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November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘India’

Tibetan Monks Chant Prayers for Peace in Jerusalem

Monday, August 26th, 2013

The sounds of Tibetan monks chanting, an Iranian playing the santoor, western African style music, Rastafarian and reggae beats, as well as some Israeli rock, among other musical genres could recently be heard pulsating from Jerusalem’s Tower of David in the Old City.

The international and local rhythms made up the beats of the second annual Jerusalem Sacred Music Festival part of the Jerusalem Season of Culture, whose musical venues were located in different parts of the city, including the YMCA, Tzidkiyahu’s Cave, and Hebrew University.

Group's leader, Kachen Lobzang Tuskhor in the Tower of David. Photo Credit: Tzuri Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency.

Group’s leader, Kachen Lobzang Tuskhor in the Tower of David.
Photo Credit: Tzuri Cohen-Arazi, Tazpit News Agency.

The three day festival (August 20-23) attracted at least 1,000 visitors each night to the Tower of David, according to festival director Eilat Lieber. “It was very important for me to bring this unique festival to the Tower of David,” Lieber told Tazpit News Agency.

“This has been an important opportunity to hear not only great music but to experience the respect that exists between different religions and cultures across this city and in the world,” Lieber said.

“This kind of mutual respect is not entirely obvious as division and conflict are often the only themes portrayed in media coverage of Jerusalem,” added Tower of David spokeswoman Caroline Shapiro.

One of the musical performers, Alan Kushan, an Iranian living in the U.S., had positive remarks about the capital of Israel.

“Jerusalem is a wonderful city to perform in,” the Iranian santoor player, Alan Kushan told Tazpit. “It’s not only an honor to play in the city of King David and his son King Solomon. I think it’s a duty that I should come and play music. As an artist, my message to fellow Iranian musicians is not to be afraid of visiting this city.”

The exiled order of Tibetan Buddhists, known as the Tashi Lhunpo Monks, could also be seen walking around the ancient stones of the Tower of David, dressed in their traditional maroon robes. The monks, exiled from Tibet and now living in South India, chanted Tibetan prayers, accompanied by cymbals, gongs, bells and ceremonial dancing during their night performance.

It was the Tibetan monks’ first visit to Jerusalem, having spent the year touring across Europe and raising funds to continue their way of life at the South Indian monastery. “The monks cannot study in Tibet in freedom because the Chinese regime forbids them from doing so,” explained Jane Rasch, a spokeswoman for the group. “There is much understanding and sympathy between Israelis and these second-generation exiled monks living in India.”

At the Tower of David, the monks also created their signature mandala of peace (Yamantaka Mandela) made of colorful, crushed marble from southern India, as Israeli onlookers watched in fascination.

Kachen Lobzang Tuskhor, the leader of the visiting group of monks, told Tazpit that Jerusalem was a special city, but more crowded than he had anticipated. Lobzang, who speaks Tibetan, Hindi, and a little English, explained with a laugh that he learned two words in Hebrew during his visit: shalom and sababa.

Punjab Farmers Learn Farming Techniques from Israel

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

A 10-member delegation of dairy farmers from the Punjab region of India recently visited Israel to participate in a training program about modern dairy farming techniques at kibbutzim and moshavim across Israel.

A member of the delegation, Karnail Singh, told the Times of India that weather conditions in Israel are similar to Punjab but that in Israel there are “special arrangements to control heat stress.”

Singh noted that many dairy farms in Israel employ such technology as solar systems that generate electricity for the farming functions. There are 776 family-owned farms and 163 cooperative-based farms in Israel.

The Punjab delegation also included veterinarians, researchers and staff from the Punjab Dairy Development Board.

Report: Muslim Countries ‘Worst Violators of Religious Freedom’

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Ten out of the 15 countries with the worst religious freedom abuses are Muslim, according to the recently released U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2013 Annual Report identifying the status of religious freedom throughout the world, and citing countries that are the least tolerant of religious freedom.

IRFA requires the President of the United States, who has delegated this authority to the Secretary of State, to designate as “countries of particular concern,” or CPCs, those governments that have engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom.

IRFA defines “particularly severe” violations as ones that are “systematic, ongoing, and egregious,” including acts such as torture, prolonged detention without charges, disappearances, or “other flagrant denial[s] of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.”

After a country is designated a CPC, the President is required by law to take action to remedy the situation, or to invoke a waiver if circumstances warrant (As the late JFK put it: He may be an SOB, but he’s our SOB).

For the 2013 Annual Report, USCIRF recommends that the Secretary of State re-designate the following eight countries as CPCs: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Uzbekistan.

