With most of the Hostages freed this morning at the Taj Hotel and over 100 dead following the terror attacks begun yesterday in Mumbai, Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivki, and six others remain hostages in their community center. Upon opening my e-mail this morning, I was inundated by messages asking me if I was going to address this in Windows and Doors. So I will, even though my response may upset some of those who requested it.
I admit to an initial surge of special interest and concern in this Jewish/Rabbi angle on the story, but actually think that we need to worry more about how this episode will end for all of those affected regardless of their religious or national identity. That may sound obvious, but much of the coverage of this story uses these terrible events to further specific ideological goals in ways that prove otherwise.
English newspapers repeatedly remind readers that the Rabbi is Israeli, as if that fact somehow mitigates the horror of his fate or lends some justification to the terrorists’ actions. Jihad Watch managed to post a headline which “explains” the events as a “natural outgrowth” of the deep hatred that is “intrinsic” to Islam. And multiple Muslim advocacy groups have sent out press releases calling on us to pay less attention to the dead and wounded and focus instead on the “root causes” of global terror in the name of Islam. It’s a real race to the bottom.
Now is not the time to justify, politic, or rationalize anything. Now is the time for all of us watching these events from afar to do three things: pray for the safety of all people still involved in the Mumbai attacks, the full and speedy recovery of the injured and that all those burying their dead, find consolation in the face of their loss.
At the end of day, Rabbi Holtzberg, his attackers, and all the other hostages are somebody’s child. And while there is no moral equivalence between the perpetrators and their victims, remembering that fact may help us all to behave a little better in the face of this tragedy. Who knows, it may even be a part of the solution to keeping them from occurring again.