There are many types of laws that govern us. There are the laws of the universe: the laws that cover things like physics and chemistry and mathematics. There are the laws of Man, which we make and unmake as we see fit, to govern us. And there are the laws of the world, which are often capricious, brutal, and divorced from anything we would consider justice.
For the laws of the world there is no appeal process, and often the smallest offense is a capital crime. For example, foolish risk-taking. No, it is not just when a child plays on a trampoline and dies in a fall. It is not fair. But it is simply the way of the world.
Other laws of the world are influenced by man, and are also just as capricious. Witness the recent atrocities committed in Mumbai, India.
The terrorists — in a large-scale, carefully-planned, very deliberate, and monstrous plot — focused their attacks on three aspects of the city. First, the financial district, to cause the most disruption to the city’s economic infrastructure — and its role as a global player in the financial markets. Second, the big luxury hotels, where wealthy and prominent foreigners — especially Westerners — could be found to draw the world’s attention on the attacks. Finally, the Jewish center, because that was where they could find Jews.
The Chabad in Mumbai was no great player on the world stage. It represented no concentration of wealth or power or prominence. It was simply a place where Jews in Mumbai (either temporarily or for extended stays) could find a little piece of home, of kinship, a way to reassert their bond with their fellows.
And for that, they were attacked and killed. The mighty, noble warriors killed the 29-year-old rabbi, his 28-year-old wife, and at least one of their children.
Their crime: they broke a long-standing law of the world — being Jewish.
For as long as there have been Jews, there has been an unwritten law: being Jewish is enough to get you killed. This has risen and fallen in severit through the centuries, but it has never completely faded away.
The terrorists in Mumbai targeted the hotels because that was where they knew they could find Westerners, especially Americans and British, and get the world’s attention. They attacked a railway station and a cinema to cause the most casualties. They attacked a police station to foil attempts by authorities to stop them. They attacked a hospital to wreak the most terror and chaos.
And they attacked the Chabad to kill Jews.
Amid the general targets was this one very specific one. One specific place where they could be most certain of finding Jews to kill.
Because, to them, someone simply being Jewish is enough to merit killing.
There’s an old observation that Jews are like canaries in a coal mine. Observe how they are treated, how they live, and you will see the future of the culture in which they are living. When they are thriving, the culture will thrive. And when things start getting bad for the Jews, it’s almost always a harbinger that things will start getting bad for a lot of other people very soon.
There are forces that want to make India inhospitable for Jews, as part of their overall desire to institute a Muslim theocracy. The Indians have so far shown that they will not submit quietly.
We need to do all we can to support India, the world’s largest democracy and a major player in the global economy. But not just because some Jews got killed — but because those that killed those Jews will not stop with the Jews.
That, too, is another law of the world.