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September 02, 2011

Leaked US Govt Cable Exposes Chabad Misconduct In Russia

Rabbi Berel Lazar and Vladimir Putin The cable, released by Wikileaks, points out 'chief rabbi' Berel Lazar's dishonesty and his use of Chabad to damage a Jewish oligarch who supported democracy and opposed Vladimir Putin.

Rabbi Berel Lazar and Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin, left; Rabbi Berel Lazar; right

First, here's a key excerpt from the cable:

¶4. (C) Some of positive Lazar's statements must be taken with a grain of salt. This same Interfax statement also contains the dubious -- and servile to the GOR -- claim that anti-Semitism is now worse in the rest of Europe than in Russia. Lazar's relationship with the GOR and with wealthy patrons has been the subject of controversy; he has received funding from oligarchs such as Putin supporter Lev Leviev (himself a CHABAD member), Roman Abramovich, and Boris Berezovsky, and his close ties to Putin (including his support for the arrest of rival oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky) have enabled him to shoulder aside other contenders for the Russian Jewish throne such as Russia's "other Chief Rabbi," Adolf Shayevich of the Moscow Choral Synagoguge. Lazar claimed to us that his CHABAD community comprises 80 percent of Russia's Jews (a figure that likely refers to regular synagogue attendees, not population), but other reports indicate that this figure could be as low as 3 percent. (Note: In a December 16 conversation with us, Shayevich pointed out that of Russia's prominent Rabbis, he is the only one who is actually Russian. He also noted that his rivalry with Lazar has frozen him out of invitations to the Kremlin; however, he said that his relations with the GOR remained cordial. End note.)

This confirms the US is well aware of Lazar's behavior – behavior, by the way, that is clearly against halakha, as well.

Vladimir Gusinsky is Jewish and was a supporter of the Jewish community that pre-dated Lazar's arrival in Moscow. Lazar agreed to support Putin and muscle out Guzinsky in return for large "donations" from Putin's Jewish oligarchs – including Chabad's own, Lev Leviev.

Lazar set himself up as 'chief rabbi,' and didn't stand up for Vladimir Gusinsky when he was arrested on what were clearly trumped up charges and, in any case, were no worse than the other oligarchs were doing.

Lazar defended Putin to the US and Israel then and acted as Putin's beard to protect Putin from accusations of antisemitism.

Lazar also functioned in the same role when Putin's government persecuted what Russia calls "non-traditional religions" – which includes mainline Christian denominations and Evangelicals.

In return, Putin ostracized the Russian Jewish Congress and the old line Jewish community and favored Lazar and Chabad. Any Jewish organization that needed anything from the government, from permits to protection, could only get access from Lazar.

Leviev's money (some of it ill-gotten through Putin) helped open and maintain Chabad Houses and schools throughout the Former Soviet Union, where these local Chabad rabbis were quick to praise Putin and defend his government.

Several years ago at a social event out of town, I had a discussion with a high ranking Israeli functionary about Lazar. I complained about his thuggish behavior and his pro-messianist theology and the corrupting effect both had on Judaism. I begged this man (who I've known for many years and who really does care about things like this) to push the government and quasi-governmental agencies like the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization to stop dealing with Lazar and Chabad, and to support real Russian Jewish organizations and leaders.

I'll paraphrase his answer: We know what he is but we don't have any other choice – he's the only way in.

So a thug and a criminal is Chabad's 'chief rabbi' of Russia. He got his 'position' by helping Putin arrest and destroy a pro-democracy Jewish oligarch. And even though this information (and much worse information, for that matter) is well known in Chabad leadership in Brooklyn, they have never once condemned what Lazar has done or distanced themselves and Chabad from it.

