The Neturei Karta is an ultra-orthodox Jewish organization; its members are not only strictly set against Zionism (which promotes the idea of a single Jewish nation that is present-day Israel) and thus in favor of the dismantlement of Israel, but are also actively campaigning for Palestine’s freedom.
The Neturei Karta movement was formed in the 1930s in the city of Jerusalem as a response to the growing pressure to create a unified Jewish homeland. One of the movement’s elders, Rabbi Israel Domb, has said the Neturei Karta (meaning ‘guardians of the holy city’) is the “authentic Jewishness of the Jewish people”.
The religious reason for this opposition towards an established home for the Jews is that, according to Beck, “if God put us in exile, we have to remain in exile”. He maintains that Jews have to “wait for the coming of the Messiah” before taking such a step. He confirms this is why the Neturei Karta is against Israel because essentially, the state is acting against religious dictates and thus is against God.
Perhaps part of what paints the organization as radical and extremist in the eyes of others is the belief of its members, reiterated by Beck, that the Holocaust, the systematic (and senseless) killing of about six million Jews by the Nazis around the era of WW2, was actually “God’s punishment for Jewish people not being religious enough”.
A strong purpose of this edict seems to be directed towards fighting for the freedom of the Palestinians. The Neturei Karta already catch a lot of flack from the rest of the Jewish community for their anti-Israel stance, but this animosity is probably ratcheted up due to their added support of Palestine.
The organization is perhaps one of Palestine’s staunchest defenders at the moment, with anti-Israel and pro-Palestine rallies and speeches held almost every other day.
When it is time to celebrate an annual Jewish festival, Lag BaOmer, by lighting bonfires, the Neturei Karta community in London chooses to add the Israeli flag to their fire: so dedicated are they to the cause.
“We are burning the Israeli flag, and burning the Israeli movement, to show that the state of Israel can’t speak in the name of the Jewish people,” states Rabbi Beck.
While their zeal is being admired by non-Jewish people, it is clear they face considerable opposition. The Neturei Karta will have to fight hard to keep their place as the conflict between Israel and Palestine, as well as their individual supporters, intensifies.