The Hasidic movement is currently embroiled in a biting internal debate regarding the suitable response to the upcoming Gaza Strip and northern West Bank disengagement, Ynet has found.
The controversy pits the movement’s leadership, which adopted a moderate line, against more radical, messianic Lubavitchers who have vowed to “stop the pullout with our bodies.”
The question of whether the Lubavitchers would enlist in the anti-pullout battle en masse is certainly a cause for concern for security officials, as thousands of determined Lubavitchers could certainly upgrade the resistance to the pullout as it rolls around.
In the past decade, since the death of movement’s leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the messianic branch of Chabad-Lubavitch has been gaining in strength.
The more radical branch has rejected the leadership arrangement adopted by the movement since Schneerson’s death.
Chabad’s spiritual leadership, meanwhile, has ruled that the only way to resist the pullout is that outlined by rabbi Schneerson, who in the past said only spiritual protest is allowed, in the form of rallies and prayers.
‘We’ll stop pullout with our bodies’
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe from Kiryat Gat, who is among the messianic branch’s top leaders, is expected to lead the active resistance to the pullout and has called on soldiers to refuse evacuation orders.
Wolpe is coordinating his moves with rabbi Yekutiel Rap, who he refers to as “our man in New York”. Rap is planning to bring a thousand Hasidic Jews to Israel to join the anti-pullout battle.
Wolpe says security forces would be unable to stop a thousand Americans at the airport and would have to allow them into the country.
“We’ll stop the disengagement with our bodies when we bring hundreds of thousands of Hasidim to Gush Katif and northern Samaria,” he says. “About one thousands Hasidim will arrive from New York alone, God willing.”
“Ariel Sharon is about to be humiliated on live television before millions of viewers across the world,” Wolpe vows. “We’ll gladly go to jail.”
We mustn’t hurt any Jew
However, Chabad leaders say they are objecting to the radical line adopted by Wolpa.
Senior movement figure Rabbi Yitzhak Yehuda Yaroslavsky told Ynet that although Chabad objects to the pullout, it has decided not to initiate protests.
“Our absolute opinion is that we mustn’t hurt any Jew, not in the army and not among the police, who the government forced to take part in the evacuation after all,” he said, and added that all Lubavitchers should follow the leadership’s orders.