Monday, December 01, 2008


Christopher Hitchens orates about Mumbai:

Wonderful though some of the 19th-century British architecture can be, Bombay is quintessentially an Indian achievement, and an achievement of all its peoples from the Portuguese-speaking Catholic Goans to the Zoroastrian Parsis. (The Jewish disciples of Rabbi Schneerson may be relatively recent arrivals, but there have been Baghdad Jews in Bombay since records were kept, and Jews in India since before Christ, and not until this week has a Jewish place in India been attacked for its own sake, so to speak.)

As you can see, he includes all the people of India in his sentence, but the Jews of India he mentions in brackets. "Parentheses" tells us wikipedia, "contain material that could be omitted without destroying or altering the meaning of a sentence."

It would appear that for some reason, Hitchens chose to relegate the Jewish victims of the Mumbai massacres to a special bracketed space, as though an inconsequential fact which he is forced to remember but which he still manages to convey in a certain shrug, not of indifference but of irrelevance.

Or, as Abe Greenwald contemplates:

"Yet, the terrorist’s claim of injustice will launch a thousand “thoughtful” articles on the plight of today’s Muslims in India. And when the Jewish death toll is determined, it will constitute a sort of somber personal-interest sidebar."

It emerges from the stream of information we are getting from the media that the Jewish hostages were not so marginal for the terrorists:

The other doctor, who had also conducted the post-mortem of the victims, said: "Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks. It was clear that they were killed on the 26th itself. It was obvious that they were tied up and tortured before they were killed. It was so bad that I do not want to go over the details even in my head again," he said.

Corroborating the doctors' claims about torture was the information that the Intelligence Bureau had about the terror plan. "During his interrogation, Ajmal Kamal said they were specifically asked to target the foreigners, especially the Israelis," an IB source said.

It is also said that the Israeli hostages were killed on the first day as keeping them hostage for too long would have focused too much international attention. "They also might have feared the chances of Israeli security agencies taking over the operations at the Nariman House," he reasoned.

Also, it appears that the number of Israelis massacred, between six and eight, is disproportionally highest among the count of 22 foreigners altogether.

Israeli officials confirmed six Jews were dead but the figure is likely to rise to eight. The total number of foreigners killed in the attacks stands at 22.

I watched yesterday on CNN the two-year old infant Moshe, who lost both his parents to this unfathomably voracious hate and death machine. It was a pretty harrowing experience. A toddler, five days after his mother and father murdered, surrounded by concerned strangers who seem very inept in calming down his still crying nonstop "Ima, dada".


Update: Norm reports of a view from the Holy Land

It's rare to sense anger in Norm Geras's writing. You cannot mistake it here.


UpdateII: Oliver Kamm on the hollowness of the terror explanatists

"...Arundhati Roy, lambasted her own country on The World Tonight on Radio 4, for its rural poverty and its fluctuating support for Hindu nationalism. These, she seemed to suggest, were root causes of the terror."

Ms Roy did not raise, let alone answer, the question posed by David: why kill the rabbi?


At 12:35 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a long held suspicion and dislike of Christopher Hitchens. His technique is to condemn anti-Jewish crimes, but only in the context of injustices done to others. His campaign against the Washington Holocaust museum, carried on the pages of The Nation, was an extreme case of this genre.

At 10:22 AM EST, Blogger Marcia Miner said...

What is placed in parenthesis is incidental and not considered of major importance to the SUBSTANCE of the paragraph; however, Hitchens (who I dislike) includes it as a history that some readers may not know. It is incidental because a reader does not necessarily need to know there have been Baghdad Jews in India for eons.

It is not proof that Hitchens, who is often obnoxious, is relagating Jews to less importance. His first sentence states "Bombay is quintessentially an Indian achievement. . . from the Portuguese speaking Catholic Goans to the Zoroastrian Parsis. The Baghdad Jews and all the others not mentioned fall into that space designated as "to the"

Jews were selected by the terrorists specifically and Hitchens is pointing out that though the rabbi's followers are relatively newcomers, Jews have a long history in India.

I don't think that punctuation is absolute proof Hitchens is relagating Jews to a lesser place.


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