Iran’s president met with a fringe group of anti-Zionist fervently Orthodox Jews.
The meeting between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and leaders of the Neturei Karta sect took place Wednesday in Manhattan, the day after the Iranian leader delivered what was widely condemned as a virulently anti-Semitic address to the United Nations.
Jewish participants in the meeting defended Ahmadinejad, saying he was opposed only to Zionism and the State of Israel, not to Judaism itself.
“We know he is not an enemy to the Jews,” said Rabbi Yisroel David Weiss, one of the sect’s leaders, according to Ynet. “He has a Jewish community in his country that he honors, defends and supports.”
Weiss rejected the view that Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust and is seeking nuclear capability in order to destroy the State of Israel.
Neturei Karta , a small, anti-Zionist group rejected by the mainstream Jewish community, believes it is contrary to Jewish tradition to restore Jewish sovereignty in Israel prior to the coming of the Messiah. The group frequently holds counter-demonstrations at pro-Israel events, as it did Monday at a rally opposite the United Nations aimed at drawing attention to the threat of a nuclear Iran.