Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Last week in Mumbai we witnessed as clear a case of carefully planned mass
terrorism as we are ever likely to see.
The seven-venue atrocity was coordinated in a highly sophisticated way.
The terrorists used BlackBerrys to stay in touch with each other during
their three-and-half-day rampage, outwitting the authorities by monitoring
international reaction to the attacks on British, Urdu and Arabic Web
sites. It was a meticulously organized operation aimed exclusively at
civilian targets: two hospitals, a train station, two hotels, a leading
tourist restaurant and a Jewish center.
Murder in Mumbai: The work of 'practitioners.'
There was nothing remotely random about it. This was no hostage standoff.
The terrorists didn't want to negotiate. They wanted to murder as many
Hindus, Christians, Jews, atheists and other "infidels" as they could, and
in as spectacular a manner as possible. In the Jewish center, some of the
female victims even appear to have been tortured before being killed.
So why are so many prominent Western media reluctant to call the
perpetrators terrorists? Why did Jon Snow, one of Britain's most respected
TV journalists, use the word "practitioners" when referring to the Mumbai
terrorists? Was he perhaps confusing them with doctors?
Why did Britain's highly regarded Channel 4 News state that the
"militants" showed a "wanton disregard for race or creed" when exactly the
opposite was true: Targets and victims were very carefully selected. Why
did the "experts" invited to discuss the Mumbai attacks in one show on the
state-funded Radio France Internationale, the voice of France around the
world, harp on about Baruch Goldstein (who carried out the Hebron
shootings in 1994), virtually the sole case of a Jewish terrorist in
living memory?
Unfortunately in recent years we have become used to leftist media burying
their heads in the sand about the threat that Islamic fundamentalism
poses, in much the same way as they once refused to report accurately on
communist atrocities. But now even conservative media may be doing it too.
What is the motivation of journalists in trying to mangle language -- such
as going out of their way to refer to terrorists as "militants," as one
Mumbai story on yesterday's Times of London Web site seemed to do? Do they
somehow wish to express sympathy for these murderers, or perhaps make
their crimes seem almost acceptable? How are we going to effectively
confront terrorists when we can't even identify them as such?
But then the terrorists in Mumbai didn't need to make any public
announcements. They knew that many deluded Western journalists and
academics will do that job for them, explaining that the West is to blame,
especially the Zionists.
We have started seeing this already on the BBC -- the world's largest TV
and radio network, which broadcasts in dozens of different languages
around the world and is lavishly funded by the British taxpayer.
You would be hard pressed to find any talk of radical Islam on the BBC in
recent days, or mention of the fact that Islamists think India should be a
Muslim country. Instead the BBC continues to try to persuade its massive
global audience that "it is a local Indian problem," that "the
subcontinent has a history of unrest," and so on.
Even the Pakistani angle has been presented as some kind of local
Pakistan-India dispute rather than as a problem with radical Islam -- this
despite the fact that according to numerous reports the Mumbai terrorists
themselves were screaming "Allah Akbar" (Allah is the Greatest) as they
murdered "the Jews and the infidels" in line with bin Ladenist ideology.
For some time, many have argued that an element of anti-Semitism has
distorted the way the BBC covers the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But
now, following the Mumbai events, we can perhaps see that anti-Semitism
may even be at work in the way the BBC covers foreign news in general. For
much of the Mumbai siege, the BBC went out of its way to avoid reporting
that the Jewish community center was one of the seven targets. At one
point viewers were told that "an office building" had been targeted
(referring to the Jewish center as such).
Then on Friday morning, TV pictures of Indian commandos storming the
besieged Jewish center were broadcast by networks around the world.
Heavily armed commandos, their faces covered by balaclavas, rappelled from
helicopters onto the roof while Indian sharpshooters in buildings opposite
opened fire and a helicopter circled overhead. Huge crowds of onlookers
could be seen looking aghast as they watched from nearby streets. While
Sky News and other channels were gripped by these dramatic pictures, BBC
World was not, almost pretending there was no siege at the Jewish center
-- even though by then it was one of only two sites that remained under
attack in Mumbai. Had the terrorists chosen to besiege a church or mosque
instead, can you imagine the BBC ignoring it this way?
Meanwhile -- perhaps even more disgracefully -- a New York Times report on
the last day of the siege stated: "It is not known if the Jewish center
was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene."
Has the New York Times learned anything since the Holocaust, when, even
after the war ended in the spring of 1945, the paper infamously refused to
report that the Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Germans and so on killed in
the camps had been Jews, and killed as Jews?
Dozens of eyewitness accounts by local Indians said the gunmen shouted
"Allah Akbar" from the Jewish center. It is housed in a nondescript block
and is not obviously marked from the outside as a Jewish center. It is the
one Jewish building in a densely crowded city of millions. And the Times,
the self-proclaimed paper of record, wants to let readers think it might
have been an accidental target?
Even the Times's British equivalent, the Guardian, began its news story:
"The inclusion of the headquarters of an ultra-orthodox Jewish group was
obviously intended to send its own message." Does the New York Times think
that the seeking out and murder by Muslim terrorists of the only New York
rabbi in Mumbai and his wife was "an accidental target"?
There was nothing accidental about any of the seven sites that the
terrorists attacked. And it was no accident that Mumbai was hit. It is the
most multireligious city in India -- with Hindus, Muslims, Christians,
Parsees and Jews living in relative harmony.
Mr. Gross is a former Middle East correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph.