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Friday, November 28, 2008

What they don't consider odd is worrisome

There was a terrible joke that made the rounds back when East and West Germany finally reunited.  It went something like this:

Speaker:  Hey, I just heard that the first act of the re-unified German Parliament was to declare their intention to kill all Germany's remaining Jews... and two postmen.

Listening:  [after a long pause] Um, I don't understand... why two postmen?

Speaker:  What, wiping out Germany's remaining Jews doesn't strike you as odd,... but the death of two postmen does???!

The dark humor that made nearly everyone who heard the first line of the joke helpless to avoid responding with the second, was that the idea of killing Jews was neither new nor novel... but the seemingly random addition of the two postmen was.

Early in the reporting from India it became clear that the attacks were centered on tourist centers, with two luxury hotels and Mumbai's largest train terminal bearing the brunt of the attacks. And most of the reports seemed to fixate on the disturbing fact that Americans and Britons seem to have been singled out by the terrorists.

Yet, seemingly unremarkable to the media, also among the targets singled out for attack was a house in a mixed residential/commercial area that is well off the beaten track.  From the outside it is rather non-descript, and in fact if you didn't have good directions, you would never know it for what it is; the home of one of Mumbai's few orthodox Jewish families (I know, having eaten there several times last week). 

Yes, of course they reported it... but the attack on Nariman house/Beit Chabad didn't strike them as odd... or at least no more odd than the rest of the coordinated attacks.

Here's why it should have.:

Mumbai is a city of over 18 million people, yet there are only about five thousand Jews living there.  And of those, only a few dozen are identifiably Jewish outside of the synagogue.

Heck, the entire country of India - with a staggering population of over 1.1 billion people - has only about 15 thousand Jews!  I'm not so good at math, but I think that if you try to express the Jewish population as a percentage of the overall Indian population, you're going to end up with a lot of zeros to the right of the decimal point.

So isn't it weird that nobody seems to be talking about how statistically odd it is that this Muslim terror group sought out and attacked an unremarkable home containing one of India's only identifiably orthodox Jewish families.

Apparently the breaking news from Mumbai has demonstrated anew that targeting Jews is not unusual... even when just finding Jews in India to attack is harder than finding Samoans in Iceland. 

So why is that unremarkable?  And more importantly, why does the rest of the world continue to push us to understand and excuse murderous Muslim aggression against us... even when they hound us to the end of the earth?  Yet we're the racists. 

The answer is that attacking us - even in a country where just finding us is like finding a needle in a haystack - is considered completely unremarkable... just part of the natural order. 

Yes, the press dutifully reported that Jews were singled out for attack.  But they didn't seem to find it particularly odd.   In this scenario the Jews are the afterthought's afterthought that should have begged the question, "Why them?".  But Jews are apparently supposed to die... not postmen. 

Posted by David Bogner on November 28, 2008 | Permalink


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I found this report from Arutz-7 heart breaking. According to ZAKA emergency service, the body of the Rabbi's wife Rivka was found covered with a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl), which her husband had managed to cover her with. Presumably Rabbi Holzberg k... [Read More]

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Blogs to read while watching the crocodiles eat.* 1) As a root cause, "institutional discrimination", doesn't hold much water. Especially, when it was clear that the terrorists sought out the Chabad house. Two and an orphan. 2) We're all Chabadniks now... [Read More]

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I was thinking a little bit like this when I noticed that mention of the Chabad center was deep down in some of the news reports (some didn't even mention it, but those were in the early newspaper this morning, so maybe they didn't get that part of the story yet). It was troubling me, but I couldn't put my finger on exactly what it was that bothered me. You nailed it exactly, thank you. I'll continue saying Tehellim for the Holtzbergs and all the others.

Posted by: JDMDad | Nov 28, 2008 12:40:55 AM

Well, look on the bright side: No one considers you paranoid when you say, "The world is out to get me."

That's powerfully written and very convicting of the world's tolerance of antisemitism.

Posted by: Bob | Nov 28, 2008 2:51:46 AM

Thank you for posting this. I had no idea. I wish I knew how to link to other websites. Please get the word out.

Posted by: Joyce | Nov 28, 2008 2:59:21 AM


The NY Times article about the Chabad house did seem to imply that this was an unusual target, not fitting with the other types of establishments targeted.

Posted by: beverly | Nov 28, 2008 3:40:26 AM

When Jews, whom one would think would be predisposed toward treating other Jews well; when these Jews can take homes and land away from other Jews in a country largely considered Jewish, how on earth could it possibly be considered odd that Jews would be mistreated by non-Jews anywhere - let alone by those who are commanded by their religious texts to search out and to kill Jews pretty much anywhere. Doesn't strike me as odd at all. Maybe a little before - not now.

