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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘India’

J.E. Dyer: Peace in our time – Asian Navies Converging on the Mediterranean

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

While Russia’s “interfleet naval task force” tootles around the Eastern Mediterranean making like it doesn’t know from Syria, China and India have joined the naval game in the Eastern Med.  Both have a regular naval presence off the coast of Somalia, and each has dispatched its most recent antipiracy task group – now relieved on-station – to conduct port visits in the Med.  The Chinese units are visiting ports in the Black Sea as well.

China sent a naval task force (coming off antipiracy duty) to visit ports in the Med in 2010.  The visits extended into the central Mediterranean during that deployment; this time they are in EASTMED and – a new wrinkle – the Black Sea.  India sent a naval task force to participate in an exercise with Atlantic navies – the US, UK, and France – in 2009.  This task force also conducted port visits in the Med, primarily in the Western half of the sea.  Both nations have regularly sent naval training task groups on worldwide cruises as well, spending time in the Med and conducting port visits.  So the unprecedented nature of what’s going on doesn’t come from a complete absence of naval presence in the Med by the Asian nations.

The difference today lies in everything else that’s going on, and the new paths being taken by India’s and China’s navies in particular.

India has just conducted an unprecedented four-day port visit in Haifa, during which Indian sailors roamed Israel as American sailors have for many years, and joint ceremonies were held with the local population.  A naval visit to Israel is a big political signal; India would not be sending it lightly.

India also enjoys good relations with Iran, including a big trade boom between the two neighbors, and is edging ever closer to Russia in Asian geopolitics.  (For Russia’s part, of course, Vladimir Putin visited Israel this summer and displayed an eye-opening level of sympathy for Israeli concerns.  Russia is also Iran’s chief foreign patron, and those aren’t mutually exclusive facts.  The world has already stopped being a place in which ideological sympathy between nations trumps geographic necessity.  Russia is trying to exert influence over her neighborhood, not foster an ideology.  She’ll make common cause on one principle in one place, and on a different principle in another.)  At any rate, an Indian naval port visit in Israel is a lower-profile event than a Russian one, but it conveys the sentiments of both Asian nations that Israel is a partner in stability in the rapidly churning Middle East.

India and Russia both have security problems with Sunni Islamist extremists, and neither wants to see radical Sunni Islamism become entrenched in government after government in the Arab world.  Iran’s radicalism is comparatively singular; there is only one Shia theocracy, and its geography is limited, unlike the geography of potential Sunni prizes, which stretches from Indonesia to Morocco.  Iran’s theocrats are ultimately opposed to the Sunni view of eschatological fulfillment, and the two views will battle it out at some point if Islamism becomes the dominant geopolitical factor in South Asia.

Iran has her uses as a foil in the emerging drama, and India and Russia will make use of her if they can.  They are less worried about Iran than they are about China and Sunni Islamism – especially as united with the Arab Spring.  Take that away from this piece, if you take nothing else.

Speaking of China, her task group has completed a port visit in Ukraine (“In your face, Russia”), and is now conducting separate port visits in Bulgaria and Turkey.  The visit of People’s Liberation Army Naval (PLAN) ships to the Black Sea is unprecedented, as will be their visit to Israel at the end of their Med circuit.  Yes, they’re scheduled to go to Israel too.

I believe it is invalid to interpret the Chinese deployment as a joint signal with Russia to discourage Western intervention in Syria.  I don’t think China is really worried that we’re going to intervene, at least not with military force.  China’s deployment is a signal of competition with Russia and India – separately and together – for the future of the Eastern hemisphere.  The Chinese visits to Ukraine and Bulgaria are as in-your-face as it gets, Russia-wise; Moscow is very sensitive about foreign navies in the Black Sea.  China’s deployment is not an expression of solidarity with her northern neighbor.

Indian Police: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Behind Attack on Israeli Diplomat

Monday, July 30th, 2012

The Delhi Police has concluded that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) was behind the February 13, 2012 bomb attack on an Israeli diplomat, according to a report by the Times of India.

The Delhi Police investigation report states that the suspects began planning the attacks on Israeli diplomats in India and other countries in January 2011 with the help of a local Indian journalist named Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, in apparent retaliation for the as-yet unsolved assassinations of a number of Iranian nuclear scientists. Kazmi, a veteran freelance journalist who worked part-time for Iran’s news agency IRNA, was the first person arrested in connection with the attack. The report revealed that Kazmi had established relations with the individuals – and by extension the IRGC – almost 10 years prior to the attacks, suggesting that the Iranian regime has established a significant covert network in India.

