The sound and sight of little Moshe Holtzberg wailing Ima, ima (“Mommy, mommy”), repeatedly during his parent’s funeral service in Mumbai will lacerate our hearts for a long time. I even hesitated before featuring this image since poor Moshe has, from the beginning, been a pawn in the game of far more powerful forces than himself or his family. First the terrorists, who wrenched his parents from him. Then Chabad, which allowed these images to be taken. I say let Moshe become an ordinary boy again (if this is indeed ever possible). Let’s not turn him into a poster child for any particular cause or ideology.
To the extent that my featuring this image here contributes to this, I apologize. But I do think the suffering of the victims needs to be brought home to us so we learn lessons from the tragedy and don’t allow it to happen again. That is why Moshe’s image is featured here for the last time.
Lashkar e Taibe killed the dearest souls in the world to Moshe because they wanted to make a point in the ongoing regional conflict between India and Pakistan. Both nations have for some time been on a twisting road toward peace. Trade has begun. Leaders are talking. Barriers are slowly falling.
This alarms Pakistani–and to a lesser extent Indian Hindu–extremists who don’t want peace. These religious nationalists want supremacy. They want maximalism. They reject compromise. They reject acknowledging the other. It’s all or nothing for them. They prefer to sow chaos rather than accepting less than a whole loaf.
That is why such acts of terror take on the sense of apres moi le deluge. They are the ultimate nihilism. And that is why Moshe has become such an apt symbol. He represents all we hold dear in our lives: the loving bonds of family, religious tradition, innocence. The terrorists have attempted to shear these away from us. But we must not let them win. We must hold fast to what we believe even as the killers try to wrest it from us. Let us leave a space in our hearts for Moshe.