Nathaniel Popper of the Forward writes in the Wall Street Journal:
…"Russia is not ready for a Democratic or Republican or liberal Jewish coalition," said Rabbi Berel Lazar, the chief rabbi of Russia and Mr. Putin's closest friend in the Jewish leadership. "Russia is a different mindset--a different history, different tradition. In Russia, Jews should not be involved in politics."
Such self-censorship has not always been the rule in the post-Soviet era. In 1996, the Jewish media oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky helped found the Russian Jewish Congress as a voice for the 500,000 Jews of Russia. Mr. Gusinsky was accused of bringing his own political battles into his Jewish work, but he was not afraid to speak out about the Russian government's policies toward Israel or its policies toward Chechnya. Perhaps more important, the Russian Jewish Congress sparred with other Jewish groups about the proper positions to take. There was, in short, debate.
Then, in 2000, Mr. Gusinsky was arrested and forced to flee the country. Like oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky a few years later, Mr. Gusinsky was accused of financial wrongdoing, but opposing Mr. Putin was seen by many as the real crime. The new oligarchs who took over the funding of the Russian Jewish Congress were noticeably silent on the Kremlin's policies. It was obviously bad for business.
The changes at the congress were not the only shift caused by Kremlin intervention. For a number of years after the fall of communism, Russia had multiple "chief rabbis," representing different Jewish traditions. In 2002, this custom changed when Mr. Putin signaled that he would only deal with one of these rabbis, Berel Lazar, as the official chief. Whatever the reason--and it is hotly disputed--Mr. Putin's intervention has effectively shut out the other voices of community, leaving only the overwhelmingly friendly proclamations of Rabbi Lazar and the Russian Jewish Congress.
That Jewish organizations avoid criticizing Mr. Putin does not mean, however, that there are no Jewish people in the opposition. Alexander Osovtsov, the staff director of the Russian Jewish Congress under Mr. Gusinsky, joined the pro-democracy movement. His first job was with the Open Russia Foundation, which was shut down after its leader's arrest. Now he is with Another Russia, a group that trains opposition leaders.
Mr. Osovtsov says that his years at the Russian Jewish Congress were hopeful ones, but an outspoken, independent Jewish organization is now impossible. It could function normally, he says, "only if there is a minimal degree of freedom in the country. That doesn't exist anymore."
It does not exist because Chabad under the leadership of a thug named Berel Lazar and his financial backer Lev Leviev helped Putin with his "Guzinsky problem" and in return became the "exclusive" voice of Russia's Jews. This anti-democratic thuggery is truly what Chabad is about. The dancing rabbis are simply PR, a fundraising tool.
[Hat Tip: Dr. G. Mendel.]
To read the long, sad tale of Chabad's Russian evildoings, click here and start reading from the bottom of the page.