The roots that clutch

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Zar­rar Khuhro

the great river, (Gen­e­sis 15:17)"?

That Rabin struck a deal that led to the es­tab­lish­ment of the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity meant that he had con­tra­vened the will of God.

Thus, Rabin's death was not just de­sir­able but, as Hi­gal put it, a mitzwah, a religious obli­ga­tion un­der Jewish law.

Yi­gal's views did not de­velop in a vac­uum; they were in­spired and en­abled by a cul­ture of fa­nati­cism that we in Pak­istan will again find eerily fa­mil­iar.

The to­ken ter­ri­to­rial com­pro­mises that Rabin agreed to were con­sid­ered blas­phe­mous by nu­mer­ous rab­bis, many of whom de­clared him a rodef, a traitor or crim­i­nal whom it is de­sir­able and law­ful to kill. Ral­lies were taken out with plac­ards show­ing Rabin in a Nazi uni­form and just weeks be­fore his as­sas­si­na­tion,

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Euphrates' on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kip­pur, a group of fa­nat­ics gath­ered out­side his house and in­toned a Kab­bal­is­tic death curse upon him.

The fact that Rabin was a war hero and, as a Jerusalem Post edi­to­rial put it, "the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Zion­ism", was ir­rel­e­vant. Is­rael may have been formed by largely sec­u­lar na­tion­al­ists, but the religious right claimed it as their own.

Those who had ar­ro­gated to them­selves the right to de­cide the will of God had judged Rabin guilty.

The mur­der was greeted with joy by th­ese el­e­ments, who still lobby for Yi­gal's re­lease. As for Is­raeli so­ci­ety at large, 20 years af­ter the killing rad­i­cals seem stronger than ever. The same school of thought that jus­ti­fied killing Rabin finds doc­tri­nal sup­port for the mur­der of Pales­tinian chil­dren like 18-month-old Ali Sa'ad Dawab­shah who was burned alive along with his par­ents in an ar­son at­tack by Jewish ter­ror­ists in the West Bank in July 2015.

The case of Nathu­ram Godse, who mur­dered Mo­han­das Gandhi in 1948, is also in­struc­tive. In a state­ment af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion he said: "I am a Hindu and I be­lieve in re­birth. ... I pray to god that I am re­born with Gandhi so that I can kill him again." Here Gandhi's sin was his al­leged ' sym­pa­thy' for Mus­lims and his role (as Godse and his sup­port­ers see it) in the par­ti­tion of In­dia. To them, Gandhi is the man who di­vided Mother In­dia, a blas­phe­mer who de­served death.

To­day, Godse's ashes re­main in an urn in his grand­nephew's of­fice to be im­mersed in the In­dus "when his dream of Ak­hand Bharat is ful­filled". Godse's niece, the late Hi­mani Savarkar, served as the head of rad­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion Ab­hi­nav Bharat which was ac­cused of car­ry­ing out the 2008 Male­gaon blasts.

With the com­ing to power of the Modi govern­ment - and the con­se­quent em­pow­er­ing of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh - there has been a re­vival of the cult of Godse.

The Hindu Ma­hasabha launched plans to in­stal busts of Godse at tem­ples and BJP leader Sak­shi Ma­haraj praised Godse in the Ra­jya Sabha.

This comes nearly 70 years af­ter Gandhi's death, a man revered far more highly in In­dia than Rabin would ever be in Is­rael or Sal­maan Taseer in Pak­istan.

It has of­ten been said that we in Pak­istan are reap­ing what we sowed, but this im­plies that ex­trem­ism is crop - al­beit one that bears poi­sonous fruit. Truth be told, ex­trem­ism is a weed that seeks to choke all other growth. Not for its ad­her­ents is a gar­den where a thou­sand flow­ers bloom in a chaotic riot of colour.

For them is the ster­ile uni­for­mity that chokes all life, and were any blos­soms to poke their head above this stony rub­bish, they are ever ready with their sick­les and shears. As we have seen at home as well as in Is­rael and In­dia, th­ese are per­sis­tent weeds in­deed, with deep roots. This is can­cer with pur­pose, a ma­lig­nancy that bides its time, metas­ta­sizes and re­turns the mo­ment one grows un­wary.

Pak­istan's vic­tory is not in its hang­ing of Mum­taz Qadri, its fail­ure is not in the thou­sands who at­tended his fu­neral. Our test will come, years from now, when we look back at what we planted and see if the blos­soms, in all their in­fi­nite va­ri­ety, have de­nied the weeds the light of day.

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