Tuesday 2 December 2008

Mumbai Sequel

Following the dramatic events of the past few days in Mumbai and the arrival home of the Jewish victims of the Nariman House siege, I am forced to write a sequel to my earlier blog Black Friday in Mumbai. I write this sequel with a heavy heart, but feel that there are certain actions that demand further examination.

When making the arrangements to fly the bodies of the 6 Jewish victims from Chabad House to Israel for burial, the family of one of the victims, Aryeh Leibish Teitelboim, is reported to have approached the Israeli authorities with a rather unusual request. The request was to ensure that the coffin of their family member not be draped in the Israeli flag like the other coffins. In addition, they requested that Teitelboim's coffin not be included in the official memorial ceremony for the victims upon their arrival at Ben Gurion Airport. The reason for their request - Teitelboim belonged to an anti-Zionist Hassidic sect that does not recognise the State of Israel.

Teitelboim grew up in the Satmar Hassidic sect, and married into the Toldot Avraham Yitzchak community. Both sects are anti-Zionist and do not recognise the State of Israel. He is reported to have disavowed his Israeli citizenship in favour of holding an American passport despite living in Jerusalem.

As an Israeli citizen, I am proud of my government's commitment to the protection of Jews around the world in time of need, even those who are not citizens of Israel. No event could have demonstrated this more than the rescue at Entebbe in 1976. When the need arose in Mumbai, the government of Israel immediately dispatched security, medical and forensic teams to assist the Jews in need. It had no hesitation in sending an Israeli Air Force jet to accompany the victims on their final journey. Under these circumstances, how can the response of the Teitelboim family be justified?

In a final irony, the government of Israel declared the victims in Mumbai as victims of terror. This entitles the victim's family to receive government compensation in the same way as the families of victims of terror in Israel are entitled to receive. This means that Teitelboim's widow and 8 children living in Jerusalem will benefit financially from the same government and state that they do not recognise.

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