“There are many people who, in their hearts, feel for the Palestinians, but are reluctant to speak out because they don’t want to be seen as anti-Semitic,” Rabbi Dovid Feldman, the spokesman of the Neturei Karta International, told IQNA in an exclusive interview on Monday.
Nov. 29 has been named the International Day of the Solidarity with the Palestinian People, providing an opportunity think deeper about the situation in Palestine and the decades of oppression against the people.
To further investigate the event, IQNA has reached out to Feldman from Neturei Karta International, a Jewish community that has for years voiced its strong support for the oppressed Palestinians.
Here is the full text of the interview:
IQNA: How can the people of the world truly express solidarity with Palestinian people? Is there any practical way for doing that?
Feldman: Those who care about the Palestinians are already doing a lot to make their voices heard in countries around the world. What we need now is to get more people involved in the movement, so that public opinion changes. One issue is that at present, there are many people who, in their hearts, feel for the Palestinians, but are reluctant to speak out because they don’t want to be seen as anti-Semitic. The Zionists always use the accusation of anti-Semitism against anyone who criticizes the State of Israel.
Therefore, one important thing the pro-Palestinian movement can do is to clearly distinguish between Judaism, a religion, and Zionism, a political movement. Whenever and in whatever way one expresses support for Palestine or criticism for the Zionist occupation, one should refer to the crimes committed and to the Zionist regime committing them, not to the Jewish people as a whole or the Jewish religion, so that they will not be able to claim justly that this is motivated by anti-Semitism. Their state should never be called a Jewish state, but a Zionist state.
IQNA: The Zionist regime is expanding illegal settlements in occupied territories despite widespread condemnations and the international community is not taking any serious step to stop this. What is your take on this?
Feldman: The authentic Jewish stance has always been that the entire existence of the Zionist State is unacceptable. The settler movement is just an extreme and more militant version of Zionism. We, as religious Jews, following the beliefs and practices that Jews have held for thousands of years, are embarrassed when the settlers pretend to be religious and claim to act in the name of the Torah. In no way do they represent world Jewry or the Holy Torah. When a religious person commits a crime, it doesn’t make the crime religious.
IQNA: How can we raise awareness of the people from across the globe about the situation of the oppressed people of Palestine?
Feldman: 1-Sharing facts about the crimes that go on, 2-Showing how Jews and others from outside the Arab and Muslim community take part in pro-Palestinian activities, 3-Educational books and videos that teach about the history of Palestine and the conflicts that have taken place, 4- Spreading historical information about how Jews and Muslims once lived side by side in peace in Palestine and throughout the Middle East, to show that the problem is not Islam and Judaism; the problem is only the political movement of Zionism.
IQNA: How can normalization deals between regional countries and the Israeli regime affect efforts made for defending Palestinian rights?
Feldman: This unfortunately causes some people to ignore the ongoing occupation, because they say, look, even some of their fellow Muslims don’t care and are willing to recognize the Israeli regime for their own benefit, so why should we care? However, in the end what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians remains a violation of international law and Jewish law, and we hope that countries will not forget about that.
We Orthodox Jews have the same issue internally with those Orthodox Jews who, for one reason or another, have chosen to work with the Zionist regime (such as the religious parties in the Knesset). We fear that their cooperation causes them to lose sight of the principles of Judaism that are being violated. Still, we have hope that these Jews will eventually put their beliefs into practice and break off their ties with Zionism.
IQNA: As a community inside the US, how do you commemorate this day?
Feldman: A delegation of Jewish Rabbis is scheduled to hold a press conference and march on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The message will be that we appreciate all that the United Nations is doing to prevent conflict and promote peace in the world and in Palestine in particular. However, the religious Jewish position goes further than that: the Jewish people was sent into exile by God two thousand years ago, and they are forbidden to return and rule over the Holy Land by physical means. Jews are forbidden to fight other nations, and are required to live as loyal citizens, in peace with their non-Jewish neighbors. Murder and theft are serious violations of Jewish law. The Zionists violated all of this by displacing, killing and oppressing the Palestinian people. Therefore, as religious Jews, we promote a totally free Palestine, where all land and all rights will be restored to the indigenous Palestinian population. This is the best way to ensure that Jews and Muslims live together in peace once again as they lived prior to the present conflict.
Based on this, the speakers’ message will reiterate what the religious Jewish leaders of Palestine have been saying in their pleas to the UN since the creation of the Zionist state: that the entire state is not permitted according the Jewish law and is not the wish of the Jewish people.
Interview by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas