December 3, 2008

No Quarter

The terror attack in Mumbai and its aftermath has been and will continue to be a major story in the news for at least another week or two. In a world where we have grown accustomed to the presence of the terror threat, as we did with the nuclear threat, it is becoming easier to be unshaken by these incidents. Particularly so here in America, as we enjoy the attack free security of the post 911 years. The Bush administration, with all its faults, has spared us the anguish of a second 911 thus far.

So comes Mumbai and we observe the scale of this chaos and terror, multiple murders purposley visited upon the innocent in what is likely to prove an attempt to goad India into confrontation with Pakistan and destabilize it. As terrible as it all is, it seems easy to turn from our tv sets and in the turning, wipe the horror from the minds eye.

But I found my righteous outrage and sadness at this evil , and my wonder rekindled afresh upon hearing the story of Sandra Samuel, one of many stories beginning to emerge from the three day hell the terrorists created. Sandra, an Indian nanny, and two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg, her charge, were the only ones to make it out of the Chabad House alive after gunmen stormed the house, killing the Chabad House directors Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, parents of Moshe, and four others.

In the midst of that tragedy I thank God for Sandra who retained enough presence of mind and courage to leave her place of relative safety in the Chabad house even as the gunmen were searching and killing room to room. She unlocked her door and dared the gunmen to stop her, ran upstairs to find the Holtzbergs shot dead, lying on the ground with their son crying over them. She picked up the boy and ran out, past the gunmen and fled with him to safety.

As parents, faced with imminent death, if there is a chance to save the children, that becomes paramount. My wife and I have a clear understanding that in any situation where our children can be saved only by sacrificing one or both of us, the children are to be saved. As a parent, I know that the Holtzbergs would have wanted their son to survive and would have been profoundly grateful for Sandra's devotion and courage, risking her life to save their son. A regular woman braved murder and terror everywhere around her, to save the life of a child not her own. Surrounded by evil killers and with a chance to flee to safety on her own, she chose to walk into the danger for Moshe. His mother was murdered and Sandra stepped into the breach to save him. I'm very humbled by the immense courage and love that act required.

The AP: The cries of little Moshe wounded hearts…”Mommy, mommy, mommy!” he wailed, clutching a toy basketball while squirming in the arms of mourners at the synagogue.

Look at his face. Consider his anguish. Still fresh in his barely comprehending mind the terrible memories of mommy and daddy killed before his eyes. I don't have adequate words for the sadness I feel at the breaking of a baby's heart in this way.

Nieither do I have adequate words for the outrage, horror and revulsion I feel towards the people who did it. There is a special place in Hell reserved for those responsible for the look on this child's face.

Mumbai is a reminder that the terrorists are willing to commit nearly any outrage to advance their goal to create a world full of chaos and the cries of a thousand Moshe's which they can dominate. They can be given no quarter.