Anti-Zion synagogue destroyed

Its members attended an Iran-sponsored conference late last year that debated the occurrence of the Holocaust.


The Ramapo police and fire investigators said the blaze last night was considered suspicious because the ultra-Orthodox Jewish group, Neturei Karta, had been the target of threats, the Journal News reported on its website.

A crime scene was established at the synagogue and arson investigators were looking into the cause, Monsey Fire Chief Douglas Perry said. A caller reported the fire to authorities, saying it was in the kitchen area, he said.

"It's totalled," Mr Perry said. "I would deem it dangerous to even go inside."

The senior rabbi who lived there was in London, said Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, of Neturei Karta. He confirmed the fire destroyed the synagogue, Yeshivas Bais Yehudi.

Rabbi Weiss said that the group suspects arson because of previous threats.

"There's no question that the issue is to stifle the opposition to Zionism," he said by telephone early this morning. He said anti-Zionist speeches were often held at the synagogue.

Rabbi Moshe Beck, a senior rabbi for the group, also lived on the top floor of the building, Rabbi Weiss said.

Rabbi Beck is one of the more outspoken leaders of the group. "He's the backbone of much of the activity, so that's why he's supposedly been singled out," Rabbi Weiss said.

In December, about five members of the group travelled to Tehran for a two-day conference convened to debate whether the Holocaust occurred.

Some were photographed meeting with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – who has called the Holocaust a "myth" and has criticised the existence of Israel – images which outraged many other Jewish groups.

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