Here's the entire cable:

EY
    4080
ID
    09MOSCOW3033
SUBJECT
    ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE WANE IN RUSSIA REF: MOSCOW 2586
DATE
    2009-12-17 15:03:00
CLASSIFICATION
    CONFIDENTIAL
ORIGIN
    Embassy Moscow
TEXT
    C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MOSCOW 003033

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2019
TAGS: PREL PHUM PGOV KREL SOCI RS
SUBJECT: ANTI-SEMITISM ON THE WANE IN RUSSIA REF: MOSCOW 2586

Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle for reason 1.4 (d)

¶1. (C) Summary: Russia has recently shown clear signs of throwing off its long and tragic history of anti-Semitism. In the past several years, official GOR policy has involved an aggressive campaign against anti-Semitism, coupled with positive official statements towards the Jewish community. Societal attitudes have also improved, with a resulting decrease in the number of anti-Semitic attacks or incidents. Increasing ties between Russia and Israel, including the new visa-free regime between the two countries, have also added to the improved atmosphere. While some ingrained suspicions of Jews remain among Russians, Jewish contacts with whom we spoke painted an optimistic picture of the current situation for Russian Jews, though they warned that the situation could easily change back again quickly. End Summary.


From "Oy, Vey" to OK --------------------

¶2. (C) As the country that a century ago produced "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," saw state-sponsored pogroms that prompted the emigration of millions of Jews under the Tsars, and saw the development of anti-Semitism as a policy under Stalin and his predecessors, Russia for many years was synonymous with anti-Semitism. After the notoriety of both Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union in this area, the collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed yet a new threat to Jews in the form of violent neo-nationalist groups. However, in recent years both societal and official attitudes towards Jews have showed a marked improvement, and contacts of ours in the Jewish community, whose current population is approximately one million, tell us that they have never before felt this comfortable living in Russia. Although occasional incidents of vandalism and attacks still occur, racist groups have shifted their focus from Jews to Central Asian and other dark-skinned immigrants and migrant workers.


Some of the GOR's best friends are Jews ---------------------------------------

¶3. (C) Not surprisingly, the most prominent Jewish leaders have scrupulously maintained friendly relations with the GOR. Rabbi Berel Lazar of the CHABAD community, one of Russia's two Chief Rabbis, has for years maintained the line that life is good for Russian Jews. In a November 30 statement to Interfax, Lazar cited "dozens of Jewish schools" that have opened up over the past few years, as well as new synagogues and community centers each year. He also noted that in the first nine months of 2009, forty-seven people were prosecuted on charges of anti-Semitism -- a notable increase, he said, over 2008 -- and that all of them were convicted. Six of those were sentenced to prison terms of five to ten years. In a November meeting with us, Lazar asserted that these sentences were "much harsher than they could have been."

¶4. (C) Some of positive Lazar's statements must be taken with a grain of salt. This same Interfax statement also contains the dubious -- and servile to the GOR -- claim that anti-Semitism is now worse in the rest of Europe than in Russia. Lazar's relationship with the GOR and with wealthy patrons has been the subject of controversy; he has received funding from oligarchs such as Putin supporter Lev Leviev (himself a CHABAD member), Roman Abramovich, and Boris Berezovsky, and his close ties to Putin (including his support for the arrest of rival oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky) have enabled him to shoulder aside other contenders for the Russian Jewish throne such as Russia's "other Chief Rabbi," Adolf Shayevich of the Moscow Choral Synagoguge. Lazar claimed to us that his CHABAD community comprises 80 percent of Russia's Jews (a figure that likely refers to regular synagogue attendees, not population), but other reports indicate that this figure could be as low as 3 percent. (Note: In a December 16 conversation with us, Shayevich pointed out that of Russia's prominent Rabbis, he is the only one who is actually Russian. He also noted that his rivalry with Lazar has frozen him out of invitations to the Kremlin; however, he said that his relations with the GOR remained cordial. End note.)

