Orthodox Jewish rabbis with Neturei Karta, a Jewish group that opposes the existence of the state of Israel, visited Iran last week in a delegation meant to show the Iranian people that not all Jews support Israel.
In statements to Iranian radio, anti-Zionist rabbis stated, "We came to Tehran to clarify that Israel does not represent all Jews", adding that the Neturei Karta movement is working toward a "disintegration of the Israeli government".
"What we want is not a withdrawal to the ‘67 borders, but to everything included in it, so the country can go back to the Palestinians and we could live with them… of course we oppose the idea of a Zionist state. Zionism was established by Theodor Herzl – he and his followers went against God’s will."
The rabbis visited all over Iran and met with top government officials, with nuclear program officials, and with many students who heard their thoughts about Israel and the Zionist ideology. During their stay they also visited several synagogues and met with the small Jewish community still left in Iran.
The rabbis were also interviewed by the Iranian television. Neturei Karta spokesman, Rabbi Dovid Weiss, stated, "The Zionists use the Holocaust issue to their benefit. We, Jews who perished in the Holocaust, do not use it to advance our interests. We stress that there are hundreds of thousands Jews around the world who identify with our opposition to the Zionist ideology and who feel that Zionism is not Jewish, but a political agenda."
"That’s the reason we supported Mr. (London Mayor Ken) Livingston , who criticized it. He is right and he is not anti-Semite. We also supported him when Sheik Qaradawi visited London, and told him he had done the right thing."
"We welcome that, since these people are not anti-Semite but rather they oppose this political idea – the Zionism, which is illegitimate and does not represent hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world. There may be millions who believe in Judaism but do not accept Israel", said Rabbi Weiss, who wore on his lapel a pin with the Palestinian flag and a card with the words in Hebrew, English, and Arabic "I am Jewish, not Zionist."
Rabbi David Shlomo Feldman emphasized: "I came to Iran to clarify that the State of Israel does not represent all Jews. It may represent its own ideas, which are a far cry from the ideas of the Jewish people."
Rabbi Aharon Cohen said during a press conference in Iran, arranged by the Neturei Karta delegation, that the "Zionists are involved in almost every crime around the globe but unfortunately claim that they represent the Jewish people."
Neturei Karta was established in 1935 and prior to the formation of the state of Israel in 1947, refused to take part in any activity of the Zionist community. Even after Israel was created, Neturei Karta continued to oppose Zionism and the State of Israel, believing that only God has the power to give the Jews a homeland, and in acting to create a political state, Jews are going against the stated tenets of the religion.
Neturei Karta members live their lives in total separation from the State and the government institutions. They don’t recognize the courts’ authority, don’t vote, don’t send their children to State’s sponsored schools, and don’t serve in the military. Furthermore, they resist the use of the Hebrew Language, don’t carry Israeli IDs, refuse to accept funds from the government (many do pay taxes though), and mourn on every Israeli Independence day.
Neturei Karta kept a close affiliation throughout the years with Palestinian movements, which they consider partners for peace and for the fight against Zionism and the State of Israel. The community also accepted and supported the Palestinian self-determination in the 70’s and even took part in Palestinian delegations in the negotiations with Israel.