Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jews of Hungary and the Neturei Karta versus Theodor Herzl

Nadene Goldfoot                                              

Let me start by saying that I am Jewish, raised in a conservative home on the West Coast of the USA.  Born in 1934, I realized belatedly that we had a home again named Israel for our original home, and was created May 14, 1948.  As a teenager, I saw how difficult a time Jews were having there.  In 1980 I made aliyah and lived and worked in Israel, receiving dual citizenship, staying until my family in the USA needed me back.  I even found and befriended a 3rd cousin, Stanley Goldfoot, former Chief of Intelligence for the Stern Group, those that fought for Israel before 1948.    I believe Israel has all the rights in the world to exist.  My involvement with Orthodoxy has been with Chabad, who also are supporters of Israel.  Our rabbi here is from Hungary.  So to find a small group from Hungary that is not a supporter of Israel, who tells others it should not exist, has been brought to my attention.

To have 2 opposing religious Jewish opinions come from one European country calls for more exploration into the history of that country, Hungary.  The Hassidic movement,  started  in 1699-1761 by the Baal Shem Tov in the areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Poland (Pale of Settlement under Russia)  and  was a breakaway from the serious movement of the Mitnaggedim out of Lithuania (also a part of the Pale of Settlement),  led by the Gaon of Vilna, Elijah Ben Solomon Zalman (1720-1797),  where my grandparents came from.  These anti-Zionist Hungarians are of the Hassidic movement that also embraced Hungary.

"Starting in the late 15th century, the Ottoman Empire ruled the Romanian provinces of Moldavia, Walachia, and Dobruja.  Austria and Hungary controlled Banat, Bihor, Maramures, Satu Mare, and Transylvania. Austria took over Bukovina (northwestern Moldavia) in 1774.  For those doing genealogy searches, If your town was in Austro-Hungary before 1920 (i.e., if the town is located in Banat, Bihor, Maramures, Satu Mare, or Transylvania), you should also consult our fact sheet on Hungary. (  Cities changed with the country who had ownership at certain times.  Countries that have taken over Jewish homes give it a certain attitude.  

 Hungary was not a part of the Pale of Settlement started by Catherine II,  which meant Jews were permitted to live in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Crimea and Moldavia (Bessarabia),  Belarus, and Latvia which had all been taken over by Czarist Russia.  From 7th century to 1117, eastern Crimea was controlled by the Khazars.

The first Jewish grave found in Hungary found dated back to the 2nd century CE.  It didn't take too long for Jews from Jerusalem's destruction in 70 CE to arrive there.   "The early Magyars (Hungarians)  arrived in the land of Hungary from the east in the 9th century. At one time they were in alliance with the Khazars."

From 1235 to 1270, Jews had settled in Hungary during the reign of Bela IV as his property. They enjoyed good relations with their neighbors, and were often the minters of coins, some of which bore Hebrew inscriptions.  The Pope was putting pressure on the country, but the position of the Jews remained good until 1349.  From 1349 and again in  1360, Jews were being expelled from Hungary.  The edict was revoked in 1364, but many had moved to neighboring countries, so they moved back again.

The 15th and 16th centuries were marked by constant charges of Ritual Murder, and Hungarians would cancel the debts they owed to Jews.

When the Ottoman Empire took over the land in 1541, and until 1686, the Jews of Buda and southern Hungary enjoyed a large measure of civic equality and religious liberty under the occupying regime, though they had to pay heavy taxes.

Then the Hungarian sovereignty was put back in place, and that brought back more expulsions and the exclusion of Jews from agriculture and the professions.  Even so, there were nobles who protected the Jews whose numbers were augmented by refugees from Vienna in 1670.  Jews from Moravia and Poland in the first half of the 18th century  had immigrated there, for no place was really secure for Jews.

Polish immigrants brought in the study of of the Talmud and they established important centers of learning.

During Maria Theresa's reign, many new methods were created to exact money from the Jews.  The rule of Joseph II (1780-1790) brought the right of Jews to establish schools, lease lands, and engage in all trades and professions, and live in the royal cities.  The Jewish badge was abolished., and the Jews had to adopt German surnames. Usually they were for sale.   For genealogists, this is an important fact.  When Joseph died, all this good work was nullified.

From then on there was a struggle for legal rights as Magyarization of the Jewish community increased.

In 1848 there was a revolution with wholehearted support but  this brought on severe reprisals by the Austrians.  By 1867 the Jews finally had full civic and political rights.

