JEWS & Hindus Need Strengthening Bonding: Benkin

Jews and Hindus are natural allies because the two ethnoreligious groups “have similar values and face the same adversaries” and hence, they should remain united in mutual interest, says Richard Benkim, a human rights advocate. Jewish-Hindu solidarity manifests itself in strong relations between Israel and India. Security and intelligence cooperation between the two have been growing for many years, particularly in the aftermath of the November 2008 Islamist terror attacks in Mumbai. Following Narendra Modi’s election as India’s prime minister in 2013, “relations between India and Israel really flourished.” Benkin cited a 2018 pro-Israel rally held in Calcutta, India that drew 70,000 Hindus. In the United States Jews and Hindus face threat from an ultra-fundamentalist group, he said.

After having “failed at the federal level” to pass resolutions condemning India, American Islamists have recently focused on pressuring local governments, particularly city councils dominated by the progressive left, to endorse resolutions “vilifying India and accusing it of human rights abuses … accusing the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] majority government of being a Hindutva group [an ideology representing Hindu cultural nationalism] which basically persecutes the Muslim minority in that country. “They have made considerable headway in six states but suffered a major loss last year in Chicago when Jewish and Hindu grassroots activists mobilized to defeat an anti-India city council resolution. A Chicago oncologist and Hindu community leader, Dr. Bharat Barai, contacted Belkin to enlist the aid of the Jewish community. Partnering with the Middle East Forum’s Counter-Islamist Grid project, they organized a letter-writing campaign that resulted in 12,000 constituent letters to protest the anti-Hindu resolution. Jewish-Hindu solidarity is a two-way street, Benkin said. After the resolution’s defeat, Dr. Barai was notified by a council member that the same Islamist coalition was also “planning to introduce an anti-Israel resolution.” Dr. Barai informed Benkin of this initiative and told him, “Just as you stood with us, the Hindu community will stand with you.” The sentiment was further illustrated by Hindu participation in pro-Israel rallies during the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. “We didn’t have stronger advocates for Israel than the American Hindu community,” said Benkin.

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