Israeli Embassies Attacked: Whose Vengeance and Unholy Wars are These?

With the top leaders accusing Iran, Israel is not only holding India to ransom but also trying to play its victim-aggressor game here.

Whose Vengeance and Unholy Wars are These?
Israeli Embassies Attacked
by Farzana Versey
Counterpunch, February 14 & Countercurrents Feb 16)

Monday. February 13. 3.54 pm. A bomb explodes in the car of an Israeli diplomat. Three people, including the defence attaché’s wife Tal Yehoshua, are grievously injured.

30 minutes later, embassy officials are examining the remains of the vehicle in an area that has been cordoned off by the police.

Within three hours, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses the Hizbullah and Iran:

“Iran, which stands behind these attacks, is the largest exporter of terror in the world. The Israeli government and its security forces will continue to work together with local security services against these terrorist actions.”

He is pre-empting the inquiry, and the media is already talking about “Hizbullah in Delhi” and “Israel targeted in India”. We are calling ourselves a soft state when our own hardliners and security forces have been killing citizens inside the country.

The question is not whether global terror is being fought on Indian soil but how much of it is being arranged here. If it is legitimate to ask about the role of local handlers, then why has there been no concern about the incident of a planned vengeance by Israelis?

Cut to a report a few days ago when there was palpable revenge. The couple, Shneor Zalman and Yaffa Shenoi, arrived in India on a multiple-entry visa in March 2010. After the visa expired, they went back and returned within a month. What was their purpose that they paid a “disproportionately high rent” of Rs. 50,000 a month for a house in Fort Kochi, Kerala? A senior official was quoted in a report saying:

“Central intelligence got an alert about a covert operation being carried out by suspected Israeli agents after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike in which south Mumbai’s Chabad House came under attack and six Jews, including a Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. We have traced the couple’s financial transactions. They will be questioned before they are deported. Preliminary investigations suggest some Israelis are camping in various parts of the country.”

This comes from official sources and all that they think of is deporting the couple. There has been complete silence from the usually active dispensers of opinion, too.

Let us return to the scene of Monday’s crime. The Indian and international media have gone ballistic about it without a shred of evidence. If the argument is that the Indian prime minister's house is in the vicinity and reveals lapses in our security, then why is no one apprehensive about our situation? It raises questions beyond safety measures. Why are we falling in line with Israeli rules? What is the American effort in this proxy war? It is not Hizbullah that is fighting in India, but Israel.

With the top leaders’ comments, Israel is not only holding India to ransom but also trying to play its victim-aggressor game here. A bomb that went off simultaneously in Georgia was defused, for it does not resonate well with the anti-Arab/Iran narrative. One is not condoning any such attacks, but this most certainly does not look like a war against Israel, a state that has got its armour in place. Mossad is as pervasive as the CIA.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said:

“It just shows that Israel and its citizens face terror inside and outside of Israel. We deal with it every day. We know how to identify exactly who is responsible for the attack and who carried it out. We will not allow this to affect our agenda.”

Has anyone questioned the agenda? The identification process assumes reprisal.

Blindly accepting the Israeli version of domestic links with groups will obviously lead to the blanket indictment of ‘jihadi’ organisations, many of them imagined entities of the right-wing parties. Is it not possible that some Hindutva terror groups now openly asserting themselves and held culpable for such activities could be used for Israel’s covert operations? Israel does not have suicide missions, but it understands the masochism paradigm only too well.


The revenge space is never empty. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum has written:

“The primitive sense of the just…starts from the notion that a human life…is a vulnerable thing, a thing that can be invaded, wounded, violated by another's act in many ways. For this penetration, the only remedy that seems appropriate is a counter invasion, equally deliberate, equally grave. And to right the balance truly, the retribution must be exactly, strictly proportional to the original encroachment. It differs from the original act only in the sequence of time and in the fact that it is response rather than original act – a fact frequently obscured if there is a long sequence of acts and counteracts.”

We need to look at a few examples to emphasise our vulnerability.

