The Ausralian Jewish News writes:
IT seems easy, if short-sighted, to cast off the controversial petition effectively calling on settlers and Israel Defence Forces soldiers to illegally disobey orders as the work of fringe elements on the extreme end of Australia’s Orthodox spectrum.
But it is much harder to understand why so many of the 33 mostly-Chabad rabbis, including their venerated Melbourne chief, Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, signed it. Many of the signatories apparently saw their leader’s name and simply followed suit, without reading the fine print. And, regrettably, the fact that Rabbi Groner — whose contribution to the Yiddishkeit of this community is arguably unparalleled — was unwell at the time did not seem to bother them one bit.
While many of our more esteemed Chabad rabbis were wise enough not to agree to sign this inflammatory document, the Chabad movement as a whole has let itself and the entire Australian Jewish community down by publicising such extremist terminology at such a sensitive juncture in Jewish history. For whether Rabbi Groner was too unwell or whether the other 32 rabbis were duped into signing a petition they thought was intended for the Israeli Government, as some claim, is almost a moot point. By doing so they crossed a red line, and although some of them have now publicly distanced themselves from the incendiary rhetoric in the petition (as opposed to the halachic injunction to oppose the withdrawal from Gaza), the good name of Chabad in Australia has been tarnished.
The tragic terrorist attack in Shfar’am last week — perpetrated by an Orthodox Jew — should be a clarion call to us all of the danger of inflammatory words in such a volatile political climate.
The politicisation, and indeed subsequent radicalisation, of the Chabad movement since its first foray into Israeli politics in 1990 has been the Achilles heel of an organisation whose outreach work in the Jewish world is second to none. Chabad should return to its roots of imbuing Jews with Yiddishkeit instead of allowing, and even encouraging, its rabbis to invest their energy on the front-line of a divisive political battle.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe called on his emissaries to rekindle the Yiddishe spark in Jews dispersed in all corners of the globe. His rabbis should not be responsible for sparking a major division within the Jewish people — either in Israel or Australia.
More on Chabad's link to extremism can be found in the post below.