¶5. (C) Notwithstanding Lazar's possible ulterior motives for praising the GOR, other Jewish leaders have confirmed this rosy assessment of official relations. Shayevich told us that "there is no doubt of any kind" that life has significantly improved for Russian Jewry, and that relations with the GOR are "completely different" from those of the Soviet period. He noted that he had just received Hannukah greetings from members of the State Duma, as well as from Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov, who attended Hannukah services at the Synagogue. In attending Jewish services in Moscow, we MOSCOW 00003033 002 OF 003 have observed that prominent Rabbis such as Lazar or Moscow Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt spend large portions of the service thanking a lengthy list of GOR officials for their support, while both Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev make a point of publicly sending holiday greetings to Russia's Jewish population, although thus far they have stopped short of donning yarmulkes and attending services themselves. Lazar told us that the overall message is that Jews "are a part of the Russian community."

¶6. (C) More substantively, Lazar told us that two years ago, GOR officials brought him a list of anti-Semitic books and publications that they promised to eliminate, and that they had since made good on this promise, based on his people's examination of stores and book expos. In a November 6 conversation, Svetlana Yakimenko, who runs the Jewish women's rights NGO Project Kesher, agreed that "at the official level, the attitude towards Jews is the best ever." She said that the GOR has announced that it will do anything necessary to fight anti-Semitism, and that police have standing orders to close down any known anti-Semitic groups.

¶7. (C) Many other Jewish leaders in the NGO world have also striven mightily to establish good relations with the GOR, and the effort has paid dividends. Natalya Rykova, whose Moscow Bureau of Human Rights (MBHR) has such a close relationship with the GOR that she and fellow MBHR denizen Aleksandr Brod inspire disdain among most of the human rights community, has shared with us her chilling memory of emerging from her apartment in the early 90s to see threatening graffiti from the anti-Semitic group Pamyat. MBHR's habit of toadying up to the GOR on matters such as the Georgia conflict and North Caucasus policy is designed to provide its members with iron-clad "cover" against anti-Semites, a point that Rykova readily acknowledges.

Social attitudes also improving -------------------------------

¶8. (C) Alexander Axelrod of the Jewish Anti-defamation League explained to us on October 23 his belief that, while in the past official anti-Semitism was more of a problem than social anti-Semitism, now it was the other way around. However, he added that he did not see social anti-Semitism as a significant problem at this point. Other contacts agreed that anti-Semitism has become increasingly marginalized in the social sphere. Shayevich said that, although there is still some "street" anti-Semitism, the number of attacks had decreased in the past several years. Lazar asserted that Judaism is now "on a par with other religions" in most people's minds, and said that "if the trend continues, we will be wholly integrated." (Note: Thanks to the 1997 Law on Religions which defined Judaism as one of Russia's four "traditional" religions, Judaism enjoys special status relative to less established religions. End Note.) He described an experiment that he carried out for several days during the Jewish High Holidays in September, in which his employees, clearly dressed as CHABAD followers, conducted man-on-the-street interviews regarding people's views of Judaism. According to Lazar, the response was overwhelmingly positive, with very few exceptions. Lazar added that this activity received uniformly friendly media coverage as well, including on state-run television.

¶9. (C) Anti-Semitism has been a part of Russian culture for such a long time that it would be unrealistic to expect it to disappear overnight. Russians, including those with entirely friendly attitudes towards Jews, routinely distinguish between a person who is "Russian" and one who is "Jewish," something that would be inappropriate in the United States. Lazar acknowledged that this had not changed, although he noted that it is in the GOR's interest to maintain the idea of Russia's diversity, in order to keep the country from disintegrating. Kesher said that, although hate groups have shifted their attention to Central Asians (who, unlike Jews, "have no system to protect themselves"), "if I were a rabbi in rabbinical clothing, I wouldn't like to meet them."

¶10. (C) Shayevich noted that economic factors may exacerbate suspicion towards Jews, as the crisis has inflamed xenophobia generally, and public perception of Jews as crafty money-grubbers persists. This perception was not helped by the significant portion of 1990s oligarchs who were Jewish (even though, as Shayevich noted, in the past Jews were often forced to find new, "unofficial" ways to acquire wealth because of official restrictions against them, and the oligarch phenomenon should be viewed in that context). Even some of the apparently positive attitudes towards Jews may at times tie in with this perception, as with the woman who told Lazar's researchers that she "wished she were Jewish, too."

