The Brooklyn-based Jewish sect Chabad has, in ersatz legal terminology, gone nuts, damning the same U.S. government that in 1940 rescued its supreme leader from Poland, and that for the last two decades has worked at the highest diplomatic levels to resolve Chabad's ongoing property dispute with Russia.
For eight years now that dispute -- over whether Chabad or Russia owns two separate collections of books and manuscripts that are in Moscow -- has been playing out in the federal District Court.
In papers filed in that court today, Chabad, referring to Russia's embargo on lending art to U.S. museums -- an embargo triggered by Chabad's lawsuit -- asserted that the U.S. government "should be embarrassed if . . . it gives any credence whatever to this empty Russian charade." Chabad also criticized the government as "singularly passive and unsuccessful" in convincing Russia to comply with a court order to turn the disputed collections over.
The harsh language came in Chabad's response to a statement by the Obama Administration urging the court not to impose the substantial monetary sanctions on Russia that Chabad had requested. The government's position is that such sanctions would be impermissible under American law, unprecedented under international law, and contrary to U.S. foreign policy interests.
Chabad's lawyers did not respond to inquiries.
There is much more to be told. Check back later.
Text (c) Copyright 2012 Laura Gilbert.