Arafat's Jewish Adviser Dies at Age 86

Moshe Hirsch, a member of Neturei Karta, who was close to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, died at his home in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood.

Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger
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Yair Ettinger
Yair Ettinger

Moshe Hirsch, a member of Neturei Karta, who was close to the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, died yesterday at 86, at his home in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood.

Hirsch was born in New York and immigrated to Israel, which he always referred to as "occupied Palestinian territory." He saw himself as a successor to Rabbi Amram Blau and to Leib Weisfish, who led Neturei Karta - an extreme Haredi group that is hostile toward the State of Israel and to any ultra-Orthodox communities that benefit from the state's budget.

Hirsch's ties to Arafat dated back to the 1980s, when the Palestinian leader lived in Tunis. Hirsch was appointed "adviser on Jewish affairs" when the Palestinian Authority was established, and was considered extreme even by the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit and Satmar sects, which denounced him.

In recent years Hirsch's poor health forced him off the public stage, but Neturei Karta has not abandoned its ideals. In 2006 it sent a delegation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial conference in Iran. The trip to Tehran caused a rift in the movement, between those who saw it as going too far and those, including Hirsch's son and successor, Israel Meir Hirsch, who support building ties with Ahmadinejad.

Moshe Hirsch leader of the ultra-Orthodox sect Neturei Karta.Credit: AP

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