In the attack, Tali Yehoshua-Koren, the wife of the Defense Ministry’s representative to India, was injured when a motorcyclist attached a magnetic bomb to the embassy car in which she was driving in.

The report identifies five IRGC members in the car bombing, and while Delhi Police passed the details on to Iran in the hopes of obtaining more information, Iran has thus far been uncooperative. Houshang Afshar Irani, the central suspect, was the motorcyclist who attached the bomb to Yehoshua-Koren’s car, and he stated on his tourist visa that his profession in Iran was in building construction.

Sedaghatzadeh Masoud was accused by the Delhi police of being the operational head of the cell, and of planning not only the Delhi attack but the thwarted attack of the same nature on the same day in Tbilisi, Georgia and the botched attack against Israeli diplomats in Bangkok the following day. His profession was listed as sales employee in a commercial company in Iran.

The other suspects are Syed Ali Mahdiansadr, Mohammad Reza Abolghasemi, and Ali Akbar Norouzishayan. The investigation concluded that the five suspects entered the country on tourist visas and left immediately after the attack.

The police report also found that the cell extended beyond the five IRGC members, to include an Iranian woman – identified as Leila Rohani – who is suspected of playing a supporting role in the attacks in Delhi, Tbilisi, and Bangkok. The police allege that Rohani assisted the IRGC cell in the Bangkok attack of February 14 by finding them an apartment, and absconded to Tehran before police could arrest her.

At the time, Israel blamed Iran for the “coordinated series of attacks.”

The Advent of Hitler in India

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Hitler is considered a heinous historical by most of humanity, but in the last few years India has been witness to the advent in his popularity.

Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, an Assistant Professor at the Department of History & Civilization in Gautam Buddha University in India, is a scholar of the history of the Jewish communities in India. Last month he concluded a lecture tour to Israel, during which he gave a lecture titled “The Rise of Hitler’s Popularity in India” at Tel Aviv University. He notes that “India is the only country in the world where Jews have lived with their non-Jewish neighbours in complete harmony for more than two millennia. Jews are India’s smallest religious minority and Muslims its biggest, and the two have produced beautiful examples of amity, unlike anywhere else in the world.”

Hiltler has rapidly gained popularity in India in recent years. This phenomenon is a paradox because of the absence of Anti-Semitism in India. Yet, though the country has never known anti-Semitism, sales of Hiltler’s Mein Kampf have risen over 15% in the last decade. The name “Aryan” is becoming a popular first name in India, and “Hitler” is the name of the protagonist in many a Bollywood production.

Dr. Aafreedi offered a few explanations. Unlike the modern-day neo-Nazis who idealize Hitler for his racism and persecution of the Jews, Indians who respect Hitler do so out of misinformation. He believes that this rise in Hitler’s popularity is not a result of anti-Semitism: “It can be ascribed to the absence of Jewish Studies in India, where Islamic Studies are available at almost all major Indian universities. The level of ignorance among Indians about Jews is hysterical and the state has been unwilling to introduce Jewish Studies in India, whereas in the neighboring country China, Jewish Studies are available at ten of its universities.” He explains that Indians are largely ignorant of the Holocaust, and such individuals “tend to see it as a justified collateral damage for the greater good of Germany, influenced as they are by the way Hitler is often projected as a hero by the Hindu right wing,”

He observes that “Most of the Indians do not even know about the Jews, let alone the Holocaust. Among the section of the Indian population that is aware of the Holocaust, there are many who have fallen into the trap of the Holocaust deniers and have started either doubting it as a whole or just its scale.” As part of this misinformation, many Indians believe that the Axis powers of World War II were partially responsible for India’s independence from the British in 1947. It is believed that Hitler’s battle with the Allies forced Britain to focus their resources in Europe. Britain was unable to control a territory as large as India, leaving room for an Indian independence movement. Subhas Chandra Rose, a key figure of the Indian independence movement, collaborated with Axis powers to raise an army to fight the British.

Another reason is the younger generation’s great desire for strong leadership. Dr. Aafreedi thinks they do not have good examples.

