When Stalin’s Secret Police Persecuted the Chabad Movement as Spies

Until the Lubavitcher rebbe, Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, was forced out of the USSR in 1927, his was the largest ḥasidic court to remain in the country. And even after his departure with many of his followers, Chabad-Lubavitch continued to maintain a significant network in the Soviet Union—much of it operating underground to avoid tangling with the authorities—which remained in place until the collapse of Communism. Many Chabad Ḥasidim nonetheless attempted to flee in the years just after World War II, raising the hackles of the political police. Dovid Margolin writes:

On June 6, 1950, Mikhail Popereka, a deputy minister of the Ukrainian branch of the MGB, [or] Soviet secret police—the precursor to the KGB—drafted an eleven-page memo on the status of the ongoing investigation into the case of the “Ḥasidim” and sent it to Viktor Abakumov, the minister of state security of the Soviet Union, [i.e., the head of the MGB]. Marked with a hand-written “Top Secret,” the report synopsized information gathered by the MGB over the course of its investigation into “the Schneersohn anti-Soviet organization” via foreign agents, informants, and interrogations.

An anti-Soviet center headed by the “tsaddik Schneerson”—standard shorthand for . . . Joseph Isaac Schneersohn in Soviet documents—had been set up in New York by American intelligence under the guise of a yeshiva, a European branch established in France, and all of it connected to an extensive anti-Soviet network within the Soviet Union. This, at least, is how the Soviet Union’s intelligence apparatus saw it, all the way to the top.

It was Abakumov who in October of 1946 first alerted Stalin to the threat posed to Communism by “Jewish bourgeois nationalism” and launched into the post-war anti-Semitic campaign against “rootless cosmopolitans,” i.e. the Jews. This dark period would see the liquidation of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee—the Jewish organization Stalin had established during the war to rally support to the Soviet cause and raise much-needed funds, whose members were arrested and shot after the war—and the lead-up to the Doctors’ Plot, in which Jewish doctors were announced to have been part of a vast conspiracy to poison Soviet leadership, the development of which was only halted with Stalin’s sudden death in 1953.

Read more at Chabad.org

More about: Anti-Semitism, Chabad, Joseph Stalin, Soviet Jewry, Soviet Union


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University