Literally, “Guardians of the City,” Neturei Karta is a small group founded in Jerusalem, in 1938, by ultra-Orthodox Jews (primarily hasidic) who broke with Agudat Israel. They actively oppose Zionism and refuse to cooperate with the State of Israel (though some live there). They believe that Jews are prohibited by rabbinic law from establishing Jewish sovereignty, over the land of Israel, until the coming of the Messiah. The NK leader Rabbi Moshe Ber Beck immigrated to North America and established a small community in Monsey, New York. This American group has made controversial overtures to Louis Farrakhan, Hamas, and Iran. They protest to support Palestinian rights and to oppose the existence of the State of Israel. Consequently, many mainstream American Jews view Neturei Karta as an Enemy, as antisemitic traitors.
The Project met with Neturei Karta participants in the New York area, recording interviews in May 2018 and January 2019. Interviewees included Yisroel Weiss, Rabbi and Mrs. Dovid Feldman, Moshe Ber Beck, and NK activists in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel (Monroe, NY). Dr. Gray also interviewed Orthodox Jewish anti-Zionists (including Satmar hasidim) who are not with Neturei Karta (and thus disagree with NK political overtures).
In the summer of 2019, our research on Neturei Karta was boosted by the work of Nellie Given, an Undergraduate Summer Scholar. She accompanied Dr. Gray on a field trip to NY in mid-June, conducted follow-up research, and helped prepare curriculum materials for an adult education course about the project, at the National Havurah Committee Summer Institute, University of Hartford, June 30 – August 2.
Our June 2019 interviewees included Rabbi Feldman, NK activists in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel (Monroe, NY), and several former (or less active) NK participants. We also met Moshe Katz and his daughter Rachel, Satmar hasidim who run the Natruna (truetorahjews) anti-Zionist (not NK) project.