The first-ever Hebrew language and culture conference in South Asia was hosted at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and organized by none other than Muslims scholars in a show of Muslim-Jewish amity in India.
Among a dozen Indian and Israeli institutions represented at the “Hebrew Language and Culture: Reception, Self Conception and Intercultural Relations” conference was Ariel University, located in Samaria, which is considered by most Arab and Muslim leaders as “occupied” by Israel.
The event was significant, not only because of its uniqueness and location at the university whose students have frequently demonstrated against Israel’s military operations, but also because it was largely organized by Muslim scholars at a time when Jews and Muslims are perceived as natural adversaries.
The conference focused on literature and psychology; language and religion; names in ancient and modern Hebrew; Halakhah, Jewish identity and modernization; law and language; Hebrew, Aramaic and Arabic and the mutual influences; the language of the Bible, as well as sessions held on the Indian Jews, and India in Hebrew Literature and Hebrew in India.
Ambassador of Israel to India Alon Ushpiz said that “the impressive depth of the discussions in the conference is a mirror image of the academic passion found in Israel for Indian culture, heritage, history and languages.”
“The key to our mutual academic fascination is the fact that both Israel and India have managed to preserve their ancient heritage while constantly moving forward with the rapidly changing world,” he said.
Jawaharlal Nehru University, the institution that hosted the conference, is currently the only Indian university that offers courses in the Hebrew language, Jewish and Holocaust Studies, which are absolutely non-existent in Indian academia in spite of a continuous Jewish presence in India for at least twelve centuries.
Written by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi for Tazpit News Agency