Monday, April 2, 2007

US anti-Zionist synagogue gutted

A synagogue of an anti-Zionist Jewish group has been destroyed in a fire.

The blaze tore through a synagogue of Neturei Karta near New York and the residence of a senior rabbi.

Police have established a crime scene and are investigating the cause of the fire. The ultra-orthodox group has recently been the target of threats.

In December, five members of the community attended a conference for Holocaust deniers in Iran and met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Arson claims

Rabbi Moshe Beck, who lives in the building in the town of Monsey - about 30 miles (48km) from New York - was in London when the fire broke out, said Neturei Karta member Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss.

Mr Weiss said the group believes it was targeted by arsonists because it had previously received threats.

"There's no question that the issue is to stifle the opposition to Zionism," he said to AP news agency.

Police would not confirm whether they were treating the fire as suspicious.

Neturei Karta opposes the existence of the state of Israel on religious grounds.

Members of the group - whose name means "Guardians of the City" - believe Jews should live under Arab Muslim rule until the Messiah comes.

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