Australia/Israel Review

The Last Word: The Enemies’? Friends

Feb 1, 2007 | Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones

The Enemies’ Friends

Regular readers of the print and on-line publications of various Nazi apologists, anti-Israel fanatics and obsessive antisemites will not have been surprised at the presence at the Iranian Holocaust denier confab in December of a small group of individuals purporting to be “Torah-True Jews”.

Neturei Karta: the antisemites’ favourite Jews

Neturei Karta, a numerically and theologically insignificant sect of quasi-religious Jews, were a regular feature in media coverage of this gathering of pseudo-scholars.

This sect, which counts amongst its members a small “travelling circus” which can be found at many venues where other Jews would be decidedly uncomfortable, enjoys a far higher profile amongst antisemites than Jews.

Despite proclaiming that they are the exemplars of Judaism, it is difficult to think of a single work of Jewish scholarship which this group’s members have contributed.

Although they boast of their higher morality and commitment to Jewish values, they have no reputation for good works of charity, acts of compassion, or advocacy of social justice.

When it comes to even the basics of Jewish life, Neturei Karta has distorted priorities to such a degree that it is understandable that they are no longer considered as being even within the extraordinarily broad spectrum of orthodox and chassidic Jews.

My first contact with the group was at the infamous NGO Forum of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban.

A well-meaning friend from a church-based human rights group told me that she had met an interesting young American man who was keen to meet a Jewish Australian. She escorted me to meet one of the handful of Neturei Karta members who the day before had been parading openly with a pro-Hamas contingent as part of the Forum’s agenda of anti-Jewish intimidation.

I explained that I had no interest in conversing with him and that the fact he appeared to her to be an Orthodox Jew did not mean that a Jewish person viewed him that way.

Two days later, she told me she had walked past him holding a pro-terrorist placard at a time I and other Jews were at Sabbath morning services, which convinced her that it was he, and not I, who was distant from Judaism.

Neturei Karta are not alone in making no contribution to Judaism or Jewish life but being useful to overt enemies of Jewish people.

Last November, at the Multicultural Eid Fair and Festival in south-west Sydney, I spent some time perusing the various book-stalls and chatting with many Muslim Australians.

One book-stall was distinguished, if that is the correct word, by a display of titles on why Muslims should not befriend non-Muslims, why particular isolationist and supremacist Islamist writers should be revered and why every problem encountered by Muslims is due to one or another conspiracy.

The one work on sale which was locally published might have appeared incongruous, given that it was written by a non-Muslim and had no comment on any aspect of Koran, Hadith or Islamic philosophy.

That book, also promoted by far-right extremists such as the Australian League of Rights and the participants in the Stormfront Downunder internet forum, was My Israel Question by Antony Loewenstein – a work which is marred by numerous inaccuracies and ill-informed argumentation.

The bookseller made it clear to me that the book was not something he regarded highly on any intellectual level, but was sold because he saw it as a useful tool in his mission to “expose” Jewry and Judaism.

Neturei Karta and secular left-wingers inhabit distinct cultural worlds with the values and life-styles of the one often held in contempt by the other.

But to those with nothing but ill-will towards Jews and Judaism, their common utility as “useful idiots” is far more important than anything they say, do or believe.



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