Theology Thursdays: Speech Delivered By Rabbi Aharon Cohen Of Neturei Karta To Iranian Holocaust Conference
Honourable friends, peers and colleagues. We are gathered here to discuss and consider from many angles a tremendously prominent issue from among the tragic events of the 2nd World War. The issue which has become known as the ‘Holocaust’. As is known this issue revolves around the policy and actions adopted by Nazi Germany against the Jewish People. This is of course in the context of their much wider murderous activities at that time. My aim is to try and give you the Orthodox Jewish approach to this matter.
Firstly let me express my gratitude to the illustrious organisers of this valuable event for granting my colleagues and myself the opportunity to express our views on this matter and we consider this opportunity a very great privilege.
I and my colleagues are what is known as Orthodox Jews, that is Jews who endeavour to live their lives entirely according to the age old Jewish religion and way of life known as Judaism. We are here under the banner of the group known as Neturei Karta which is not a separate movement or organisation but propagators of the philosophy expressing the opposition by Orthodox Jewry to the idea known as Zionism – the secular nationalistic movement to form a sectarian State in Palestine. As is well known, Zionism and the Holocaust have become very much intertwined over the years and the Zionists make a great issue of the Holocaust in order to further their illegitimate philosophy and aims. I wish to talk briefly about both of these topics and their connection.
We put effort into attending occasions such as this because we feel that we have both a religious and religion based humanitarian duty to spread our message as much as possible. Consequently I pray that our discussions and conclusions at this conference will be correct and true in every aspect.
I would like firstly to recap briefly for everyone present, because of its relevance to the subject of the Holocaust, the fact that Judaism and Zionism are totally different and diametrically opposed concepts. Judaism is an age old G-dly way of life going back thousands of years full of moral, ethical and religious content. Zionism is a comparatively new – little over one hundred years – secular nationalistic concept completely devoid of ethics and morals. Although, it must be said that sadly there are religious groups among the Jewish People who have been affected and infected by the Zionist nationalistic philosophy and have ‘bolted’ Zionism onto Judaism, incorrectly and falsely against the teachings of Judaism as handed down through the generations.
Judaism teaches that although the Jewish People were promised the Holy Land, now known as Palestine, this was only subject to certain conditions, basically that we had to maintain the highest of moral, ethical and religious standards. Our religious teachings and literature – our Torah – are replete with warnings that if these conditions were not fulfilled then the Jewish People would be dispersed in a divinely decreed exile.
This is what took place. The conditions were not fulfilled to the required degree and the Jewish People were dispersed to the four corners of the globe, as history confirms. Right up to the present day the Jewish People are in a divinely decreed exile in which we are required to be loyal citizens of the countries in which we find ourselves and we are prohibited under oath from trying to force our way out of the exile by the efforts of our own hands. We are also prohibited under oath from trying to form a State of our own in Palestine. To contravene these prohibitions would constitute a rebellion against the wishes of the A-lmighty and we are warned of dire consequences of making any such attempt.
The philosophy of the secular movement of Zionism totally ignores and transgresses the clear Jewish teachings outlined and because of this, Zionism was condemned right from its inception by the great Jewish Religious authorities.
Furthermore, Zionism right from its inception completely ignored the fact that there was an indigenous population in Palestine comprising mostly Palestinians, and the Zionists have followed a policy of depriving the Palestinians of their hope for self determination on the land they had occupied for centuries. Depriving the Palestinians of their homes, livelihoods and lives. So committing a shocking contravention of religion based humanitarian justice.
Judaism however, preaches compassion and consideration for the property and certainly the lives of every fellow man.
It will of course be clear from the above firstly that the Zionists do not represent the Jewish People as a whole, and furthermore that anti-Zionism is to be applauded and not to be confused with the ancient bigotry of anti-Semitism. Something which we know is very well appreciated here in the Islamic Republic of Iran where the Jewish community lives peacefully with full civil rights and has done so for thousands of years.
