Wednesday, December 10, 2008


In the middle of a lovely article about the Jews of Bombay, past and, alas present, Leon Wieseltier parenthetically gives voice to his inner Menken:
"...reporters in The New York Times wondered whether 'the Jewish center was strategically chosen, or if it was an accidental hostage scene.' The speculation was ignorant and insulting."
Ignorant, yes, but not in a bad way, and why insulting? And the ignorance, anyway, was justified given what the facts reporters had at their disposal when the ignorant lines were penned.

Here as a tonic and a palate cleaner is some of the rest of what he wrote: is the most unlikely true story about Jews in modernity that I ever heard. It was told to me many years ago by a Jew, an American judge, who grew up in the Jewish community of Goa, in India. It happened during the partition riots in 1947. He related that rampaging gangs sometimes broke into his family's house, armed with pistols and axes and torches, and of course with anger. "Are you Hindu or Muslim?" they demanded to know, in their hunt for the appropriate victims. "We are Jews," the family replied. And the mob apologized! "We're terribly sorry," they said, and left the Jews in peace. More

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