"The parents are to blame," the leader of the world's biggest Hasidic movement ruled. "They caused their sons' murder and they must repent.
"Who let them go there, among known murderers?" The rabbi asked yeshiva students at the Kiryas Yoel community in Monroe, New York last week. "Is there no place in the Land of Israel to live and study – only inside the animal cage? Who gave them permission to put themselves, their sons and their daughters in the lions' den, and abandon their souls?"
As head of the zealous Hasidic movement which produced the haredi opposition to the State of Israel, the Satmar Rebbe believes that the teens were murdered because of "the evil inclination and the passion for the wholeness of the land."
He referred to the three families' worldview as "the most pedantic Zionism."
"In my opinion, the parents should not eulogize their children," he added. "They had better repent and confess, weeping, that they went to live and study in a place of brutal murderers."
For the sake of atonement, he suggested that they read the confession of religious sins, as Jewish worshippers do on Yom Kippur.
Rebbe breaks into tears
The haredi leader sees today's Zionism in the sense of "one sin which leads to another." The proof, he said, can be found in the events which took place in Jerusalem after the teens' bodies were discovered: "Today the journey of revenge arrived, and there is a fear that they found an Arab killed by Jews.
"Who knows what will be the results of such actions?" he warned. "Jews all around the world, in all countries, are now in danger for fear of revenge from the Arabs. I hope the Arab was killed by the sons of Ishmael. Tens of millions of Jews have been killed in the Diaspora for 2,000 years now. They were the murdered ones, not the murderers. That was the Jews' strength in the Diaspora."
The Rebbe admitted that his words were hard to digest at a time "when every Jewish heart is in pain and mourns the Jewish people's troubles and the victims." He then broke into tears.
In order to prevent confusion among his followers, the rabbi stressed that "such a horrifying incident, in which three Jewish souls were killed in such a brutal manner, God have mercy, is grievance for all the Jewish people, and every Jew must mourn."
He explained, however, that he sees it as a duty to "fight with all one's might against the power of lies and tell the truth, even in a painful situation." According to the Rebbe, "With all the grief and distress, we must also look at this thing in a broader and wiser manner and with open eyes, according to the Torah.
"People will say that we are Israel haters," he said, "(but) Israel haters are those who abandon the Jewish souls to the evil inclination of Zionism; an Israel hater is a person who engages in acts of revenge and encourages the murderers to take revenge, and that's how it goes, revenge after revenge from side to side. The haredi Judaism is expelled from the entire state. No Zionism, no settlement, no revenge."
Satmar officials noted that the Rebbe had "lost his temper" when he attacked the murdered teens' parents in the middle of the seven days of mourning, and even interrupted the Torah studies at the yeshiva. They explained that he could not keep silent in light of the escalation in Israel.
"Unlike Neturei Karta, who are very extreme, we don't talk at the time of mourning, but only after the blood has calmed down," said one of the movement's officials. "But because of the murder of the Arab boy and the fears of revenge around the world, the rabbi made an exception and discussed what is happening in the Land of Israel on the second day of mourning."