Rabbi Ahron Cohen: “The State of Israel is A Tragedy”

His affirmed position against Zionist clearly displayed from one of his principal: “I will never go to Israel. I also don’t want to Palestine as well as it’s still a part of Israel.”

He is Rabbi Ahron Cohen a spokesman for Neturei Karta, an orthodox Jewish group was established in 1935. This organization has refused Zionism and wants Israel dismissed. This community recently exists around Jerusalem, London, New York, and North America.

Rabbi Cohen came to Jakarta to attend a conference title “Sixty Years of Palestinian Occupation” at the University of Indonesia. He accepted Faisal Assegaf from Tempo for an exclusive interview. But he rejected to say about his age and how many children he has. Excerpts:

Why did you refuse Zionism?

Judaism and Zionism are the two different things. Judaism is a religion and way of life that emerged for 3,500 years. One of our philosophies is everything controlled by the Almighty. We must accept God’s commands. One of His command is we have been given Palestinian holy land to live but with certain conditions. We must maintain standard of ethic, moral, and religion. If we rejected, we must be ready to exile. Unfortunately, those standards weren’t maintained. The history has showed for 2,000 years the Jewish nation spread through out the world. Our teaching has prohibited us to establish a state.

Otherwise, Zionism is a new concept that emerged several hundred years ago made by the secular Jews who adopted nationalism idea. It’s very contrast with Judaism approaches. Zionism has idea to establish a state in Palestine even they know the existence of indigenous people there. They have accidentally pushed out of Palestinians. Actually, there were also Jews live there before Zionist movement raise. They live side by side peacefully with Palestinians. We totally oppose Zionism ideas.

Why Zionism more attractive for Jews?

When Zionism emerged for first time, almost a hundred percents of Jews and religious authority opposed it. But after the Second World War finished, there were a problem of many refugees. Zionists have used that issue to attract Jews refugees to live in Palestine. While the state of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, refugees were interested and impressed in idea of nationalism. Some prominent leaders of Jewish religion have been also interested.

Is it true there was a concept of the land promised by God for Jews?

Yes, but it must be realized based on conditions as I said. The concept was in Talmud.

Where is the location of the land?

The holy land of Palestine, but it’s not happening now. At the present time, we must exile as our destiny.

Zionist is more powerful now. Do you think Judaism has failed to stop influence of that movement?

Zionist has succeeded to attract a lot of people. To say, we have failed as we have been facing moral test. What we can say is a lot of Jews have failed to live with good standards because they accepted Zionism. We, the orthodox Jews, continuously teaching Judaism and we aren’t very sympathetic with Zionist state.

Do you feel shamed caused by your religion has been exploited to occupy another nation?

Obviously, do you believe the Zionist people who aren’t believe in God said God has given the promised land (laughed). It’s contrary. Some of our teachings have been misinterpreted and exploited.

Do you have any idea to resolve the conflict between Palestine and Israel?

Ideally, a state can be created by stopped any violence. After that, The Jews must allow Palestinians establish a state and the government. If the Jews have been allowed to live in there, it’s good. If not, we have to go out to find other place to stay.

Which is the better, one state or two state solutions?

It’s better one state.

Do you think it’s possible?

At this time, it’s like a dream. What we have to try first is final peace deal between two sides. In our belief, Jews were allowed to have a state if the Messiah comes at the end of the world.

What’s the meaning of the 60th Israeli independence for you?

For us, it’s a tragedy because of achievement of Zionism immorality. But we will not loose against that evil. For orthodox Jews, the Israeli independence is a tragedy and they fasted in Naqba day. We must fast to pay suffering of Palestinians and our sins.

So, the state of Israel is illegal?

It’s illegal at all.

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