Thursday, 4 December 2008

Strange Fire

In our last article, here, we weighed the symbolic import of the Trident Towers, one of the three targets of the Mumbai terrorists to receive extensive coverage in the British and American media. We noted its location at the heart of a complex of esoteric structures, both modern and historical: including the Towers of Silence, a nineteenth-century mausoleum used by the Parsi sect; and Nariman Point, 'India's Manhattan'. Over the other side of town, by strange coincidence; in the piquantly-named Colaba district, another high-profile shooting was unfolding at Nariman House: since 2006, a synagogue and educational centre owned by the Brooklyn-based Chabad-Lubavitch. The latter, one of the largest Hasidic movements in Orthodox Judaism, is remarkable not only for its teachings; but for continuing the well-established tradition of Jewish 'presence' in and around events of an occult ('Fortean') stripe.

This was seen last at Virginia Tech, when a young Korean student went on a killing spree with the highly unusual legend of ISMAIL AX scrawled on one arm. That this occurred on Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day (April 16); that one of the victims was a survivor of that same atrocity; and the possibility that ISMAIL could well have referenced the Arab patriach Ishmael, led some (largely conservative) pundits to speculate that these killings were politically-motivated, an act of Islamic resistance to the occupation of Palestine. Whilst I doubted their conclusions, such coincidences were more than sufficient to alert me to the Secret Commonwealth at work amidst the violence; as written in this article about the same event; and the presence of Chabad Lubavitch in the Mumbai shootings, in addition to the factors already discussed in our last two posts, had the identical effect.

Chabad Lubavitch is no ordinary religious body. Founded in the late eighteenth century in Russia, in a town ('Lubavitch') which ironically means 'city of love', one of the movement's less agreeable characteristics is (or was, at one time) a passionate hatred of Gentiles. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, its (seventh) leader until his death in 1994, stated that Jews were of a 'totally different species' to their goyim associates; whose unclean souls stemmed from 'three satanic spheres'. Its founder, Shneur Zalman, was even more extreme: for him, according to a leading Lubavitch rabbi, Gentile souls were 'totally evil, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever'; whilst the same writer compares Jews 'to the DNA of G-d'.

For these and other reasons, it is a controversial movement even within Judaism itself. Chabad messianism, the belief that Schneerson was the messiah, resulted in a damaging schism... and yet, with over 200'000 members and growing, the group remains extremely influential. In June 2007, George Bush issued a statement honouring the memory of Schneerson (known by Chabad adherents as the 'Great Rebbe'), as every US president has done since his death; and representatives of the group are often invited to meetings at the White House. This influence is expected only to grow in the wake of the confused events at Nariman House, which have naturally garnered much sympathy. Reports indicating that the perpetrators had been resident in the centre for a full fifteen days (in lodgings rented only to religious Jews) have been ignored by Western journalists; and the 'daring rescue' of Moshe Holtzberg by the boy's nanny looks ever more like an operation squarely aimed at the tabloids.

But there are indications, too, of an altogether stranger conspiracy. According to Shturem, an Jewish news service, officials involved in the transfer of the bodies of those killed in the attacks were greeted by a very eerie sight. Upon opening the bullet-peppered Aron Kodesh, the officials were dismayed to find that the Torah scroll it encases had also sustained some damage; and that the damage was clustered around a chapter of Leviticus (Chapter 16) dealing with the death of Aaron's two sons. According to journalist Chadrei Charedim, an earlier reference in Leviticus 10 records the pair, Nadav and Abihu, being 'consumed by fire' as punishment for offering unlawful sacrifice- a 'strange fire'- before G-d: a verse frequently cited 'to explain why righteous people die in unnatural deaths.' (See here.) And several details concerning Gavriel Holtzberg, the rabbi killed by the terrorists, also smack of hoodoo... of the kind we might expect to surround a group immersed in Lurian Kabbalah. (Which may explain why its headquarters is located in the Crown Heights district of Brooklyn; kether, or crown, being the highest sephiroth on the Tree of Life.) According to the New York Times:

'The Holtzbergs were no strangers to hardship and heartbreak, friends said. They had a child who died of a genetic illness and another is seriously ill with the same ailment and is hospitalized in Israel... Two months ago, a fire damaged the red brick Brooklyn home of Rabbi Holtzberg’s parents, Noah and Freida, said Joel Forta, who had lived next door until the fire forced him out... Another son, Avraham, he recalled, survived a savage stabbing in Postville, Iowa, in 2000. The assailant, Ronni Kachanes, who had been invited to the Holtzberg home for dinner and attacked Mr. Holtzberg there without apparent reason, was later sentenced to life, court records show.' [Emphasis mine.]

Strange fire, indeed...


Therese said...

Interesting links Ben, and everyone should ponder that background of the Lubarvich Hassidim - who are often termed a cult, by their critics.

Another oddity. The sole surviving terrorist (who was caught by a public mob, not by the security forces) was wearing a red braclet. This is not an Islamic symbol. Some Islamic fundamentalists actually dislike the color red, and none of them encourage men to wear braclets. A green headband is their insignia.

Many have noticed the band on his wrist, and pointed out that it is a Hindu religious symbol - often worn by pilgrims (rarely, it ought to be noted, worn by dangerous lunatics.) The red braclet has also been adopted by another proto-cult on the fringe of Judaism - the Kabbalah movement.

Rich Anpoor said...

ben, yr post rings bells in my head.

I live most of the year in Himachal Pradesh, India, a favourite place for hash-smoking Isrealis fresh from serving in the IDF.

The village of Malana is the most famous village for a) its cannabis (which the Isrealis go crazy for) and b) the Malana democracy which is very old. c) the HEIGHT of the village

The village was almost totally burnt down in Jan 08.

here is a link which describes this fire as "curse-caused"

the article also mentions that the villagers will now probably return to growing more cannabis again.

a couple of km's away is the village of Kasol, (which has a chabad house) and where all the Israelis sit around smoking their malana hash.

strange fire indeed!