Rabbi Berel Lazar, PM Netanyahu
Rabbi Berel Lazar, PM NetanyahuArutz Sheva: courtesy of Lubavitch.com / Meir

A spokesman for the Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide Chassidic movement says the sect is Zionist in its support for Israel.

Rabbi Menachem Brod of Kfar Chabad told Arutz Sheva in an exclusive interview Tuesday that the traditional definition of the term has morphed into one that has become unclear.

Brod set about clarifying what the Chabad-Lubavitch movement defines Zionism to mean “in the practical sense of the word,” making it clear that its Jewish origins have not changed.

“If the definition of 'Zionism' is defined as detachment from Jewish roots and becoming a nation like any other, we oppose that – and so did all the great Torah leaders. But if Zionism is about loving the land, about national security, settling the land, then Chabad definitely supports those important activities,” he declared.

Brod, who serves as the movement's spokesman in Israel, was responding to criticism from the Reform movement-affiliated group Hiddush (Hebrew for “innovation”).

The group had attempted to persuade Knesset members to call off a Knesset event – an evening to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS. The event was held to honor Chabad for its decades-long outreach to Jews in the former Soviet Union.

Hiddush argued that the Knesset should not support Chabad because it is “anti-Zionist.”

No MKs responded to the appeal, however, and the event was held as scheduled.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who addressed a Tel Aviv hall filled to capacity at the event, told the Chabad emissaries, “You stand atop of the mountain, and the Jewish people gathered at its base salute you. I am the first [to do so].”

Among the hundreds of Chabad emissaries from the former Soviet Union to attend the event were Russia's Chief Rabbi, Berel Lazar and philanthropist Lev Leviev, head of Africa-Israel.