Monday, October 09, 2006

Is There a Connection Between Ira Rennert & 9/11?

The Buildup

Perhaps. I’ve long wanted to post a report offering a wee soupçon of information—-hearsay actually, but very credible first-person hearsay—-concerning Ira Rennert on the two days preceding September 11, 2001, which potentially may carry some connective meaning, in which case it would constitute my first original contribution to 9/11 studies, every other avenue I’ve set down having already been cleared by earlier (and better) scouts.

But I hesitated because it’s about a sensitive subject. A Jew who is very bad in my opinion. Since the discourse around Jews is so completely unnatural and poisoned, any critical effort I attempted could only serve the one true purpose—that of revealing my inner unexplored loathing of all things Semitic, to the world, if not myself; so I thought, why bother?

But then, when writing up a blog about conservative commentator James S. Robbins, I was struck by a remark he made equating 9/11 skepticism to be on par with “holocaust deniers,” and I decided that the Jew’s sacred wound, was in fact, just a wounded sacred cow, and I thought, “it vouldn’t hurt.”

So for the purposes of what should have been a short little tidbit of a blog, I will separate out the good from the bad—the bad being right-wing warmongering armament-industry profiteers whose true agenda is seeing another $70,000 missile strike another $400 car in Iraq.

Director Stephen Spielberg is good. He only wants abundant sunshine and olive trees on a fecund homeland surrounded by loving neighbors, whether it’s Long Island or Gaza. Spielberg’s film Munich is the most moral film I ever saw, the moral being violence begets violence, and that the victim and the perpetrator are one.

I saw Munich at a winter matinée in East Hampton and I recall women sitting alone in the theater afterward having to collect themselves. I asked a friend who attended New Year’s services last week at the East Hampton synagogue if there was a different tenor in the room this year. He looked startled and abruptly changed the subject.

The Mini-Narrative

Ira Rennert built a notorious mega-mansion on the beach in Sagaponack, in eastern Southampton town. Next door is a public beach known as Peter’s Pond. The two can be said to be at odds.

The previous owner of the 60-acre farm field on which Mr. Rennert chose to build his house, went so far as to lobby town government to close Peter’s Pond Lane, the public access road that led down to the beach. That effort failed but it made the New York Times, along with quotes and a photograph of beach-access advocates, including yours truly—my only such reference in the NYT, still pre-Google.

As Mr. Rennert sculpted his dunes higher, turning a cold stucco shoulder to the outside world, he achieved a stasis with my informant, an off-season beach dog walker (and in-season when she can get away with it) who adamantly claimed Peter’s Pond as her own.

Rennert maintained a major security presence with an obviousness that was new in the Hamptons. Locals could recall the summer when Marvin Davis, the Denver oil billionaire, rented the Henry Ford compound on the ocean just outside Southampton Village and installed ex-LAPD in the dunes, but then the Davis’ had just been car-jacked in the South of France the previous winter, losing not only Mrs. Davis’ bling bling, but their innocence as well.

In addition to the Public Trust doctrine, which makes public any American beach up to the high-water mark, Southamptonites enjoy further access rights on the beach stemming from a 17th-century document called the Dongen patent, which extends the public property to the highest crest of the leeward dunes, so that we may access seaweed and shellfish and such.

It is no easy task asserting a shifting boundary like a windblown crest, and the politics of it were not new to Rennert. He permanently stationed visibly armed guards along the perimeter of his property. Whether intentional or not, in this conflicted context, my informant often felt targeted by the intimidations of Rennert’s personnel, and the games between the (mostly) men, working a light and boring duty, and the (mostly) women, who were long accustomed to asserting their privileges successfully, were long established.

So, dog walking at Peter’s Pond on September 9, 2001 stood out as something memorably different but not really. Rennert’s place that day was a beehive of extra activity, with an atmosphere of overkill, men wearing holstered guns outside their clothing and the cackle of walkie-talkies.

Naturally, my informant personalized these things, assuming somehow it was about the beachgoers, representing some sort of escalation in the Hegelian dialectics, her only context, so she stiffened her spine and gave back grimaces with occasional fierce, pointed stares.

The Crux

The following day was the same, but as she was returning to her car, the scene metastasized into what she describes as like “out of a movie,” as she was terrorized by the sudden advent of three low-flying helicopters, which swooped down and hovered over Rennert’s Fairfields on unknown business. The noise was deafening, definitely not town code, her dogs became hysterical, and it was a test to get to the car, unlock the doors, and escape the bedlam.

In that pre-9/11 consciousness, accustomed she says, to the quick visits of helicopters, even the low-flying private jets who wink goodbye on late Sunday evenings, she could only be outraged at the chutzpa. Immediately, she began to compose a mental letter to the Star.

Of course, all was forgotten the next morning, when a new paradigm took hold. It took a long time before she began to wonder whether there was an association with the events of the following day.

It may very well prove to be evidence of foreknowledge, with extraordinary security or surveillance measures taken just prior to 9/11. I make no claims. And no apologies to Jewish friends.

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