At the end of the month of Ramadan recently, the Islamic Human Rights Commission held their customary Al-Quds march in Westminster on the 5th April.

On a small stage in Whitehall, several Rabbis from the ultra-Orthodox Neturei Karta group spoke about their belief that the State of Israel is a purely political and Zionist project which is out of sync with the idea that only the arrival of the Messiah will bring peace on earth and establish true spiritual sovereignty in the Land of Israel.

Two of the Rabbis burnt a paper depiction of the flag of Israel in front of a supportive crowd. Later as they returned to their transport home to begin their Sabbath (starting soon at Friday sunset), they were detained by police officers, and after some discussion were arrested under suspicion of inciting racial hatred (with reference to the flag-burning).

Their detention ended up being for around 12 hours, during which the police could not provide them with any Kosher food. Their strict religious beliefs also prevented them using electronic apparatus so they could not phone home. At 8 am on Saturday, the morning of their Sabbath, they were finally released, with little sleep and no food since Friday lunchtime. Although not formally charged, they were given bail conditions not to attend any Israel or Palestine protests in Westminster.

In our interview, Rabbi Weisz explained that flag-burning is a customary facet of their tradition, and happens all over the world as part of the Jewish festival of Purim. He even speaks of his son returning home from Jewish school after burning Israeli flags during the festival of Lag BaOmer. He describes the act in Whitehall as a peaceful act, in anger at the ongoing genocide being perpetrated on the Palestinian people.

His community in North London lives side by side with many faiths and nationalities, and he is frustrated at the language used by politicians, characterising pro-Palestinian marches as ‘hate marches’. The government also gifts tens of millions of pounds to the Community Security Trust (CST), founded by convicted fraudster Gerald Ronson. The CST trains private security guards to patrol synagogues and schools, and the Rabbi sees it as unnecessary and divisive.

The real problem for Jewish people, he believes, is the existence of the State of Israel. It’s the only place in the world he points out, where Jewish people are in real danger, and its flaunting of the Ten Commandments (eg Thou shalt not murder, Thou shalt not steal) is dragging Jewish people around the world into its bloody conflict, and then when criticised, it hides behind its cynical tool of crying antisemitism.

“The so-called ‘only democracy in the Middle East’ is committing genocide, and in a democratic country I can’t burn this flag” – Rabbi Weisz