Graffiti is ‘classic anti-Zionist haredi rhetoric’

Wiesenthal Center chief Zuroff says accusations of Zionist collaboration with Nazis "talked about in haredi community for years."

Yad Vashem anti-Zionist graffiti 370 (photo credit: Hadas Parush)
Yad Vashem anti-Zionist graffiti 370
(photo credit: Hadas Parush)
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.
Below one 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 community.
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 vandalism.
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 nations.”
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 rhetoric.”
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.
“These are 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 outpost.
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.
Hiddush 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 cruelty.”
Zuroff said Shteinman’s comments showed a complete ignorance of the events surrounding the Holocaust and were a distortion of the historic record.
“As we all know, Rabbi Shteinman has a PhD in history,” Zuroff quipped.