Posted by: Kae Gregory | Nov 28, 2008 6:09:42 AM

Jew-hatred is both a contagious, sometimes inherited, psychosis. No country or religion is immune. Rational motivation is not part of the equation.

And yes, there is the "soft racism" of lowered expectations toward the morals of non Jews. Why do they murder Jews in Buenos Aires, Rome, Mumbai and Kenya? Um, not sure -- but they can't be held responsible for their actions. It's just . . . what they do.

Genocide in Sudan and Rwanda? Well, that's just what they do. Israel is just a lot more interesting, isn't it?

Why did Saddam Hussein lob missiles at Israel in 1991 when the US pushed him out of Kuwait? Again, not sure - but the Jews probably deserved it, and it was as good a time as any, right?

Don't overthink this one. It's a law of nature. Just like God created genetic mutations, he also created the mutation of Jew hatred. Doesn't mean we have to like it or tolerate, but understand it for what it is -- a freak of "nature."

Posted by: Ari | Nov 28, 2008 8:04:26 AM

Radioman Dennis Prager was just talking last week about how he looked forward to visiting a Chabad center in Africa ... so when I heard that as a target, it struck me as significant...

I wouldn't be surprised, in this day and age, if we discovered later on that the whole series of attacks was actually centered around the Chabad house, that it was not incidental, but essential, with the hotel attacks being diversionary.

I wouldn't be surprised at all.

Posted by: Wry Mouth | Nov 28, 2008 8:12:00 AM

I remember that joke very well. Our version, which I think had a crisper punch line, went like this::

Speaker: Now that Germany is reunited they're going to have a Fourth Reich and this time they're going to kill twelve million Jews and six firemen.

Interlocutor: Why six firemen?

Speaker: You see, nobody cares about the Jews.

La plus ca change, la plus c'est la meme chose.

Posted by: roimort | Nov 28, 2008 9:48:44 AM

This is so very wrong. Part of my hope for the blogosphere is that somehow, some way we manage to influence people and affect a change in heart. A little bit a time.

Anyhoo, there will be more blood. This is going to get uglier again.

Posted by: Jack | Nov 28, 2008 6:48:13 PM

:-/ Ahdunno, maybe it's just acceptance of facts? Muslims have been hating Jews for centuries, so it's no big news. But their hatred for just about everyone else as well is somewhat newer.

Posted by: Howl | Nov 28, 2008 6:50:13 PM

News here were so nice to start stressing the deliberate targeting of Jews only this afternoon, and only on a sidenote of "The center next to the hotel has now been released as well."
Of course, each country's news love to stress the well-being or not-so-well-being of their own countrymen first (as this is what makes news stories and has always been), and in this case here it was Germans and some of our politicians, then Lufthansa crew, then others and "reportedly some Israelis".
But the entire silencing of an otherwise saddening fact was too much to call it an inconvenient circumstance.
Of course, now that the latest news broke, news channels will certainly have their say. But shame on them.

Posted by: a. | Nov 28, 2008 8:34:38 PM

Can you believe this guy. Typical liberal Rabbi.


Posted by: sean | Nov 29, 2008 12:08:13 AM

On CNN this morning the news reader asked the Mumbai correspondent, "Is there any evidence that they targeted the Jewish center because the rabbi is American?"

The correspondent replied, "Well, we really don't know."

Where do they get these people?

Posted by: Lisa | Nov 29, 2008 12:16:20 AM

Mumbai is an enormous city, and Bet Habad, in common with other Batei Habad around the world, does not exactly advertise itself with neon flashing lights. This was a deliberate attack, in amongst the other attacks in Mumbai, on our people, all of our people, and is neo-Nazi in purpose, intent and delivery.

Posted by: Shimshon | Nov 29, 2008 1:37:04 PM

Thanks for writing this.

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Nov 29, 2008 10:53:33 PM

I have spent the last few days checking the JPost and Haaretz websites obsessively...but not blogs. It did not occur to me that you know people in Mumbai--that you lost friends. I am so sorry.

Posted by: Gila | Nov 29, 2008 11:13:17 PM

David, my condolences. I am so sorry.

Posted by: Rahel | Nov 29, 2008 11:51:51 PM

Umm..hello? They dress different, speak different, socialize amongst themselves, eat a different diet. They stick out like a sore thumb. So many people blame anything that goes wrong on the jews. How is this odd? Happens everytime the economy hits the dumps. Predictable.
What is odd is that the author has not figured that out yet. That the hatred is always there and never floats away like magic. It only simmers underneath the surface.
And I find it odd that the author does not understand that the poor attack the rich because they don't know what else to do when they are desperate. Blame it on someone and survive at any cost. Brute force. They see the rich as having taken from them for so long, they figure, hey time to take back.
Good grief.

Posted by: Rachel Johnson | May 14, 2010 8:52:00 AM

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