Now one of the pillars of justification for Zionism is the event of the Holocaust, with the Zionists claiming that the Jews must have a State of their own in order to prevent (as they claim) the events of the Holocaust ever being repeated. ‘Never Again’ is their slogan. So I would like to set out the Orthodox Jewish view on the Holocaust.
Firstly, the facts. There is no doubt what so ever, that during World War 2 there developed a terrible and catastrophic policy and action of genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany against the Jewish People, confirmed by innumerable eye witness survivors and fully documented again and again. I personally was spared the worst effects of the War because I was living in England which thankfully was not occupied by Nazi Germany. However, I and many many others lost countless friends and relatives who perished under the Nazi rule by intentional murder and genocide. Three million Jews in Poland, more than half a million in Hungary, many tens or hundreds of thousands in Russia, Slovakia, France, Belgium, Holland and more. The figure of six million is regularly quoted. One may wish to dispute this actual figure, but the crime was just as dreadful whether the millions (and there were millions) of victims numbered six million, five million or four million. The method of murder is also irrelevant, whether it was by gas chamber (and there were eye witnesses to this), firing squads or whatever. The evil was the same. It would be a terrible affront to the memory of those who perished to belittle the guilt of the crime in any way.
However, the Orthodox Jewish teaching and attitude is that the perpetrators of a crime, although fully guilty and responsible for their actions, would never have succeeded in their evil unless the A-lmighty wished it. So, to that extent the victim or victims have of course to attempt to avoid the evil, but if this proves impossible, then they have to accept the will of the A-lmighty. Our teaching is that part of the decree of exile divinely imposed upon us, is that it is not the task of the Jewish People to bring our persecutors to justice. That is the task of the A-lmighty. Our task is to accept the will of the A-lmighty and to strive to improve ourselves, removing from our behaviour the deeds that may have been the cause of our suffering. That has been the Jewish attitude during all the long history of Jewish suffering.
In no way can we have the audacity to, as it were, try to prevent the will of the A-lmighty and assume that we are capable of preventing such a thing from happening again. That would be heresy.
The Zionists, with their secular pompous approach behave in complete opposition to this philosophy and dare to say ‘Never Again’. They have the audacity to think that they can prevent the A-lmighty from repeating a ‘Holocaust’. This is heresy.
Furthermore, as we all know, they compound the wrong of this policy by imposing themselves in a most cruel and harsh manner on the Palestinian People.
I must add that the use by the Zionists of the Holocaust to further their aim of a sectarian State is the height of hypocrisy when one bears in mind that the Zionists turned each stage of Nazi oppression to their own advantage, to further the aim of forming a State. In the thirties when the Nazi policy was to expel the Jews from Germany, it is well documented how the Zionists cooperated by working together – yes together - with the Nazi authorities to evacuate ‘suitable’ Jews i.e. young healthy pioneer material, from Germany to Palestine. Then during the war when the killing was proceeding, it is again well documented how their attitude was one of callousness, not helping when they could even though they were able to. They needed the suffering and the deaths in order to be able to push for their State when the war would end. Finally, after the war they turned the whole issue of the Holocaust and the pity and sympathy it evoked into almost an article of faith in order to ensure as much as possible the acquisition of their State. Claiming that Zionism was there in order to prevent another Holocaust, when in fact Zionism predated the Holocaust by decades. They then proceeded to justify their atrocities against the Palestinians in order to further their cause.
To sum up, the Orthodox Jewish view is that yes there was a Holocaust to a terribly significant degree whatever that was. But in no way can it be used to justify the illegitimate and criminal cause and actions of Zionism.
My friends I wish to end with the prayer that the underlying cause of strife and bloodshed in the Middle East, namely, the State known as ‘Israel’, be totally and peacefully dissolved. To be replaced by a regime fully in accordance with the aspirations of the Palestinians. When Arab and Jew will be able to live peacefully together as they did for centuries.
May we then merit the time when the glory of the A-lmighty will be revealed to all and all mankind will be at peace with each other.
This speech appears on the website of Neturei Karta International.
Rabbi Aharon Cohen
Thursday, December 14, 2006