Chesler Chronicles

The Thanksgiving Day Massacre in Mumbai

The Islamic terrorists in Mumbai targeted Westerners and wealthy Indians. They chose huge, 4000 room hotels and other large, highly symbolic targets such as cafes and the old Victoria railway station. But they also carefully chose a very tiny building, Nariman House, also a highly symbolic location. Chabad is a worldwide movement of Hasidic Jews who do not proselytize, who are not violent, who live to help others and who have “shluchim,” or messengers-in-service on every continent.

On late Wednesday afternoon, when I was asked to write about the Mumbai massacre and I learned that Chabad House had been seized–I knew, I knew, that the fate of the Jews in Nariman House had been sealed. Of course, I dared not write this. But really, did anyone doubt for a moment that, in addition to Americans, Europeans, and wealthy Indians (both Hindu and Muslim), that these barbarians would kill all the known and unarmed Jews they could find?

May the families of those who have been murdered in Mumbai be comforted. May Brooklyn-born Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Israeli-born Rivka Holtzberg rest in peace. May their families be comforted. May their rescued 2 year-old son, Moishe, bless and elevate them in the Afterlife. May the families of the other dead hostages in Chabad House also be comforted.

Have the Princes of Saudi Arabia, the mullahs of Iran, the imams of Cairo, Baghdad, and London, the various Palestinian factions condemned the carnage? Did I miss it? Have moderate Muslims and prominent anti-racists and anti-colonialists condemned the carnage as a racist, colonialist act? (I know, I know, if people of color are doing the shooting, the deaths of brown-skinned people do not seem to matter to them quite as much).

As I previously wrote, Islamic fundamentalists have declared a major, global war against the West and against non-Wahabi Muslims. To date, the world has refused to treat the Islamic/Islamist assault as the full-fledged religious war that it really is. No, it is not a traditional war which means that we will require non-traditional, as well as traditional means to fight it.

Today, David Altman, writing in the Jerusalem Post agrees. He believes that “while Mumbai, India does not constitute the ultimate battlefield…it will nevertheless serve as a conceptual case for future activities.”

“Without question, the approach towards fighting terrorism must undergo major rethinking. Times have changed since the main focus was the suicide bombers operating independently or in small groups, whose purpose was to injure the enemy and to draw attention to their cause.

Today, a new, different terror army, with several branches is being developed. This army includes all the elements of a military, but exploits the approach of the terrorist. The terror army enjoys the advantages of feeling exempt from any international law or convention, and of being exempt from international pressure or accountability. In addition, they handicap the power of their opponent through exploitation of the claims of internationally accepted values of human rights, correct treatment of prisoners of war, and prevention of harm to civilian populations – though none of these values apply to them, but only to their opponent.”

I have a long-time friend and colleague who left America to run an orphanage for girls in India, in Kolkata. (Like Mumbai, which used to be called Bombay, Calcutta has now become Kolkata.) She is a physician and her name is Michelle Harrison. Here is what she just wrote me.

“It’s a metastatic cancer that needs surgery and chemo, but the world still thinks some meditation and deep breathing will make it go away.”

Palestinian and other Islamist terrorists have often chosen Jewish holidays to either launch a war or a homicide bombing against Israel. These massacrists struck Mumbai on the eve of Thanksgiving Day, a venerable American holiday. I do not think this fact should be overlooked.