Freedom for anti-Zionist political prisoners: Neturei Karta members arrested by occupation forces

Two members of Neturei Karta, the religious Orthodox Jewish movement committed to anti-Zionism, have been arrested by the Israeli occupation after meeting with Palestinian leaders and former prisoners in Jenin, including the family of imprisoned Palestinian leader Bassam al-Saadi and former hunger striker Maher al-Akhras. Anti-Zionist Rabbi Simon Roodi is currently held as a political prisoner, while Elhanan Lax was released under restrictive conditions after being arrested earlier in the past week. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network demands the immediate release of the anti-Zionist political prisoners along with all Palestinian political prisoners in occupation prisons.

Neturei Karta held a press conference in New York City on 17 January to demand the release of the anti-Zionist rabbi as well as all Palestinian prisoners, declaring that the order for the arrest “came from national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, a leading member of the new extreme right wing Israeli government, who has a history of hostility to anti Zionist Jews.”

During the visit to Jenin, highlighting that anti-Zionist Jews do not recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist state and instead stand with the Palestinian people and the liberation of all of Palestine, Rabbi Roodi said: “Zionism has no connection with Judaism. Zionism merely uses Judaism as a vehicle to achieve its goals. Traditional Jews who believe in the Torah have no part in the Zionist conquest and occupation. The state is completely forbidden according to Torah law.”

Members of Neturei Karta visited Jenin on 9 January in an event widely covered in the Palestinian press, where they met with Ata Abu Rmaileh as well as Maher al-Akhras, who Neturei Karta members had also visited in the hospital during his hunger strike for liberation from administrative detention, imprisonment without charge or trial. During the visit, they declared: “No matter how time passes. We will continue to adhere to our dream and our common goals. We want Palestine with its capital, Jerusalem, and the Palestinian rule, so that we can live happily.”

The arrests have come after several attacks on anti-Zionist demonstrators in Jerusalem by Israeli occupation forces. The current ultra-right Zionist government finds it unacceptable that anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews, who lived in Palestine before Zionism and the Nakba, continue to serve as a living reminder and example that Zionism does not represent a monolithic Jewish identity nor Jewish religious identity, and that neither the secular nor the religious anti-Zionist perspectives among Jews have been erased or suppressed despite the military dominance of the Zionist state. Further, Neturei Karta’s support for Palestinian self-determination and sovereignty once again underlines the reality that the Zionist regime brutally suppresses: that it is the Palestinian resistance that is the defender of peace, justice and security for all under the banner of Palestinian liberation, and the Zionist project that is an illegitimate colonial interloper.

Watch the video of the New York City press conference: