Ayelet Shaked, the head of the Yamina (New Right) party, and 14 of the party’s candidates for Knesset seats sent a letter to leading rabbis from the Chabad Hasidic movement declaring their intention to adhere to the ideology of the now-deceased spiritual head of the movement, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who advocated protecting the sanctity of Israel’s borders.
Rabbi Schneerson, known to his followers simply as “the Rebbe”, was one of the most influential spiritual leaders until he passed away in 1994. Under his direction, the Lubavitch Chabad movement established thousands of institutions worldwide for Bible education and charity. Unlike many other Orthodox Jewish leaders, the Rebbe emphasized an active belief in the imminent arrival of the Messiah. The Rebbe was close to many Israeli leaders including Benjamin Netanyahu who befriended when he was still the Israeli Ambassador to the UN in 1984. The Rebbe was a strong supporter of the IDF, maintaining that serving in the Israeli army was a Mitzvah (Torah commandment).
Though he never visited Israel, the Rebbe was especially passionate about the country. While then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin negotiated with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat for the return of the Sinai Peninsula in exchange for peace, the Rebbe preached against the move. In a J-Post article, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote that the Rebbe predicted that such an agreement would inevitably result in three things:
1. The world would develop an insatiable appetite for Jewish land. Rather than the return of Sinai satisfying the world’s lust for diminishing the Jewish state in size, the message to them would be that the Jews themselves had conceded to the claim that they were occupiers.
2. Jews would be attacked. The return of land would compromise Israel’s security and embolden its enemies to strike. Terrorism would increase rather than decrease.
3. Israel would be demonized. Rather than receiving a windfall of positive publicity and international goodwill for making peace, surrendering land would be used as a PR baseball bat to bludgeon Israel with deligitimization and international boycotts.
“All three of the Rebbe’s predictions were unfortunately proven true,” Rabbi Boteach noted.
Though Shaked is not known to be religiously observant, under her direction the New Right party is learning from the Rebbe.
“We, the undersigned, are declaring that we will work in the Knesset and in every other framework towards a complete Israel as per the holy opinion of the revered Rebbe of Lubavitch. We will be resolutely opposed to the establishment of a Palestinian state or the establishment of Palestinian autonomy of any kind, the delivery of land, or the evacuation of any [Jewish] communities. We will also firmly oppose the above-mentioned topics in negotiations or in any other framework. For this is indeed a matter of life or death. We will work towards establishing more Jewish communities in all areas of Judea and Samaria as well as every other part of Israel. ”
Though many of those who signed were not religious, they ended the letter with the declaration:
“In anticipation of the true redemption and its complete and immediate fulfillment. “