Welcome to My Nightmare

I have never been to Mumbai. I don’t know the landmarks of the city, the sights to see or the places that make the city unique. I had no interest in visiting Mumbai and while there is a Jewish community in India that is ancient and interesting, I never put India on my list of places I would like to visit. Acts of terror do not make me want to travel there nor does it discourage my visiting. I have never varied my travel plans based on a terrorist attack. I don’t believe that a small band of crazy people should prevent me from altering my plans. There have been terror attacks in Israel and England and I have traveled to both places. I now live in a city that was the site of a horrendous terror attack. To be honest, I fear more the random criminal acts that come with living in a large city than a planned terror attack.
All of this does not change my feelings for the people of Mumbai and my heart extends to all those from all over the world who have lost their loved ones in this terrible act of murder. Muslims and Hindus have attacked each other in India before but every citizen of that country understands that this time was different, so different that the Muslim community in India, the second largest Muslim community in the world, has indicated that they will not provide religious burial space for the terrorists who were killed by Indian security forces. The community has said that Islam is a religion of peace, and these killers violated that religious tenet so dramatically, that they do not deserve sacred burial space.
The Jewish Community was one of the targets of the attack. Five Jews were killed in the invasion of the Chabad House. They were not hostages. They were murdered as the terrorists entered the door. Only the quick thinking and bravery of a nanny saved the infant son of the Rabbi from certain death. Even children were not exempt from the killing.
Habad is not part of the old Jewish community of India. They are relatively newcomers to the small Jewish Community. They serve mostly the needs of visitors to Mumbai offering Jews a place to daven, kosher meals and some Jewish services. Over the years I have had my differences with Chabad, but those differences were not ones deserving death. That Jews were singled out and were killed is a great tragedy. And it is a tragedy that will now take its place in the long sordid list of all those who died because they were Jews. In the early hours of the attack, it was thought that the terrorists were targeting British, American and Jewish residents. It turns out that they killed everyone who crossed their path. But the Jews were targeted. They did not just find Jews in the street, they went looking for the Chabad house to kill the Jews who were inside.
Why does it always have to be open season on Jews? What is it that Jews do that is so radically different from the rest of society that our people have been sorted out for special killing? There is no logical or theological reason for such killing. It seems to be a baseline when it comes to bigotry. Kill the Jews and see if anyone notices or cares. Our people seem to be the canary in the coal mine, for if someone can get away with killing Jews, they will move on to killing other “undesirable” people. It is a situation that makes us Jews paranoid that any little thing that a Jew does wrong will ignite a pogrom, senseless killings and murder of women and children.
As a people, we are not so different from everyone else in society. We have our sinners and saints. We have geniuses and drunks. We have Nobel Prize winners and gangsters. We have our religious Jews and atheists. We are no different than any other people, only that we have a unique system of law and morality that at times sets us apart from those who have neither. Is it our Torah, our Laws or our morality that makes us so often the target of hatred and violence? Is it some curse that we live with? I don’t buy any of that. For too long people in Europe and around the world thought that Jews were vulnerable and unprotected. We could be killed without consequences. Today we are defended by the civilized world and by our own state of Israel. How long will it take before the hatred and bigotry will disappear?
What remains dangerous is the possibility that we might become as angry and bigoted as those who seek our harm. That would be a terrible mistake. We have an obligation to defend ourselves against Muslim extremism and fundamentalism. We need to address directly the implications of Wahhabism, the strict form of Sunni Islam taught in Saudi Arabia and the extreme form or Shia Islam that is being exported by Iran. But Islam is much bigger than these denominations and the largest Islamic nations are not in the Middle East but in Asia. We need to reach out to those who do not support extremism and discover the theology that both our faiths share.
Our world is far from perfect. There remains in this world too much hunger and poverty. There are too many people that are left behind when economies boom; and too much greed and corruption that keep those out of power, out of power. I do not blame those left behind for rising up in anger and seeking to change the odds that seem to be stacked against them. India and Pakistan are slowly moving to resolve the differences between them both in the political realm and in the religious realm. But those who would kill innocent men women and children must not have their concerns addressed until they are ready to give up their arms. Terror must not be rewarded in any way or form. And we who are not terrorists need to work harder at changing the conditions and policies that breed terror.
This is the only true path to peace.

2 thoughts on “Welcome to My Nightmare

  1. Jews weren’t singled out- not any more than the Americans or British. Out of the over 180 people who were killed, only 5 were Jewish. Out of the 10 places that were targeted, only 1 was Jewish.While there might be a time and a place for worry about the world’s attitude towards the Jews, I don’t think that this was a manifestation of that. This was bigger than that, and is a symptom of a much larger problem. To say otherwise, I think, is to miss the point.

  2. I disagree. There were ten places that were targeted, all were secular places except Chabad. There were not churches or Hindu temples singled out in spite of long hatred of both religions. Mumbai is a big city with lots of targets. Chabad was singled out as a Jewish site to attack. We can only mourn our dead and be thankfull that more did not die. There were many other places they could have attacked and killed more people, but they chose a small Jewish site simply because they wanted to kill Jews.I am pained by all the nearly 180 people who died in this act of sensless terror. As usual in these cases, the brunt of the attack killed, not tourists, but local people who were going about their daily work, trying to provide a living for their families. But I know that these terrorists were looking for Jews to kill.

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