Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tragedy in Mumbai

I don't have a lot to add to the myriad of comments that have been made on TV, in newspapers, and in the blogosphere, about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Clearly this is just awful, and the perpetrators are immoral nuts.

But I do want to add my two cents to the debate about how much this can be labeled an anti-Semitic event, and how much focus Jews - and non-Jews - should focus on the Jews and Israelis killed. As of this writing it appears that 9 Jews where killed in the attack, all at the Chabad house. Seven of them where Israeli citizens, and several of those held dual Israeli-American citizenship. It appears that about 35 foreigners where killed. The remainder of the 175 killed are either Indian nationals or the terrorists themselves.

So Jews made up about 25% of the foreign nationals killed and about 2% of all the people killed.

Clearly this is not primarily a Jewish tragedy, nor primarily an anti-Semitic event.

But this attack did have an anti-Israeli angle. The terrorists targeted four major groups, all of whom, in their minds, are guilty of crimes against their fellow Muslims, and deserving of revenge: Americans, British, Israelis, and of course Hindus. The fact that non-Israeli Jews where killed is, in the minds of the terrorists, collateral damage - deserved no doubt because they aid and abet the real bad guys. Is this antisemitism? Certainly not in the classical sense. Given the twisted logic that justifies revenge killings of innocent nationals of states you hate, it is no more wrong headed and evil to go after Jews while trying to get Israelis, than being willing to kill other Christians, or even a stray Indian Muslim, in your attempts to get at Americans or British. Some - Americans, Brits, Israelis, Hindus, - are directly guilty. Everyone else is suspect; and expendable in any case.

Still it is natural, though not necessarily good, that people focus on "their own" when reporting on tragedies. The CBC lead with news of Canadians killed and wounded in the attack; CNN with news of Americans. So it should be no surprise that the Israeli and Jewish media have concentrated on the deaths at the Chabad house. But it would do everyone some good to look at the big picture. Firstly this is an Indian tragedy. Second it may be an ominous sign that big bang Islamicist terror is poise to make a come back after a period of quiescence. They are seeking revenge for a myriad of sins, real and imagined: Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Western Movies, Commercialism, the growing income gap in the Muslim world, Secularism, ...

The whole thing is disgusting and evil, so its hard to make fine distinctions. But people in general, and Jews in particular, should keep the big picture in mind. In the end these people cannot be defeated directly. You can keep them off-balance by aggressive military moves combined with good intelligence. You can protect yourself - a bit - by massive domestic vigilance. But ultimately you can only defeat them by starving them of fuel - removing the legitimate grievances and improving the conditions of the Muslim masses, among whom they recruit and find support. This will take a long time.


Anonymous Shmuel said...

Hi Syd.
I would like to add one thing to your good analysis of the terrible events in Mumbai, and that is the aspect of drawing international attention to what still appears to be a very Indian problem. Jihadi rhetoric aside, and considering another kind of anti-Semitism, if you wanted to get your message accross to the world, you would want to target those who "control" western media and public opinion, i.e. Americans, Brits and Jews. Unfortunately many non-Israeli or Jewish sources have also picked up on the Jewish-Israeli focus of the attacks (I'm thinking specifically of the two largest Italian dailies), which undoubtedly serves the Indian government's purposes of internationalising and "Al-Qaeda-ising" the conflict. The statements attributed to the captured terrorist are of course selected and released by the Indian authorities.

6:58 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statements attributed to the captured terrorist are of course selected and released and extracted by special means from him by the Indian authorities.

8:24 pm  

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