The Mumbai bloodbath is not only a case of mass-terror indiscriminately targeting civilians, but of something else: the special dedication of jihadists to murdering Jews. Slaughtering civilians gleefully and indiscriminately, the jihadists nonetheless also went out of their way to locate, torture and slay Jews.
Why was Mumbai Chabad House targeted? Is there a clear understanding in the media and in the international community about how anti-Semitism played a key role? It appears not.
Let's first take a look at the ignorance at large about anti-Semitism:
Consider the draft, 'European Framework Convention on Promoting Tolerance and Combating Intolerance,' being discussed at the European Parliament in Brussels. The drafters are "profoundly convinced that combating anti-Semitism … is an integral and intrinsic component of the fight against racism" [emphasis added].
Or consider journalist David Byers who, surveying last year the surge of neo-Nazis in Germany, concluded that "Support for the far right is highest in areas of enormous deprivation [emphasis added]… [which] explains the rise of extremism."
There are several objections to these formulations, not least the facts that Jews are neither a race nor substantial participants in German economic ownership.
The economic explanation fails because, as Maurice Samuel put it in his neglected study, The Great Hatred (1940), " 'A man has hallucinations when he's hungry,' is a self-sufficient explanation. 'A man has hallucinations only about Jews when he's hungry' is not."
The racial explanation also fails even in attenuated form as simply another variety of ethnic or group hatred, because anti-Semitism operates even without the usual stimulants for group hatred – economic envy, ethnic animosity or competition for territory or resources.
Consider: why can a country virtually without Jews – Japan – be the setting for best-selling anti-Semitic tracts? Why should the Simon Wiesenthal Center have found last year in Kaliningrad, where Russians themselves suffered calamities from Nazi aggression, that "in land liberated by the Red Army from the scourge of Fascism, Nazi-period German visitors are met – in Russian – with the hate propaganda of the Fuhrer!"?
Why would a former Turkish Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, who battled in office a Kurdish separatist movement that claimed tens of thousands of Turkish lives, assert that "the Jews decided to change the [Christian] religion, and founded Protestantism … China's and India's industrial development is being carried out with Jewish capital. Japan's too. They control them too … These Jews started 19 Crusades. The 19th was World War ."
Why, in the first half of last century, did South Africa's Boers, in the midst of a struggle against British influence and the black majority, fixate on Jews, who had almost no hand in the country's dominant diamond and gold industries? For that matter, why did Nazi Germany, fighting and losing a life and death struggle on two fronts, continue to devote vital, scarce resources and manpower to murdering Jews by the hundreds of thousands until the bitter end?
Because destroying Jews is the strategy of assault on the Judeo-Christian legacy, with its framework of human dignity, sanctity, moral prohibitions and rule of law, adopted by individuals and groups hoping to supplant it, like the Mumbai jihadists.
That is why anti-Semitism appears in countries without Jews, attributes supernatural powers to them, has been prominent across time and space in diverse ideologies and preoccupied groups with real objectives and grievances unconnected to Jews.
If such are the ends, why pick on Jews rather than on Christians? Because the rootedness of Christian institutions mean that Christianity is better subverted than eradicated. Such was the Nazi policy: it took the indirect attack of seeking to Aryanize Jesus and his teachings. In 1939, Hitler even commissioned a rewriting of the Bible, replacing the ten commandments with a Nazi twelve that substituted injunctions like honoring the Fuhrer and keeping the blood pure in place of prohibitions on murder and theft.
In short, anti-Semitism is the indispensible strategy of utopian and totalitarian ideologies. The attack on Jews is made possible by investing them with stupendous and demonically destructive powers that are not the stuff of ordinary racism or bigotry. That should have served as the clue to anti-Semitism's special character. Why doesn't it?
Because even Christian religious thinkers who oppose anti-Semitism within their churches generally fail to confront the camouflaged war on the Judeo-Christian legacy it represents, which points to the chasm in the hearts of their co-religionists. Even the 1962 Vatican II rejection of theological hostility to Jews encountered great opposition and produced defections of maverick Catholics.
Many church figures have condemned anti-Semitism as a violation of Christian morality. But how many have stated, let alone understood, that anti-Semitism is the campaign waged by those seeking to overturn or subvert Christianity?
Non-religious thinkers, from Marxists to capitalists, preoccupied with differing theories of wealth creation and distribution, are antagonistic to inquiring into the religious roots of Western civilization, much less defending them. Far more congenial to them has been to dispense with the question by seizing on economic factors – a manipulated response to fiscal downturns, a device to distract the toiling masses from their true oppressors, popular resentment of the special economic function of minorities, and so on.
In Mumbai, the BBC at first did not identify the Chabad House as anything more distinctive than an "office building." The New York Times queried of Chabad House, alone of the Mumbai targets, if it might have been an "accidental hostage scene." One way to avoid understanding anti-Semitism is to obfuscate its occurrence.
The refusal to understand anti-Semitism is a form of collusion, witting or otherwise. Until that refusal is replaced by recognition of its significance and purpose, no amount of commemorations, solemn documents or anti-racism campaigns will serve to alleviate it, anywhere.