  • Members of the orthodox Jewish Chabad India Trust have moved out of Nariman House and are residing in an unknown location due to security reasons. Soon after the Mumbai attacks, six members of a group called Zaka (acronym for Zihuy Korbanot Ason - Disaster Victim Identification) arrived in the city to collect and arrange the body parts and blood of Jews so that they could be returned to family members and were afforded a dignified burial according to Jewish law. The police investigations were not completed.
  • More recently, Israeli national Nurit Toker was booked by the Mumbai police under the Arms Act, 1959, for carrying two live cartridges in her backpack while travelling from Mumbai to Kathmandu. In her petition she mentioned that she had completed her compulsory three-year training in the Israeli army and these were her personal ammunition, compatible with the M-16 assault rifle acquired during her military training. She had not carried the rifle, though. Sec. 3 clearly states “there is no requirement of use or intention to use the arm or ammunition” to pursue the case. Yet, the Israel Consulate intervened to say that the accused had accidentally left bullets in her bag.
  • This is not the first such instance. In 2006, Noa Haviv had cleared customs at Mumbai airport as well as the security agencies of Israeli airline El Al at Tel Aviv and arrived with 16 bullets and a magazine in her check-in baggage. The Israeli consul general had stated then: “We have every reason to believe that it was an innocent mistake. She had borrowed this suitcase from her brother, who is a licensed weapons holder. She was not aware of the bullets inside when she packed her bags.” Amazingly, only the airline filed a case and not the Airports Authority of India or the security agencies of the government.
In a country that arrests whole families on mere “tip offs”, this leniency is alarming. Worse, all 171 passengers on the El Al flight had walked out of the green channel and cleared customs in 15 minutes. Why this express service? Even Indians returning from a holiday take longer. The customs official at the time had said, “…this was a flight coming from Israel, where security measures are stringent.”

Are we to depend on another state’s security assurances? Israel is not above suspicion. No country is.


The attack on the embassy staff took place in India. We cannot allow investigations to be outsourced. Hillary Clinton offered US assistance to probe into “these cowardly acts” because the “scourge of terrorism is an affront to the entire international community”.

In an editorial, The Pioneer uses this incident for its grand-standing:

“Governments around the world are mindful of such occasions when Israelis, both diplomats and civilians, are likely be targeted; sadly, the Government of India chooses to ignore them, busy as the Home Minister is defending himself in a corruption case while intelligence agencies are pre-occupied with snooping on the Congress’s political opponents and conducting ‘surveys’ in election-bound States.”

It adds, with alacrity, that at least the people should be agitated “if not the Government whose Ministers are at the moment unabashedly pandering to Muslim extremism in Uttar Pradesh”.

Are we to be on our toes for Israel? Why did the papers not write editorials when suspicious activities of Israelis were noticed by these intelligence agencies? Why suppress those?

As expected, Pakistan and its Inter Services Intelligence are used as an example. There has been no proof. Israel is using Indian susceptibility with regard to relationship with Pakistan. There is an indeed an insurgency problem and the recent history of the Mumbai attacks. The fact that the Jewish Chabad House was one of the targets makes it appear as a legitimate connection. But Pakistan has closer ties with Saudi Arabia and is inimical to Iran, which is the current bone stuck in the throats of the western powers and Israel.

There are cursory references to the four Iranian nuclear scientists who were killed in the last two years. Instead, the bomb blast is being touted as revenge for the death of Hizbullah’s military chief Imad Mughniyeh in a car explosion. What is so important about the fourth death anniversary? Do also note that he was killed in Syria, so Israel has a virtual buffet meal at its disposal to point fingers at.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said:

“Israel perpetrated the terror actions to launch psychological warfare against Iran.”

There are sniggers, but Israel has every reason to perpetuate such mind-numbing ideas, if not actions. In 1948, Menachem Begin’s unit slaughtered the inhabitants of Deir Yassin. In 1953, Ariel Sharon led the slaughter of the inhabitants of Qibya, and in 1982 arranged for their allies to butcher around 2,000 in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla. He had declared, “We must hit, hit and hit them incessantly – not by means of large-scale war. Suddenly someone disappears there, someone is found dead here and somewhere else someone is found stabbed to death in a European nightclub.”

The history if Israel is as damning as it is damaged. It has flouted every rule and yet got the benefit of protection.

