In November 2008, Lashkar e Taiba (LET), a radical Islamist group from Pakistan specifically targeted “Nariman House” in Bombay (Mumbai) for a terrorist attack, along with other tourist locations, such as the Taj Mahal hotel.
Nariman House was a Chabad House – a Jewish outreach centre that included an educational centre, synagogue and hostel. It was run by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. When the building was attacked, six occupants, including the Rabbi and his pregnant wife, were killed. A total of 164 people were killed in the Mumbai attacks.
David Coleman Headley, who testified in the US at the end of May 2011 in the trial of his friend, Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana, confessed that he had planned the Mumbai attacks in conjunction with an officer of Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency, a man whom he called “Major Iqbal”.
The officer was reportedly delighted that the Jews were targeted. Perhaps nowadays it is hard to imagine that Pakistan had a strong Jewish community that flourished for around 150 years.
The Jews of Pakistan
Pakistan was never traditionally anti-Semitic. In fact, it may come as a surprise that Pakistan hosted small, yet thriving, Jewish communities from the 19th century until the end of the 1960s. Recently, Yoel Reuben, a Pakistani Jew living in the town of Lod in Israel, whose family originated in Lahore, documented some of the history of the Jewish communities with photographs of original documents.
When India and Pakistan were one country, before the partition in 1947, the Jews were treated with tolerance and equality. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nearly 1,000 Jewish residents in Pakistan living in different cities: Karachi, Peshwar, Quetta and Lahore.