¶11. (C) Kesher also alluded to examples of ingrained MOSCOW 00003033 003 OF 003 suspicion towards Jews in society; for example, at a Project Kesher roundtable on tolerance in Orel five years ago, FSB representatives appeared and advised participants not to use the word "Jewish" too loudly. Some saw an undercurrent of anti-Semitism in the furor over the Alexander Podrabinek article that angered conservatives by attacking Soviet war veterans (reftel), given that Podrabinek himself is Jewish, and that one United Russia State Duma deputy made a point of counting the number of Jews among those who signed a letter supporting Podrabinek. (Note: This incident was odd given that Jews occupy important positions in the State Duma and are represented there in a greater percentage than they are in the general population. End Note.) Axelrod called the hostility toward Podrabinek "the tip of the iceberg," adding that now it is "not politically correct" to express anti-Semitic views, but "people still think and feel that way." Nonetheless, it is difficult to imagine Pamyat flourishing in Russia's current environment, whether because of GOR policy or simply because of shifting societal trends. Still, all of our contacts, including Lazar, said that despite all of the progress Jews have made in Russia in recent years, everything could "change back again overnight," as Axelrod put it.

And then there's Israel -----------------------

¶12. (C) Another factor tipping the GOR and Russians towards a more favorable attitude towards Jews is the palpable warming trend in Russian-Israeli relations. In an April news poll, 52 percent of Russians viewed Israel favorably, a figure slightly less than that in the U.S. (56 percent). As a result of many decades of Russian immigration to Israel, Israel's Russian population, one million, now equals Russia's Jewish population. Israel's current Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, visited Russia in June to great fanfare, with widespread favorable media coverage. Lieberman announced that he felt as if we were "coming home" to Russia (he was born in Moldova), and news reports focused on his use of fluent Russian in his meetings with GOR officials. Back in Russia on December 6, Lieberman praised the visa-free system established last year between Russia and Israel -- which is expected to double the number of Russian tourists traveling to Israel to 400,000 this year -- while Putin said that Israel's Russian community "unites us with you like no other country." Axelrod dismisses the idea that rising anti-Muslim sentiment in Russian society is changing attitudes towards Jews or Israelis, but agrees that Russia is hedging its bets in the region and moving away from Arab or Muslim client states, and that this official attitude is likely percolating down to the societal level.

¶13. (C) Tsevi Mirkin of the Israeli Embassy in Russia told us December 17 that the positive trend in Russian-Israeli relations began in the 1990s, but has especially improved in the past five years. He attributed this to many factors, including the disappearance of "the official Soviet hatred towards Israel." He added that there is a high level of interest in Israel in Russian society, with many Russians having friends, relatives, or classmates there, and that the two countries trade 2 billion USD in products each year. Sadly, Mirkin noted, one other reason for improved views of Israel is racism among Russians; "they see Israel as a 'white' state in a non-white region." He related an encounter he had, as he was entering the Israeli Embassy, with a Russian man who told him, "The Americans don't deserve you guys," and explained that his positive feelings about Israel related to its status as a bulwark against "blacks."

Comment -------

¶14. (C) Xenophobic currents in Russian society, ever-present even in the best of times, have undoubtedly worsened since the fall of the Soviet Union, and have spiked since the onset of the economic crisis. As our contacts noted, the crisis could easily exacerbate latent anti-Semitism, as it has already exacerbated overall ultra-nationalist sentiment. At the same time, it is clear from the evidence that the overall trend for Jews in Russia is positive. As a "traditional" religion, Judaism has an established foothold, in contrast to minority religions that have encountered problems. It is therefore difficult to dispute Prime Minister Putin's assertion, offered during his televised Q and A session on December 3, that the Jackson-Vanik Amendment -- initially designed to promote free emigration in the wake of Soviet repression of Jewish refuseniks -- is now "an anachronism."

