Natorei Karta ostracized by British Orthodoxy
Hassidic Jews who demonstrate against Israel, ostracized by Orthodox
by Lianne Kolirin
The Jerusalem Post
May 23, 2002
LONDON - Natorei Karta hassidic Jews who demonstrated against Israel at a Palestinian rally have been ostracized by Britain's Orthodox Jews.
Members of the community have been subjected to violence and intimidation from other Jews, according to one of its leaders.
The extremist sect, which is strongly opposed to the existence of the State of Israel, has had a presence at several Palestinian demonstrations in recent weeks. Its supporters braved the rain on Israeli Independence Day to burn Israeli flags outside a celebration at London's Wembley Conference Center.
Earlier this month they attended a huge Jewish rally in the heart of the capital, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Palestinian counterdemonstrators calling for the destruction of Israel.
But perhaps most disturbing has been their recent display of support for the Palestinians, some of whom openly advocate suicide bombings.
Four of their followers were pictured at a Palestinian rally in London's Trafalgar Square on Saturday. The young men - all wearing tallitim - walked almost 10 km. on Shabbat, which was also Shavuot, to support the Palestinian cause.
A spokesman from the office of Britain's chief rabbi said, "The chief rabbi has referred to their recent public activities, in particular joining emonstrations outside Jewish community events, as 'unforgivable.'" While their radical views may have fostered friendships within the UK Arab community, they ave only made them enemies at home in London's haredi quarter, Stamford Hill.
Many who live in Stamford Hill are anti-Israel, but none go as far as the Natorei Karta. They claim the Zionists collaborated with the Nazis to create the State of Israel, and believe pro-Israel movements encourage aliya by lanting bombs in the Diaspora.
Inside sources say pictures of the Jewish protesters have been posted around Stamford Hill's synagogues. Members of the group have been attacked and intimidated, and some have even lost their jobs.
A spokesman for the Natorei Karta said police are investigating an assault on one of its members at the Israel solidarity rally.
"One of our speakers was attacked by someone who came across from the demonstration and hit him in the face," he said. According to insiders, the attacker was actually from a rival haredi group.
"Our speaker said the physical pain was bad, but not as bad as the pain he felt that a Jewish boy could have been so misguided to think that we are his enemies. We are trying to educate people, not fight with them. Millions of people claim to be Jews, without actually practicing Judaism. How can they say they represent the Jews?"
Many within the group have received death threats, according to the spokesman. "The house of one of our important people was also vandalized. A Star of David was painted on his car and front door," he said.
"We are not worried about what's happening, because we're ready for everything. We feel we are fighting for our beliefs."
Mediators have tried - but failed - to calm the situation. The matter is now in the hands of the police, according to a spokesman for the Community Security Trust.
"Many of the haredi community in Stamford Hill are non-Zionist, but they do not believe in siding with those who support terrorism," he said. "Consequently, the reaction against the Natorei Karta has been a very heated one.
"These people are regarded as beyond the pale, by continually demonstrating with the pro-Palestinian lobby, and particularly now with those who show support for the suicide bombers."
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