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November 28, 2008

Black November


Munich, Sept. 5, 1972

mumbai nariman.jpg

Mumbai. Nov 27, 2008

If it’s looking increasingly like one more brutal attack in the long-running conflict between India and Pakistan, with Kashmir in the middle, tell that to the Israelis.

Terrorism is as much a visual act as it is a physical one, the resulting images having the power to dramatically undermine and wreak havoc with national dignity. If the Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Toiba (or its variant) largely intended to strike a blow against India, the targeting of American and British citizens, and particularly, the Jewish Chabad House, was an effective move. Besides drawing world-wide attention to its own cause, it serves al-Qaeda in highlighting American involvement in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and exploits the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well.

Let’s hope that the attackers in India can be subdued and the situation can be contained without greater mayhem or a more extended international reaction. I say that, of course, in spite of the visual analogies.

Indian Commandos Storm Jewish Center. (NYT)

(image 1: unattributed/Munich Olympic massacre. image 2: Gurinder Osan/Associated Press)

  • Karen

    Extremely striking visual comparison…even though the style of how the authorities are dealing with it is so incredibly different. Particularly in how the Indian authorities/media keep giving the impression that it is almost over when, in reality, it won’t go away. It’s also bizarre that the authorities don’t seem to be as inclined to separate the crowds from the various venues. Seems to me the US or European authorities would have isolated all the attack locations days ago.

  • richard dent

    The photo comparison is interesting, but not necessarily meaningful. It isn’t clear to me what an attack on the Chabad House (as distinct from something Israeli) has to do with the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Maybe I’ve missed the “explanation” from the terrorists. My first impression of this was that they threw in Chabad to give something for the antisemites to chew on.

  • wagonjak

    I suspect Israeli Mossad and other security forces are already digging into the possibility of Pakistani Intelligence connections to these raids.
    If a direct link can be unearthed there is no doubt in my mind that there will be some kind of retaliation for the torturing and deaths of the Israeli Rabbi and his family.
    I’m also sure the Israelis could have handled this whole horrifying mess much better then Indian police and military forces, who seem to have badly botched their operations in various locations.
    And I can’t believe after at least 5 reports that the Taj hotel was secured, that there still seems to be at least one terrorist there who has not been put out of action! What the hell is going on there?

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  •[email protected]/ DennisQ

    The attack on symbols of western opulence should be taken at face value. Those people want a restoration of the values they grew up with, not the ones brought in by foreigners. Islam may have nothing at all to do with it – their motivation is simply nationalism.
    We lost the Vietnam war because we failed to understand how effectively the Viet Cong reached out to the common people. The words “Viet Nam” translate as something like Where we live. Our helicopters and odd behavior were as foreign to the Vietnamese as their country ways were foreign to us. We were never welcome there.
    Suppose Islam is just a sort of cover story – an available rationale for political behavior that would otherwise be unpalatable. We have our own counterpart in the fiction that we are improving the lives of the people we kill and conquer. We’re bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. Thanks to us, they’ll now have freedom.

  • Johanna

    These hotels, particularly the Taj, are old Indian landmarks. They are not the Radisson, or some new high tech import. How do you know their motivation is nationalism? There’s zero evidence for that, or for the proposition that they have “reached out” to the people. What, do you think they previously set up clinics for the poor? But what you write is the beginning of the justification of these murders. Your path will be made more difficult by the lack of support the killers are getting from the Indian public. The REAL foreign domination here will be the attempt on the part of westerners to impose the Viet Nam model on this event, and on the suffering of the Indians and others. But hey, knock yourself out trying.

  •[email protected]/ DennisQ

    No one can know for certain what these people’s actual motivation is, but the standard explanation of crazy Muslims acting up has about run its course. Regardless of whose side you’re on, the other side is always made up of crazies. Before there were crazy Muslims there were fanatical Communists … etc. Instead of imputing craziness to agents of political violence, why not assume that behavioral effects come about because of behavioral motives? When a violent political group goes into a hotel full of foreigners and chases them away with gunfire, it isn’t necessary to call them crazy deranged murderers. They are simply violent agents of political change. Governments frequently act that way, too.
    What is “the Vietnam model” except to send guys in with guns and kill people? The Vietnam model is also the Iraq model and the Afghanistan model. When did “support from the public” enter into it? And while we’re trying to ascertain motivation, let’s not use loaded terminolgy like “terrorists” and “murderers.” The new face of political violence is that agents of violence don’t need government sponsorship. Do you think it bothers Hezbollah that the Lebanese government disapproves of them?
    I’m beginning to suspect that your real objection to freelance political violence is that it’s immoral. It’s very late for that, don’t you think?

  • Jemand von Niemand

    Actually, the Mumbai photo — and it’s probably the rectangular shapes of the building — reminds me of the photo of Americans evacuating the U.S. Embassy in Saigon in 1974.

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