India is most certainly not a soft power that some of our own commentators are shamelessly projecting it as. It is a bit obsessed and still suffers from a colonial hangover. It has created its cocoon of goodwill based on the flimsy delusion of being a developed nation where hybrid progress is sustained in a greenhouse. In that, it is not too different from some of the wealthy Arab states that are only concerned about how they sell their oil and for how much. Just as they have their pecking order, India maintains a stoical distance from the larger pool of South Asian countries by virtue of its “close relations” with those who matter.

Self-preservation is the goal of any society, but when it becomes opportunistic it is difficult to demarcate the lines of control and of control freaks. By a process of natural selection that imbues it as a ‘doctrinaire liberal’ society, India is being co-opted in an unholy war

(c) Farzana Versey

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Images: MSN, Salon


  1. If the Arabs lay down weapons, there will be no war.
    If Jews lay down weapons, there will be no Israel.

  2. you are such a 'smart' girl - with superb evaluation skills :)

    The whole article is a masterpiece.

    Agreed on all parts.

    Keep up.

    a stranger from Central Asia!!

  3. Here's the excerpt listing scientists who were killed
    What is most amazing about all this is that, a mere three years later, some combination of Israel and the U.S. are doing exactly that which Reynolds recommended. Numerous Iranian nuclear scientists are indeed being murdered.

    In January, 2010, a remote-controlled bomb attached to a motorcycle killed Masoud Ali Mohammadi, 50, who “taught neutron physics at Tehran University.” In November, 2010, two separate car bombs exploded within minutes of each other on the same day, one that killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahriar and wounded his wife, and the other which wounded another nuclear scientist, Fereidoun Abbasi, along with his wife. Then, in July of last year, Darioush Rezaei, 35, was shot dead and his wife was wounded by two gunmen firing from motorcycles outside of their daughter’s kindergarten; Rezaei “did his doctorate in neutron transport – which lies at the heart of nuclear chain reactions in reactors and bombs” and “was a member of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the country’s official atomic energy commission.”

    And now, yet another Iranian scientist has been killed. According to Iranian media, a 32-year-old university professor, Mostafa Ahmadi-Roshan, died when an assailant riding on a motorcycle attached a magnetic bomb to his car, which then detonated and killed him. According to The Washington Post‘s Thomas Erdbrink, a conservative news outlet in Iran reported that the young scientist “was believed to be involved in procuring materials for Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz.”

  4. Not sure if you got this here's the link to the entire article on American war strategy on Iran, Some of comments are pretty interesting as well.

  5. Thank you for writing this important piece, Farzana.

    Like the Lavon Affair, will we have to wait 50 years before the truth about these terrorist attacks can no longer be denied?

    "Although it is still a sensitive situation, we decided now to express our respect for these heroes," President Moshe Katsav said after presenting the three surviving members of the bomber ring with certificates of appreciation at a Jerusalem ceremony."


  6. Dont know about Iran, but just a comment on the difference in Indian muslim reactions on Israel and Pakistan. Many Indian muslims have justified the attack on Israel, some even on national tv, like the editor of Milli Gazette.

    Now Israel is one country that has always stood by India and supplied critical weapons when India needed it most during Kargil war. Pakistan on the other hand, has a national policy to "bleed India by a thousand cuts". Pakistan has sponsored terrorism in India, killing thousands of people. Pakistan has an eye on Indian territory and has been involved in many wars against India, killing several thousand Indian soldiers.

    But Indian muslims love Pakistan, and hate Israel. They want India to have excellent relations with Pakistan, maybe even give away Kashmir, but want India to end relations with Israel.

    They even cheer Pakistan against India in cricket and celebrate widely in their own colonies (also called mini-Pakistans) in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Old Delhi etc. whenever Pakistan beats India.

    This shows a lot about the mentality of Indian muslims.

  7. The observations are quite true.
    Israel playing the victim act and attacking all around the world
    to the targets they found proper is no longer convincing.
    Prof Finkelstein, Prof Noam Chomsky, Prof Neve Gordon, Not in My Name, and
    Jews for Justice organizations telling us Israel can no longer distort the reality
    and abuse holocaust to use as self righteousness to attack and abuse Palestinians
    and other people. Or act like a spare tire of US Imperialism, CIA and NSA all around
    the world.
    One day they will understand the shortest way to peace is to be just and kind to her
    neighbors. One race one religion nation is so self absorbed and arrogant, I hope they will not learn this fact by nuclear war.

