Karta maintains its anti-Zionist stance
By Sharon Sadeh,
June 16, 2002
The pro-Palestinian groups in Britain have recently found a new
propaganda weapon in the form of an ultra-Orthodox sect whose activities
have turned the rest of the British Jewish community against it.
In the past few years, members of the extreme Neturei Karta movement
have increased their involvement in anti-Israeli activities, participating
in demonstrations calling for Israel's annihilation. The Jewish
community in Britain has responded by excommunicating the group,
banning its members from the country's synagogues.
Neturei Karta's most remarkable display was at the pro-Palestinian
rally held on May 18 in London's Trafalgar Square, two weeks after
a mass Israel solidarity in the same place.
"It was shocking to see these people wrapped in teffilin and
tallits [prayer shawls], waving signs against Israel and Zionism,
at an event deliberately held on a Saturday, during Shavuot, a feast
which commemorates the receiving of the Torah," said a spokesman
for the Board of Deputies, an umbrella group for the British Jewish
"Someone asked them how they got to the demonstration, as
they are not supposed to travel on Shabbat, and they said they had
come on foot from Stamford Hill, 14 kilometers away."
"Don't worry, we didn't violate the Shabbat," says Avraham
Grohman, considered to be the leader of Neturei Karta in Britain.
He has become a popular lecturer in the past year among extreme
pro-Palestinian groups in Britain, including organizations affiliated
Grohman told Ha'aretz that Neturei Karta supports the Palestinians
so that they "know that Jews are not fighting and are not creating
the problems for the Palestinians; it's the Zionists fault.
"We believe in the Torah, according to the Torah we have no
claim for that part of the world. We, the Jews, were thrown out
for our sins and for the worst deeds, and the exile is our remedy.
Jews have no right to take that land away from the Palestinians.
If somebody came to your house, and wanted to take it away from
you by force, what would you do? Would you let him go into your
house and take it away? No, you wouldn't."
Grohman disagrees that Neturei Karta's participation in Palestinian
demonstrations legitimizes suicide attacks.
"It's all stories and politics," he says. "No, it
is a fight! When somebody has ammunition to fight somebody else,
and the other does not have that ammunition, he will fight back
with just a stick, he has nothing else. Do you call the person with
a stick a terrorist? He fights with whatever he can! He cannot fight
with more than that. Who has more ammunition? Who has more F16s?
Do the Palestinians have F16 planes to bomb Tel Aviv, or do the
Zionists have F16 planes to bomb them?
"The fight is the fault of the Zionists and the Zionist state
who do not care about Jewish or Palestinian life. The suffering
and bloodshed will never stop as long as the Zionist state exists,
thanks to the influence of the Zionists on America and England."
Nor does Grohman acknowledge the fact that the Holocaust played
a part in the establishment of the State of Israel. "What Holocaust?"
he asks. "The Germans are the greatest friend of the Zionist
state, the biggest sum of money was given by the Germans for the
Grohman even goes on to justify the slaughter of Jews in Europe,
claiming that they were responsible for their own fate.
"The Zionists helped to create and bring up anti-Semitism
in Germany," he says. "They also broke the economy of
Germany at that time, so what do you expect them to do?"
He claims that Neturei Karta plays an important part in maintaining
Britain's safety. "Because we are friendly with all the nations,
especially with the Palestinians, and many other Muslims, we are
actually reducing tensions and thus creating good relationship all
over the world. Without our deeds there would also have been these
problems in England a long time ago. The English would not have
been able to use the roads."
Grohman believes that his group has contributed to the safety of
Jews worldwide. "We got through to hundreds of Muslim newspapers,
who stopped using the term Jew. When they talk about those things
they don't say Jew, but Zionist."
Britain's Jewish community, however, is enraged by Neturei Karta
activities, with Britain's Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks slamming their
"Recent actions of members of Neturei Karta in protesting
outside Jewish community events, together with groups hostile to
Israel and the Jewish community, are unforgivable," he declared.But
the community's dislike for the group does not end with expressions
of disapproval. Threats to Neturei Karta members have been reported;
their vehicles and property have been destroyed, and they have been
sacked from their places of work.
Grohman himself was attacked by a Braslav Hassidic Jew during a
counter-demonstration held by Palestinians opposite the Israel solidarity
rally at Trafalgar Square. Three weeks ago, one of the sect's synagogues
was attacked and its windows were spray-painted with Star of David
The activities of the group have also angered ultra-Orthodox organizations
traditionally linked to Neturei Karta.
"Even the Satmer Hasidic movement, affiliated with Neturei
Karta, regards the activities of some of its members as crossing
a red line," said a Haredi source. "The Hasidic movement
is not a Zionist movement, but there is a difference between this
position and active support of an extreme stance that justifies
the murder of Jews, as expressed by Neturei Karta."
The ultra-Orthodox rabbinical court in London has taken an even
harsher stance against Neturei Karta. Last month, it distributed
a pamphlet in ultra-Orthodox synagogues similar to an FBI "most-wanted"
The pamphlet showed close-up photographs of Neturei Karta members
taken during pro-Palestinian demonstrations. The caption on the
leaflet read: "Do you recognize any these pro-Palestinian demonstrators?
If they come collecting at your shul, tell them where to go - to