Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia, criticized Ukrainian Jewish leaders for condemning Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.
“The Jewish community should not be the one sending messages to US President Barack Obama about his policy or to President Putin or to any other leader,” Lazar said this week during a joint interview with JTA and The Jewish Chronicle of London. “I think it’s the wrong attitude.”
Lazar, Chabad’s top figure in Russia, was responding to a question about a March 5 letter to the Russian president from the Association of Jewish Communities and Organizations of Ukraine, or VAAD, following the incursion of Russian troops into the the Crimean peninsula.
“Your policy of inciting separatism and crude pressure placed on Ukraine threatens us and all Ukrainian people,” the letter said.
Lazar criticized the Ukrainians for involving themselves in issues that don’t directly concern the Jewish community. At the same time, Lazar said he was concerned about anti-Semitism in Ukraine under its interim government, which was one of the reasons Putin gave as justification for the troop mobilization.