USCIRF also finds that seven other countries meet the CPC threshold and should be so designated: Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.

USCIRF also places countries on its Tier 2 list, where the country is on the threshold of a CPC status, meaning that the violations engaged in or tolerated by the government are particularly severe and that at least one, but not all three, of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard is met.

The Tier 2 designation provides advance warning of negative trends that could develop into severe violations of religious freedom, thereby giving policymakers an opportunity to engage early and increasing the likelihood of preventing or diminishing the violations. USCIRF has concluded that the following eight countries meet the Tier 2 standard in this reporting period: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, and Russia.

But not to worry – the State Department has issued indefinite waivers on taking any action against Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia. As a result of these waivers, the United States has not implemented any policy response tied to the CPC designation for either country.

Gives a whole new meaning to the slogan “Freedom must be earned.”

In Egypt, the government has failed to protect Coptic Christians, who comprise 10 percent of the country’s 90 million people. The Copts have been tortured and killed and individuals continue to be prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned for “contempt” or “defamation” of religion (Islam).

Somebody should start boycotting Egyptian products…

In Iran, religious freedom for minorities has deteriorated over the last year, a bad year for the Baha’is, Christians, and Sufi Muslims. The Report details that, “physical attacks, harassment, detention, arrests, and imprisonment” intensified.

Jews, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, and Zoroastrians have faced harassment, intimidation, discrimination, arrests, and imprisonment. Anyone who has dissented against the government, a theocratic republic, including Majority Shi’i and minority Sunni Muslims, have been intimidated, harassed, and detained. Several dissidents and human rights defenders have been sentenced to death and executed for “waging war against God.”

Human sacrifice, that must be their god’s favorite pastime.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev: What’s in a Name?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Killed Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen Muslim, has been identified by the FBI as a “strong believer” in Islam, and an adept of jihadism. Tamerlan was unabashed in his Muslim piety and avowal of jihad—the latter bringing him to the attention of both Russian intelligence and the FBI.

Indeed, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was identified last summer, during a 6-month sojourn in Russia, as having frequented a well-known jihad-fomenting mosque in Machachkala, Dagestan, meeting directly with a jihadist underground movement leader there at least six times.  It has further been suggested that Tamerlan and his surviving brother Dzhokar, a Boston Marathon bombing suspect co-conspirator, who was in thrall to his elder brother (as well as to jihadism), were jointly “inspired” by Doku Umarov, known as Russia’s Bin Laden, and also an ethnic Chechen. Umarov is believed to have organized jihad terror attacks, such as the mass-murderous homicide bombing of Moscow’s Metro system, which slaughtered at least 40. Ominously, as noted by Chechen analyst, Dr. Carlo Gallo, “Umarov has made statements in which he said that the enemy of Islam is not just Russia, but America….”

But the astute observations of young freelance writer Alyssa Kilzer—a client of Zubeidat Tsarnaev, mother to Tamerlan and Dzhokar—are even more chilling, and indicate that the brother’s “radicalization” was a pious Muslim family affair. Ms. Kilzer, who received facials from Zubeidat Tsarnaev for several years at the Tsarnaev household (410 Norfolk Street, on the border between Cambridge and Watertown, M.A.), therein witnessed arranged marriages, wife-battering, hijab donning, strict Islamic piety with repeated Koranic references, and ultimately, baleful anti-American Islamic conspiracy theories about 9/11/2001. Kilzer also alludes to the “political activities” of Zubeidat Tsarnaev and her husband (Anzor) had engaged in (a euphemism for their anti-Russian jihadism?), which caused the Daghestani native parents—both lawyers—to flee.

The Tsarnaev family ties to Daghestan—a primordial hub of Islamic jihadism in the Causcasus for over a millennium—may prove critical to understanding the jihad carnage in Boston wrought by the Tsarnaev brothers. Moreover, it is also worth noting that Dzhokar Tsarnaev was mentored (albeit only via e-mail correspondence) by a full-throated University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth apologist for so-called Chechen separatism, Brian Glyn Williams.

But there was an even more basic, profound warning sign of the Tsarnaev family’s dangerous Weltanschauung—the very name Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev chose for their eldest son: “Tamerlan(e).”

The cover art for "Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism," a miniature painting from a sixteenth century manuscript of the Zafarnama by Sharaf al-Din Ali-Yazdi, from the year 1552.

The cover art for “Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism,” a miniature painting from a sixteenth century manuscript of the Zafarnama by Sharaf al-Din Ali-Yazdi, from the year 1552.

