On April 14, 2004, Israel’s Ariel Sharon met in the White House, in Washington, DC, with President George W. Bush, Jr. They were consummating a deal that James J. Zogby has rightly denounced as “a unilaterally imposed solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (“Sharon’s Awful Victory,” 04/18, 04, “Baltimore Sun”). The agreement involves, inter alia, the future of the Occupied Territories and the right of return to their homeland of millions of Palestinian refugees.
While the dangerous duo were inside undermining the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, and International Law, too, over 100 protesters gathered outside, just north of Lafayette Park, a block from the White House, to demonstrate their outrage over the meeting. The rally was spearheaded by the DC Palestine Solidarity Coalition, which represents 12 activist organizations in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia area.
One of the groups protesting was a contingent of Orthodox Rabbis, “Neturei Karta International,” from Monsey, New York (www.nkusa.org). Under their banner of “Jews United Against Zionism,” about seven of the Rabbis joined the picket line along 16th St. and H St. (NW), as a cold rain fell for over two hours on those bearing witness against the evil doings then being hatched by Bush and Sharon. Many of the demonstrators were convinced that Sharon, instead of being an honored guest of Bush, should instead be a defendant, at the World Court, facing War Crime charges (“Human Rights News,” 06/23/01, hrw.org).
I had a chance, at the event, to speak with the highly respected leader of Neturei Karta International, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss. He was standing on H St. protesting with a sign hanging over his neck, which read, “Authentic Rabbis Always Opposed Zionism.” When I asked the Rabbi why he was there, he said, “Sharon, who came today to speak with President Bush, is not the representative of Judaism or the Jewish people. In fact, he is the antitheses of what a representative of the Jew should be.”
Rabbi Weiss then put some historical context on his comment and explained how the Zionism Movement, a political juggernaut, with only materialist objectives, has hijacked Judaism, the religion of the Jewish people. He continued, “Because, when God sent the Jewish people into exile around 2,000 years ago, he expressly forbade us from creating our own state. So, the concept of creating a state of Israel is wrong. It is against what God wanted of the Jewish people. We are in a divinely-decreed exile to be spread out amongst the nations – to serve them and to be a light unto the nations, and not to return till ultimately when God will accept the repentance of the Jewish people. At that time, the whole world, we believe, will recognize the one God and serve him together in harmony. So, we will not be using any force or military action. At that time, the whole world will go up and serve God.
“Now, Zionism was created around 100 years ago by non-religious Jews, who ignored the commandments of God. They actually tried to claim that the reason we were sent out of the land of Israel around 2,000 years ago was because of our physical weak (ness). And, that is a fallacy. And, therefore, their solution is, if it is physical weakness – the solution would obviously be, to be physically strong – to create a state. That is wrong. That is a blasphemy. And, we are taught in the Talmud that God will severely punish the Jewish people, if they will try to return against his will.”
On Rabbi Weiss’ web site at: www.nkusa.org, part of the above point is further explained like this: “Judaism is the belief in revelation at Sinai. Exile is a punishment for Jewish sins. Zionism has for over a century denied Sinai revelation. It believes that Jewish exile can be ended by military aggression.”
Rabbi Weiss then addressed the barbaric treatment of the Palestinian people by the Zionists, going back to 1948. It has included: Israel running death squads; torturing detainees, holding prisoners without trial; creating a monstrous Apartheid Wall; erecting arbitrary roadblocks; perpetrating land confiscation; demolishing homes; collective punishment; building illegal settlements; and engaging, via state terrorism tactics, in ethnic cleansing (See, “Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,” wrema.com).
“Now, another of the problems that emanate actually from the Zionist Movement,” the Rabbi underscored,” is the fact that they are encroaching upon the rights of the Palestinian people, the indigenous people, who are living there. And, this is terribly wrong. It is against every concept of the Torah: Thou shalt not steal and so forth; Thou shalt not oppress a people. It is all against the commandments of the Torah, of being compassionate; of what a Jewish person; and what every righteous person should emulate God. So, whatever they are doing is totally wrong!
“And, it creates anti-Semitism. And we know that for close to 100 years already, Zionism is the root cause for the pain, suffering and bloodshed of the Jewish people, let alone who is talking about the Palestinian people and what has been going on in Palestine. And they, (the Zionists), are the greatest factory of anti-Semitism worldwide. So, that is what we are here for, to let the world know that Judaism and Zionism is not one and the same. They are diametrically opposite. And, we should not be mistaken one for the other. And, we shouldn’t be responsible for the actions of what the Zionists do,” Rabbi Weiss emphasized.
On the date the Rabbi was speaking, April 14th, it was calculated that over 2,000 Palestinians had died since Sharon took over the office of Israel’s Prime Minister, back in Feb., 2001. Of that number, 327 victims were “targeted” for extra-judicial assassinations, including the slaying, on March 22, 2004, of wheelchair bounded cleric, Sheikh Yassin, a beloved spiritual leader. On April 17th, only three days after visiting with Bush, Sharon sanctioned the execution of Palestinian activist, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, via a missile fired from an American-made Apache helicopter, into a crowded Gaza City. Rantisi was a 56-year-old pediatrician and university professor, and one of the movers and shakers within the Hamas political organization. Two of his bodyguards died with him. When Sheikh Yassin was murdered, also in Gaza City, four other civilians died, too, and 17 innocent bystanders were injured in Israel’s premeditated attack.
Rabbi Weiss finished his remarks by explaining why his group publicly opposes Zionism: “And we hope… to sort of quell God’s wrath towards the Jewish people, to sanctify God’s name, which the Zionists are desecrating, and to take away the anti-Semitism, the bad feelings, the rift that has been created between Jews and Muslims throughout the world.”