Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Russia Stands Firm in Schneerson Library Dispute

00 Jewish book. 26.02.13

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Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said that Russia has solid legal grounds to keep the Schneerson Library in its possession. The American-based Hasidic movement rejected President Putin’s proposal to place the collection of books and religious documents in the European Tolerance Centre in Moscow. The situation has only deteriorated since the dispute over the Schneerson Library first broke out in the late 1980s. The Agudas Chasidei Chabad, the umbrella organisation for the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement, rejected Moscow’s compromise on offering free access to the books and manuscripts of the Schneerson collection. Actually, they’re already available at the Russian State Library. The Hasidic movement wants the entire collection in its ownership.

In January 2013, a US Federal Court in Washington DC ruled that Russia should pay 50,000 USD (1.534 million Roubles. 38,300 Euros. 33,100 UK Pounds) per day in fines unless it returns the collection. In response, President Putin suggested placing the archive in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow. He also expressed his regret over the dispute reaching the point of confrontation, adding that the library doesn’t belong to a particular Jewish community, noting, “If we allow this national asset to go to anyone, we’d open a Pandora’s Box. If Russia started to comply with such lawsuits, claims would start streaming in”.

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. Rav Schneersohn died in 1950; he left no instructions on the disposition of the library after his death.

In August 2010, the issue came to the forefront again when Judge Royce Lamberth in a US District Court in Washington DC ruled that Russia should hand over the Schneerson archive to the American-based Hasidic movement. Two years later, the District Court issued a ruling assessing a fine against Russia for not turning over the library. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) rejected all claims made by Hasidic organisations, describing the decision of the American court “legally unfounded”. The MID also recommended that the Russian State Library to fine the Library of Congress for not returning seven books from the Schneerson collection loaned to Washington in 1994. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York cancelled plans to send 35 works by the early-20th century designer Paul Poiret to an exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin. Russia isn’t going to organise any exhibitions in the USA, either. There’s no progress in the talks over the Schneerson library, but a scandalous battle in courts is already under way.

26 February 2013

Lyubov Kuryanova

Voice of Russia World Service

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_02_26/Russia-stands-firm-in-Schneerson-Library-dispute/

Editor’s Note:

As I’ve noted before, you can’t sue for ownership of property that you never owned in the first place. The library was nationalised; that’s the end of the story. Remember WHY the Hasids want the books… they want to restrict access to them and hog them for themselves. Why do I dislike Hasids? All too often, they live up to the stereotype of the insular, greedy, and grasping Jew… increasing the level of anti-Semitism in the world. That’s sad… innocents suffer for their nastiness. President Putin’s right in this one… the Schneerson Library is a precious resource for ALL of us… it’s not the plaything of a narrow-minded and intransigent little sect. It’s enough to make one hurl in disgust…

By the way, Judge Royce Lamberth is a fanatic appointed by Slobberin’ Ronnie… an old Cold Warrior living in the past, but feeling his oats in having an opportunity to kick “those godless commie Rooshians” (is he one of Potapov’s pals? Perspirin’ minds wanna know…).

BMD

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