Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90
Israeli flag at the Kotel

This week, Israel is celebrating 70 years of freedom for the Jewish people in their ancestral homeland.  For the Jewish people, this important occasion marks 70 years of democracy, prosperity, human rights, minority rights and fulfilling the eternal dream of our ancestors to rebuild Jerusalem.  On this important occasion, it is important to recall that Israel serves as a source of inspiration for many peoples struggling for democracy and freedom throughout the world including in countries that are not on the radar screen for many in the Jewish world, such as Bangladesh.

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For Shipan Kumer Basu, the President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, Israeli Independence Day has much significance: “As a Bangladeshi Hindu, I extend my greetings, congratulations and love to all peoples on this special occasion.  Today, I remember all of the Israeli soldiers who fought hard and sacrificed themselves for their wonderful nation.”

“For me, Israel is a symbol of peace in the world,” he noted.  “Only Israel takes a strong stance against the terror organizations that strike in the Muslim world and the horrible dictatorships that spread their destructive tentacles throughout the globe.   By doing this, Israel is working to advance peace worldwide while the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh is murdering off the Hindus and confiscating their properties.”

“We live in a peculiar land where we changed our identity three times,” Basu explained.  “Before 1947, we were Indian.  After 1947, we were East Pakistani and after 1971, we became Bangladeshi.  My grandfather, my father and me are from the same land but had different identities.  Bangladeshi Hindus are treated like kafir (unbelievers) and suffer all of the discrimination enshrined in Islamic law that this term entails.  We are forced to flee to neighboring India but in India, we are treated like infiltrators.”

“We cannot maintain our rituals, our culture and our mother tongue,” he noted.  “We have no right to speak out about the truth.  Muslim fundamentalists are driving us out. When we protest, they torture us.  The Muslim fundamentalists rape our mothers and sisters in front of their families.  They force the Hindus to convert to Islam under the pain of death.”

While noting Israel’s prosperity over the past 70 years, Basu emphasized that the Hindus of Bangladesh are hoping that Israel will continue to advance humanity worldwide for the next 70 years as well and to help the Hindus in Bangladesh to obtain their freedom: “We hope that Israel will help us to obtain our rights on our land.  On Israeli Independence Day, we the pro-Israel Hindus share our respect and pride for our Jewish brothers and sisters.  For us, Israel represents what we hope that Bangladesh will be one day and we all stand in solidarity with Israel.”

“Due to our great admiration for the State of Israel, we appeal to our Jewish brothers and sisters to help us to live peacefully,” he concluded.  “I spent 1 month and 17 days in jail because I supported a Hindu leader who was murdered, Kalidas Boral. Others have suffered much more than I have.  We need to one day enjoy the right to live peacefully as equal citizens. It is not our fault that we were born as Bangladeshi Hindus.  Please, help us to live just as the Jewish nation continues to live and to thrive.”

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Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”