Dr. Aafreedi believes that the key to combating this situation is the dissemination of facts. “I promote Jewish Studies in India, the study of Jewish history, culture and religion. It is just not possible to understand the two most widely practiced religions, Christianity and Islam, without a study of Judaism, oldest of the three Semitic monotheistic religions. It is important for any nation to appreciate and recognize the contributions made to it by its religious minorities. If this does not happen, the society becomes intolerant towards minorities, which has grave consequences not just for the minorities but also for the majority community. In India, Jews happen to be the smallest religious minority and the Muslims, the biggest. As a result of their small numbers, most of the Indians know them only through secondary sources, which are mostly unreliable, and not as a result of any direct contact with them. Ignorance gives birth to stereotypes and misconceptions, and hatred thrives on falsehood. Hence, it becomes very important to promote Jewish Studies in India. If this is not done, we would neglect one-sixth of mankind.”

Hitler’s Mein Kampf is available in almost all Indian languages, but the only book on the Holocaust in India’s national language, Hindi, is an FAQ about the Holocaust published by Yad Vashem. Dr. Aafreedi has worked and continues to work in spreading accurate information about Judaism and the Holocaust in India. He has organized cross-cultural and international student dialogues at the University of Lucknow. There he also invited Jewish authors and filmmakers to speak about their works and brought a number of Muslim intellectuals to speak out against anti-Semitism. “I believe that if awareness is created through the spread of information,” he says, “it can help in eliminating many misconceptions that people have.”

Pushkar, New Mecca for Israelis, Even Has Chabad ‘Missionaries’

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Calcutta News this morning reports on Pushkar, a town 11 km from Ajmer and about 130 km from the state capital of Jaipur, where many signboards and menus are in Hebrew, shopkeepers greet visitors with ‘Shalom’ and offer them humus, wraps and soup with dumplings.

“It’s a mini Israel out here with hotels and other businesses tailoring their offerings to suit tourists from the ‘promised land,’” according to CN.

So much so, that “moving around, the unsuspecting visitor could be forgiven for wondering just where they were with signboards in Hebrew splashed at many places.”

It’s like Ben Yehuda Street out there. “Where else will you see a menu featuring jachnoon, the traditional bread with tomatoes and eggs, Moussakas, cinammon cakes…”

And, if that’s not Israeli enough for you: “There is even a Chabad House, a community centre for the Jewish community run by missionaries.”

Now, there’s a line to warm the heart of every Lubavitcher…

According to the state tourism department, out of the 46,425 foreign tourists who visited Pushkar from April 2011 to March 2012, the majority were Israelis. Over the past three years, they say, 64 percent of all tourists have been Israelis.

Is it any wonder that local residents, including some priests who perform rituals at the ghats of the Pushkar lake, as well as shopkeepers, have taken classes in order to learn to speak fluent Hebrew?

And some hotel owners even accept shekels!

“They are good payers and love to enjoy the place. They know how to enjoy holidays,” Ravi Ranawat, owner of the Om Shiva resort, told CN. “I called a special cook from New Delhi and paid him triple rate so that he could make baked dishes and special sauces for the Israelis guests.”

But no meat please – Pushkar is a strictly vegetarian town.

Police Arrest Leader of Mumbai Terror Attack

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The Times of India reports that following more than three years of investigation, Indian security forces have arrested Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Hamza, alleged member of Lashker-e-Taiba (Army of the Righteous) and the Hindi instructor of 10 terrorists who executed the murderous attack in Mumbai in 2008.

The 30-year-old Ansari, aka Abu Jindal was arrested on June 21 when he arrived in India from one of the Gulf states, police said on Monday.

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, were killed during the attack. Through the heroic actions of his nanny, the Holtzberg’s toddler son, Moshe, managed to escape.

According to The Hindu, the Mumbai Police on Monday obtained a warrant from a local court to get custody of Ansari.

“We will ask for his custody after the Delhi Police exhaust his custody on July 5,” a Mumbai Police source said.

The suspect is accused of crimes involving the use of weapons, explosives and terrorism.

Sources say his was the mysterious voice recorded during the conversation between the terrorists and their handlers in Pakistan.

In the recording, Ansari allegedly told the terrorist team to tell the media that the “attack was a trailer and the entire movie was yet to come.”

In the intercepted tapes, Ansari was directing the terrorists to conceal their Pakistani identity and identify themselves as Hindi.

Police said Ansari’s participation was also confirmed by Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist arrested during the Mumbai attack. Kasab told an Indian court that one person by the name of Abu Jindal had tutored 10 terrorists on how to speak Hindi.

The Mumbai Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam told The Hindu that “the 10 men who attacked Mumbai left Karachi in Al Hussaini (boat), after which they hijacked the Indian shipping boat. Kuber. Kasab had said in his confession that Abu Hamza was one of the four persons who had come to see them off on Al Hussaini.”

