Ultra-Orthodox Jews Oppose Zionism – Here’s Why

  • Israel is loved by many people in the world and hated by others.
  • There are Ultra -Orthodox Jews called Neturei Karta who are against The State of Israel and wish for its destruction.
  • The lives of six million Jews are at stake if the nation is conquered by Islam.

Judaism is a religion of a nation which lived in the land of Israel in Biblical times.  The nation was conquered two times.  The first time it was conquered by the Babylonians who destroyed the first holy temple built by King Solomon. The second time it was conquered by Rome, the temple was destroyed, the Jews were exiled until today.

The religion Judaism today exists according to the Law of Moses which was the law of the nation of Israel during this period. Jews are commanded in the Law of Moses not to change the law or the religion.  The modern state of Israel is a democracy, which is against Judaism– the law of a theocracy with a King. The hope of the biblical nation of Israel when it was exiled was to return to the land of Israel and to establish the Kingship of King David the Messiah, “return us to you God in repentance, renew our days like the days of old.”  There is conflict between modern secular Jews living in Israel and the diaspora and Ultra-Orthodox based on their religious beliefs.

There are Ultra-Orthodox Jews called Neturei Karta who are against the State of Israel and pray for its destruction. Israel is one of the most hated nations in the world along with Iran, and North Korea. Israel has been condemned in 45 resolutions of the United Nations. The future of the State of Israel is always in question. They have gone through one test after the other to prove that Israel will stand strong forever.

Yisrael Ber Odessa chassid Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. He is holding in his hands a letter sent to him by Rabbi Nachman 250 years after his death signing his name Na,Nac, Nachma, Nachman which is connected to the song of the redemption and the entrance into the Garden of Eden. He said that through making Rebbe Nachman king of the State of Israel will come peace for Israel and all mankind without having to fire one bullet.

The nation of Israel was established in 1948 through the War of Independence. As of December 2018, 163 of the 193 UN member states recognize Israel.  Most of the opposition to the State of Israel is based on the Israel-Arab conflict. The Soviet Union was the first nation to recognize the State of Israel. The United States extended recognition after the first Israel election in January 1949.  By the late 1960s Israel established relations with almost all the countries in Western Europe, North and South America, as well as much of Africa.

The Basic law of Israel guarantees human dignity and liberty, giving the Supreme Court power to disqualify any law contradicting it. The State of Israel has an unwritten constitution due to the inability of different groups in Israel society to agree on the purpose of the state. Ben Gurion himself was against writing an official constitution.

The government of Israel exercises executive authority in the State of Israel. It consists of ministers who are chosen and led by the Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is elected by the people but usually will not be able to get the majority of Israel votes which will give him 61 seats in the Knesset.  The Prime Minister must gather support from other parties in the elections which have qualified for mandates to reach the majority of 61 votes. In the previous election, no candidate was able to reach the majority of 61 votes and there will be elections in September 2019.

The nation of Israel is a sovereign homeland for the Jewish people. It is a Jewish and democratic state. The State of Israel has no official religion. However the Sabbath and Jewish Holy days are recognized as national holidays. Christian and Islamic holidays are recognized by the government. Laws of marriage, divorce and conversion are supervised by the Orthodox Rabbinate according to Jewish law. Immigrants are accepted who may not be considered Jewish according to Orthodox standards and are classified Israeli until they can prove their complete Orthodox Jewish identity.

Besides opposition to the State of Israel from many nations in the world, there is also opposition to the State of Israel from Ultra-orthodox Jewry.  Before the war of independence in 1948 the Orthodox Religious Court called Eidai Chareidit opposed the establishment of a Jewish State in the land. A Zionist secular movement began in Europe founded by Theodore Herzl. In 1896 Herzl wrote a pamphlet called “The Jewish State” envisioning the foundation of a Jewish State in the 20th century. The Orthodox Jewish leaders opposed this movement.

The Religious Ultra-Orthodox Court still opposes the State of Israel and prohibits Orthodox Jews to participate in elections. The Eida Chareidit are aligned with Satmar Chassidism based in America who are fervent anti-Zionists. The leader of the Satmar was Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum the author of a book called VaYoel Moshe which is divided in three parts condemning Zionism.  The first part talks against making Hebrew the national language; Yiddish was the spoken language in Europe. The second part condemns using violence or a military to establish the State which was done in the War of Independence in 1948. The third section gives reasons why there is no obligation to live in Israel before the coming of the Messiah.

