Elchanan Poupko

EXLUSIVE: The Dark Secret Under Chabad’s Tunnels 

The scorched parking lot of the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza City after an overnight blast there, October 18, 2023. (Courtesy; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The question of the tunnels under the Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn has troubled millions, if not billions, over the past few days. There is indeed a dark secret to these tunnels discovered in the Crown Heights neighborhood in Brooklyn. There is no need to resort to the thousands of conspiracy theories social media influencers have been trying to peddle. This dark secret can be revealed right here and help the millions of people whose minds and souls seem to be stuck somewhere in those dark Brooklyn tunnels. So here is the truth about these tunnels and why they have captured global attention:

The secret to these tunnels is similar to the secret behind the October 17th bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, namely: the world has an insatiable appetite for stories that dehumanize Jewish people and portray us as wicked wrongdoers, regardless of how disconnected from reality those stories may be. 

Media organizations and social media influencers who are who they are, thanks to the number of clicks and views they get, know this. Its publicity class 101: find a story that paints Jews as committing unthinkably evil, questionable, suspicious, and cruel actions, and the people will come. 

This is the only way to explain how the entire world, including major media organizations, governments, humanitarian organizations, scientists, and more, heard reports coming from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, claiming that Israel bombed the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza and five hundred Gazans were killed. Governments rushed to condemn, meetings with President Biden were canceled, and the world’s largest media organization published the story on their front pages within minutes. 

No one stopped for a moment, saying: “What are the chances that Israel would bomb a hospital full of people?” because everyone already believed those are precisely the kind of things Jews do. A day later, when the dust settled, and it became clear the Al-Ahli hospital was not bombed, instead a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket that was shot from within Gaza towards Israel exploded in the parking lot, killing a few people and damaging a few cars, there was no reckoning. Media organizations did not ask how it is possible they committed such an informational atrocity with a false report terrorists handed to them, nor did the tide of social media outrage against Israel stop for a moment of remorse; everyone just rushed on to the next story vilifying Israel. 

As the world’s attention span lost interest in what was going on in Gaza and vilifying Israel began losing clicks, the story about a tunnel under Chabad’s headquarters emerged like a jar of water in the middle of the Sahara desert. Finally, the Jackson Hinkels and David Dukes of the world can sleep well at night; a new way to demonize Jews has emerged. 

The story of the tunnels under Chabad’s Headquarters Synaoguge must be studied in each and every school of journalism. It is the story of how an old Brooklyn basement with some inner synagogue dispute because of a sensational international story demonizing Jews as the one and only justification for that. 

As a Lithuanian Jew who does not belong to the Chabad movement, I wish I had not heard the news about these “tunnels.” Why? Because they are none of my business. A story about a synagogue’s basement in Brooklyn is not worth my time or the time of anyone else outside of the Chabad community. It is a story for the Chabad community to contend with and an infrastructure issue for them to resolve. I am saddened to have learned about the issue both because it is a violation of their own communal privacy and because of the explosive attention the story has received from both passive and active antisemites. Rusty pipes, clutter, and cement lack the novelty that would justify such an internationally explosive story. Yet here we are, as we have been with the malicious reporting on the bombing of Al-Ahli hospital, which never happened, with international attention directed and finding ways to demonize Jews. 

Seeing a major publication of the stature of the Guardian and others publish stories about these “tunnels” even as recently as today; I urge media and social media entities to spare their own dignity. Pay attention to stories that matter, and stop seeking to demonize Jews for clickbait stories with the integrity of Pravda and other low-grade Soviet publications. 

The dark secret of the Chabad tunnels is that no matter how benign, petty, outlandish, or cringeworthy a story may be if it is able to be a springboard for conspiracy theories vilifying Jews, that story will go viral. It will go viral because much of humanity’s DNA for thousands of years is programmed to seek demonizing stories about the Jewish people. Sadly, we recently learned that a rusty, negligible basement in Brooklyn is no exception to that rule. 

About the Author
Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is a New England based eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is the president of EITAN--The American Israeli Jewish Network.
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