Ultra-Orthodox Rebbe Blames Israelis for Their Own Deaths

A look at why some religious Jews oppose Zionism and blame Israel for the current wave of terrorism

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A months-long terror wave that has left hundreds of Israelis wounded and dead brought the ultra-Orthodox Rabbi of Satmar to say: “We are crying every day over the dead and wounded for which the [Jewish] settlers are to be blamed.”

The Satmar Hasidim, headed today by Rebbe Aaron Teitlbaum, originated in Hungary in 1905, and are considered the most Orthodox among the ultra-Orthodox. Most notable is their vehement stand against Zionism and the State of Israel, which is why most of Satmar Hasidim, including the Rebbe, are not living in Israel.

However, unlike anti-Semites who hate Israel and Jews for who they are, the Satmars and other anti-Zionist Orthodox groups object to the Jewish state because, so they believe, it represents a supreme act of defiance against God.

Religious Jews’ opposition to a sovereign Jewish state is based first of all on the fact Israel was founded by secular Jews, which is why it has no spiritual value. 

But objection to Israel goes deeper than that. 

According to the Talmud, God had Israel take two oaths: That they will “storm the wall” [immigrate en masse to Israel] and will “not rebel against the nations” [the nations should approve the Jewish state]. In a nutshell, for the Satmars these two oaths mean that the promises regarding the ingathering of the Jews to the Land of Israel speaks of a miraculous event spearheaded by King Messiah.

From this perspective, the settlements in Judea and Samaria, deemed illegal by the international community, are viewed as breaching the oath compelling Israel not to “rebel.” Loss of Jewish life is a tragedy, doubly so when it is caused by “rebellious” Jews who are under divine judgment.

The Satmars’ interpretation of what is known as the “three oaths” is rejected not only by secular Jews, but also by most Orthodox and non-Orthodox religious Jews. Moreover, though far from being self-hating Jews, the Satmars’ blaming of Israelis for their own suffering puts them effectively in the camp of those who are calling for Israel’s demise.


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