Mumbai: Murdering Jews Was Terrorists’ Ideal
December 12, 2008


The multiple massacres perpetrated in Mumbai by jihadist terrorists that resulted in the killing of at least 188 people, including at least 31 foreign nationals, and the wounding and maiming of 293 more, were significant not only for their absolute horror and barbarity. There was also something else of terrible significance: although the jihadists targeted non-Muslims in general, it is quite clear that they made a special effort to locate, torture and murder Jews simply because they were Jews.


The terrorists deviated from their otherwise consistent pattern of assault on mass-casualty public venues like hotels and railway stations in order to locate a small Jewish institution, a Chabad House, where they tortured and murdered Rabbi Holtzberg, his pregnant wife and other Jews who were there at the time. One of the examining doctors later stated that, “Of all the bodies, the Israeli victims bore the maximum torture marks.”


Terrorists are ultimately responsible for their deeds, but there is also a secondary responsibility for the terrorism committed in Mumbai. It is to be found in the organs of the United Nations, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States and other international bodies that tolerate, promote, disseminate and institutionalize demonization of Jews and Israel.


If multinational (especially Arab and Muslim) organizations devote the lion’s share of their time, personnel, committee work and resolutions to maligning Israel as something worthy of being dismantled, perpetuating and raising the volume of demonization, is it any wonder that Muslim and Arab extremists, raised on ideologies of hate, heed the reinforcement of this message?


Mumbai had nothing to do with global poverty, economic hardship, the absence of a Palestinian state or any of the other reasons that are routinely adduced to explain the barbarism of Islamist jihadists. In any case, to the extent that Palestinians come into the picture at all, it is not the absence a Palestinian state that galvanizes jihadists – it is the presence of a Jewish state, embodying a demonized people.


Under interrogation, the only captured terrorist, Ajmal Kamal, confessed that he and the other Islamist terrorists were specifically ordered to target the Jews they murdered. We also know that Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terror network that dispatched the Mumbai terrorists, has the following view of Islamist priorities: “At this time our contest is Kashmir. Let’s see when the time comes. Our struggle with the Jews is always there.”


Accordingly, the foolish and irresponsible claims made by people like Deepak Chopra on Larry King Live that these acts are the “collateral damage” from the U.S.-led war on Islamism, or by Newsweek‘s Fareed Zakaria that they are due to economic inequalities that Muslims may experience in India, are simply examples of an inexcusable evasion of the poisonous Islamist ideology that the terrorists themselves offer as their motivation.


Equally appalling were the efforts of much of the international media attempted to escape into euphemisms about the Islamist terrorists – like the Al Jazeera, which called them “gunmen,” and CNN and the New York Times, who continue to call them “militants” – as if these terms told us who the perpetrators were or why they acted. These media outlets failed in their duty to properly identify these killers for who they were – jihadist terrorists. Instead, it camouflaged their identities and purposes.


It is also appalling that the New York Times‘ Fernanda Santos sought to erase the anti-Semitic motivation and nature of the attack on Mumbai Chabad House by declaring at one point that Mumbai Chabad House was an “unlikely target” which may have been an “accidental hostage scene.” The same applies to the BBC, which simply called it an “office building.” These were apparent efforts to disguise the Islamist identity of the perpetrators and their anti-Semitic ideology.


There is a terrible history behind this type of evasion. The New York Times, in fact, was one of those organs in the 1930s that systematically ignored the anti-Semitic component of Nazism and did its best to avoid reporting on Nazi anti-Semitic measures and atrocities. The refusal to see anti-Semitism as a key motivating force of movements like Nazism and Islamism is part of the failure of perception that permitted both to grow unchecked. Such failure allows us to mistakenly view them as movements whose energies can be adroitly channeled into seeking reasonable, legitimate goals. Mumbai should be a warning that this is not the case.


Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Dr. Daniel Mandel is the Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.


  • ZOA Director of Government Relations Dan Pollak appeared on Newsmax TV to deliver his exclusive insight regarding Iran, the U.S., Israel, and more.
  • Newsmax TV: ZOA’s Mort Klein Condemns Biden’s Animus Toward Israel as Sinister, Unrelated to Election & More
  • Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
    We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
    We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
    We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.