    Prof. Omar Turk PhD

  8. A well researched commentary – bold and brilliant. Sprinkled with little known facts.
    Difficult to imagine that a lone gunman could not be spotted in that prestige area. The Iranian spokesman that “Israel perpetrated the terror actions to launch psychological actions against Iran” is far more credible.

    Netanyahu’s tirade against the Hizbullah and Iran within 3 hours of the blast confirms that he was well aware of Mossad’s role . And soon the BBC in UK and Fox in the US had joined in the chorus.

    You have presented revealing snippets about the behaviour of Israeli nationals in India, their overstaying and how Indian officials pander to them. When will the Indian shed his inferiority before the white man?

    Thousands of Israelis are known to stay on years in India, thereby showing their contempt for Indian visa rules. The Times of India reminded today that Dharamkot is a favoured Israeli destination – the area, called mini-Israel, was visited by some 20,000 Israelis last year. And at last the somnolent Indian government has awoken to the danger posed by these Israeli tourists and has limited their visa to 3 months with no return before a year.
    In Goa Russians and Israelis have virtually set up enclaves for their exclusive use with billboards warning: No Indians allowed.
    Your entire article was posted yesterday by activist Feroze Mithiborwala on the our usual mailing list.

  9. Yes, Indians (Hindus or Muslims) have been proven to be expendable due to complete lack of governance.

    But, I seriously doubt that Israeli government can afford to sacrifice one of their own (esp. an Ambassador and his wife who is presumably paralyzed from the incident) just to achieve the goal of pinning one more nefarious act on Iran.

    Iran and Syria have been under American/Israeli war games and sabotage for a while now but killing their own diplomats (and family) is not something that can go down easy in either of these countries.

  10. Thank you all for the enlightening comments. I shall respond soon.

    Meanwhile, every life is precious. But there are a lot of exaggerated stories doing the rounds. The Israeli ambassador was not targeted. The wife of the defended attaché was operated on for 2.5 hrs and is recovering. She is not paralysed.


    Also, India has refused to blame Iran for blast.


  11. Dear Farzana ,

    I appreciate and agree with your viewpoint in the article.

    What is amazing here is that when the Iranian nuclear scientist was killed there was very little commentary from the official Indian media but now it has become the biggest headline.

    I just want to share here my thoughts on the murder of the Iranian nuclear scientist earlier this year.


    What is really unfortunate is that a lot of Indian commentators have started to blame the Iranian student community in India as suspects in all these.

    I hope there is an independent enquiry and truth be out to the public.

    I would love to be in touch with you in future.

    My email id:debanjanbanerjee2009@gmail.com

    Take care

  12. F&F, Ranger, Akash:

    I have posted two links. Read them. We, who show no contempt when thousands of our own people are killed, talk of diplomats in danger in India. Not a word from you about Israelis 'camping here' mentioned by our agencies.

    A pity, really. And just in case anyone cares, how do Indian Muslims figure here?

    Funny, Arabs have to lay down arms but Israel that is 'illegally' occupying land needs those arms to survive! Honestly, is history passé?

    Anon: “a stranger from Central Asia”:

    Uh, thank you? Smart I single quotes and girl not?!

  13. Sai:

    The information just added to the ‘story’. We know little and care even less.


    Thank you, and you are right that certain aspects come to light only during certain times. However, the killing of the Iranian scientist has not become headlines now, and at least I used it to emphasise another point.

    You say, “What is really unfortunate is that a lot of Indian commentators have started to blame the Iranian student community in India as suspects in all these.”

    I am not sure where you read this, although it is possible. We know of such kneejerk reactions and attitudes form experiences with Indians by Indians. Incidentally, I have interacted with quite a few of them in Pune, but years ago they seemed quite removed from obvious political affiliations, which was quite the opposite of the Palestinians I met.

    PS: I am usually here everyday, and sometimes at night too!

  14. Maidhc:

    Thank you. What can one say about denial and dithering? My instincts say this case will be ‘solved’ to suit certain alliances. As we know, the pressure on Iran has been building up, and now with Bangkok also on the radar, the stage is being set.