Anti-Zionism is based on this book in which these topics are explained at length and based on a section written in the Babylonian Talmud called “the three oaths.”  Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum was born 1887 and died in 1979.  He grew up in Hungary where he was the first grand Rabbi of the Satmar dynasty.  He was taken by the Nazis to Clug Ghetto during the war. He was freed from the concentration camp and traveled to Palestine in 1945.  He resided in Jerusalem only for one year and immigrated to America. His opposition to the State of Israel was the main reason for him leaving Jerusalem for America. The Satmar religious Chassidic sect is primarily located in Williamsburg Brooklyn and in Monroe New York. They are also located in the Stanford Hill neighborhood in London.

There is very little difference between the government of America and Israel. Both are democratic. However based on the ideology of the book Yoel Moshe an anti-Zionist is better off living in America than in Israel.  If an anti-Zionist lives in Israel he is prohibited from taking money from the government for social help and especially not for child education. Assimilation in the Israeli society is considered even more dangerous than assimilation with gentiles in the diaspora. Today there are strong supporters of Rabbi Teitelbaum in Jerusalem who refuse to accept money from the government.  They are connected to the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical Court Eida Chareidit.

Shas is an ultra-Orthodox religious political party in Israel. Founded in 1984 under the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, a former Israeli Sephardi chief rabbi, who remained its spiritual leader until his death in October 2013, it primarily represents the interests of Haredi Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. The party works to end prejudice and discrimination against the Sephardic community, and highlights economic issues and social justice. Originally a small ethnic political group, Shas is currently Israel’s third-largest party in the Knesset.

While in the beginning when the State was founded in 1948 almost all the Orthodox were united in their opposition to the secular government. Other Rabbinical courts were established which were more lenient allowing Orthodox Jews to vote in elections, and to take social and educational funds from the government. The Agudat Yisrael was the first Chassidic Rabbinical Court to accept to be in the government.   Later the Sephardim organized the Shas party which became very influential in politics. Under the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef A”H the Sephardic Israelis who had emigrated to Israel from nations in the Middle East became united to establish their own educational institutions with the help of Shas. Today the majority of Orthodox Jews in Israel accept the State of Israel even though it is condemned by the Ultra-Orthodox Rabbinical court in Jerusalem. They are living in Israel and protected by the Israel Defense Force. The State of Israel is for them another democratic government which allows freedom of worship and supports Jewish education. It is a privilege for a Jew to live in his homeland.

There are various issues which have not yet been settled between the Ultra-Orthodox and secular Israel society.  The Ultra-Orthodox prefer to live in areas which are exclusively under their control to prevent Sabbath desecration. They are also fighting for status quo regarding exemption of their children from the army.  The ideology of Neturei Karta condemns the establishment of the State of Israel before the coming of the Messiah.  According to Jewish law the Messiah will rebuild the nation of Israel according to Biblical law including the holy temple. The government of Biblical Israel was a Monarchy with strict religious precepts.  The King had the power to take justice into his own hands to put down rebellion. There were also strict laws against proselytizing without permission from the authorities and against any types of reformed Judaism.  A person (even a prophet) had no permission to preach a new way of worship or connection to God other than the way given to the Jewish people by Moses. A person labeled a false prophet was punishable by death. The establishment of the Biblical State of Israel will be a nation rejecting all religion except for Judaism. Judaism was once the only religion in the western world; but today there are other religions principally Christianity and Islam which encompass almost the whole earth.

The establishment of a secular Jewish state in the land is considered by Orthodox Judaism to be a desecration of the holiness of the land of Israel. Even if a religious Torah state was established, the Neturei Karta would object on the grounds that the Messiah has not yet come. Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum and other rabbinical leaders objected to the establishment of the state in fear that it may cause a second holocaust, God forbid.  After the six day war when people saw miracles, there was more confidence in the ability of the State of Israel to protect its borders. The Yom Kippur war was another test in which Israel succeeded to protect their nation from attack. Many religious people gained confidence that God is with Israel even if it is a secular state.