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Comments

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Some things must remain private and confidential. In any organisation whether it be a corporation, government, defence force or charity there is a hierarchy of awareness and responsibility. Certain people are invested with executive decision making. Obviously these people should be employed on merit. Pure anarchic openness of all information sources leads to mass confusion, as people are unable to prioritise and process the data. A happy child trusts his parents to make good decisions on his/her behalf. That is why we need command and control structures in place around the world. When people feel that their confidences can be betrayed at the click of a mouse they are loathe risking authentic connections with others. I'm sure that Mr.Assange and his associates have a problem with the word "sovereignty". We actually need more respect for intellectual property and healthy boundaries everywhere right now, not less.

Prime Minister Putin and President Mevdevev are doing a good job. Any Jewish representative there needs to ensure that they further the general welfare of the population.

Long Live Mother Russia !

ser·vile   [sur-vil, -vahyl] Show IPA
adjective
1.
slavishly submissive or obsequious; fawning: servile flatterers.
2.
characteristic of, proper to, or customary for slaves; abject: servile obedience.
3.
yielding slavishly; truckling (usually followed by to ).
4.
extremely imitative, especially in the arts; lacking in originality.
5.
being in slavery; oppressed.

plus ca change ....
just like in the old days, the alter rebbe was opposed to napoleon for fear of democracy and pro czar that promised sustained misery. though nowadays misery is no longer prised.

misery is no longer prised.

What? For the frumma, misery IS bliss.

Shmerel Rosenberg;

I can only imagine what you would of wrote about Lazar has he assisted Gusinsky...

You being the watchdog of Jewish crime should be all over Gusinsky for his crimes and fraud, how is he different than SMR?

I am calling you out for your BS, you are here just to bash others, you do not do this for any moral reason, your sole purpose is to cause problems for chabad.

(As you write clearly about your meeting where you tried to get the Russian orgs to cut ties with Chabad.)

You should be applauding Lazar for helping to put away a Jewish Criminal

(I do truly feel that the charges were trumped up against Gusinsky due to the fact that he is Jewish, just as I truly feel that the entire prosocution and charges against SMR are because he is Jewish...)

End of story, are full of crap.

How about a little perspective on what Chabad has accomplished all due to the work of its Rebeeim and shluchim-- including Rabbi Lazar?

Russian Police Chorus sings "Let My People Go," almost 20 years after Soviet Jews were finally free to emigrate
From the country that brought you pogroms, the KGB, mass killings and Siberian slave camps comes this rendition,--of "Let My People Go," about the liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt. This song now appears to be popular in the former Soviet Union, with different versions popping up on YouTube. The exodus of millions of Soviet Jews and the collapse of the "Evil Empire" is one of the most well-known and astounding prophecies of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Two years before that magical "year of miracles," 1990, the Rebbe advised Professor Herman Branover to build housing for Russians in Israel. At that time, it seemed totally unlikely, but Professor Branover went ahead and built,--but not nearly enough! Prior to this, in 1966, the Rebbe said that Communism would fall and be preceded by a mass emigration of Jews. This was perhaps the most bloodless revolution the world had ever seen.
http://redemptionwatch.blogspot.com/search?q=russian+police

@Malkiel the man
You wrote: I am calling you out for your BS, you are here just to bash others, you do not do this for any moral reason, your sole purpose is to cause problems for chabad.
Correction: not only for Chabad; for all of religious jewry.
And he gets to cash in on it...
Yet he talks about how mean spirited and unscrupulous Haredim are.
Old news.

Very validating. I have had some connection to various Orthodox programs in Moscow (ranging from modern, zionist, chareidi)...and Chabad are a bunch of bullies, borderline gangsters over there. It is very real that Lazar uses political clout to establish his own power, which does include wiping out his "competition".

Correction: not only for Chabad; for all of religious jewry.

feh, if they are 'religious jewry', who wants to be religious, and who wants to be jewish?

How about a little perspective on what Chabad has accomplished all due to the work of its Rebeeim and shluchim-- including Rabbi Lazar?

