The declarations and content of the slogans spray-painted
at the Yad Vashem
Holocaust memorial have led the police to believe that ultra- Orthodox
extremists are behind the vandalism perpetrated Sunday night.
of the slogans spray-painted at the site, the vandals signed off in the name of
“World Haredi Jewry.”
The content of the graffiti, including conspiracy
theories about Zionist collaboration with the Nazis, is also consistent with the
beliefs of some radical anti-Zionist elements within the haredi
Shmuel Pappenheim, a former spokesman for the anti- Zionist
Eda Haredit organization and a follower of the Toldos Aharon hassidic dynasty,
criticized the incident but said that it was impossible to know who was behind
the vandalism, adding that only someone mentally ill would carry out such
Pappenheim, a moderate within the community, acknowledged
however that there is a significant number of people within haredi society who
agree with the kind of sentiment sprayed on the Yad Vashem campus, that early
Zionist leaders ignored the plight of Jews in Eastern Europe during the
Holocaust for political purposes.
The sentiment behind other incidents of
this nature that have occurred of late, is in keeping with ideas held by the
extreme anti-Zionist Natorei Karta sect and similar groups.
In April, a
monument in the Jordan Valley to fallen Israeli soldiers was spray-painted with
the words “killed because of the sin of rebelling against the
Natorei Karta believe that a passage in the Talmud forbids Jews
from “rebelling against the nations of the world” and from going to the Land of
Israel en masse (without divine sanction).
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of
the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, was extremely hesitant to apportion blame
for Sunday night’s incident and pointed out that the possibility exists that it
was carried out by anti-haredi provocateurs.
He said however that the
slogans do reflect the ideological sentiment of sectors within the haredi world
diametrically opposed to Zionism, and constituted “classic anti-Zionist haredi
Zuroff added that accusations of Zionist collaboration with
the Nazis was particularly pronounced within Natorei Karta, but that these ideas
had also been disseminated in mainstream haredi yeshivot.
ideas which have been talked about in the haredi community for years,” Zuroff
said, adding that “they have no basis in fact.
However, Yisrael Meir
Hirsch, a leader of the Natorei Karta sect, denied that the group was involved
in the vandalism, saying that it was more in keeping with the actions of settler
youth, possibly in protest at the pending evacuation of the Ulpana
In reference to the slogans themselves, Hirsch told Haredi
website Behadrei Haredim that “the topic is very wide, the participation of the
Zionists in the Holocaust is known to everyone.”
In reaction to the
incident, religious-freedom lobbying group Hiddush called on the rabbinic
leadership of the haredi community to denounce such attacks.
chairman Uri Regev pointed out that back in April, the de facto leader of the
non-hassidic haredi community Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman said in an interview
that Zionists were partly responsible for the Holocaust.
“It is well
known that before the Holocaust, the Zionists tried to provoke the evil Hitler
and have sanctions imposed on Germany,” Shteinman told Hamevaser
, a daily
newspaper of the hassidic community.
“But the haredim, according to the
word of God, opposed [this] and believed that we should not provoke him, because
it could only increase the danger to us. In the end it became clear that this
provocation was not for our good.
It’s possible that without this
[provocation] against him [Hitler], he would not have acted with such
Zuroff said Shteinman’s comments showed a complete ignorance of
the events surrounding the Holocaust and were a distortion of the historic
“As we all know, Rabbi Shteinman has a PhD in history,” Zuroff