The cover art for my recent book “Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism” (at right) reproduces a miniature painting from a sixteenth century manuscript of the Zafarnama by Sharaf al-Din Ali-Yazdi, the best-known example of early Persian historiography the Islamized Mongol conqueror Amir Timur-i-lang, or “Tamerlane.” The image was housed in the British Library and originally published/produced in Shiraz, Iran, 1552. It depicts soldiers filing before Tamerlane holding heads of their decapitated enemies which they used to build a tower shaped like the minaret of a mosque, in Baghdad (1401).

The upper inscription embedded within the painting reads,

How fate and destiny have cast awe in the minds of the “Tavaajis”! [king’s messengers, and herein, more generally, “traitors”], In an orderly and numerical fashion, They made minarets with the heads of the wretched “Tavaajis” As a lesson to the inhabitants of the world.

While the lower embedded inscription states,

So that no subordinate would dare to challenge superiors and no fox acts like a lion, and threatens the kings; Under the temptation of the demon pride…

Historian Jean Aubin’s 1962 analysis notes that the Baghdad siege lasted nearly forty days, adding that the Zafarnama insists, “in hopes of seeing the city surrender and conserve it intact, Tamerlane delayed several times the attack requested by his officers.” Ravaged by starvation, groups of soldiers and residents fled the city, “by jumping from the summit of the ramparts.” When Tamerlane’s forces launched their final assault, escape from Baghdad was prevented by archers who were arranged on both riverbanks of the Tigris.  Consistent with the earlier accounts of Browne and Grousset, Aubin summarizes the fate of Baghdad’s hapless population, stating,  

The rare survivors—approximately one person out of a hundred, according to the Zafar-nama—were sold into slavery. The only ones spared were theologians, sheiks, and dervishes who managed to reach Tamerlane’s pavilion. They were given food and clothes, and sent to a safe place.

Tamerlane was born at Kash (Shahr-i-Sebz, the “GreenCity”) in Transoxiana (some 50 miles south of Samarkand, in modern Uzbekistan), on April 8 (or 11), 1336 A.D.  Amir Turghay, his father, was chief of the Gurgan or Chagtai branch of the Barlas Turks. By age 34 (1369/70), Timur had killed his major rival (Mir Husain), becoming the pre-eminent ruler of Transoxiana. He spent the next six to seven years consolidating his power in Transoxiana before launching the aggressive conquests of Persia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and then attacking Hindustan (India) under the tottering Delhi Sultanate.

Israel Embassy in Nepal Arrests Suspected Iranian Spy

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

The Israeli Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal recently arrested an Iranian national and turned him over to local authorities on suspicion of spying. He had hidden his Iranian passport and possessed a fake Israeli passport, according the Himalayan Times reported Monday,

The suspect was identified as Mohsin Khosravian, who was arrested Saturday a week ago.

Officials at the Embassy said he “carried a tourist map of the Lazimpat area,” where the Israeli mission is located, an indication he might have been preparing to attack Israeli tourists.

Khosravian made “frequent and suspicious visits” to the Israeli Embassy area, but he told police after his arrest that he had left his hotel room to look for a place to repair his laptop.

He also claimed he traveled to Nepal on his way to Europe to seek asylum because he faces losses in his garment business.

Officials caught up with him when his wife, who is from Thailand, and two of his relatives from Iran arrived in Kathmandu from Bangkok to meet with him.

The Nepalese newspaper reported that the suspected spy entered Malaysia on his Iranian passport last month and then obtained a fake Israeli passport, under the name “Alexander,” in Kuala Lumpur. He allegedly used it receive an “on arrival” visa when he landed at the Nepalese airport on April 3.

The Nepal Police’s Central Bureau of Investigation and Special Bureau have launched investigation into his activities and possible terrorist links.

Last year, Turkish police said they busted an Iranian spy ring, and Indian police deported an Iranian national who was caught spying on a Chabad House, a synagogue and other places where Jews gather.

What a Cup of Soup Means

Monday, February 11th, 2013

For most people, we live our lives within circles. We travel from our homes to our work, an occasional night out and perhaps, if we are lucky, once or twice a year, we break out of the circle and fly off or drive off somewhere exciting for a few weeks. And then we return to our circles and remember the last vacation or dream of the next.

A few among us break this pattern and spend part of their lives flying very often as part of their jobs. As I organized this year’s MEGAComm (www.megacomm.org), I met two of these men. One came from India, one came from Canada. In addition to an amazing day of sessions and all, I had a chance to take each around a bit.

It is quite an experience to see your country, your world, through another’s eyes. On the first day, I took our guest from New Delhi around the walls of the Old City, parked on Mt. Zion, and walked with him through the Jewish Quarter and a bit of the Arab shuk (open market/bazaar). On the way down to the Kotel, the Western Wall, a woman stopped us.

