For the groups discussed below, opposition to the State of Israel is not just academic. They have publicly burned the Israeli flag and allied themselves with the Palestinian leadership and cause. Neturei Karta’s website states: “We seek to live in the land of Palestine as anti-Zionist Jews. To reside as loyal and peaceful Palestinian citizens, in peace and harmony with our Muslim Brethren.” The following article discusses the reasons for their anti-Zionism. Reprinted with the permission of The Continuum International Publishing Group from The Encyclopedia of Judaism, edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan Avery-Peck, and William Scott Green.
The anti-Zionist world-view of the ultra-orthodox groups Neturei Karta and Satmar Hasidism perceives Zionism and the establishment of the State of Israel as an anti-messianic act, conceived and born from sin. These groups vigorously deny the very legitimacy of the collective political return to the Holy Land and to Jewish sovereignty. For them, this is the handiwork of humans, violating the Jewish people’s oath of political quietism.
In the words of the Midrash (as expounded by Rashi), the people were adjured not to return collectively to the Land of Israel by the exertion of physical force, nor to “rebel against the nations of the world,” nor to “hasten the End.” In short, they were required to wait for the heavenly, complete, miraculous, supernatural, and meta-historical redemption that is totally distinct from the realm of human endeavor. This waiting over two millennia manifests the very essence and singularity of the Jewish people, expressing their faith in divine providence, in the assurance of the prophets, and in messianic destiny.
In this understanding, the Jewish people have been removed from the causal laws that govern nature and history and are exclusively bound by another set of religio-ethical laws within a causal process of reward and punishment, exile and redemption: “Unless the Lord build the house, its builders labor in vain; unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman keeps vigil in vain” (Psalms 127:1).
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