A flood-affected girl eats her food inside a school, which has been converted into a temporary relief camp, in Kochi in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 20, 2018. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/SIVARAM V)
According to Cicero, “A true friend is more to be esteemed than kinfolk.” On this day more than ever, this statement reflects the reality that stands behind Indian-Israeli relations.
Horrific floods have struck Kerala, India. Nearly 400 people have been killed and thousands of people remain stranded. For the state of Kerala, this is literally the worst flood of the century. At this critical juncture, India needs friends more than ever, and Israel, a true friend of India, is once again coming to the rescue.
IsraAid, an Israeli humanitarian organization, has sent an emergency response team to help. They will distribute blankets, tents and other items of critical importance to the Kerala flood victims. This team will assess the “long-term psychological, water, sanitation and hygiene needs in the affected communities.” According to the Times of Israel, the emergency response team includes experienced members of IsraAid Nepal, who have received extensive training in humanitarian relief and last year responded to flooding in Nepal.”
As a Hindu residing in India, this gesture of friendship from Israel means the world to me and many others in India. It shows us who our true friends are and demonstrates that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was correct when he decided to warm up India’s relationship with Israel.
Of course, Hindu India has much in common with the State of Israel. Both Hindu India and Jewish Israel are ancient nations with deep roots to their ancestral homelands, and whose very existence upsets the radical Islamists merely due to the warped radical belief that any land that at one point in time belonged to Muslims must always belong to Muslims. Just as the Indian victims of Pakistani terrorism are not getting the limelight they deserve in the West, Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism suffer a similar fate.
And Hindus both in Pakistan and Bangladesh are treated in an abhorrent manner, just as the Jews in Muslim countries are. The dead body of Sabuj Biswas, a minority college student, was recently found in Bangladesh. Biswas was murdered by someone associated with the ruling Awami League government. Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan suffer from murders, rapes, the destruction and seizure of land and property, the desecration of holy sites, incitement and more on a daily basis.
SIMILARLY, JEWS in Muslim countries like Turkey and Iran also face intense discrimination. According to Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut, some Turks are even using the recent crisis in US-Turkish relations as an opportunity to spread antisemitic conspiracy theories. Such incitement often can lead to violence, as was demonstrated by the attack on the Neve Shalom Synagogue in Turkey last year. Thus, we Hindus feel the pain experienced by Jews in Muslim countries.
On top of that, both India and Israel are democracies that respect human rights and minority rights, even though both nations suffered unspeakable horrors following the implementation of partition plans. During the partition of India, several hundred thousand people were killed, at least 75,000 women were raped, 83,000 women were abducted, many non-Muslims were forcefully converted to Islam and 12 million people became refugees. We Hindus from the Bengal region are still living in the shadow of the Noakhali riots of 1946 and the Great Calcutta Killings, as we witness our Muslim neighbors in Bangladesh – including a Bangladeshi minister and MP –commemorating Indian Independence Day as a day of mourning, even though Sheikh Mujib (the father of Sheikh Hasina) did not really want Bangladeshi Independence and sought to be prime minister of Pakistan.
The Jews of Israel also suffered immensely in 1948, when the land was partitioned between Jews and Arabs. The massacre of the Hadassah medical convoy and the horrific atrocities committed during the siege of the Old City of Jerusalem during Israel’s War of Independence highlight this point immensely. And with the rocket attacks and incendiary kite terrorist attacks, Israel is still living in the shadow of such atrocities.
I see an uncanny parallel between Muslims who mourn India’s Independence Day and Muslims who mourn Israel’s Independence Day. As certain Israeli Arabs look to establish an International Israeli Apartheid Day, as a foreign observer, I see that Israel, like India, is still struggling against those who cannot tolerate her right to exist. This is quite unfortunate.
However, as a Bangladeshi Hindu living in India, I would like to offer my support to a fellow democracy struggling against radical Islamist terrorism, which has always been there for India during her hour of need. And I would like to say thank you to the State of Israel from the bottom of my heart for helping Kerala state. The writer is the president of the World Hindu Struggle Committee.
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