Indian security agencies say they interrogated many terrorists to get to Ansari, who had been operating from terror camps in Karachi and Kashmir.

Video: In Role Reversal, McCain Critical of Obama’s ‘in Your Face’ on Pakistan

Friday, June 15th, 2012

What’s wrong with this picture? Why didn’t anybody tell me Sen. John McCain has joined the left wing of the Democratic party?

It looks like McCain is going all cautious on the Administration, accusing Obama of “antagonizing the Pakistanis” with his “in your face attitude.” I thought that’s what Republicans believe presidents should do.

Is McCain scared of something we don’t know?

In an interview Thursday with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff (see clip below), McCain said that the administration’s encouragement of India taking a more active role in Afghanistan while simultaneously criticizing Pakistan could be a recipe for disaster.

“To further antagonize Pakistan unnecessarily is not something I would particularly think is appropriate,” said the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “It’s a very delicate situation, one in which I would be very careful what we say publicly,” especially because the Pakistanis “are supporting organizations that are killing Americans.”

“I would have nurtured this relationship with India sort of the way we have been for years, rather than sort of antagonizing the Pakistanis even more with this kind of in your face attitude,” he said.

PBS quoted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta saying to reporters in Afghanistan last week that the United States was “reaching the limits of our patience” with Pakistan, for offering a “safe haven” for the Haqqani network, from which they attack U.S. forces.

Panetta visited New Delhi, to encourage the Indians to take a “more active role” in Afghanistan.

McCain said that he would “do it more quietly” on India.

McCain told Woodruff that Pakistan’s duplicitous behavior “doesn’t mean that we also cut off all relations with Pakistan because then it could become even more unstable and we could have even greater challenges since they have a nuclear inventory, among other things.”

First Limmud Held by the Great Wall of China

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Jews living in Asia gathered near the Great Wall of China for the first-ever Limmud event in the world most populous nation.

Sunday’s program, run by Limmud International, drew nearly 100 Jews from Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Israel, Britain and the United States.

The open Jewish learning program Limmud has held events in some 60 communities on five continents.

Sessions at the China event included Torah and Talmud text study; the role of women in Jewish community life; Chinese interest in Jews and Jewish communities; the history of the Bene Israel in India; the future of Jewish life in Asia, and a workshop on Asian-Jewish cooking.

There are an estimated 20,000 Jews living in East Asia. In China, as many as 6,000 Jews live on the mainland and 4,000 in Hong Kong. Asia is made up both of long-standing, organized Jewish communities like those in India, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and newer, smaller communities comprised largely of business people and diplomats. Many Jewish organizations are active in Asia, and the China Limmud was supported by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“This inaugural Limmud event in China is a powerful tribute to the determination of Jews throughout Asia to engage in Jewish learning and with Jewish community, overcoming vast distances and other hurdles,” said Limmud International Co-Chair, Helena Miller.

Israeli Chess Champion Loses Match, Wins Hearts

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Though a sudden-death match led to his defeat, a new Israeli hero has gained international recognition– and local celebrity – as a chess champion.

Belarus-born chess grandmaster Boris Gelfand, 43, lost Wednesday’s world chess championship in Moscow to title holder Viswanathan Anand of India.  Gelfand came one point shy of victory in a rapid tiebreaker, after playing 12 games with Anand.

Yet the title match earned Gelfand thousands of fans in Israel and around the world, with so many Israelis logging on to the website of the Israel Chess Federation to view the match that the site crashed.

Thousands of new friends have signed up for Gelfand’s fan page on Facebook, including many Russians, who came out in droves to support Russian-speaking Gelfand at the Moscow match.

Despite his loss, Gelfand’s efforts made the front pages of Israeli newspapers and topped the evening news.  Gelfand received congratulatory phone calls from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.  According to the Associated Press, chess enthusiast, former Prisoner of Zion and current head of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky – who helped Gelfand immigrate to Israel in 1998 – received several phone calls from the prime minister during the match, to discuss Gelfand’s moves and strategy.

Israel is a top five chess nation, boasting 50 chess grandmasters and medals from the Chess Olympiads. Almog Burstein, executive director of the Israel Chess Federation told the Associated Press that some 3,000 Israelis play in chess leagues throughout the country, with dozens of people having won international tournaments.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israeli-chess-champion-loses-match-wins-hearts/2012/06/03/

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