Russian Police Chorus sings "Let My People Go," almost 20 years after Soviet Jews were finally free to emigrate

Because of chabad? or inspite of them? they want them there to feed the empire of lozor!

The exodus of millions of Soviet Jews and the collapse of the "Evil Empire" is one of the most well-known and astounding prophecies of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Did the evil empire really collapse or is now governed by ex kgb putin and aided by who else?

...... but Professor Branover went ahead and built,--but not nearly enough!

he built? with what? with his beret? or the state of israel built? phoney silly legends.

Prior to this, in 1966, the Rebbe said that Communism would fall and be preceded by a mass emigration of Jews.

what a massive compilation of crap!.....
he said, he said, he said!

@Yosef ben Matitya

Ends do not justify the means. Chabad has done tremendous work worldwide for which they deserve praise, but in the former USSR particularly, their growth has been malignant and at the deliberate expense of other Jews and Jewish organizations.

I'm surprised Lazar has no influence when it comes to returning the Chabad books.... why can't he achieve that if he's so pally with Putin?

"Lazar also functioned in the same role when Putin's government persecuted what Russia calls "non-traditional religions" – which includes mainline Christian denominations and Evangelicals."

Kuddos to him, it used to be Christians persecuting Jews. Ever heard about the Inquisition?

"'m surprised Lazar has no influence when it comes to returning the Chabad books.... why can't he achieve that if he's so pally with Putin?

Posted by: JJ'

Good point JJ. It seems our conspiracy theorist emeritus missed that line of thought.

@Adam Neira, You are a very sick MoFo. You lowlife moron. You are either dis-informed or a spy. Hope you find happiness is hell. You spread your lies and you will die.

@ Malchiel "You should be applauding for helping to put away a Jewish criminal" Your state shows how ignorant you are or you are just another dis-formed or a dis-informer. A "criminal" by whose standards. Surely not by any legitimate governments standards, a government not controlled by The Dictator Putin. You are truly a schmuck and an asshole. Enjoy your time in hell as well.

Sorry for my typos. I get a bit sloppy when I get emotional over lowlifes.

I think Putin is a great leader, and I as a graduate of the Lubavitcher yeshivos, I am proud that a Lubavitcher such as Berel Lazar is not only the Chief Rabbi of Russia, but has been appointed to the prestigious Public Chamber (Общественная палата) and has been awarded numerous state honours, including: the Order of Friendship, the 'Minin and Pozharsky' Order, the "60 Years of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945" Medal, and the Order of Peter the Great, First Class.

Lazar's achievements and consequent elevation bring credit to the entire Lubavitcher community, and indeed are due as recognition of the central role that Lubavitcher hasidim played in Russian Jewish history, from their organised opposition to Bonaparte right down to their participation in opposing the Nazi aggressor in the Great Patriotic War, and then throughout the spiritual darkness of the Soviet Years.

(Note that my focus here is on hasidim, not rebeim.)

Yes, Lubavitch toots its own horn much in this regard. But there is much to be tooted.

".....I am proud that a Lubavitcher such as Berel Lazar is not only the Chief Rabbi of Russia,"

- self appointed to the position i must add, or is it 'elected' by a panel of fellow chabadnik?

"but has been appointed to the prestigious Public Chamber (Общественная палата) and has been awarded numerous state honours, including: the Order of Friendship, the 'Minin and Pozharsky' Order, the "60 Years of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945" Medal, and the Order of Peter the Great, First Class."

What is the 'jewish' value of these titles?
any 'democratic' value?
any 'moral' value worth touting in the 'real free world'?
More appropriate title would be 'Friend of the Thugs'. It sure describe him better!

"Lazar's achievements ... bring credit to the entire Lubavitcher community,"

as distinct from the jewish community.

"..... from their organised opposition to Bonaparte"

organised opposition?? you make me laugh! they convinced putin that they run pro czar revolutionary cells?

"right down to their participation in opposing the Nazi aggressor in the Great Patriotic War,"

details, details please. from where? from brooklyn? to benefit who? mother russia? father stalin?

