President Vladimir Putin said that Russia couldn’t hand over the Schneerson Library to the USA. However, he said that we could display it at the European Tolerance Centre in Moscow, and make accessible to all who wish to use it. On Tuesday, Putin said at a meeting of the Ethnic Relations Council, “Unfortunately, I can only say that the discussion of this issue has reached a point of confrontation, which, in my opinion, is due to illegal decisions made in another country”. Putin said that the library originated in 19th century Russia, and part of it was nationalised shortly after the October Revolution, saying, “This is a significant part of the problem. If we allow this national asset to go to anyone, we’d open a Pandora’s Box. Almost 100 years have passed since the library was nationalised. If Russia started to comply with such lawsuits, claims would start streaming in. No one can predict how far they might go. We’re not going to deal with this. It’s impossible”.
Putin remarked that another part of the library was brought to Russia as a war trophy. He added that that he’d like to propose a solution “that’d benefit people drawn to these cultural values in the first place. We’re at the Jewish Tolerance Centre now. We could think about this idea. I’m prepared to put together an order to the government and Minkultury to display this library at the Russian Jewish Tolerance Centre. All who’re interested could be given full access to this library”.
The Schneerson Library is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts gathered by Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. The Bolsheviks nationalised part of the collection in 1918 and eventually became part of the Russian State Library collection. Schneersohn managed to take the other part of the collection out of the USSR during his emigration in the 1930s. Later, the Nazis seized about 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection, then, the Red Army captured them and handed them over to the Russian State Military Archive. Chabad-Lubavitch has sought the ownership of the Schneerson Library since the end of the 1980s. Reports posted on 17 January 2013, said that a US Federal Court in Washington DC ordered a fine of 50,000 USD (1.52 million Roubles. 38,000 Euros. 32,800 UK Pounds) per day if Russia failed to transfer the Schneerson Library to the Chabad-Lubavitchers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs found the court order offensive.
19 February 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
Let’s keep this simple. The Hasids have NEVER owned the library. NEVER. NO WAY. NO HOW. They don’t have title to it. Therefore, they can’t sue in court to “regain” property that they never owned in the first place. In any case, whether they like it or not, a country has a right to nationalise property. This was done, and in due legal order. That is, the library belongs to the Russian state, to preserve it in perpetuity as part of the Russian national patrimony. The real reason that the Hasids want the books is that they wish to restrict the usage of them only to those who agree with their oddbod notions. All decent people must oppose that. I’ll be honest… I don’t like Hasids and I don’t care for their company. I won’t harm them… or be anti-Semitic because of their noisome shenanigans. I’m much more comfortable with Modern Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews (Jewish groups to the left of the Conservatives don’t bother me… I simply don’t agree with many of their premises, but they’re NOT a royal pain in the arse as the Hasids are). However, I agree with most of my Jewish friends… the Hasids are offensively-arrogant and off-putting in their assumptions of religious superiority over all other Jews. Such people shouldn’t be harmed, but they shouldn’t be coddled either. They belong in a corner along with Islamists, Moonies, Hare Krishnas, Mormons, Pentecostalists, JWs, and Evangelicals… all sorts who give believers a “bad name”. I have plenty of company in thinking that…