Jewish Journal

Anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews—a mystery and a shanda

by Mark Paredes

June 12, 2012 | 12:27 am

It is openly stated in books written by the founders of Zionism that the means by which they planned to establish a state was by instigating anti-Semitism … They intentionally infuriated the German people and fanned the flames of Nazi hatred, and they helped the Nazis, with trickery and deceit, to take whole Jewish communities off to the concentration camps, and the Zionists themselves admit this… Here are two replies given by Leaders of the Zionists during World War II, when they were asked for money to help ransom Jews from the Nazis. Greenbaum said “One cow in Palestine is worth more than all the Jews in Poland.” (G-d forbid). Weitzman said, “The most important part of the Jewish people is already in the land (of Israel) and those who are left, are unimportant” (May we be spared). – Official Neturei Karta website

We believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man; and that he holds men accountable for their acts in relation to them, both in making laws and administering them, for the good and safety of society… We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience. – Doctrine and Covenants, chapter 134

After years of working in the Jewish community and studying Judaism, there are only two Jewish ideas that remain incomprehensible to me: Jewish atheists and Jewish anti-Zionists. [Until recently, I would have added “same-sex Jewish marriage ceremony” to the list. However, enough thoughtful Reform Jews have discussed this topic with me that now I can at least understand their reasoning].

I was reminded of the anti-Zionist fringe this morning when I heard about the anti-Israel graffiti that was spray-painted onto various monuments at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial. “Hitler, thank you for the Holocaust” was among the phrases written in impeccable Hebrew by the vandals. Although most people suspect that the perpetrators were Israel-hating ultra-Orthodox Jews, no arrests have been made. I won’t point fingers here, but even if Orthodox fringe groups were not involved in these despicable acts, their twisted theology got me thinking about Mormon views of earthly governments and our responsibilities towards them.

Both Mormons and the Neturei Karta crowd believe in a future Messianic age. For Mormons, this will be ushered in by the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who will rule over the earth from both Jerusalem and the New Jerusalem (Zion), located in Missouri (please see Isaiah 2:3). The anti-Zionist Orthodox sects believe that the Messiah will bring about the political and spiritual redemption of the Jewish people, in part by reestablishing a strong Jewish state, and they don’t support the creation of a secular Jewish state. Fair enough. I have no problem understanding the belief that the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state should be left to the Messiah. However, when these Orthodox sects pray for the destruction of Israel and heap praise on the greatest enemies of the Jewish people in modern history – Hitler, Arafat, Ahmadinejad – then they have crossed many red lines that no Jew (or thinking person) should cross. The Messiah hasn’t asked Neturei Karta rabbis to destroy Israel, and they have no business supporting groups or individuals that are trying to do so.

Do LDS beliefs support the seditious behavior of these fringe Orthodox groups?  As noted above, Mormons (like Jews) generally believe in sustaining earthly governments and leaders, imperfect though they may be. In return, they have the right to expect their “inalienable” rights to be protected by governments and rulers (something that has not always been done for Mormons or Jews). Citizens who enjoy these protections should not rebel against their governments.

Since Israel protects the religious and civil rights of ultra-Orthodox Jews, including those who hate the country, there is little justification in Mormon thought (as well as mainstream Jewish thought) for Orthodox Jews who meet with Israel’s enemies, publicly call for Israel’s destruction, and praise political leaders who hate Jews and Israel. It’s a shame that excommunication sentences aren’t given to traitors in contemporary Judaism, because the anti-Zionist Orthodox fringe would be prime candidates for them. 

It is very hard for me, as an interested outside observer, to imagine contemporary Judaism without a Jewish state. That a small group of Jews, however sincere they might be, would pray for its destruction is simply unbelievable. May the God of Israel grant them the wisdom to see the error of their ways is my prayer – this shanda fur die goyim has gone on for far too long.

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Mark Paredes is a former Mormon bishop currently living in Los Angeles. He has worked for the ZOA, the American Jewish Congress, and the Consulate General of Israel in Los...

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