The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, February 06, 2006
Rabbi Mayer Schiller on Neturei Karta and Zionism
The following was originally posted by Joe Schick on April 22, 2004.
Rabbi Mayer Schiller has agreed to my posting of my e-mail exchanges with him over the last few days. Following is the large majority of the exchange. Since this is rather long, I omitted a couple of small nonmaterial and/or redundant lines of discussion.
JS: In 2002, you wrote the following:
As one who has personal knowledge of NK activities I can testify that many NKites have, as I put it, stumbled into humanism. In other words, their work with pro peace and Palestinian groups has led them to see and embrace the humanity of all. This is not true of all of them but it is a trend and of some importance for the ACJ perspective.
I would like to inquire about your position stated above, and appreciate amplification and clarification of the same.
RMS: I stand by this statement today only as regards a handful of NK. They have come to see the humanity of all men, something Orthodox Jews sometimes struggle with, however understandable post WW II. However, I reject, utterly, the moral double standard of some in NK, ever ready to condemn Israeli misdeeds but mum on Palestinian evil. Morality is not tribal in my view and we should as the am segulah be ready to condemn evil everywhere. And, of course, praise the good.
JS: what is your view of the hesped for Sheikh Yassin given by Yisroel Weiss in Sunset Park, Brooklyn?
RMS: I find it appalling, way off base morally and to the little extent that I could, I tried, but failed to stop it. However, I will add that those NKers that I have some influence on, opposed the talk.
JS: It seems to me that NK has gone from an ideological opposition to Zionism that, pre-state, was part of the mainstream, to a lunatic fringe whose ideological views cause it to support the murderers of Jewish men, women and children.
RMS: No, that's not how they see it. It is probably best you speak to them personally. They see themselves as protecting Jews and saving Jewish lives. Indeed, this is their primary motivation. They think that humbling ourselves before our enemies is the way Jews should approach non Jews in golus.--- My own perspective is that our calling as an am Hashem obligates us to criticize evil wherever it may be. Palestinian civilian bombers are evil, as are all those who wage war against civilians. Thus, I reject the NK position on this but understand that their motivation may be misguided but it is for the good of our people as they see it.
JS: did you support the pro-Israel rally in DC April 2002, or the pro-Palestinian one days later attended, on shabbos, by NK leaders?
RMS: Actually neither. I support all efforts at reconciliation between all men and, hence, locate myself, roughly, with sympathy for the Israeli peace camp (preferably Orthodox as in Oz Veshalom, Meimad etc.), with many further thoughts that I could spell out, if relevant. This view was not represented at either rally.
JS: NK has never (to my knowledge) attempted to explain itself to mainstream orthodox Jews, and while I am admittedly disgusted by its antics, I am open to understanding why you speak positively about it.
RMS: No not of "it" only of a few of them. I am very concerned with how modern man can live with the Other whether it be Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, Serbs and Croats or Jews and Palestinians. In other words, can we fiercely love and cherish our own group identities and yet find a way to resolve conflicts when our view of reality conflicts with that of others. I have seem glimmers of this reconciliation being achieved by some (few) NKers for the right reasons. By right reasons I mean due to common humanity -- not because we should "kiss up" to non Jewish evil. Unfortunately, few NKers have this motivation.
JS: You identify yourself as being in sympathy with groups such as Meimad, etc. I assume that relates to politics, not to Zionism. In another words, with respect to Zionism (and certainly "religious Zionism"), I'd assume your position is contrary to Meimad, which, arguably, is representative of the national religious camp in Israel's approach prior to 1967.
RMS: Oh boy, this would take a long time to flesh out clearly. In brief, I am more concerned with, what I call "essences" or "meta politics" than with ideology. In other words, to me the core value is that Klal Yisrael be loyal to its calling to be a "light unto the nations." The particular political form this takes is vastly secondary to me. Therefore, if a Zionist is moral and menschlich towards other peoples (like Oz Veshalom or even secular leftists) or he is a mensch because he is a Hirschian anti Zionist or a Satmar anti Zionist or an NK anti Zionist is not the most important question for me. In fact, if a right wing religious Zionist is sincerely pained by the Palestinian plight but feels that the risk is too great to grant them statehood than he is closer to my core sentiment than a Satmerer or NK anti Zionist who hates goyim.