Shortly afterwards, the Jewish community itself became divided in its religious life into 2 opposing camps, the orthodox and the liberal Jews.  Jews were rapidly being integrated into the country's  life and received a setback with the rise of the 19th century anti-Semitism culminating in the Tiszaezlar Ritual Murder libel.
Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), founder of Political Zionism, was born in Budapest, Hungary.  A writer, he was working as a Paris correspondent for the Vienna Neue Freie Presse and became very interested in the "Jewish Problem."  He was not Orthodox.  Advocating for assimilation was his way of solving the problem at first.  The Dreyfus trial changed his mind.  This occurred in France where a Jewish serviceman was accused of being a spy which was not true.  Anti-Semitism was on the rise there.  Herzl, in trying to solve this Jewish problem, wrote "THE JEWISH STATE"in 1896 as an answer to it.  He realized that Jews needed to return to what was then being called Palestine, but in essence was actually the ancient empires of Israel and Judea.   He founded the World Zionist Organization and was president of it till he died.  He had influenced the German kaiser William II in Constantinople in 1898 and again in 1901 he was received by sultan Abdul  Hamid.  The sultan even offered him Jewish settlement in Turkey, but he turned that down as it was outside of Palestine.  That's when he started dealing with England, which finally wound up with them having the mandate after WWI.  It's too bad he lacked the backing of Jewish financiers, so achieved nothing except he did start the ball rolling.

We have a few orthodox Jews, the Neturei Karta,  who left Hungary to settle in Jerusalem.   "For the most part, the members of Neturei Karta are descended from Hungarian Jews that settled in Jerusalem's Old City in the early nineteenth century (1800s). They were tradesmen and craftsmen, who devoted most of their time to studying the Talmud and other sacred texts. Most of their livelihood was based on the halukah, or distribution of charitable donations from wealthy Jews in the Diaspora. In the late nineteenth century, they participated in the creation of new neighborhoods outside the city walls to alleviate overcrowding in the Old City, and most are now concentrated in the neighborhood of Batei Ungarin and the larger Meah Shearim neighborhood." 
Neturei Karta Hassid holding Palestinian flag in support

Strangely, though they were living in Jerusalem in 1938 when Jews were being threatened in Germany and needed to get to Palestine, were themselves against Zionism and resented Jews arriving.  In fact, many Hassidic Jews felt the same way, that Israel couldn't be created unless the Moshiach came and did it.  Then, some groups had a change of opinion.   "This switch of allegiance by Agudat Israel caused a radical shift in the ideology of Neturei Karta, which felt betrayed by their Orthodox Allies.Another large and influential Hassidic group,  Satmar, under the leadership of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, (1886-1979) born in Sighet, Austro-Hungary,  started his career in Krooly, Hungary in 1929, and later of New York City, as well as other Hassidic groups,   Some in Israel and others in the Diaspora joined Neturei Karta's anti-Zionist opinions.  Those Neturei Karta Jews living in Israel "became a self-contained community within Israel, refusing to pay taxes,  with few formal ties to the surrounding political infrastructure." 

"A fringe element took proactive steps to condemn Israel  and bring about its eventual dismantling until the coming of the Messiah. Chief among these is Rabbi Moshe Hirsch, Neturei Karta's self-proclaimed "Foreign Minister," who served in Yasser Arafat's cabinet as Minister for Jewish Affairs. They believe the Palestinians should have the land and that Jews can be a minority living in it".  They want to see all the Palestinians returned to the land.  Their goal is:  " To reside as loyal and peaceful Palestinian citizens, in peace and harmony with our Muslim Brethren. Just as our ancestors lived in Palestine for centuries before the usurpations of this tragic century.  
Arab leader conferring with Hitler about getting rid of Jews in Palestine

Abbas, Yasser Arafat's successor,  has since stated that when he creates Palestine, which is now called the West Bank by Jordan and others, but Judea and Samaria, its original name,  by most Israelis, he will not have one Jew living there.  It will be Judenrein-free of Jews.   "I've been told that the Neturei Karta  website claims that the Zionists deliberately condemned thousands of Jews to die in Nazi gas chambers, rather than allow them to emigrate to destinations other than Palestine, in order for the Zionists to claim a Zionist State."  

This is completely false information and harms Israel.  To me this is like this Jewish group had become turncoats,  a 5th Column.  "fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group—such as a nation or a besieged city—from within. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organized actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.  Turncoats are  persons who desert one party or cause in order to join an opposing one.
synonyms:traitorrenegade, defector, deserter, betrayer;

Evidently, a  Neturei Karta  rabbi sent an email to a Muslim from Pakistan who sent it to me 
with questions saying:

 "Secondly, not all jews are Shemetic they are reverts and according to the law of genetics, an in law is not real family just as a convert to Judaism is not a real Jew. 85% of jews are Ashkenazim and these are historically proven to originated from Khazaria and Khazaria is Souther russia, Georgia, Hungry, Poland, yugoslavia."  

