History of Orthodox Jewish opposition to Zionism
The rabbinical authorities had led the Jewish communities of the world for nearly 2,000 years. The rise of Zionism was a distinct threat to their authority and their teachings. Moreover, the prominence of secular Jews in the movement and the emphasis on settlement in Palestine meant that the center of Judaism would move away from the Yeshiva seminaries and the synagogue. Zionism was supposed to be forcing the hand of Providence and to be contrary to the teachings of Orthodox Judaism in regard to the coming of the Messiah and the providential work of God in bringing about the restoration. Apparently, these views were held only among the Ashkenazy Jews of Western Europe. At no no time did Sephardic Jewish leaders proclaim themselves opposed to Zionism or settlement in Palestine.
In Russia the extreme Orthodox synagogue, organized an active opposition which had for its center the Poltava rabbi Akiva Rabinowitz and the magazine "HaPeles" in Wilna around 1902. Even before that, Orthodox Jews expressed their opposition to Zionism, strangely enough on the grounds of universalism in some cases. Dr. Moriz Güdemann, chief rabbi of Vienna, in his "National-Judenthum" (Leipzig and Vienna, 1897) wrote that since the dispersion Israel has been a purely religious community, a leader of peoples. He maintained that its historical task has consisted in opposing the idea of nationalism; and that if Judaism should reawaken in its adherents the endeavor again to become a nation, it would be committing suicide. According to Güdemann, the vocation of Israel lies in the spiritual impress that it has been able to put upon humanity and in its endeavor to further the Messianic time which shall conciliate nations to one another. He held that Judaism has acclimatized itself everywhere; that Zion is only a symbol of its own and mankind's future; that in this sense the word is used in the prayer-book of the Synagogue, and that true Zionism can not be separated from the future of humanity.
The ultra orthodox Agudat Yisrael was officially neutral toward Zionism. In practice, it was anti-Zionist. Its members testified against the formation of a Jewish state to UN emissaries. Once the state was formed however, Agudat Yisrael has been quite happy to participate i the government and to accept government subsidies for its schools and Yeshivot. The Neturei Karta (Jews against Zionism) group became far more violently opposed to Zionism. At least a part of this fanatical opposition to Zionism was due to the opposition of Zionists to the Halukah (charity distribution) of ultraorthodox Jews in the land of Israel and to the nonproductive way of life it entails.
General History of Zionism - Zionism and the Creation of Israel
Jewish anti-Zionism-Jews against Zionism*
Neturei Karta (Jews against Zionism)
External Against Zionism Not Jews
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