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Arunansh B Goswami
An Indo-Israel friendship ambassador.

Indo-Israeli Saga of Tolerance

Author of this article near the Western Wall in Jerusalem Israel. Image Credits: Arunansh B. Goswami.

Doctrinaire supremacists masquerading as liberal activists, are at the forefront in criticising Israel and India for it’s “so called” troubling human rights record, as far as protection of minorities is concerned. But the fact is they use propaganda to abnegate the manifest history of tolerance of both these countries, and the pain and persecution inflicted on Jews and Hindus, two substantially non proselytising faiths by erstwhile imperial and colonial powers, reason being they want to deny Israel and India it’s right to exist.

 

Author’s father looking at the Israeli flag near the Western Wall in Jerusalem Israel. Image Credits: Arunansh B. Goswami.

In Jerusalem the author met Arab taxi drivers earning their livelihood without hinderance, and in Nazareth he saw Arabs doing their business peacefully under Israeli protection, confectioners, Falafel vendors so on and so forth, but what does the dystopian media show, it shows the so called “Apartheid” regime of Israel. While Synagogues are either closed or under heavy protection due to threat alerts in much of the Middle East, Mosques are open for the faithful in Israel and diversity is celebrated, we need to remember that Israel’s declaration of independence, dated May 14th 1948, stated that the state will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex”.

Author’s mother standing near the Western Wall in Jerusalem Israel after praying. Image Credits: Arunansh B. Goswami.

Coming to India, which has been under attack by the same dystopian media recently for so called rise in “Islamophobia”, India is a nation which bled profusely due to foreign invasions, that tried to obliterate the native culture, like Rome and Ancient Greece were destroyed, but Bharuch Hashem we survived, something that the Muslim poet Allama Iqbal has also written about in his “Tarana e Hind.” Keeping national pain aside, monuments that were commissioned by the Turko-Mongol invaders, are conserved in India as manifestation of India’s tolerant world view, that considers them as much as a part of Indian history as any other monument, compare this manifest Indian tolerance with the history of Eastern European nations and Türkiye which competed with each other to change mosques into churches and churches into mosques respectively. All religions of the world find a peaceful home in India, and all 73 sects of Islam live in India which do not live together even in any Muslim country. The percentage of Muslims in India has risen from about 9.8 per cent in 1951 to 14.2 per cent by 2011, would this have ever happened under an “Islamophobic regime”?  

A Comparison

Once the biggest church in entire Christendom, Hagia Sophia was converted into a Mosque by Erdogan in Türkiye. Image Credits: Antoine Taveneaux CC BY SA 3.0 .

In order to understand the tolerance of Israel and India we need to compare it with situation in some other parts of the globe. TRT the Turkish newsgroup which pretends to be the champion of human rights around the globe, specifically attacks Israel and India but consistently fails to explain the historical persecution of Christians in Ottoman Empire and the rising anti-Semitism and Hinduphobia in Türkiye under Erdogan. 

570 years back Christian chants were heard in what was once the largest church of Christendom, Hagia Sophia in one of the biggest Christian cities of the world Constantinople, until it was made a mosque by Ottomans who could have allowed it to continue as a Church, and made a mosque to function along with the Church to send a message of religious tolerance, like in a Hindu majority India, the huge Jama Mosque is protected by the state in it’s capital New Delhi, but the Ottomans did not do that. 

They also started a system of slavery called Devshirme in which non-Muslim mostly Christian boys were forcibly taken from their parents from the Balkans, converted to Islam, trained and made into Janissaries and officers of Ottoman Sultan. Erdogan’s Türkiye following the ideology of neo-Ottomanism converted the Hagia Sophia Museum again into a mosque sending a clear signal that tolerance is not to be respected, his policy shall be to ensure the supremacy of Sunni Turks.

Spanish Inquisition in which new converts erstwhile non Catholics including Jews were persecuted. Image Credits: Wellcome Collection gallery CC BY SA 4.0 .

Like TRT several European media channels raise the question of so called Israeli Apartheid and Indian Islamophobia but conveniently ignore the forced conversion and expulsion of Moorish Muslims from Europe along with Jews also they ignore the rising anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe in the present day. At its height, Iberia had over 5 million Muslims, a majority of the land’s people after the Christian reconquest of Spain the violence against Muslims started, In 1499, Francisco Jimenez de Cisernos, a cardinal in the Catholic Church was sent to southern Spain to “speed up” the conversion process. His approach was to harass the Muslims until they converted. All manuscripts written in Arabic were burned (except for medical ones) between 1609 and 1614 the Moriscos (Muslims of Spain) were expelled from Spain for political and religious reasons. All Morisco communities had to leave their villages in Spain, from 1526 the Hispanic Muslim population no longer officially existed.

 

Goan Inquisition instituted by colonial Portuguese government in Goa in India to persecute new converts from Hinduism to Roman Catholicism and Jews. Image Credits: Bernard Picart CC BY SA 4.0 .

Both Jews and Hindus were persecuted in Goa in present day India by the former Portuguese colonial government. Fr. Francis Xavier urged King John the III of Portugal to set up the Inquisition in Goa to punish new Christian converts from Hinduism who still followed their old Indian customs and also to suppress Judaism  because Jews refused to reconvert to Roman Catholicism. By 1559 Portuguese  missionaries ordered the destruction of  Hindu temples in that region and in 1567, in Bardez  300 Hindu temples  were destroyed. Dr. Jeronimo Dias, a Marrano Jew, was strangled and burnt in 1543 during the Goan inquisition. When it comes to American media before asking Israel and India about their human rights record, they first need to explain, why did they occupy the land of native Americans and destroyed their culture substantially? Why did European Americans promote African slave trade and slave labour? Why is it that still many African-Americans feel discriminated against in the country that feels proud of calling itself the land of liberty and freedom? 

Peace and Prosperity

Author of this article praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in Israel. Image Credits: Arunansh B. Goswami.

Inspite of persecution by many intolerant rulers who destroyed more than 1000 Hindu temples, India never gave away it’s basic nature of tolerance and syncretism as is manifested through it’s constitution, Article 26 of India’s Constitution gives to it’s citizens and even to foreigners in India, freedom to manage religious affairs, it includes the right to form and maintain institutions for religious and charitable intents. The right to manage its own affairs in the matter of religion. The right to acquire the immovable and movable property. The right to administer such property according to the law.

Similarly even after destruction of the first and the second Jewish Temple and many Synagogues around the world the Jews still provide state protection to religious minorities in Israel. The collective rights of the Arab minority in Israel to respect its own unique culture, history, tradition and language has been recognised expressly in the year 2000 in which the Israeli Knesset  adopted an amendment to the law of State Education. This shows that the dystopian media that criticises these nations on their human rights record is nothing but motivated to deny these nations their right to exist, something that Bharuch Hashem Israel and India will oppose together with one voice. 

About the Author
Mr. Arunansh B. Goswami is an advocate, historian and popular author based in India. He studied history at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi, read law at Campus Law Centre, University of Delhi, completed a diploma in International Environmental Law, and later joined the Bar Council of Delhi and Supreme Court Bar Association in India. Mr. Goswami has written around 200 articles for different prestigious publications, newspapers, magazines and journals around the world. He works as a consultant with Union Minister of Steel and Civil Aviation of India, Mr. J. M. Scindia and Mrs. Priyadarshini Raje Scindia titular Queen of the erstwhile princely state of Gwalior. Mr. Goswami has studied Israeli and Jewish History deeply and travelled extensively in Israel, and other parts of the world, to explore and research about sites associated with Jews.
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