 What he doesn't realize is that many Hungarians carry the haplogroup of R1a1, which could be what some Hungarian Jews carry as well, and this is thought to be from Khazaria.  Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  This rabbi doesn't know what his deep DNA ancestry is.  He's also Ashkenazi and it's possible he came from converts.  Oh my!  

Sadly, this group has not left the Middle Ages in my mind.  Somehow they have been left stunted, led on by their rabbis so affected.  I do not wish to argue their religious beliefs, being I am also Jewish, but when it comes to bringing on harm to Israel, to Jews who have a different viewpoint about living in Israel, they are actually doing acts that can cause their deaths, and this is not a Jewish thing to do, no matter what level of understanding one has. I know how the President of Egypt feels about having IS in their Islamic family.  One wonders how they can come to such conclusions.  Interpreting what G-d expects has some surprising results. Besides the group in Jerusalem and New York City , "They live as a part of larger Haredi communities around the globe."  We have 6 million Jews living in the USA, but not all, certainly, are Haredi Jews.  

The cultural life of Hungary had Jews playing  a prominent part before World War I only they suffered because of the disproportionate participation in the Communist Revolution of 1919, then the Bela Kun regime collapsed, and discrimination of many kinds was instituted against them.

Nazism in Germany raised its ugly head from 1934 to 1939, and the scope of anti-Jewish measures enacted by the government increased.  It also affected the 300,000 Jews in territories which Hungarians annexed from Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania during WWII.

By 1944 the Nazis overran Hungary and imposed ghettos, concentration camps and deportations to extermination centers.  Of Hungary's 725,000 Jews, about 400,000 were slaughtered.  Communists took over in 1948 leading to the nationalization of Jewish institutions, and religious organizations were centralized under one authority.  Some 200,000 fled Hungary after the 1956 revolution.  80,000 Jews populated Hungary in 1990, but the count was actually higher.  This was those who had registered.

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia


  1. i had heard once that there are orthodox jews who are against the state of israel but did not know all of this history. these are obviously are not believing that God created "a nation born in a day" as in isaiah 66:8 that actually happened on may 14,1948-a truly miraculous "birth" after horrible travail (holocaust). how they reconcile that, i don't understand, and the harm to undo it is amazing to me. what else could modern israel be except God's miracle born 2000+ years after israel was scattered in 70 AD? but God is keeping His Word so they cannot undo what He has said no matter what they try to do to thwart it.

  2. I agree. Their reasoning baffles me, and it wouldn't matter if this little sect just kept to themselves with their odd beliefs, but they're reaching out to the Muslim world spewing this and causing Muslim to feel that Jews have no business living there. . It's like they've spun a cocoon around themselves and have ignored all the history that has gone on affecting Jewish people, like the Holocaust and all the other things. Then actually going to Israel but denying that right to others is abominable to me. What's amazing that they were originally from Hungaria, and are saying that Ashkenazi Jews are not real Jews, and they are Ashkenazi themselves. They threw in that Ashkenazis are from Khazaria, converted Jews. Most likely it is they that are from Khazaria that are from converted people. DNA is telling me this. It's the old POT calling the KETTLE black. Taking this step of causing harm to Israelis is what is eating me up. Yes, it's been a miracle we've lasted this long already with a force against us like this group, though it is a small group, I believe. Couldn't find a population number for them.

  3. well God's plan to establish israel in that land with His Peace (obviously not there yet) is still on track in spite of enemies from within as well as from without. i don't understand how they can read the scriptures and miss what is obvious but i miss things too and need things revealed to me as well no doubt. but in my heart i understand that God has allowed all of this (affliction) for israel--and the world--in order that all will have to reckon with HIM. this has to be controversial because God Himself is......and His reputation, and that of His chosen people israel, is at stake in a once and for all, as He fulfills His Word to abraham (and promises to him as father of many nations also). many things are sorting as we speak and much to endure until all is said and done...known........because the Truth like rich cream will rise to top. happening God's way and on His timetable is what i see (& "see")----but Peace will come--isaiah 60:14 says all of whatever remnants of the peoples that remain in this near future picture in the Bible will come in surrender and peace to Zion. isaiah ch 60 is glorious!
    God knew how to write......and knows how to tell..this Story.

  4. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the leader of the Revisionist movement and born in Russia, which both Begin, born in Poland & Netanyahu, born in Israel, emanate from noted in 1940 that, “We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done, no matter whether Joseph or Simon or Ivan or Achmed agree with it or not.”