I understand the Satmar, Bdatz, TA, NK and, incidentally Hirschian anti Zionist position, that it violates the terms of golus etc., but I know that the other side has its share of ma-amorie Chazal and pesukim as well. I don't know, here or elsewhere in internal Orthodox disputes how one can know the truth. I think all one can do is guess. Skver/rachmistrivka don't have a coherent position on any of it so I remain, safely, agnostic.
JS: If the pro-Israel rally in 2002 had - in your view - sufficiently included dovish elements, could you then have supported it? (Rabbi Melchior, Meimad's leader, actually was a speaker of that rally).
RMS: I wasn't aware of that fact. Maybe if the "doves" were vocal. I respect Rabbi Melchior, he is bit too political for my taste, though) but if you told me that Uriel Simon or the Bereaved Parents Group was there I'd be even happier.
JS: You speak of the 2 state solution in positive terms, but isn't NK's view that there must be a 1 state solution?
RMS: Yes, absolutely.
JS: Where are the more moderate NK members/supporters?
RMS: the Jerusalem leadership that opposes Palestinian contacts has no window to the outside world.. Ditto the Monsey dissident faction.
JS: Is it fair to say that the leadership is extreme?
RMS: In NK there are several streams. There is 1) Jerusalem based NKers who oppose the state but will never speak about Palestinian rule or what should follow on the state's dissolution. (Like mainstream Satmar they have block in their ideology, that is, no Israel but no alternative!) they would never appear with Palestinians and the like. 2) Rabbi Hirsch who believes that Palestinian rule is inevitable and it is best to be nice today for who knows what will happen later. These people also based in Jerusalem in Torah V'yirah will march with Palestinians. 3) Rabbi Domb in London, very against any involvement with Palestinians although fervently anti state. 4) Rabbi Becher in London. Has his own theory on what Satmar Rov and Reb Amram really wanted. You'd have to ask him. 5) Rabbi Beck and followers. 6) Rabbi Beck's dissidents.
JS: Why do you think the vast majority of Orthodox Jews - including those who identify as charedi and don't consider themselves Zionist - object to NK?
RMS: Charedi non Zionists, that is the Agudah, want the state for its money and protection but refuse to serve in the army or participate in its patriotic rituals. They certainly fear any serious discussion of first principles since to them being non Zionist means being anti Zionist. And they want to leave matters at that.
JS: Let's say NK is right about Zionism being the root of all of our problems in Israel/Palestine. Why do they still blame "Zionists?" Isn't the "fault" that of the Jews of Israel and the world, nearly all of whom support Israel's right to exist despite Zionism's purported illegality and immorality?
RMS: They would say that the Zionists have brainwashed the masses of Jewry.
JS: Why is it specifically important to care about the Palestinians?
RMS: Well, because it seems that the Hashgocha has placed them and their hopes for self determination in our path. It's not a chiyuv on every yochid but it does seem that our destinies have become linked.
JS: Why assume that a secular leftist cares about Palestinians? Aren't there other likely motivations for left-wing stances?
RMS: Yes, self loathing. You'll never find a leftist who cares about suffering white or Christian peoples. Examples Afrikaner in the "new South Africa," whites under Mugabe, Loyalist victims of IRA terror, Sudetan Germans the list is endless. I agree that a lot of leftist agitation is due to hatred of the West, the white race and any non Third World political aspiration. However, not all.
JS: Your point about Agudah is certainly on target. The absurdity of their (non)position was illustrated at the time of the 2002 rally. Most of their "constituents" are Zionists, though they don't think of themselves as such.
RMS: It is an immoral position that wants the good of the state but shuns obligations. The Satmar, TA, NK position is far more morally consistent.