In an excellent article, Mati Wagner of the Jerusalem Post lays bare the split in Chabad:
Mainstream Chabad leaders are vehemently opposing an assembly of thousands of their more extreme colleagues who equate disengagement with the Holocaust and have called on soldiers and police to die before evacuating Jews from their homes.
The tension between vying factions within Chabad has reached a new high in the wake of an altercation at Kfar Chabad last week in which Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was verbally attacked [other reports have it as a physical attack with plates and food thrown at Mr. Netanyahu, whose car tires were also slashed] while attending a wedding.
But why is "mainstream" Chabad opposed to the anti-Disengagement demonstration?
"Battles against the government can only cause damage to Chabad," said [Chabad spokeman Rabbi Menachem] Brod.
In other words, it's bad for fundraising.
"There are extremists who believe the Rebbe is alive," said a haredi journalist and resident of Kfar Chabad. "They are a really intense group of people who believe in spreading this idea that the Rebbe is the messiah. People who are attracted to this fundamentalist understanding of the messiah are also less likely to see the intricacies of the disengagement issue.
"In contrast, the more mainstream Chabadniks may believe he is the messiah, but they have a slightly more complex understanding of it. [I.e., demonstrations hurt fundraising.] As a result, they are also more likely to be sensitive to the complexities of disengagement."
Among the organizers of the anti-Disengagement demonstration is Chabad activist Yoni Kahana, who was arrested for allegedly attacking Mr. Netanyahu.
As we've often noted, the only difference between Chabad messianists and so-called anti-messianists is their public relations. Both groups, which together include the vast majority of Chabad followers worldwide, believe the late Rebbe is the messiah. The split is on how, or if, that belief should be publicized.
Why have the NY Jewish Week, the JTA, the Jewish Press, etc. avoided coverage of this issue? Why was their coverage of the late Rebbe's 10th yartzeit last July so weak? Why do they print Chabad press releases as if they were news stories?
Isn't it about time for them to pony up on the record and explain their tellingly tepid coverage?
You can read Mati Wagner's piece here.