Burg Explains Why He Opposes Deporting Neturei Karta Leader
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Burg Explains Why He Opposes Deporting Neturei Karta Leader

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Interior Minister Yosef Burg explained today why he is opposed to deporting Rabbi Moshe Hirsh, a leader of the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta sect who is presently in custody awaiting a hearing for inciting riots in the Mea Shearim quarter last week. Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem, and others, have demanded that Hirsh, a U.S. citizen, be deported.

Burg, a leader of the National Religious Party whose Ministry controls the police, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview that he was “opposed in principle” to the idea of deporting a Jew from the Jewish State. He said he had made his reasons clear to the Cabinet at its weekly meeting yesterday. Citing the Mishna, Burg said, “Every Jew has a part in the world to come and similarly every Jew has a part in Eretz Israel.”


Burg disclosed to the JTA that he had personally fought more than a decade ago against the ouster from Israel of the late Meyer Lansky, the reputed “czar” of the American underworld and alleged Mafia financier. United States federal authorities were seeking Lansky’s extradition so that he could go on trial for tax evasion. Lansky sought haven in Israel on grounds that he was entitled to it as a Jew under the Law of Return.

Burg revealed to the JTA that he had an informal understanding with Lansky to automatically extend his residence visa month by month as long as there were no police complaints about his activities in Israel. But the then Premier Golda Meir insisted on Lansky’s ouster in 1971 and brought pressure to bear on Burg, who was Interior Minister in her Labor-led government.

Mrs. Meir was forceful in her demands and Burg succumbed. Accordingly, he said, he opposed Lansky’s appeals in the Israeli courts, arguing that he was a man whose “criminal past would be likely to endanger the welfare of the State.” Persons in that category are specifically excluded from the Law of Return.

The Supreme Court, then under the presidency of Chief Justice Shimon Agranat, ruled that the Interior Minister had the prerogative to decide in such cases and Burg acted in accordance with Meir’s wishes.

With respect to the Neturei Karta rioting, Burg told the Cabinet yesterday that he believed the worst was over, at least for this year, because the yeshivas close tomorrow for their summer vacation. The Mea Shearim quarter, stronghold of the sect, has been relatively quiet since last week owing to strong measures taken by the police and their highly visible presence in the neighborhood.

The rioting was triggered by an Education Ministry license granted to archaeologists for diggings in the City of David near the Old City walls. Burg noted, in his exposition to the Cabinet, that violence was endemic among religious zealots in Jerusalem, as far back as the era of Turkish rule.

In more recent years, disorders were sparked by such issues as autopsies and women in the armed services, he said. The Neturei Karta are especially violence-prone because they do not recognize the authority of Israel on grounds that there can be no Jewish state before the advent of the Messiah.

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