Sunday, November 30, 2008

Indian Jews are scared for first time in 2,500 years

The death toll from the shocking events in Mumbai stands at 174 people. Until 20 years ago, cosmopolitan Mumbai (Bombay) was a shining example of Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Parsees living side by side. Hindus and Muslims even prayed together at Sufi shrines. But the Bombay killings can only exacerbate sectarian tensions. As for the Jews, a 2,500 year-old sense of security and confidence seems to have been shattered overnight.

Now it is clear that Islamist terrorists went out of their way to target foreign businessmen and tourists - British and Americans - and Jews, six of whom were murdered in cold blood, some after being tortured. For contrary to media reports that the terrorists showed a "wanton disregard for race or creed", in the words of Charles Moore, "they deliberately attacked people and places where such disregard for creed and race is, in a friendly sense, a way of life".

The city owes its best-known landmarks to Jewish philanthropists, most notably the Sassoon family who arrived from Iraq in the 19th century. Four schools, two synagogues, a magnificent library and a dockyard all bear the Sassoon name. A lesser known fact is that Sir Jacob Sassoon was the largest individual donor to the famous Gateway Of India, just a few steps away from the Taj Mahal hotel.

India prides itself on the tolerance it has shown towards its 2,500 year old Jewish community. If the numbers of Jews have dwindled in the last sixty years to some 5,000, it is not because of antisemitism, but because many of India's Bene Israel Jews have sought a better life in the Jewish state, where 60,000 emigrated.

But with jihadists shamelessly murdering Jews just for being Jews on Wednesday night, all this has changed.

As Naresh Fernandes writes in The New Republic:

"When I spoke to (Indian Jew) Robin David on the phone on Friday, he was still trying to make sense of it all. "The Indian Jewish identity is the only one that hasn't been created by persecution," he said. "We've never felt scared. This is the first time we've been made to feel like Jews."

"That, to me, has been among the most tragic casualties of this terrorist attack. In a barrage of grenades and bullets, a part of the Indian dream that's 2,500 years old has now been buried in a pile of bloody concrete shards."


Ein Fuhrer said...

we are very sorry that we couldn't saved the lives of many jews. Its actually our incompetent government who is responsible for these all. Jewish people had the lion's share in making Mumbai a cosmo political city. Sassoons are the good example of this. The terrorism in Israel has been propagated by the Arab (islamic) fanaticals and terrorism in india has been propagated by Pakistani (islamic) fanaticals.
Its a cruicial time for both Israel and India. Hindu community often expresses gratitude towards Israel for helping Indian govt. in the fight against pakistani terror, for giving us better and advanced weapons.
I think, not only jewish suffered by this attack but also we hindus suffered a lot.
I'm the one who always supports Israel's action against terrorism and hoping that India would do the same.
Please don't feel that Jews are insecure in India. Hindus and Jews togather can defeat terrorism in this world.

bataween said...

Dear Caustubh Potdar
Your sympathies arer appreciated and our hearts go out to all the innocent citizens of Mumbai who suffered as a result of this barbaric attack. I hope it has made people more determined than ever to fight our common enemy, global terrorism.