Neturei Karta refers to an ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist, extremist sect Judaism.
Neturei Karta is a Haredi
Litvish (as opposed to a Haredi Hasidic
) movement. Litvish is the Yiddish term for Ashkenazi Jews associated with Lithuanian religious beliefs. The majority of Litvish Jews were opposed (mitnagdim
) to Hasidism, and even today they tend to behave more stoically than the joyful Hasidic Jews.
Lithuanian Jews, who were students of the Gaon of Vilna, and Hungarian Satmar Hasidic Jews, who settled in Jerusalem's Old City in the early 19th century, were the forebears of todays Neturei Karta.
Neturei Karta is a loosely governed group, without clear membership, that is united primarily by its view that there exists only one authentic form of Judaism as well as its anti-Zionistic ideology.
Neturei Karta see themselves as fostering a Torah-true practice of Judaism, unadulterated by any compromise. They consider themselves a bulwark against any innovation in Judaism or any Jewish practice.
In addition, Neturei Karta see themselves as being guardians over Jerusalem, rather than the Israeli government, until the Messiah comes.
The name Neturei Karta is Aramaic for Guardians of the City. The name is Talmudic in origin. The Jerusalem Talmud (Hagiga 76c) relates that while on a tour of the towns of Judea, rabbinic emissaries asked to see the guardians of the city ("Neturei Karta"). The citys civilian police patrol was presented. The rabbis responded: These are not guardians of the city but its destroyers. The puzzled townspeople then asked, Who then do you seek? to which the rabbis, citing a verse from Psalms 127, answer, "The guardians of the city are its scribes and the scholars.
According to Neturei Karta, it is a sin, an affront against God, for Jews to establish a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. They believe that Jews must wait for the Messiah to bring about the end of the Jewish exile from their Promised Land.
Neturei Karta adherents do not recognize the current State of Israel. They do not carry Israeli identity cards, pay taxes, receive benefits, serve in the armed forces, or recognize the authority of the court system.
Some Neturei Karta members have actively engaged in the States downfall in the past. Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, the author of Neturei Karta's prayer book, served in Yasser Arafat's cabinet as Minister for Jewish Affairs. In 2006, Neturei Karta leaders visited Iran, praised Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and expressed solidarity with anti-Zionism sentiments voiced in Iran.
It is estimated that there are 1000-5000 members of this Neturei Karta, with most of them living in Jerusalem (Batei Ungarin and Meah Shearim neighborhoods). Other members of the sect live in Bnai Brak, London and Brooklyn.Official Neturei Karta U.S. Web Site