She had a cup of hot liquid (soup, I guess) in her hand. I thought she was asking for money, as often happens there. Usually, I give a few coins, here and there. But this time, I realized that I had left the car with only my keys and cellular phone. I began to apologize when she said she didn’t want money.

She then handed me the soup and said, “could you give this to Shoshana?”

Almost as a reflex, I took the hot soup but looked at her in confusion, “who is Shoshana?”

“She’s sitting at the bottom on the steps, on the way to the Kotel,” she answered.

Now, I’ve never met Shoshana and it all seemed a bit strange. On the other hand, why not? So, I took the soup and set off with my guest, explaining about various sites in the Old City while carrying a warm cup of soup.

After a few minutes of walking, I came to the top of the many steps that lead down to the plaza where the Kotel stands. I’ve never counted the steps…but there are dozens of them – at a guess, I would say at least 50-60. I had planned to go about half way down where the view is incredible. Apparently, God and Shoshana’s friend had other plans. So, I gave my quick explanation, aware the soup would get cold.

Then I glanced down the steps – and found not one woman, but two, sitting on the side in chairs hoping people would give them money. Which was Shoshana?

I approached the first, “Are you Shoshana?” I asked her and she said she was not.

I approached the second, already sure this was the intended recipient. She already was looking at the soup, “Shoshana?” I asked and she confirmed that she was, gratefully took the soup, and thanked me – even gave me a blessing.

I think my guest from India was wondering in what kind of society does a stranger hand you a cup of soup? In what world do you then go searching to deliver it?

We walked down to the Kotel plaza; I explained about how this was retaining wall for our ancient Temples. I pointed to the levels of stone and explained about how the land on the other side is so much higher that a century or two ago, Arabs would throw garbage down on the Jewish worshipers and so a generous man from Europe donated funds to add the smaller stones and raise the level of the Wall.

I explained about how we turn to this Wall, the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, three times a day in our prayers and finally we began to climb back up those 60 or so stairs. Around 30 stairs up, a man stopped us, took my guest’s hand and as he began blessing him in rapid fire Hebrew (not a word of which could my friend understand), the man tied a red string around his wrist. Then he turned to me, carefully tying a string around my wrist as well.

An Only in Israel Story from India

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

We’re hosting the 7th Annual MEGAComm conference this week (www.megacomm.org) and it’s shaping up to be an amazing event. A little over a week ago, we got word that we’d have an honored guest from India, sent by Adobe. This is an incredible recognition of the value Adobe places on our community.

I’ve been working hard to finalize so many details – the conference bag, the magazine (with help from an amazing editor and designer, proofreaders, writers who have offered articles, etc.), fliers that need to be printed, and so much more. And, in the midst of all of this, I wanted to pick up our guest at the airport to ensure his entry to the country was smooth and more, to begin a dialog that has taken place for many months, even years, over email and telephone alone.

Elie knew that I was tired and so offered to drive, leaving me free to go into the terminal to welcome our guest. As we drove back to Jerusalem, I began pointing out some of the sights – how the land is relatively flat but soon we’d be climbing up to Jerusalem (and explained how we mean this in both a physical and spiritual sense). Of the battle of 1948, and the military vehicles that remain, to this day, to a monument to those who died in the war of our independence. Of the open areas that stretch out between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and the cities and towns along the way. Of the train passing, the lake that isn’t really there – except now because of the massive amounts of rain we’ve had recently.

And finally, we pointed to the tank museum to the right. Latrun. Our guest seemed interested and so we took a small detour to drive up and show him a few tanks that are part of the museum. A large part of Elie’s life remains the army and this became part of the discussion on Israel and life here as we drove.

And then our guest shared a story that has had me smiling since. He has family members in the Indian army and some have served in Kashmir an area known for the strife that plagues it. Apparently, there was an attack and hostages were taken – among them, four Israelis. The Indian army prepared to move in and when they got there, they found that the Israelis were so annoyed at having been kidnapped, they overpowered their kidnappers, tied them up and handed them over to the army.

I explained how so many Israelis after the army take off for foreign lands for a few months to see a world beyond our small borders. They leave behind family, friends and country – and take with them so much of who they have become. No, Israelis wouldn’t sit around and wait to be rescued if the opportunity arises.

I told this story to my son-in-law, who just finished the army, and to a soldier we needed a lift into Jerusalem this morning. When I got to the end of the story, about the Israelis rescuing themselves, they both laughed and smiled.

Even from India, there are “only in Israel” stories!

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/an-only-in-israel-story-from-india/2013/02/05/

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