Yisroel Dovid Weiss
Yisroel Dovid Weiss
|Born||1956 (age 62–63)|
|Residence||New York, United States|
|Known for||Activist and spokesman for a branch of Neturei Karta|
Yisroel Dovid Weiss (Hebrew: ישראל דוד ווייס; born 1956) is a Haredi Jew, activist and spokesman for a minority branch of Neturei Karta, a Haredi anti-Zionist group. Residing in Monsey, New York, he believes that observant Jews should peacefully oppose the existence of the Israeli state: "It would be forbidden for us to have a State, even if it would be in a land that is desolate and uninhabited." He represents less than 500 people, and Neturei Karta's extreme views, created around 100 years ago, are rejected as fake by the vast majority of Orthodox Jews worldwide.
Weiss was criticized in 2006 for his participation in the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, widely considered to be an event promoting Holocaust denial internationally. Weiss claimed to be speaking as "the voice of the people who died in the Holocaust".
Weiss often speaks at rallies and conferences in the United States and internationally, criticizing Israel and Zionism. In 2001 he attended the UN-organized World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa, as part of the Islamic Human Rights Commission delegation. During the conference, US and Israeli delegates walked out in protest of alleged singling out of Israel.
In November 2006, Weiss stated at a protest in New York City that "Zionism is a fundamentally heretical movement which denies the Divine imperative that Jews remain in exile until the day when all mankind will be miraculously redeemed." He repeated his claim that Judaism and Zionism are antithetical to each other at a conference in London in 2011 calling for Israel to be "dismantled" and saying the country is a "Zionist state that has kidnapped the name of Judaism".
Visit to Iran and stance on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
In December 2006, as part of a six member delegation from Neturei Karta, Weiss spoke at the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust, held by the Iranian government in Tehran. It was described by media sources such as NPR and London's Jewish Chronicle as a gathering of Holocaust deniers. In his five-minute speech, Weiss addressed the issue of Holocaust denial as well:
Now maybe I can say that at the discussion of the holocaust, I may be the representative, the voice of the people who died in the holocaust because my grandparents died there. They were killed in Auschwitz. My parents were from Hungary. My father escaped and his parents remained. He wasn't able to get them out of Hungary and they died in Auschwitz as were other relatives and all the communities that they knew. So to say that they didn't die, to me you cannot say that. I am the living remnant of the people who died in the holocaust and I am here, I believe sent by God, to humbly say, simply to speak to the people here and say, 'You should know that the Jewish people died, and do not try to say that it did not happen. They did die!' There are people throughout the Jewish communities, still alive in their seventies and eighties and every one of them will tell you their stories. It is something which you can not refute, but that being said, it doesn't mean that the holocaust is a tool to use to oppress other people.
Weiss stated that though Israelis have used the Holocaust to gain sympathy and advantage, he does not believe the Holocaust toll is exaggerated. Weiss said that "The Zionists use the Holocaust issue to their benefit. We, Jews who perished in the Holocaust, do not use it to advance our interests. We stress that there are hundreds of thousands Jews around the world who identify with our opposition to the Zionist ideology and who feel that Zionism is not Jewish, but a political agenda...What we want is not a withdrawal to the '67 borders, but to everything included in it, so the country can go back to the Palestinians and we could live with them."
Weiss defended Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad against accusations of anti-Semitism. In March 2006, during an earlier visit to Iran, Weiss released a statement to Iran's official IRIB radio in which he stated that: "it is dangerous deviation to pretend that the Iranian president is anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic. He is extremely friendly and he understands the difference between the Zionists and the Jews who do not embrace the state of Israel." The statement added that they were "upset about the recent ploys, propaganda and tensions which have been created by the West regarding the statements of the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about a world free of Zionism, since this is nothing more than wishing for a better world dominated by peace and calm."
American Jewish organisations, including Agudath Israel of America and the Orthodox Union, issued statements distancing themselves from Weiss. The executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, has called the group "embarrassing", and Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, called Neturei Karta's public display of affection for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "graphic and disgusting."
After returning to the U.S. from the conference, Weiss and other individuals who attended have been ostracized by synagogues, denied service at kosher stores, and have been the subject of disparagement in some communities with strong Orthodox Jewish populations such as Brooklyn and Monsey. A demonstration outside a Neturei Karta synagogue on January 7, 2007, was met by a counter-demonstration attended by "a much smaller contingent" of supporters of Rabbi Weiss.
Weiss's reaction to critics
Weiss states that the Jewish world has misunderstood the Neturei Karta actions. He said the organization did not appear at the conference to deny the Holocaust, but to draw a distinction between Zionists and Jews. Weiss stated that he believes Ahmadinejad is not an enemy of the Jews, but is a "God-fearing man [who] respects the Jewish people and he protects them in Iran".
- "Anti-Zionist rabbi gives Hezbollah chief in Beirut gift 'from the Jewish people'".
- "Orthodox Rabbi Condemns Recent Israeli Atrocity in Gaza". Neturei Karta International. November 10, 2006. Retrieved April 23, 2008.
- "Speech by Rabbi Y. D. Weiss, Tehran Conference, December 2006". Neturei Karta International. December 12, 2006. Retrieved March 6, 2007.
- "Satmar Court Slams Naturei Karta". Ynet. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
- Santos, Fernanda (January 15, 2007). "New York Rabbi Finds Friends in Iran and Enemies at Home". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
- Sugarman, Daniel (January 4, 2018). "Jeremy Corbyn condemned after footage shows him appearing to agree with 'Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism' claim". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
- Interview by Harold Channer,
- Maher, Ahmad (August 26, 2003). "Zionism, Israel Threat to Peace: Rabbi Weiss". IslamOnline.net. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- "UK Muslims present: Jews against Zionism". Ynetnews. May 7, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- "Against Zionism, Jewish Perspectives – 2 July 2006". Islamic Human Rights Commission. July 2, 2006. Retrieved March 15, 2007.
- The Race Against Racism: A report of IHRC's work at the UN World Conference Against Racism, 2001 (Islamic Human Rights Commission) November 1, 2001.
- Racism summit seeks breakthrough (BBC) September 5, 2001.
- Bonisteel, Sara (December 26, 2006). "Ahmadinejad Handshake Leaves Rabbi's Neighbors Crying Foul".
- "Hizbullah Deputy Sec.-Gen. Sheikh Naim Qassem Receives a "Symbolic Gift from the Jewish People," Declares: We Will Be Victorious But Are in No Hurry".
- Shamir, Shlomo (December 16, 2006). "Satmars: Jews at Iran Holocaust Conference 'Reckless Outcasts'". Haaretz. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
- Iran Hosts Large Meeting of Holocaust Deniers, All Things Considered, December 11, 2006.
- Correction: Iran-Holocaust-Conference (Fox News) January 9, 2007
- Neturei Karta in Iran: Zionists use Holocaust by Roee Nahmias, (YNetNews) March 12, 2006.
- Freund, Michael (March 6, 2006). "Neturei Karta Sect Pays Visit to Iran". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
- Berkman, Jacob (December 19, 2006). "Orthodox furious at anti-Zionist sect". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
- Neturei Karta official website
- An Open Letter to President George Bush, from Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss
- Rabbi Weiss Speech at Islamic Center, 2007
- Israel commits atrocities on the Palestinian people – Interview with Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss on Iranian TV, May 16, 2011
- Al Jazeera interview
- Judaism in the Era of Zionism (A documentary interview with Yisroel Dovid Weiss and Moshe Ber Beck.)