Orthodox Jews cause a stir at WCAR

Durban- South Africa (PANA) -- Several heads of state and government and thousands of delegates have set the stage for plenary debate that will guide the work of the historic UN Conference against Racism under way here.
But, it is on the streets of Durban where tens of thousands of people from all walks of life - and all corners of the world - have converged to air their views that the healthiest debates have taken place.
A small group of Orthodox Jews has caused a major stir at the WCAR by expressing their support for the Palestinian cause and stating that Israel does not support World Jewry.
The rabbis who represent the Neturei Karta International, an anti-Zionist, Orthodox organisation also support Palestinian sovereignty in the Holy Land.
Their message has angered Jews who claim they are betraying the right of Jews to their own homeland.
Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss says the Jewish state of Israel is heretical and it is a crime against humanity to take up arms in support of the Holy Land.
"We are demanding a complete and peaceful dismantling of the Israeli state.
This is the solution to our problems because there can be no peace with Zionism", Weiss told PANA.
He went further to say that God promised Israel to the Jews, but they were evicted for the sins they committed.
He said it is now God's law that Jews live in exile.
It is a cause which has earned them widespread respect from the dozens of pro-Palestinian support groups but has also earned the wrath of Israelis attending the event.
In an interview with PANA, Massoud Shadjareh of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, called the rabies "my brothers" and said it is the ideologies of the Israeli government and not religion which lies at the root of the Middle East conflict.
"There are still racists in South Africa - we all know that - but the difference is that the old ideologies of the old government were thrown out when the ANC came to power.
In Israel, it makes no difference what happens in negotiations -- until that government is removed from power, there can be no peace," he said.
In an angry confrontation on Sunday, a member of the World Union of Jewish Students slammed the rabbis for supporting "discord, disunity and violence" in the Middle East.
"You make a joke of our struggle, of the genocide we have been through.
Our people are suffering -- in Israel and all over the world, but you support Palestinian terrorists," he said.
Phyllis Heideman, who represents the Jewish delegation at the WCAR said it is a disgrace that the rabbis are working hard to destroy everything that Jews are working for.
It is an issue that has caused great divide at the WCAR, but many would argue, healthy debate as well.
Indeed, while top government officials from countries around the world are addressing the scourge of racial hatred and the need to broaden practices of tolerance, it is the debates on the streets of Durban among ordinary people and the workshops for representatives of NGOs that reflect the intensity of issues at the United Nations World Conference against Racism.

03 september 2001 11:51:00

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