Practical Jewish-Hindu Cooperation
On Sunday, April 25, 2010, there was a large rally held in front of the Israeli embassy in New York. Its purpose was to show support for the State of Israel and protest the current US administration’s policies that demonize the Jewish State. The day before, I was among three recipients of the Vishwa Hindu Ratna award at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago. The rally, organized largely by Jewish groups, was notable for the significant presence of Hindu and Sikh groups. The award was given to me, a Jew, for my principled and ongoing defense of Hindus, especially in Bangladesh. Participants at both events recognize that radical Islam and its passive tolerance threaten the very existence of Jews and Hindus respectively. (And for the record, all of us are Americans, too, another favorite target of Islamists.)
I agree with critical thinkers like Dr. Daniel Pipes, who argue against infusing political debate with religion. That can turn rational discourse into zero sum vilification in which each side accuses the other of moral atrocity and believes it is not debating an issue but defending the divine. I am also trained as a social scientist, however, and that training directs me to investigate significant social factors that appear regularly in the same set of events. So, while not all acts of terrorism in this world have been perpetrated by Islamists, that factor has appeared in the overwhelming number of terrorist actions that refusing to look at it sacrifices the scientific method in favor of political correctness. Similarly, Judaism and Hinduism were two very prominent factors helping to organize and explain the events of that weekend.
In Chicago, Hindus were adamant on thanking this Jew for defending their co-religionists; and subsequent to the New York rally, I was part of numerous email chains by Jews wanting to know how we can thank Hindus for their passionate participation. Perhaps it is time to return the favor and save lives at the same time. Just as Israel is facing an existential threat at this moment so, too, Bangladesh’s Hindus are dying. That is not opinion but fact. At the time of India’s partition in 1948, they made up a little less than a third of East Pakistan’s population. When East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, Hindus were less than a fifth; thirty years later, less than one in ten; and some estimates put them at less than eight percent today. If we do nothing about it, they will follow Kashmir’s Hindu population into oblivion in our lifetime.
There are initial discussions underway to hold a rally in defense of these victims of ethnic cleansing, perhaps in New York (not clear yet), that would involve members of those same two religious communities. Clearly, such an event should resonate with all religious communities in the United States, this is simply the initial point of discussion. All individuals and organizations that would like to participate—if not by their presence by their donations—should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org; fully tax deductible online donations can be made by going to my web site, http://www.interfaithstrength.com and clicking the “Donate” button.