Chabad is denying reports that it is in advanced stages of negotiations with Agudat Israel. The deal would bring thousands of Chabad votes to the Gerrer-dominated Aguda:
… Menachem Geshayd, an Aguda spokesman, confirmed that there were advanced negotiations between his party and Chabad.
In the past month there has been growing pressure on Chabad leadership to recommend a particular party.
"A lot of Chassidim are asking the rabbis to recommend a political party," said Menachem Brod, official Chabad spokesman. "People are confused. They want the rabbis to decide."
All three possibilities are problematic. Support for Shas is unlikely due to the Sephardi party’s support for territorial compromises in the framework of a peace process.
The ideological divide between religious Zionists and the haredi Chabad and the fact that the NRP sat in the government during the preparations for disengagement make it less attractive.
"One thing is for sure," said Gluckowsky. "No Chabad Hassid should waste a vote. That’s why I recommend not voting for [right wing extremeist] Baruch Marzel. The rebbe always said that every vote is important and must not be wasted."
The sticking point in the Chabad endorsement of Aguda appears to be rebellion from Chabad messianists, who reject doing deals with any political party that remained in the government during the Gaza Disengagement:
[O]n the Internet site Chabad.info, which is run by the more messianic stream of Chabad followers who believe the deceased Schneerson is alive and will return as the Messiah, the possibility of support to Aguda was rejected.
"There is no truth in the reports," wrote the site. "Chabad learned its lesson after supporting Binyamin Netanyahu in the summer of 1996."
The site was referring to the failed "Bibi is good for the Jews" campaign.
"Also, Chabad would never support a party that sat in the government while thousands of Jews were expelled from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria."
The root of the move toward Aguda appears to be the desire of old line Jerusalem Chabad hasidim to move away from Religious Zionism:
According to a report in the haredi weekly
Bekehila Rabbi Tovia Bloi, a Chabad Rabbi in Jerusalem’s haredi Nave
Ya’acov neighborhood, sent a letter to Agudat Yisrael promising Chabad
support if Aguda would obligate itself to oppose any future territorial
Bloi is known to be in favor of pulling Chabad closer to the
haredi movement. He has voiced concern in the past that Chabad has
become too influenced by religious Zionism.
So how is Chabad spinning this internal paralysis? Like this:
"Chabad belongs to everyone," said a respected
Chabad figure who preferred to remain anonymous. "As soon as you come
out in support of any particular party you exclude a part of the Jewish
Read it this way: Messianists won’t vote for Aguda. Chabad therefore can’t endorse Aguda, because it will deliver far too few votes and will be embarrassed. The only parties Messianists will support are on the extreme right wing, Kahane by other names. Chabad cannot endorse these parties because it will hurt their fundraising and their image in America and the West. Unless the Messianists cave, Chabad will officially "remain neutral." Most of the rank and file will vote for the hard right. A few will follow Rabbi Tuvia Bloi and vote Aguda. And Chabad will become further polarized.