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Extreme anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox group Neturei Karta meets Iranian president at UN

Raisi says Zionists ‘discredit Jewish faith' and that Jews in Iran ‘have freedom of religion’

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi meets with members of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta group on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, Sept. 20, 2023. (Photo Fars News Agency)

On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with two representatives of the anti-Zionist, ultra-religious group Neturei Karta.

Neturei Karta is a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews who immigrated to Israel during the Ottoman period between 1421 and 1453 and opposed the Zionist movement, as well as the establishment of the State of Israel. The group continues to hold to the belief that a legitimate State of Israel can only exist when the Messiah comes.

Upon meeting the representatives, Raisi told them, “I have heard that there are anti-Zionist Jews here and this is a great thing.”

“We always reiterate the fact that we have no issue whatsoever with the Jewish faith, with the Torah, and in Iran, the Jews have freedom of religion. Our only issue is with the Zionists,” Raisi continued.

Raisi praised the group for their anti-Zionist position, saying Zionists “discredit the Jewish faith.”

“Today, the Zionists wish to discredit the Jewish faith, but we draw a clear distinction between Zionism and the Jewish faith and your work in which you announce that 'we are Jewish, yet we are against Zionists,’ that is something to be commended,” he added.

Raisi, who has been nicknamed “the Butcher of Tehran,” stressed that he is against oppression, regardless of whether it comes from Jews, Christians, or Muslims. He said that is why Iran “never recognized the members of ISIS as Muslims.”

The members of Neturei Karta told Raisi, “We found that throughout the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, they respected and protected the Jewish community till today and you're only distinguishing that Zionism has nothing to do with the religion and the occupation is unacceptable.”

The ultra-Orthodox group has based their anti-Zionist position on a Talmudic legend, which states that God made an agreement with the Jewish people and the Gentile nations when they were exiled by Rome following the Bar Kochba Revolt in 132-136 A.D. According to that agreement, the Jews would not rebel against the non-Jewish world, and they would not migrate en masse to the land of Israel.

Neturei Karta believes that the establishment of the Zionist movement, as well as the State of Israel, are both a violation of this agreement and, therefore, put the Jewish people in rebellion against God.

While the group is very small, they have maintained an active political effort against the State of Israel, irrespective of party affiliation.

During Yasser Arafat’s leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Neturei Karta had a “foreign minister” who sat on Arafat’s cabinet as the Israeli Jewish Affairs minister.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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