Saddam Hussein was becoming very powerful after defeating Iran.  Israel had bombed the nuclear plant in Iraq.  For no known reason, Hussein went into Kuwait and was confronted by NATO forces until his destruction. Now is coming another test when Israel must face Iran who is slowly coming closer to the borders of Israel. The two state solution is another obstacle in front of Israel.  It will be hard for Israel to surrender territories for peace. Every inch of land is important to Israel as the population continues to grow. Surrendering Gaza has already caused several wars including missile attacks.

Even in Biblical times, Joshua had to conquer the land before they could establish a state.  It took over four hundred years until the final conquest which was completed by King David.  The future of the Nation of Israel today is in the public eye.  The answer to this question is being revealed every day as Israel develops more into a world power. The Neturei Karta make their judgements according to the teachings in the Talmud.  The Sephardim who lived all over the Middle East are very happy to have come to Israel to avoid the chaos in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Syria. Life in Israel is much better than anywhere else in the Middle East. Islamist extremists live according to the Koran that will not accept Israel because it is a democracy.

However the Neturei Karta remain strong in their belief.  People consider them to be extremists. Others consider them to be Jew haters. They refuse to see the positive side of the State of Israel as do other Orthodox Jews living in Israel and abroad. Already almost all Jews see that the lives of six million Jews living in Israel are in danger if the State of Israel will fall into the hands of its enemies. The Neturei Karta consider their ideology sacred and are not afraid of looking like fools. According to Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum, it is forbidden to participate or even live in a secular Jewish State. Chareidim Ultra-Orhtodox who live according to the Oral Torah are against freedom of religion and other freedoms. The Neturei Karta make news in the world from Stanford Hill London, England which is one of their bases.

According to the Koran, Muslims must live according to Sharia.  Sharia preaches Jihad self-sacrifice and is against freedom and democracy. Iran is against Israel; it is also against America and democracy. Neturei Karta are against freedom.  They’d rather live in England in a free state than live in Israel under Zionist rule.  Other Orthodox Jews, even though they follow the same Torah as Neturei Karta which condemns a secular Jewish State, aren’t as particular and live on the mercy of God. The Marranos in Spain accepted to be Christians even though they still believed in the Torah of Moses. Orthodox Jews living in Israel are like Marranos.

In the light of Neturei Karta, The State of Israel is idolatry. They have no choice but to be Israelis but in their heart and sometimes publicly they have to show their objection to a secular democracy. The eternal nation which is Biblical Israel is not a secular democratic state but a Torah Jewish nation, a theocracy. Israelis believe in freedom. Americans believe in freedom.

Baha”i faith is Progressive Spiritual Orthodox and believes in freedom.  Baha”i faith believes in Peace. Progressive Jewish Spirituality (PJS) believes in freedom and in Judaism but a Judaism with freedom united with God and religion. The Old way was theocracy; the new way is democracy and religion, separation of church and state. Baha”i faith and PJS teaches tolerance of extreme Islamists and Neturei Karta but won’t accept hatred and racism.

In Judaism in the past generation there was only one Orthodox Rabbi who accepted the State of Israel as a democracy, Rabbi Yisrael Ber Odessa a student of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.  He wrote many letters to Zalman Shazar the former Prime Minister of Israel with the suggestion to make Rebbe Nachman, King of Israel connecting the New State of Israel with the Messiah, the soul of Rebbe Nachman. Rabbi Yisrael believed in freedom. He preached peace for Israel without violence.

Moses believed in freedom but he was vetoed at the sin of the Golden Calf. Exodus from Egypt is called freedom which is mentioned fifty times in the Torah symbolic of the fiftieth gate of mercy.  The old and the new clash in the Middle East but the new way is today the way of the world combining secular and religious values. In the Zohar is prophesied that Esau the son of Isaac will in the end of time rule over the world.  Esau is Rome Edom, the Christian light. Faith comes before religion in the Zohar. Peace is the name of God which is more important than anything else.

Rabbi Nachman taught that Life and the world is a Narrow Bridge to cross over which is revealed in Israel living in the middle of two worlds. The question which is most controversial today: Did Jesus resurrect? Has Moses resurrected today? Orthodox Judaism and Islam will not accept resurrection until the end of time. Resurrection reveals a new light of spirituality.

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David Wexelman

Author of 5 books on the internet on topics of Jewish mysticism, managing two websites.www.progressivejewishspirituality.net

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