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Friday, December 22, 2006

Persona non grata in Manchester

At least one of the Neturei Karta members who attended the Holocaust denial conference in Tehran last week has been placed in herem (excommunicated) by his local community in Manchester, England (Please note that I have no idea whether the picture above is of the subject of this article or of a different Neturei Karta adherent):
If anyone had told me it would take the actions of a Natorei Karta self-proclaimed rabbi to get the ultra-Orthodox anti-Israel community and the Zionists to stand side by side at a demonstration I would have probably laughed in their face.

But that is exactly what has been happening in a formerly quiet street in Manchester in the past week.

Ahron Cohen was previously familiar as he stood alongside Palestine Solidarity demonstrators around the world to show his hatred of the State of Israel.

While those of us who support Israel have not liked the message his personage sent out to the wider world, we have not questioned his right to freedom of speech and action, and the fact that tiny Natorei Karta and the much larger Satmar, among other sects, deny the right of Israel to exist is well known.

However once Ahron Cohen decided to attend the Holocaust denial conference in Teheran and was pictured shaking hands with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the man who has publicly declared he wants to see the elimination of the Jewish state, that was one step too far.

The Manchester community from the haredi to the secular has made it very clear this man is a disgrace, and brings disrepute to us all.


And the remarkable thing is that when Zionists took to the streets with their Israeli flags, singing "Hatikva," outside the home of Ahron Cohen, they stood alongside large numbers of the haredi community, including many Satmar congregants.


MANY SANCTIONS are being used to make it clear to "rabbi" Cohen that he is persona non grata here in Manchester.

Just how long his position here is tenable remains to be seen.

The Manchester Beth Din has issued a condemnation, as has the Machzikei Hadass leader. Satmar have dissociated themselves in the strongest terms. They make it clear that while they, too, do not recognize Israel, Holocaust denial - or aligning with Holocaust deniers - is an entirely different matter.

There has been call for excommunication; his fees to the burial society have been returned to make it clear there will be no future resting place for him among Manchester Jews. Holocaust survivors have expressed their horror and pain. Shops are refusing to serve him and all the synagogue's and shtiebels where he used to worship have closed their doors to him.
But here's the most ironic part:
It is rumored that he will try to travel to Israel this week. Will he be welcome there? I doubt it. Antwerp has been suggested as another possible place where he might seek respite from the onslaught he has faced.
I'm not sure that the writer - Joy Wolfe, who is life president of the Manchester Zionist Central Council and of Manchester Wizo and a member of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester - is correct. Cohen might actually be welcome here, at least in some circles. He could probably melt into Meah Shearim without anyone knowing who he is or why he is there - if he can get past the Ben Gurion Airport security.

Maybe he should move to Iran.

Read it all.


At 6:22 PM, Blogger David said...

And when things get too hot for them where do the Neturei Karta plan to run?


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