Signs. Lots of signs.
“Judaism Rejects Zionism.”
“Judaism condemns the institution of Israel and its atrocities.”
They were held by Orthodox Jewish men with black and graying beards, wearing traditional black hats and long black coats in the middle of a hot Washington, D.C., summer day.
“God Hates Israel.”
“The Jews Killed Jesus.”
Different signs appearing in front of the Jewish Museum of Maryland four years ago come to mind.
They were held by a middle-aged woman in a tank top, shorts and sneakers, and two teenagers, one boy wearing a T-shirt with a pro basketball team logo on its front.
Two very different groups. One thing they hold in common.
Icy cold, basic hatred.
Two weeks ago, over 4,000 Christians United for Israel (CUFI) held its annual conference at the Washington Convention Center. Imagine walking from the inside where Christians are waving both flags of the U.S. and Israel, dancing the hora and listening to speech after speech in support of the Jewish state. Go ahead, plug stereotypes into your mind if you want. Yes, the Christian crowd was dressed modestly. Yes, many of the men wore coats and ties and had shorter hair styles while most of the women were in dresses, wore makeup and had had their hair done.
Imagine exiting the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that day when Israel was the focus of Christian love and faith, and then running smack into the small group dressed in black, holding signs suggesting that Zionism isn’t the same as Judaism.
Others coming from CUFI stopped and yelled “shame on you” to these men.
Paradoxical images are just too dramatic. Go ahead, use your favorite search engine and you’ll find plenty on this group called the Neturei Karta. You can start with the image of the flag of Israel with a circle and line drawn through it. Or if you want to get more disgusted, watch the computer video segment of the group’s warm meeting with Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. You remember, he’s the guy who said Israel must be wiped off the face of the earth and that there was no Holocaust.
On its website, it is written that “Neturei-Karta is the Aramaic term for Guardians of the City.” This group doesn’t recognize the state of Israel and refuses to “recognize the right of anyone to establish a “Jewish” state during the present period of exile.”
Look around the Web some more, and you might find more visuals of a Neturei-Karta member in Yasser Arafat’s Cabinet, as minister of Jewish affairs. Yes, they do observe Arafat’s “yahrzeit.”
I kept walking from the CUFI Washington Summit to the hotel garage where I had parked my car. A lady walked into the hotel lobby and asked me who those people were and why were they demonstrating at a pro-Israel event?
She had come from the CUFI event herself, and had difficulty understanding that while there were Christians inside showing their love for Israel, there were Jews on the outside showing their hate for Israel. Her facial expressions were asking, “Tell me, how does that work?”
Try explaining that to a person who has almost a puppy dog loyalty and faith and wants to love every Jew she can find.
And then there’s the Westboro Baptist Church. A scene comes to mind even though I’m separated from the experience by years. They’re the ones with the website GodHatesFags. I had the unfortunate experience of covering one of their protests. Looking in their eyes is coming face to face with steely evil. They show up at funerals for fallen American soldiers, because they believe that military deaths are God’s punishment for this nation moving closer to giving the LGBT community the civil rights under the Constitution that protects all Americans.
This church of hate was founded in 1955, and loves to tell all who will listen what Israel’s fate will be “for the murdering of the Messiah.”
Outside of the Jewish Museum of Maryland, three church members carrying the signs started singing “Hey Jew,” to the tune of the Beatles’ classic, “Hey Jude.”
Meanwhile, a car pulled up to the corner where the three were singing, and its driver, a middle-aged African American woman screamed at them, “You all are crazy, the Jews are God’s chosen people.”
She then asked me who were these people?
My voice was drowned out by the singing. The light changed to green, the driver wished for me a “blessed” day and she pulled away.
Later that day the same three showed up outside of the Jewish Community Center. In a matter of miraculous minutes, a sunny, hot late afternoon turned cloudy and gray. Then it rained. Turned out, I was having a “blessed” day, because the heavens opened up. With their poster board drooping from the rain, the haters left.
Didn’t have to explain that “sign” to anyone.