The late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson
The hard left magazine Counterpunch has published a new article attempting to prove that the late Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson was racist bigot.
It relies heavily of the work of Israel Shahak who, like Noam Chomsky still is, was widely viewed as one of the most self-hating Jews on earth. And that's a shame, because a more honest and diversified look at Schneerson's views would have led to a stronger article proving essentially the same thing.
Shahak really wasn't a self-hating Jew as much as he was an anti-nationalist, and some of his claims about Israel and about the Orthodox Jewish community, including haredim, had truth to them.
But like everything else in this vein Shahak touched, it also had extreme hyperbole, large amounts of exaggeration, and more than a few questionable facts.
Counterpunch has always been so far left that people you associate with being left-wing probably wouldn't subscribe to it or read it regularly, and not a few people have called it anti-Semitic (even though some of its writers are Jews).
This new piece on the Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe is correct in the sense that the Rebbe did see Jews and non-Jews as two almost completely separate creations and did teach things that lead some of his followers – for example, Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg – and their followers to teach things that are undeniably racist and bigoted.
Examples of the Rebbe's teachings taken from the artice (which took the translation from a book by Shahak, who took it from a book of the Rebbe's teachings published in Hebrew in the early 1960s and never translated into English, at least with these parts fully intact):
“The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person stems from the common expression: “Let us differentiate.” Thus, we do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather, we have a case of “let us differentiate” between totally different species.”
“This is what needs to be said about the body: the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world … The difference in the inner quality between Jews and non-Jews is “so great that the bodies should be considered as completely different species.”
“An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.”
“As has been explained, an embryo is called a human being, because it has both body and soul. Thus, the difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish embryo can be understood.”
“…the general difference between Jews and non-Jews: A Jew was not created as a means for some [other] purpose; he himself is the purpose, since the substance of all [divine] emanations was created only to serve the Jews.”
“The important things are the Jews, because they do not exist for any [other] aim; they themselves are [the divine] aim.”
“The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists only for the sake of the Jews.”
Most of this is normative haredi theology based on Lurianic kabbalah.
Counterpunch argues that "Education Day USA," started years ago by the US Congress (after much Chabad lobbying) to honor the Rebbe's birthday, should be changed to honor someone other than Schneerson – someone who actually promoted real education and who was not a racist bigot.
It is an undeniable fact that the "Rebbe's school,' Ohlei Torah in Crown Heights, teaches no secular subjects and graduates many near-illiterates.
The article, however, is unconvincing – not because of the facts it manages to muster, but in the junior high level of its argument and its failure to note any somewhat contravening evidence – like the Rebbe's 7 Mitzvot for the Children of Noah campaign.
It also fails to note the Rebbe's lies about Ethiopian Jews, which serve to illustrate the racist side of the Rebbe in action. That might be because, as ardent anti-Zionists the Counterpunch crowd did not want to mention the rescue of Ethiopian Jews by the US and Israeli governments in a positive light. Or it could just be another example of sloppy research done by a Counterpunch writer.
At any rate, if you so choose, you can read the Counterpunch accounting of the alleged racism of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson here.