    Prof Omar Turk:
    On the ‘victim card’ I find it interesting that the historical narrative is being tampered with. The Israelites and the Jews of the Holocaust should be seen as mutually exclusive.

    You say: “One race one religion nation is so self absorbed and arrogant, I hope they will not learn this fact by nuclear war.”

    The problem is that the idea of ‘inclusiveness’ suggests that only one concept of religion nation is possible, driven by a supposedly less ‘fundamentalist’ stance that passes for progressive thinking.

    It is strange that now Israel and the US are saying that Iran’s nuclear power claims are grandiose! What does it prove?

  15. Eddie:

    Good to find like-minded people who sometimes agree…

    I had in fact already started writing about the Israeli ‘influx’, and was shocked that there were no Op-eds. The 2006 incident was on my blog. Later I wrote about some other aspects, and invariably the comments would turn to Islam, even when it was not part of the piece. So, you can see, there are all sorts of denial.

    It was the sheer bludgeoning tone in the media that did it. And I realise that it should be seen for what it is rather than people imputing the usual motives to me.

    In the recent past, I have seen many Israeli tourists. They wear traditional caps and no one, no one, looks at them suspiciously. Imagine a situation with the others with caps.

    PS: Weird as I feel doing so, I need to emphasise that you are not a Muslim and so aren’t many others who comment here. It is demeaning to people’s views when people insist on such confident assertions based on their limited ways of dealing with ‘conflicts’.


    “Iran and Syria have been under American/Israeli war games and sabotage for a while now but killing their own diplomats (and family) is not something that can go down easy in either of these countries.”

    No one was killed in the Delhi attack. It may most certainly not be something that they’d do as a matter of course, but they need to rethink the havoc they are causing by implicating.

  16. >> they need to rethink the havoc they are causing by implicating.

    Your skepticism and suspicion are well grounded in historical precedents (like the Gulf of Tonkin incident used to start Vietnam War or regime change in Chile or everyone's favorite Iran in Mossadegh's time).

    Even in the current saga, there was a B-movie plot hatched using Iranian user-car salesman in Texas to feign a comedy of a terror-plot.

    So, yes there are many reasons to believe in the conspiracy theory but those usually involve "other" (aka brown) people dying or injuring not the "chosen ones".

  17. Farzana,
    If you want the comfort of an echo chamber, then you are welcome to have it. This argument that noone-condemns-when-thousands.. is really a facile one. A lot of us have done so. Unfortunately, this sort of narrative never stops. When you condemn X, there is always the argument as to why we didn't condemn Y. We can go on and on but I doubt this is an honest argument; more often than not, it's meant to provide a way out of the current discomfort.
    Killing of diplomats is a despicable act. It's not in the same league as bumping off rascals like AQ Khan. Spy agencies, all over the world, routinely infiltrate countries that they think are important. So I don't understand your point about Israelis camping in India. In fact, now they have a valid reason to do so--one of their own has been targeted. And let's not forget Chabbad house too.
    As for Indian Muslims facing some flak, well, I haven't met one Muslim who said that Israel was anything but an evil entity that doesn't deserve to exist. No less than a VC of Jamia comes out on the TV and blasts the Israelis on some spurious grounds. Why should we give precedence to ties with Iran over Israel?
    Btw, I don't understand this whole logic of Israel being illegal. A lot of nations come into existence this way. I mean, if the prophet had chosen some other perch to ascend to heaven, we wouldn't have this problem in the first place. Why does the question of occupier is only asked of Israelis? Aren't Pakistanis an occupier in Balochistan? I haven't heard you talk about it.
    The collective angst of the ummah when it comes to Israel would be funny if it was not laced with such poison for Jews and Israel.

  18. Thanks to Farzana and fans for pointing out the "clear and present" threat of thousands of Israeli youth tourists to India's integrity and security.... no doubt these people are responsible for all the terrorist attacks that have taken place in India over the last 15 years, including the Mumbai blasts, Mumbai rail attacks, Delhi parliament attack Pune bakery atack, 26/11 Mumbai attacks, murder of Karkare (wait a minute, RSS did that... one of the distinguished member of Indian muslim journalistic fraternity even wrote a book on that..)....

    ...anyway, its great that Israeli students and Mossad are getting some of the blame as well... otherwise its all RSS/VHP/Bajrang Dal etc.


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