" and then throughout the spiritual darkness of the Soviet Years."

of course, " the spiritual darkness of the Soviet Years " of which Putin was a constituant stalwart.

"(Note that my focus here is on hasidim, not rebeim.)"

Yes, much of the credit is well earned probably by then not yet conceived Italian born chosid turned rebe!

Long Live Mother Russia !

yahwol, herr komissar!

Shmerel is silent here...

"'m surprised Lazar has no influence when it comes to returning the Chabad books.... why can't he achieve that if he's so pally with Putin?

Posted by: JJ'

Good point JJ. It seems our conspiracy theorist emeritus missed that line of thought.

Posted by: ronininja | September 03, 2011 at 02:26 AM

Not at all.

It seems that you and others who have zero knowledge about Chabad's inner-workings missed don't get facts.

Lazar wants power more than anything else, and his power comes exclusively from Putin and Leviev.

Putin wants the books to stay in Russia.

Lazar does his bidding.

Leviev doesn't say a peep.

All of this should have been absolutely obvious to an honest reader reading my post, even someone who doesn't know who hates whom and who fights whom within Chabad.

Why you missed it is for you to explain.

Interesting article. Historically Chabad never liked democracies and in the days of the Napoleonic conquest of Russia, RSZ urged all his followers to support the czar despite the fact he was a real anti-Semite. RSZ felt that Jews would observe their religion better in a country that restricted freedom and autonomy.

There was another Wikileaks item with State Dept cables reporting how Russian Chabad (including Lazar) have little interest in the books lawsuit, and indeed have hardly expressed any interest in seeing the tomes.

The whole US federal lawsuit is less about books or access to their contents, but emanates from some kind of weird "דידן נצח" impulse with the Lubavitcher psyche. Like the pathetic Barry Gourary affair, it's become kind of a public sporting match at which Lubavitchers can cheer for their side.

I mark the lawsuit as part of the beginning of the late Rebbe's deterioration, or at least one of its most gross public manifestations. Were he entirely compos mentis at that juncture, I think he would have kept the embarrassing family affair silent, and dealt with it tactfully, behind the scenes, as was his practice with most controversial matters.

The Menachem Schneerson of the Book Trial days was clearly not the mild mannered European gentleman of his earlier days. He carried on haranguing against the lone male descendant of the Previous Rebbe in front of an audience half composed of ami haaretz, laydigayers and idiots, who proceeded to rejoice and dance in the streets over what would, in saner times, have been regarded as a sad, interfamily misfortune.

The Steinsaltz Compromise, which I heard announced at at Library of Congress forum in the presence of Dr. James Billington and Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, would have kept the collection in the clearly professional and adequate care of the Russian State Library, with microform and electronic versions to be made for users abroad.

Indeed, that compromise -- apparently rejected by the litigating factions in Clown Heights -- would have provided greater access to the Russian-resident collection for users internationally than the Schneerson Library adjacent to 770 currently provides to scholars or interested parties from the public. Indeed, only favoured insiders are admitted to use the Schneerson collection at present. That means a return of the Russian-resident collection to the Brooklyn Chabad librarians would seemingly entail a diminution of public, scholarly access!

Returning the books from their present state of high-level care as a public trust by the Russian State to an inaccessible private collection in Brooklyn is bad library policy, bad public policy and indeed bad law.


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Comment Rules

  • 1. No anonymous comments.

    2. Use only one name or alias and stick with that.

    3. Do not use anyone else's name or alias.

    4. Do not sockpuppet.

    5. Try to argue using facts and logic.

    6. Do not lie.

    7. No name-calling, please.

    8. Do not post entire articles or long article excerpts.

    ***Violation of these rules may lead to the violator's comments being edited or his future comments being banned.***

Rubashkin Protest Gear

  • Rubashkin_parody_1

    Buy one of these and wear it to shul. Other Rubashkin gear as well. Protest!
  • Rubashkin_label_parody_1

    Wear this amazing T-shirt to your local supermarket. Better yet, buy a dozen and bring your friends – with signs! Available here!

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