The strongly anti-Zionist Neturei Karta sect of ultra-Orthodox Jews has attacked Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger as a "very well-paid Zionist stooge" and a "a wicked emissary of evil" who should be expelled from Israel, following Metzger's reported comments proposing that poor Gazans be moved to a Palestinian state established in the Sinai peninsula.
The statements, reported in Haaretz last week, spurred an angrily worded response from Neturei Karta, which has often taken vocally pro-Palestinian stances against Israel.
Denouncing Metzger's Sinai proposal, the group refered to him as the "so-called chief rabbi of the so-called State of Israel" and as a "very well-paid Zionist stooge".
Referring to Zionism as an "idolatrous cult," Neturei Karta called for Metzger to be "removed from the Holy Land," describing him as "a wicked emissary of evil". Metzger had said that his plan would be to "take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains, buses, cars, like in Arizona - we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people - they will have a nice county, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace."
Interviewed by the British weekly "The Jewish News", the chief rabbi also said that while peaceable Muslims should be allowed to pray in Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Muslims have Mecca and Medina, he was quoted as saying, adding that "you don't need a third place."
Neturei Karta, an ultra-Orthodox fringe group whose name means "Guardians of the City", is a virulently anti-Zionist group known for its public displays of hostility toward Israel and Zionism. Estimates of its size range from a few hundred to a few thousand members. Most of the group's members live in Jerusalem and Beit Shemesh, with smaller communities in London and New York.
In December 2006, some radical members of the group caused controversy by attending the Iranian Holocaust revisionism conference in Tehran alongside neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers.