December 1: Mumbai...

Demonic and implacable Islamist terrorism is motivated by a culture of death which, if not eliminated, will go on to threaten all of civilization.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Mumbai... Sir, - With our hearts shattered by the shock of the Islamist terrorist atrocities in Mumbai, I was profoundly dismayed to read "Israeli officials say India mishandled hostage situation" (November 28). Instead of such gratuitous criticism, the Israeli response should be a sharing of the pain and outrage at this horrible and senseless slaughter. The world, and Israel in particular, must absorb this clear lesson: Demonic and implacable Islamist terrorism is motivated by a culture of death which, if not eliminated, will go on to threaten all of civilization. ZEV CHAMUDOT Petah Tikva ...and Sderot Sir, - Those who criticize the anti-terror operation in Mumbai should be careful; Israeli policies contain much to criticize as well. The fallacious policy of opening and closing the Gaza border crossings depending on whether or not there has been a Kassam attack has brought us to the point where Israel permits its soldiers to be grievously wounded because it refuses to act in a responsible manner ("Soldier loses leg in mortar attack on western Negev base," November 30). Then we had the spectacle of a mass march by Israeli Arab citizens of Nazareth demonstrating against the Gaza blockade - all because Israel has allowed the Kassam rockets to fall with impunity in Sderot, Ashkelon and elsewhere. Mumbai is just another horrible example of what happens when terrorists decide to wreak havoc on all normal civilized peoples. Mumbai and Sderot are inextricably linked. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem Hardest nut of all Sir, - My first thought after absorbing the blow of 9/11 emotionally was that its source is an almost infinite, burning hatred. I believe this is also what fuels the Kassam rockets that are fired indiscriminately into Israeli territory. They can't serve any political aim because the terrorists have no strategy other than to express their bottomless hatred. This is what happened in Mumbai, too: mindless hatred expressed by indiscriminate killing - except in the case of Chabad House, which the terrorists obviously singled out for its Jewish character and personnel. It's a bad scene, and sadly we'll be living with it for a long, long time. Combating the hatred behind Islamist terror will be the hardest nut to crack for the rest of the century. For Jews in particular, the problem will remain actual and acute - in Sderot, for example, where the reluctance to fight back only increases the terrorists' nerve, and their mode of self-expression ("Lives of noble purpose cut short in a war the free world must not lose," David Horovitz, November 30). YONATAN SILVERMAN Beit Shemesh Sir, - So long as the free and democratic countries do not pool their intelligence and strength they will keep on getting hit, individually. They must unite and strike the terrorist network worldwide in a total sweep. All know the source and the fountainhead. Squash it. Stop exporting the latest technology, and take care that it is not stolen. VIJAY DIXIT Mumbai From Hindu to Jew Sir, - More than 200 innocent people died and several hundred were injured in the jihadi attack on Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Oberoi Trident Hotel and Nariman House. Some of India's best security officers lost their lives: Commando Ganjendrs Singh died trying to rescue the hostages in the Nariman [Chabad] House, which contained a Jewish prayer house and served as a way stationfor Jews. Jews have been living peacefully in India for 2,000 years. This is the first time that violence has been unleashed on the peaceful Jewish community in Mumbai. A rabbi and his wife were targeted and killed and their two-year-old son has been orphaned. Heart-breaking, indeed. We Hindus regret this tragedy very deeply. It is a blot on Indian soil, which we consider sacred, and a blot on the record of peaceful coexistence between Hindu and Jew. Please convey, through your newspaper, our deepest condolences to the families of the Jewish people who lost their lives, and to the Jewish communities all over the world ("Terrorists who bound and killed at least six at Chabad House 'deliberately targeted' Jewish building," November 30). G.P. SRINIVASAN, Correspondent P. DEIVAMUTHU, Editor Hindu Voice Mumbai Israeli courage Sir, - As one of the survivors of last week's terrorist attacks, I would like to share that I was dining at the Taj where there was a group of Israeli people dining too. When the gunfire started they showed remarkable courage and patience. So I salute the people of Israel. As Indians, we have very much in common with you when dealing with this menace. I hope both India and Israel will succeed in defeating Islamist terrorism. ANSH SEXENA Mumbai Creating a chance for something new Sir, - Isi Liebler errs in claiming that the AJC was not invited to Saudi King Abdullah's events at the UN in support of his interfaith initiative ("'Islamophobia,'" November 27). Even though I am based in Israel, I was invited as the AJC's director of interreligious affairs, both to the king's interfaith event in Madrid earlier this year, and to the UN events. Furthermore, notwithstanding suggestions to the contrary, it was the clearly expressed desire of King Abdullah and his colleagues that President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni be in attendance at the UN on that occasion. Of course, Mr. Liebler is closer to the mark on the broader question. Firm and principled stands are required where human freedoms are not fully respected, and Saudi Arabia has a long way to go on this front, as King Abdullah himself has acknowledged. At the same time, when a Saudi leader breaks out of the mold and potentially begins to move forward, it seems wise to us - as it evidently does to the Israeli government - to encourage such steps, and not reflexively denounce them. The progress and pace may not be as quick as we all might like, but to throw cold water on the king's initiative from the outset would not even allow us to determine if the effort has the potential to generate something new and promising, let alone to promote such. This does not amount to compromising moral principles. On the contrary, it creates the chance to see if we can effectively advance them. The Talmud recommends that when there is doubt over whether an action may lead to a sanctification of the Divine Name or to a desecration of it, one should take the risk as the potential blessing of the former is greater than the potential damage of the latter. Such wise advice should guide our actions here, as elsewhere. RABBI DAVID ROSEN Director of Interreligious Affairs American Jewish Committee Jerusalem JFK's life & death Sir, - I very much enjoyed David Bedein's article on John F. Kennedy. It was well written and informative ("Covering JFK's funeral," November 25). AVRAHAM SCHRIGER Efrat