The official representatives of the Chabad/Lubavitch hassidic community have joined calls by other leading religious and political figures against the surrender of Israeli territory to the Palestinian Authority.
During their annual "Kinus Hashluchim" gathering in the central Israeli city of Kfar Saba last weekend, the schluchim - or emissaries - of the late "Lubavitcher Rebbe" Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, released a statement in which they voiced their support for the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (RCP), a group which strongly opposes Israeli territorial concessions on the basis of Jewish Law and the risk to human life which they insist such concessions pose.
In the 1970's, Rabbi Schneerson sent dozens of his personal emissaries to strengthen Jewish life in Israel. Today, many of them occupy prominent positions as rabbis, teacher and Roshei Yeshiva (Deans of Torah Institutions).
The statement, signed by all 40 shluchim, emphasized the position of their late spiritual leader that territorial concessions must be opposed "as a matter of life and death," and called upon "every individual, in Israel and the world over, to support and assist the above Committee [RCP] in every way possible. Their vital mission is to save the lives of the Jewish people in Israel – to forestall any territorial negotiations with Israel’s enemies over its borders, by bringing the public and the decision-makers to the realization that the only way to achieve peace and security in the Holy Land is by standing firm by the integrity of the Holy Land."
The statement is significant, as Chabad's influence extends far beyond the thousands of Hassidim, or direct followers of the sect themselves, due to their outreach work in communities throughout the world.
The following is the full text of their statement:
"We, the personal emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the Holy Land - including Rabbis of cities and neighborhoods in Israel, heads of Yeshivot and Kollelim and social welfare institutions, who were sent to Israel by the Rebbe himself over 35 years ago in order 'to arouse and encourage Jews to observe Torah and Mitzvot and help build the Jewish land physically and spiritually' - from the depths of a pained heart protest against the Israeli government’s decision to resume negotiations with Palestinian murderers on withdrawal from territories of the Holy Land, G-d forbid.
"Negotiating with Israel's enemies of Israel concerning Israeli borders in itself constitutes an ominous danger to the lives of Israel's residents, men, women and children. This ruling is explicit in the Jewish Code of Law, section 329:6: 'Even if they are only demanding hay or straw, we take up arms and violate the Shabbat.' Hundreds of prominent rabbis in Israel have ruled that withdrawal from territories is a matter of life or death for tens of thousands of people.
"Anyone who can put two and two together can see that every time Israel has agreed to concede and withdraw, this has made matters worse. It has only accelerated terror and bloodshed, G-d forbid.
"We support the tireless efforts of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (the Pikuach Nefesh Committee) which for the past 20 years has been vigorously combating the policies of withdrawal and concessions by Israeli governments. The Committee has repeatedly publicized worldwide the definitive ruling in the Shulchan Aruch that such concessions are a matter of life or death.
"Many Jews, and not only Hassidim, reverently recall the numerous public addresses in which the Rebbe expressed his pained concern for the well-being of the Jewish nation in Eretz Israel. We now call upon every individual, in Israel and the world over, to support and assist the above Committee in every way possible. Their vital mission is to save the lives of the Jewish people in Israel – to forestall any territorial negotiations with Israel’s enemies over its borders, by bringing the public and the decision-makers to the realization that the only way to achieve peace and security in the Holy Land is by standing firm by the integrity of the Holy Land. Only thus will we see the fulfillment of the Biblical promise that 'I will grant peace in the land…and lead you upright.'
"We pray that Almighty G-d have mercy and put an end to our suffering. May we merit the Final Redemption by the righteous Moshiach [Messiah] - now"