the concentration camps.
  • The Holocaust was justified as a divine punishment for the sin of Zionism.
  • Zionists have used the Holocaust to milk European governments of millions in reparations, and have used the Holocaust to humiliate non-Jews.
  • Zionists are the cause of the instability in the Middle East. Neturei Karta claims that Jews and Arabs coexisted peacefully in Palestine prior to Zionism; it characterizes the 1929 Hebron massacre (in which 67 Jews were killed and the remainder fled the city) as an understandable Arab reaction to Zionist provocation.
  • Zionists have strategically and consciously sought to destroy the Palestinian people since before the State of Israel was created, have sadistically inflicted humiliation, torture and death on the Palestinian population, and continue to engage in ethnic cleansing of Israeli and occupied lands.

 
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2006 Anti-Defamation League