A municipal worker cleans the street in front of a bilboard displaying Indian and Israeli flags for PM Netanyahu's visit, Ahmedabad, India, January 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMIT DAVE)
Over 70,000 Hindus in India engaged in what has been described as the “largest pro-Israel rally in history” in Kolkata on February 14, 2018.
There were massive calls for India to stand by Israel and move its embassy to Jerusalem. The rally was one of several organized by the Hindu Samhati, longtime supporters of close India-Israel relations.
For many in India, Israel has become synonymous with survival, creativity and prosperity.
They understand the common challenges both nations face with envious enemies trying to undermine both the tiny Jewish state and India. To show solidarity with the Jewish people and the State of Israel, the Hindu Samhati organized tens of thousands of people to express solidarity with Israel as part of its foundation day.
Sri Tapan Ghosh, head of the Hindu Samhati, urged the crowd to bless the India-Israel alliance.
He pointed out that Jews for the last 2,000 years, similar to Hindus, have been fighting a battle for existence. In West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, in the villages of Deganga, Bardman, Kaliachak, Medinipur, Baduria, Hindus are being attacked by hostile neighbors, just as Jews are fighting for their existence in little Israel.
This struggle for survival unites Hindus and Jews, apart from the 2,500 years of glorious history that unites both the communities.
The February 14 rally was not the first. In 2014, when Hamas terrorism against Israel was on the rise, when rockets were being launched at Israel by an enemy who used women and children as human shields and Israel had to strike back in self-defense, the world urged Israel to show restraint, refrain from defending itself. It was Hindu Samhati that staged the biggest pro-Israel rally outside Israel, with 20,000 people, in a show of solidarity. Then as now, Sri Tapan Ghosh urged the entire Hindu world to stand strong with Israel.
One of the key goals of the rally was to urge the Indian government to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Hundreds of rally participants carried signs stating, “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel.” “Moving our embassy to Jerusalem will honor Israel’s long-standing commitment to peace and strengthen the bond between our two ancient peoples,” said Tapan Ghosh. A resolution to this effect was passed by a voice vote.
The February 14 rally to honor democracy, human rights, women’s rights and freedom of speech was attended by some of India’s most prominent human rights activists, including Devdutta Maji, vice-president of Hindu Samhati, Gen. G.D. Bakshi, noted pro-Israel journalist Vijeta Uniyal and host of other speakers.
The crowd was also made up of villagers from the states of Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand.
The crowd rallied with banners and posters saying, “Israel- India partners for peace,” “India-Israel. Ancient Cultures.
Modern Miracles,” “India-Israel, Friendship Forever,” “India-Israel represents – honoring women’s rights, freedom of speech, respect for human rights, liberty and equality for all, Democracy.”
“India stands with Israel” and “Hindus Love Israel” resonated in the air.
The Hindu Samhati was founded 10 years ago to serve the poorest of poor Hindus in rural heartland of Eastern Bharat, which is plagued by Islamist violence, insecurity and thereby poverty.
It has emerged as a powerful voice for human rights. The rally turnout is testimony of the fact that Hindus believe in the India-Israel alliance. The Hindu Samhati leadership promise to work toward closer India-Israel relations in times to come, as these two ancient cultures become modern miracles which together can make the world a better place.The author is a research scholar residing in the United States. He has been vocal about strong relations between the Hindu and the Jewish community and had attended the first Hindu-Jewish Dialogue held in Chicago. He is also involved in founding a social media group, the Jewish Hindu Yezidi coalition, to bring different communities together and promote unity.