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The rabbi and the terrorists

Zaterdag, December 6, 2008 / Last Modified: Zondag, Januari 14, 2018

December 6, 2008.

It was obvious to observers around the world that one of the designated targets
of the Pakistani Islamist terrorists was the Mumbai Chabad House, the one
Jewish center in Mumbai. The 10 Islamic terrorists who came from Pakistan to
India chose their targets with great care.

If one assumes that the terrorists’ primary goals were to destabilize India,
weaken growing Indian-Pakistani cooperation in fighting terrorism, and greatly
increase Indian-Pakistani tension, hopefully to the point of military war between
the two countries, every one of the targets made strategic sense. Slaughtering
as many people as possible in India’s major economic center, including as many
foreign tourists as possible at Mumbai’s finest hotels, also made sense.

But one target seemed to make little sense. In fact, until the attack was over
people were uncertain whether the terrorists’ attack on the Jewish center
known as the Chabad House was part of the original plan or chosen
spontaneously. Only when the lone terrorist who was captured told his
interrogators that the Chabad House was planned a year earlier was it
indisputable that killing the rabbi, his wife, their children and any other Jews
present was part of the plan.

The question is why?

Why would a terrorist group of Islamists from Pakistan whose primary goal is
to have Pakistan gain control of the third of Kashmir that belongs to India and
therefore aimed to destabilize India’s major city devote so much of its efforts –
20 percent of its force of 10 gunmen whose stated goal was to kill 5,000 – to
killing a rabbi and any Jews with him?

The question echoes one from World War II: Why did Hitler devote so much
time, money and manpower in order to murder every Jewish man, woman and
child in every country the Nazis occupied? Why did Hitler – as documented by
the late historian Lucy Dawidowicz in her aptly named book “The War against
the Jews” – weaken the Nazi war effort by diverting money, troops and military
vehicles from fighting the Allies to rounding up Jews and shipping them to
death camps?

From the perspective of political scientists, historians and contemporary
journalists, the answer to these questions is not rational. But the non-rationality
of an answer is not synonymous with its non-validity. For the Islamists, as for
the Nazis, the destruction of the Jews – and since 1948, the Jewish state – is
central to their worldview.

If anyone has a better explanation for why Pakistani terrorists, preoccupied
with destabilizing India, would expend so much effort at finding the one Jewish
center in a country that is essentially devoid of Jews, I would like to hear it.

With all the Pakistani Islamists’ hatred of Hindus, they did not attack one Hindu
temple in India’s major city.

With all their hatred of Christian infidels, the terrorists did not seek out
one of the 700,000 Christians in Mumbai.

To reinforce my point, imagine a Basque separatist terrorist organization
attacking Madrid. Would the terrorists take time out to murder all those in the
Madrid Chabad House? The idea is ludicrous. But no one seems to find it odd
that that Pakistani Muslim terrorists who hate India and want it to give up
control of Indian Kashmir would send two of its 10 terrorists to kill perhaps the
only rabbi in Mumbai. As Newsweek reported during the siege, “Given that
Orthodox Jews were being held at gunpoint by mujahideen (sic), it seemed
unlikely there would be survivors.” Newsweek, like just about everyone else,
simply assumes Islamists will murder Jews whenever and wherever possible.

They are right.

For years I have warned that great evils often begin with the murder of Jews,
and therefore non-Jews who dismiss Jew-hatred (aka anti-Semitism, aka
anti-Zionism), will learn too late that Jew- and Israel-haters only begin with
Jews but never end with them. When Israeli Jews were almost the only targets
of Muslim terrorists, the world dismissed it as a Jewish or Israeli problem. Then
it became an American and European and Filipino and Thai and Indonesian and
Hindu problem.

Two final points:

One is that it is exquisitely fitting that the same week the murders in
Mumbai were taking place, the United Nations General Assembly passed six
more anti-Israel resolutions. As it has for decades, the U.N. has again
sanctioned hatred for a good and decent country as small on the map of the
world as the Chabad House is on the map of Mumbai.

Two: Statements from Chabad in reaction to the torture-murders of a
28-year-old Chabad rabbi and his wife called on humanity to react to this evil
“with random acts of kindness.” Evil hates goodness. That’s why the terrorists
targeted a Chabad Rabbi and his wife.

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