The Forward has a revealing article on the Chabad medal given to Putin at Auschwitz:
Was the medal a planned part of the ceremony?
"Many people were surprised by this, as this was not on the official program the day before the event," [Poland's Chief Rabbi] Schudrich said.
Why wasn't the medal-granting ceremony on the official program? And why was Poland's president given a medal at last minute?
Speaking through an aide, Lazar told the Forward that he had decided to honor Putin in order to recognizing the Soviet army's role in liberating Auschwitz.
Yet, Rabbi Lazar told Ha'aretz that the medal was "state-sponsored" although he declined to say which country was sponsoring the medal.
Lazar told a press conference that he would be presenting the Salvation award at Auschwitz together with the president of Israel, Moshe Katsav. But a Katsav political adviser, Avi Granot, said the Israeli leader had no knowledge of it and would not be a "partner to it."
So, how did Rabbi Lazar – who obviously has difficulty both telling the truth and with general morality – come to be the 'Chief Rabbi' of Russia?
Lazar, the Moscow Lubavitcher, was named chief rabbi of Russia in May 2000 at a gathering of Russian Lubavitch representatives, who do not recognize the long-serving chief rabbi chosen in the 1980s, Adolph Shayevich, a Modern Orthodox rabbi. Since then Lazar and his allies have grown increasingly close to Putin's circle, while Shayevich and his allies are often identified with Putin's democratic opponents.
And the effects of the Putin medal?
In the days since, as Israeli and Jewish leaders have scrambled to distance themselves from the medal, Lazar's gesture has come to symbolize in some eyes the growing international debate over Putin's real intentions. Putin is under fire for growing signs of autocracy at home, warming toward radical regimes in Syria and Iran and a slow response to mounting Russian antisemitism.
What about non-Jewish leaders?
In the last week, however, Putin has come under fire for a series of actions — and omissions — that critics say belie his words. Eastern European leaders complained that he failed at Auschwitz to acknowledge the Soviet tyranny that replaced the Nazis. Numerous observers noted tartly that he was the only speaker at the camp to omit any explicit mention of Jews. Critics at home complain that he has failed to speak out directly against a recent antisemitic statement by a group of Russian politicians, leaving it to other government ministries to respond.
Putin has also begun the rehibilitation of Josef Stalin, something that has sent chills down the spine of Eastern Europe.
At home, meanwhile, Putin "does just enough to keep the Jewish community and the international community off his back," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "What is missing is the will of his government to use the instruments of law and order to show these antisemitic incidents are unacceptable."
So, which state sponsored the medal? The State of Chabad and its Patron, Mr. Putin's Mother Russia.
The dismissive … response [to the medal] was typical of those interviewed about the award. "Rabbi Lazar represents Chabad of Russia, not the Jews of Russia and certainly not European Jewry or world Jewry," one prominent European rabbi told the Forward, speaking on condition of anonymity. [My guess is that this quote is from Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine.]
And what of world Jewry?
Meanwhile, Israel and its allies are voicing alarm over an apparent shift in Moscow's Middle East policy. Putin confirmed to reporters in Krakow that Russia intended to proceed with a planned missile sale to Syria, despite Israeli protests. This week Iran and Russia reached an agreement on disposal of spent nuclear fuel, clearing the way for Russia to fire up Iran's first nuclear power plant.
Don't you just love Chabad?
You can read the Forward's article here.