Jews who are no longer Jewish

Neturei Karta’s view of the atrocities in India amount to heresy and profanation


Of all the columns I have written for this page, none has caused a greater outcry than that published on 3 August 2007. This addressed the question of whether or not it was possible for Jews to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Muslims. Referring to the Koran, and to the very early history of the Islamic faith, I observed that Islam had been founded “in part, on an explicit anti-Jewish discourse”.

This statement of fact appeared quite uncontroversial to me. No matter; it was assailed not merely by adherents of Islam but also — and with a great deal more evident irritation— by Jews. I was accused of purveying racism, of peddling Islamophobia, and of deliberately muddying the waters. And what waters might these be (I asked in the course of a TV interview)? Why (came the reply), the waters that flowed from the Palestinian Naqba — the suppression and oppression of Palestinian Arabs occasioned by the recreation of the Jewish state. Islam has no quarrel with Jews (I was told), but only with Zionists.

I recollect these exchanges now because my attention has been called to one of the most mischievous and malicious indictments of the Jewish people since the Tsarist police forged The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. The fact that this indictment comes from Jews — or those who call themselves Jews — does not make it any the less malicious or its perpetrators any the less mischievous.

We do not yet know all that there is to be known about the massacres that took place in Mumbai at the end of November. What we do know is that the attackers came from Pakistan. If the reported confession of Ajmal Amir (who alone of the Mumbai terrorists was captured alive) is to be believed, all the attackers were linked to Lashkar-e-Toiba, a terrorist organisation, based in Pakistan, whose roots are to be found in the bitter feud between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.

Adherents of LeT have often proclaimed that their ambition is to “liberate” Muslims living in that part of Kashmir that is under Indian control. In the immediate aftermath of the Mumbai atrocities, apologists for Islam were quick to declare that, as outrageous as these atrocities were, they must be viewed from the Kashmiri perspective, had no wider significance, and should not be seen as merely the latest episode in the global jihad waged by Osama bin Laden and his supporters and imitators.

But there was one very vivid argument against such a conclusion. For the terrorists to have attacked a crowded railway station, a cinema, and a number of iconic hotels frequented by westerners was one thing — run-of-the-mill targets of militant Islamists, you might say. But what about the attack on the Lubavitch headquarters in Nariman House? Why had a specifically Jewish target been identified? These are very fair questions. LeT has never made a secret of its view that Hindus and Jews are to be thought of equally as (in the words of one of its founding fathers) “enemies of Islam”. Nariman House was targeted — was especially targeted — with this dictum in mind.

But such an explanation is not very palatable to western apologists for Islamic militancy. For one thing, it reinforces the argument that some interpretations of Islam — formulated long before the advent of Zionism — embody a specific anti-Jewish discourse. For another, it lets Israel off the hook. After all, if the Mumbai terrorists had really wanted to attack a “Zionist” target, why did they not launch an offensive against the Israeli consulate? Why choose the Lubavitch headquarters?

Neturei Karta — the last refuge of charedi anti-Zionism — has now obligingly provided an answer. In a scurrilous leaflet, NK has announced that the LeT attack on Nariman House was nothing less than a divine punishment for the Lubavitch movement’s support of “the filthy, deplorable traitors… the cursed Zionists.”

This strikes me as a comprehensive blasphemy and an unmitigated profanation of the Divine Name. Scarcely less deplorable is the comfort it gives to the enemies of the Jewish people — enemies who are already using it for their advantage.

The activities of Neturei Karta have long ceased to be a joke or even a tolerable embarrassment. The conclusion seems to me inescapable that the members of this malevolent movement are all guilty of heresy. I shall therefore decline henceforth to accept them as authentic Jews. I invite you to do likewise.

    Last updated: 5:26pm, January 8 2009