Ever since Israel launched Operation Brother’s Keeper to search for the three kidnapped (and subsequently murdered) Israeli teenagers, there’s been a groundswell of support for Israel from large sections of the population in India, particularly after Israel was forced to initiate Operation Protective Edge to protect its citizens from the relentless rocket fire by Hamas from Gaza. Barring exceptions which are far and few in between, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state that by and large, it is the Hindus from within and outside India who support Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of incessant calculated attacks from an adversary who equates compromise or peace with weakness/cowardice. Therefore, #HinduswithIsrael is probably a more accurate description of the trend on Twitter rather than #IndianswithIsrael. What explains this trend?
There’s no one reason to which this trend can be solely attributed to, nor is this trend a new one as some believe. Notwithstanding the recently-elected BJP-led Indian Government’s vote against Israel at the United Nations (which is unfortunately consistent with the position taken by the Indian National Congress-led regimes in the past), Israel, and Jews in particular, have always been deeply respected and liked by large sections of the Hindu population for a multitude of reasons. This, I don’t think can be ascribed to theological similarities (if there exist any, apart from the fact that neither Hinduism nor Judaism believes in proselytization), but can be assigned in significant measure to values that both communities cherish and the fact that neither community sees the other as “the other”. Besides India’s inherently peaceful and secular spirit owing to its Hindu roots, these are perhaps some of the reasons that India has been, is and hopefully will continue to be one of the safest places on earth for Jews, despite increasing anti-Jewish vitriol spewed by radical Islamists in India.
Critically, what has contributed to this respect and affinity for Jews among several Hindus is the perceived similarity in historical experiences. I use “perceived” because it may not be possible to conclusively establish one-to-one equivalence between the histories of these communities, but what is important to note is that historicity has not come in the way of Hindus intuitively relating to the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people. Several Hindus relate to the ethnic and religious persecution of Jews for thousands of years, their near-death experience (the Holocaust), their quest for dignity and millennia-old goal of returning to their ancestral land, and finally the establishment of the State of Israel.
Hindus are probably best placed to relate to the fact that the legitimacy of the modern State of Israel is sought to be undermined even after 66 years of its founding by detractors within and outside the country. Hindus are best placed to relate to Jews who live in an extremely volatile and hostile neighbourhood. They are also best placed to relate to the role of the so-called “Left Liberal” media in vilifying and providing a platform to vilify Jews in the garb of criticising the policies of the State of Israel. Hindus also relate to the use of political correctness as a tool by the Left Liberal media to silence or undermine facts.
Hindus are probably best placed to understand the role and effect of militant Islamism on national integration and security. They are best placed to understand the pivotal role the Left Liberal clique has played in encouraging the victim mentality of Islamists and portraying closet Islamists as “moderates”. Hindus are also best positioned to empathize with the disgust and righteous anger of the State of Israel at the utter hypocrisy and insufferable sanctimony of the international community which cloaks its anti-Jewish hatred in the language of international law and skewed human rights to abridge Israel’s inherent sovereign rights to defend itself against an enemy whose stated agenda is to wipe out Israel. What is indeed ironic is that both India and Israel happen to be examples of secular democracies in regions where both secularism and democracy do not find many takers, and yet these very values are used against both States to coerce them into making more and more concessions to pamper Islamist hardliners who are further emboldened by these concessions.
It is these and several such similarities which are responsible for the tsunami of support for Israel and Jews from Hindus in and outside India, and also explain the vocal and public expressions of disappointment by Hindus at the Indian Government’s vote against Israel at the UN.
Personally, I am of the opinion that Israel’s Operation Protective Edge is not a pre-emptive action in the anticipation of an attack. It is not even an “offensive against Gaza” as the Left Liberal media wants the world to believe. It is, in fact, an unwilling response that has been thrust upon a civilized sovereign nation to protect its citizens against the wanton attacks of Hamas, a designated terrorist organization which is driven by religious fanaticism that has been given the facade of the “Palestinian cause”. Israel did not “opt” to launch the Operation; it was left with no other option but to respond to protect its people. This is not a difficult distinction to comprehend. If people refuse to believe that Israel is fighting for its survival against a terrorist organization and has not launched a war against Palestinians, Israel must stop waking up those who are simply pretending to sleep. If people choose to ignore the fact that Israel has not invaded Gaza with the object of “democratizing” it, and has done its utmost to ensure that there is no “collateral damage”, Israel must not try to win the hearts and minds of those whose prejudices and jaundiced world-view prevent them from acknowledging facts.
In particular, Israel must stop appealing to the conscience of Europe because at this point the latter’s existence is seriously circumspect, and where there is no conscience, courage is bound to be missing too. If Europe is deliberately turning a blind eye to Islamist hooliganism because the latter has Jews on its cross hairs, it is doing so at its own peril and must again be reminded of this poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller who wrote in another era when Nazism was on the rise:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Merely because “champions” of democracy and multiculturalism in Europe do not have the will to take Islamism head on, they cannot expect Israel to follow suit because Islamism poses a very real existential threat to Israel. Therefore, Israel simply does not have the luxury of hosting conferences and organizing debates on the pros and cons of multiculturalism when Hamas is literally raining rockets by the hundreds on a daily basis. Whether or not Europe stands with Israel in its hour of need, Israel can be assured of the solidarity of millions of Hindus all over the world because Israel’s survival is imperative for the survival of all that Islamism hates and wants to destroy- reason, dignity and freedom of the individual, secularism, democracy and development.