Here’s a new Politico article today, the thesis of which I heard on Thursday from another source:
Chabad, a worldwide Jewish movement, is at the center of a web of ties between the Kremlin and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
By BEN SCHRECKINGER April 09, 2017
Two decades ago, as the Russian president set about consolidating power on one side of the world, he embarked on a project to supplant his country’s existing Jewish civil society and replace it with a parallel structure loyal to him. On the other side of the world, the brash Manhattan developer was working to get a piece of the massive flows of capital that were fleeing the former Soviet Union in search of stable assets in the West, especially real estate, and seeking partners in New York with ties to the region.
Their respective ambitions led the two men—along with Trump’s future son-in-law Jared Kushner—to build a set of close, overlapping relationships in a small world that intersects on Chabad, an international Hasidic movement most people have never heard of.
Starting in 1999, Putin enlisted two of his closest confidants, the oligarchs Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich, who would go on to become Chabad’s biggest patrons worldwide, to create the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia under the leadership of Chabad rabbi Berel Lazar, who would come to be known as “Putin’s rabbi.”
A few years later, Trump would seek out Russian projects and capital by joining forces with a partnership called Bayrock-Sapir, led by Soviet emigres Tevfik Arif, Felix Sater and Tamir Sapir—who maintain close ties to Chabad. …
With the help of this trans-Atlantic diaspora and some globetrotting real estate moguls, Trump Tower and Moscow’s Red Square can feel at times like part of the same tight-knit neighborhood. Now, with Trump in the Oval Office having proclaimed his desire to reorient the global order around improved U.S. relations with Putin’s government—and as the FBI probes the possibility of improper coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin—that small world has suddenly taken on outsized importance.
Trump’s kind of Jews
Founded in Lithuania in 1775, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement today has adherents numbering in the five, or perhaps six, figures. What the movement lacks in numbers it makes up for in enthusiasm, as it is known for practicing a particularly joyous form of Judaism.
Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, recalled having this trait impressed upon him during one family wedding at which the two tables occupied by his first cousins, Chabad rabbis, put the rest of the celebrants to shame. “They were dancing up a storm, these guys. I thought they were black. Instead they’re just black-hat,” Klein said, referring to their traditional Hasidic garb.
Since I haven’t posted this video in at least
24 18 hours, here are Senator Cory Booker and Rabbi Shmuley Boyteach getting joyous:
As I wrote in Taki’s Magazine back in 2014:
There’s inevitable bad blood between Russians, for whom pro-czarism is the natural political inclination (for reasons of geography and history, Russia is a backward place, so its political traditions are backward), and American Jews, whose ancestral traditions are fervently anti-czarist.
Thus, Putin’s reconstruction of a functioning Russian state after the disasters of the 1990s was inevitably going to turn out to be more or less neo-czarist. In turn, a strong Russia predictably triggered anti-pogrom alarms among American Jews. Since there aren’t actual pogroms, much of Jewish animus and angst got displaced into its 21st century proxies: neoconservatism (as in the case of the State Department’s Victoria Nuland) and gay activism (Radio Liberty’s Masha Gessen).
“Both Russians and American Jews have perfectly understandable reasons for feeling the way they do. Fortunately, this psychological disjunction needn’t lead to war or even to simple jingoism.”
Both Russians and American Jews have perfectly understandable reasons for feeling the way they do. Fortunately, this psychological disjunction needn’t lead to war or even to simple jingoism. After all, we live on different continents. Both sides ought to be able to recognize and laugh off their inevitable bigotry and malice.
The central cognitive problem for America, however, is that gentile Americans aren’t allowed to notice, much less laugh at, Jewish predilections, nor even mention the level of Jewish influence in the American media and government (e.g., Gregg Easterbrook and Rick Sanchez).
But, as I also wrote in 2014:
Russia increasingly resembles another country with similar paranoiac geopolitical attitudes and a culture that is yearly becoming less Northwest European: Israel. A rapprochement between Russia and Israeli nationalists remains unlikely, but the chances are growing. …
Russia’s adoption of the nationalist Zionist cause would likely lead the declining fraction of liberal Israelis to turn toward their enlightened cultural cousins, the natural rivals of the Russians, the richest and the most latently powerful country in Europe, the Germans. When the world went to war exactly 100 years ago, liberal Jews largely sympathized with Germany, the home of their ancestral language Yiddish and their enlightened culture. …
Therefore, perhaps, Russia and the Israel nationalist majority will espouse 19th-century Romantic nationalism, while Germany will use late 20th-century European Union postnationalism and their Jewish friends as the mild mask for German domination of Europe.