Refuting the Claim: Orthodox Jews are Anti-Zionist

Anti-Israel activists from the Neturei Karta.


A tiny, obscure, inconsequential Haredi sect of Judaism called Neturei Karta has made a name for itself through its militant anti-Zionisism. They refuse to recognize Israel and willingly line up for photo opportunities with enemies of the Jewish people. This article seeks to clarify who this group are and why they cannot be taken seriously by the general population.

What is a Heredi?

The Heredim within Judaism are adherents to ultra-Orthodox Jewish beliefs. Their estimated global population numbers 1.3 million adherents and they are mostly in the U.S. and Israel. They do not form an institutionally cohesive or homogeneous group, but are divided into a broad range of various streams and sects.

Within these sub-sects of Heredim there are pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist factions. There were rabbis in Europe, prior to the founding of the state of Israel, who opposed the creation of a Jewish state. Most of these rabbis and their adherents were murdered in the Holocaust. In fact, Zionism saved lives during the Holocaust.

In modern society, there are two Jewish ultra-Orthodox groups which hold out from supporting Zionism: the Satmar Chasidim, which number around 100,000 adherents, and the Neturei Karta, which number less than 5,000 adherents.

What is Neturei Karta?

Neturei Karta is the sect of radical right-wing Jews who oppose the state of Israel due to their religious belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Jewish Messiah. It's ironic, then, that the majority of the sect live within the confines of the state of Israel. The Anti-Defamation League estimates that fewer than 100 members of the community take part in anti-Israel activism.

The group was founded in 1938 by Rabbi Aharon Katzenelbogen. Generally speaking, the members of Neturei Karta are descended from Hungarian Jews who settled in Jerusalem in the early 19th century or from Lithuanian Jews who were students of the Gaon of Vilna. Most are now concentrated in the neighborhoods of Batei Ungarin and Meah Shearim in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Opposition to Israel on Theological Grounds

A core belief of the sect is that Jews were exiled from Israel because they sinned, and that God has forbidden the formation of a Jewish state until the Messiah arrives. To quote orthodox Rabbi Barry Gelman, "They base their views on various Talmudic statements and the warped theological view that the Holocaust was a punishment from God brought about by the advent of political Zionism."

Neturei Karta's opposition to Israel has nothing to do with internationalism or a humane critique of state aggression, nor does its support for the Palestinians stem from humanitarian concerns for an occupied people. Quite the contrary, their opposition to Israel is on theological grounds only. For Neturei Karta, the current Israel is an atheistical abomination, poisoned by modernism and godlessness. Thus, their opposition to Israel is on theocratic rather than political grounds.

Neturei Karta Isn't Taken Seriously

Neturei Karta's positions -- both political and theological -- are complete distortions of Jewish law as well as a misrepresentation of the sentiments of the vast majority of Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Judaism is profoundly Zionist. The Bible, Talmud and the daily prayer service are filled with references to Israel and Jerusalem. For ages, Jews living in exile have longed to return to Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people. Each year on Passover, Jews proclaim, "NEXT YEAR IN JERUSALEM!" The word "Jew" itself comes from Judea, which is presently located in the "West Bank" of Israel.

A vast majority of prominent Orthodox Jews have accepted and embraced Zionism. Among the Orthodox signers to Israel's Declaration of Independence are the two leaders of the Ultra Orthodox Agudath Israel movement, Rabbi Yizchak Meir Levin and Rabbi Meir David Lowenstein, as well as leaders of the religious Zionist Mizrachi movement, Rabbi Kalman Kahana Wolfe Gold and Rabbi Yehuda Leib Maimon.

Neturei Karta representatives have advised Yasir Arafat, dined with Holocaust denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and embraced the Hungarian neo-Nazi Jobbik political party. They are dedicated to self-promotion and destruction of the Jewish state. In doing so, they are working to destroy the Jewish people as well.

Maimonides, one of the most prolific and influential Torah scholars, said that, "Those (Jews) who separate themselves from the (Jewish) community ... do not have a share in the World to Come" (The Afterlife). According to Maimonides, a person may be placed in this category even though he has not transgressed any sins. By abandoning the state of Israel and betraying the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, this group has indeed separated itself from the rest of the nation of Israel.


Let there be no mistake about it: The vast majority of Jews, of all denominations, fully reject the religious and theological views expressed by the Neturei Karta.

Neturei Karta are a small and inconsequential sect. Just like Christians have to contend with the Westboro Baptist Church, Jews have their own psychopaths to deal with.

Next time someone quotes a rabbi from Neturei Karta, share with them that they are quoting the Fred Phelps of Judaism -- someone who can in no way be taken seriously, and isn't.

The Westboro Baptist Church is the Christian version of the Neturei Karta.
Both groups are tiny and seek publicity for themselves. Both groups have no influence.