American Jews need Save-Soviet-Jewry Effort
Dr. Richard Benkin is an independent human rights activist who has been part of efforts to correct injustices worldwide. His web site, InterfaithStrength, is linked in his profile.
Some months back, principles from the Hindu American Foundation contacted me about the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). USCIRF was created as part of the International Religious Freedom Act during the Clinton Administration to help the US government consider issues of religious freedom in its foreign policy; although geopolitical considerations sometimes trump that, as in the cases of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. USCIRF was finally going to address the Bangladeshi Hindu issue, and they asked me for contacts inside Bangladesh who could provide concrete evidence of the atrocities and of the Bangladeshi government's complicity. That was an easy assignment, and based on my information, USCIRF met with Bangladeshi human rights activist and attorney, Rabindra Ghosh who provided tons of verified evidence.
Earlier this year, I was at a Mandir in the rural Burdwan District of West Bengal. Most of the people with me were there because of my work to stop anti-Hindu persecution in Bangladesh. One man, however, was there to keep an eye on us. He was part of West Bengal's ruling party, the Trinamool Congress (TMC), led with an iron fist by strongwoman Mamata Banerjee. I confronted him about why the West Bengal government turns a blind eye toward anti-Hindu persecution in the state and the illegal infiltration from Bangladesh that has pushed Hindus out of several key border areas. He admitted that both were problems but said that if they raised the issue "certain parties" would object strenuously. "So what," I replied. "Isn't it more important to stop the persecution?" Yes, he said, but they needed those "certain parties" (i.e., code for Muslims) as the party's vote bank.
What is the media's "Israel treatment"? It is the imposition of a general narrative over the situation, which then mandates that all events be interpreted within its framework; all editorial decisions about what gets covered (and what does not) and how it is covered must come out of that narrative. Matti Friedman, who was an Associated Press reporter and editor in its Jerusalem bureau from 2006-2011, has done an excellent job of describing how that narrative works to mislead populations whose misinformed actions then seem to validate this "narrative construct that is largely fiction." How would such a narrative work to distort any actions India might take to save Hindus in Bangladesh?
With the world's attention focused on headline grabbing international matters in Gaza, the Ukraine, Syria and soon somewhere else, victims of ongoing human rights atrocities continue to suffer as they have day after day, month after month, year after year. For whatever set of reasons, Hindus in Bangladesh have always found their victimization pushed aside by "more important" matters. And today, while the UN Security Council and others posture and issue declarations about hundreds dying in the Middle East, they are silent about the millions of Bangladeshi Hindus who face government tolerated atrocities daily; atrocities that include murder, rape (including gang rape), child abduction, forced conversion, religious desecration, and more.
I was going to write an extensive blog about how the murder of three Jewish teens is a human rights violation that the world has a tough time treating as one. Instead, I am reproducing statements about the murder by US President Barack Obama and British PM David Cameron.
Few Americans are aware of the potentially earth-shaking events currently unfolding in India. The left-center Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, which has ruled India for all but eight of its 67 years of national existence, is about to be voted out of power in favor of the conservative opposition under the leadership of Narendra Modi. Fewer still realize what a fantastic thing it is for the United States.
People who have any ground-up familiarity with Bangladesh find the notion of it as a "moderate" country laughable. It's an idea that springs forth from elites in the diplomatic corps, academia, the media, and leftists everywhere. It's not a notion that has any relation to what is actually happening there.
The year 2014 begins with a particularly pernicious and irresponsible piece of legislation circulating the United States Congress. It is H.R. 417 which begins by praising India but follows with nothing but propaganda and mischaracterizations that could set back US-India relations by decades. The resolution singles out India as a nation that regularly tolerates attacks on minorities, while its backers would never think of calling out the worst violators of minority rights including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Moreover, I have been in India for about a month every year, and every time I've been there, there has been at least one terrorist attack and anti-religious action. Not one of them has been perpetrated against a minority, but every single one has been perpetrated against the majority Hindu community.
As we have been reporting here and elsewhere, we seem to be turning a corner in our struggle to stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh. A US locality has officially recognized this human rights atrocity (you can help get your own to do the same -- contact me), two human rights NGOs are looking at the matter seriously, USCIRF has admitted that this is a serious issue for religious freedom in Bangladesh, and more of official Washington is taking notice even while our foreign policy is focused on Iran and the Middle East--and that is where you can help.
As Bangladesh slips further into anarchy, approaching its first scheduled elections since changing the constitutional process for them; we are seeing both increased violence against Hindus in Bangladesh, allowed to continue with impunity by Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League government; and progress in the fight to stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from the United States.
UPDATE: On October 1, 2013, Mount Prospect, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, did issue the proclamation noted in this post and thereby became the first US locality to recognize the oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh. We expect this to be the first of many. Click here.