Jews who make Satan look good

By Bradley Burston

Haaretz

Kislev 25, 5767

All too often, wickedness wears the robes of God's work.

All too often, evildoers work in the guise of God's messengers.

The worst of them are the most sincere, those who believe with perfect faith in the righteousness of the iniquity they preach.

Therefore, may the Lord have mercy on the soul of the rabbis who came to Tehran for this week's Tehran festival of Holocaust denial, in order to kiss the cheek and shake the hand of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

May the Lord have mercy on members of the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta community in Jerusalem, who wrote in wall posters that appeared in the city's Mea Shearim neighborhood on Monday:

"It is known to everyone that the hand of the Zionists was in the murder of millions of Jews in the days of holocaust and rage, both by provoking the fury of the despotic Germans, and by interfering with all manner of rescues."

And may the Lord have mercy on the soul of Yisrael Hirsch of Neturei Karta, who said this week that "This is not a conference for denial of the Holocaust."

"The Holocaust happened because of the Zionists. They wanted it."

May the Lord have mercy on all of them.

Jews will not. Jews should not.

Neturei Karta, Aramaic for Guardians of the City, has long been a publicity-chasing fringe, the lunatic uncle in the family tree of Haredi Judaism. Their activities have ranged from cozying up to the late Yasser Arafat to shouting "Whore!" at religious Jewish girls in Bet Shemesh who are not ultra-Orthodox.

In attending the Holocaust conference this week, Neturei Karta went overnight from embarrassment to abomination.

Neturei Karta will tell you that it is emphatically not a group that denies the Holocaust. And, in fact, Neturei Karta Rabbi Aharon Cohen of Britain told the conference that "there is no doubt whatsoever, that during World War II there developed a terrible and catastrophic policy and action of genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany the Jewish People, confirmed by innumerable eyewitness survivors and fully documented again and again."

But the consummate betrayal embodied in their very participation in the event, coupled with their effusive shows of affection for Ahmadinejad, shores up the suspicion that, while they do not deny the Holocaust of the 20th century, they are in profound denial of the possibility of a Holocaust to come.

Neturei Karta can spin it any way it pleases. By licking the boots of the Iranian president, however, the rabbis effectively endorsed Ahmedinejad's vision of the erasure of Israel.

"The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Soviet Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom," Ahmadinejad told conference participants on Tuesday.

He went on to urge elections among "Jews, Christians and Muslims so the population of Palestine can select their government and destiny for themselves in a democratic manner."

Asked to comment on the belief that Ahmadinejad's true aim is the extermination of the Jewish state, Hirsch said this week that it just wasn't so.

Ahmadinejad "says explicitly that he does not want to annihilate Israel," Hirsch told Yedioth Ahronoth. "He wants the Zionist state to cease to exist. That doesn't mean killing everyone who's here. Just as Communism passed from the world and the people there still exist, the same thing here: Zionism will disappear and the people will remain."

Back in Tehran, Neturei Karta's Yisrael Weiss took up the drumbeat in a media interview. "It is the work of Satan that Zionists are able to convince the world that they represent Jews and Judaism, and everybody who speaks against it is anti-Semitic," Weiss said.

The rabbis said they were at the conference to prove that there is an alternative voice on the issue of the Holocaust, and that theirs is the authentic viewpoint of Orthodox Judaism.

What they did manage to prove was that if God works in mysterious ways, Satan can get Neturei Karta to do his work for him.

In recent days, there has been private talk in rabbinic circles about boycotting or excommunicating Neturei Karta members for attending the conference.

But there is no point in excommunicating them. By their actions they have more than excommunicated themselves.

Let them go. And when Ahmedinejad's missiles hit Mea Shearim, Yisrael Hirsch and his poster-machers can pray that the warheads will distinguish between anti-Zionists and the rest of us.

If I were in their place, I would pray real hard.