The many victims of terrorism
The deaths of two Chabad emissaries in Mumbai, India, during last week’s terrorist attacks, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and Rivkah Holtzberg, 28, were tragedies, but they weren’t the only tragedies.
Two American Jews were killed in the same attacks — Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter, Naomi Scherr, 13, both of Baltimore. They were at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai when the killers struck.
Three other Israelis — Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, 38; Bentzion Chroman, 28; and Yocheved Orpaz, 60 — were also killed at the Chabad House, as was one Mexican Jew, Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich, 50.
In all, 174 people were killed last week by the 10 terrorists who came ashore at Mumbai and took over high-profile targets around the city, and nearly 300 were injured. Most of those victims were not Jewish at all.
We don’t say this to diminish the very real grief Jews around the world — members of Chabad in particular — are feeling about the events of the past week. Our pain is palpable.
But lost in the grief is a very real lesson this country learned in 1998 when the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, were firebombed. In Nairobi, approximately 212 people were killed, and an estimated 4,000 people were injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85. Although the attacks were directed at American targets, the vast majority of the casualties were local citizens, and only 12 Americans were killed.
Yet the American media focused its coverage on those 12 Americans who died, paying scant attention to the far greater loss of life among the Africans. It proved to be a public relations nightmare for the United States and probably contributed to the anti-American sentiment that grew up around the world following 9/11 (though let’s also give the policies of the Bush administration their due).
This week in Pittsburgh, memorial services were held for the Holtzbergs; their 2-year-son, who was made an orphan in the attacks, is in our thoughts and prayers.
Yet, as we mourn, let’s also remember the many other victims, Jew and non-Jew alike, who are suffering. In the war on terror, we’re all in this together.