Neturei Karta (NK) and Masar Badil in Ottawa: “Free, Free Palestine from the river to the sea”

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Rabbi David Feldman (NK) speaking at the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil-The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org) on May 30, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada

I’ve seen them often in the United States at protest rallies organized by pro-Palestine groups against Israel — in Washington DC, in New York. Yesterday in Ottawa, they led Masar Badil — The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org)’s May Day Liberation March. They are members of Neturei Karta (NK), an international ultra-Orthodox Jewish group originating in Palestine in Jerusalem, having split from another religious Jewish group in 1938.

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Neturei Karta (NK) leading the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil-The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org) on May 30, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada

They stand quietly on the side of pro-Palestine demonstrations holding signs that say, “Jews in exile are forbidden to have their own state” and “Judaism rejects Zionism.” Their outward appearance sets them apart from the crowd. Their rebbe and most of their members wear clothes whose design may have been influenced by an old Ottoman fashion. I’ve often watched them from afar, afraid to approach them or talk to them in much the same way I would have felt about approaching a group of mullahs in traditional garb frozen in time.

But, on the first day of the conference in Ottawa, I did hesitantly approach two of the rabbis during a break. They were having a snack (part of what made me hesitate to approach them, because at the boarding school in Jerusalem I had attended as a child, the Catholic German nuns who ran it at the time made a point of being always cloistered when they ate, and I felt I was being intrusive). Rabbi David Feldman of New York, the older of the two rabbis, quickly made me feel at ease and we were soon chatting away. We had an easy rapport. I knew a little about his religious beliefs and wanted to know more. He knew a little about my Palestinian history (which in fact was the same history as his group’s, although he conversed with his companion in Yiddish). He had not heard of Lifta, the depopulated village of my family lying in ruins on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, and I promised to email him information about Lifta. I asked if he would go on record for me and he agreed to the following video clip:

Video link caption: From a chat I had with Rabbi David Feldman of Neturei Karta (NK) on the first day of Masar Badil’s Palestine Liberation Conference in Ottawa, April 28, 2023

What is remarkable about Masar Badil’s May Day liberation March in Ottawa on Sunday, April 30, 2023 is not just that it was the first such march in Ottawa’s history, not just that the chants clearly called for resistance “in all its forms” against the Zionist Jewish entity and supported armed resistance in Gaza and the West Bank, but also that it was led by Rabbi Feldman and his colleagues. Marginalized as an international anti-Zionist group and persecuted within Israel, this group, like Masar Badil, is coming into its revolutionary own. In 2019, the ADL published “background” information about NK, coloring it under the headings of “Anti-Israel Activity, Antisemitism Globally and Antisemitism in the US.”

Rabbi David Feldman

Caption: Rabbi David Feldman of Neturei Karta speaking at the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil-The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org) on May 30, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada

Neturei Karta (NK), the ADL mouthed, “claims to ‘pray for the peaceful dismantlement of the state of Israel.’” If the Ottawa march is any indication, NK will now pray, inshallah, for the dismantlement of the Zionist entity by any legitimate means necessary — along with the Archbishop of the Palestinian Orthodox Church in Jerusalem, Father Atallah Hanna, who recognizes Israel’s rule as fascist, along with every Muslim Sheikh I know.

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A member of NK taking pictures at the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil-The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org) on May 30, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada

On the second day of Masar Badil’s Liberation Conference, several of Rabbi David Feldman’s colleagues walked forty minutes in the rain to get to the venue of the Conference (Mādahòkì Farm). In front of the Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, also known as the Human Rights Monument, with two young activists standing on either side like sentinels 20 feet above him hoisting the Palestinian flag, Rabbi Feldman spoke, not only of the religious dogma of his belief, but also of the evil that Zionism does, of universal justice and human rights. As is inscribed on the Monument “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights — Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et egaux en dignité et en droits.” Palestinians are no exception.

READ: Ottawa Declaration of the Masar Badil conference in North America

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Caption: Rabbi David Feldman and colleague listening to speaker Charlotte Kates, the international coordinator of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network (https://samidoun.net/) on the first day of Masar Badil’s at Liberation Conference in Ottawa, April 28, 2023

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Caption: During the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil-The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org) on May 30, 2023 in Ottawa, Canada at Human Rights Monument on Elgin St. — “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights — Tous les êtres humains naissent libres et egaux en dignité et en droits.” Palestinians are no exception.

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Caption: Members of Neturei Karta (NK) at the May Day Liberation March organized by Masar Badil-The Palestinian Alternative Revolutionary Path Movement (masarbadil.org) on May 30, 2023 in Ottawa

Note: First published on Medium
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Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem and whose mother’s side of the family is from Ijzim, south of Haifa. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank

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