A section of the world intelligentsia may prefer to claim that ours is an era of enlightenment and science, for peace and progress for all humanity. But that’s not true. One of the darkest phenomenon in world history, Anti-Semitism–the opposition to anything and everything Jewish i.e., life, philosophy, culture, religion, state–is on the rise across the globe.
Verified reports bear a testimony to the fact that even after more than two millennia of the persecution of Jews, hatred against them is increasingly blatant in America and Europe, the so-called torch bearers of modern civilization. Christian-Zionism is on the wane in America, perhaps indicating the possible end of Evangelical support for Israel in the future. Growing anti-Semitism has put even academic freedom under threat in the United States.
Jews, in general, continue to suffer hatred most among the ‘others,’ the world-over. The evil of contemporary anti-Semitism comes from a spectrum of sources, including neo-Nazis, left-wing extremists, and radical Islamists.
The scenario has the potential of threatening the very existence of Jews across the world. This necessitates that all measures be taken to ensure the security of the Jews wherever they live. To counter the growth of anti-Semitism and for Jews to stay safe and prosper, the Jewish diaspora should deepen its social-cultural-religious-spiritual bond with its host nations and initiate more informed dialogue with the mainstream communities therein.
The Jewish diaspora could certainly do this in India. It is well documented that the Indian Jewish community already has its strong age-old roots in the country. Different groups of the Jews arrived in India at different points of history. The Cochin Jews and Manipur Bene Menashe Jews arrived some 2000 years ago, the Bene Jews in the 4th century and the Baghdadi Jews in the 18th century. The Jews have proudly lived in India with since ancient times and were once a thriving community in the country.
Upon the independence of Israel in 1948, over 33000 Jews migrated from India to Israel, mainly for emotional-religious reasons. For the Jews still living in India (According to estimates, there are just about 6000 Jews with 35 synagogues across India today) the country can be said to be the second-safest place after Israel.
The Jewish diaspora in India could take steps to consolidate its deep traditional social, cultural and religious connections to the country. It could encourage articles on the Jewish life, philosophy, religion and world outlook in India’s numerous languages and dialects. This would promote awareness in Indians about the common values they share with the Jews. Such an awareness would go a long way in creating a shield of Indian society itself for the security of the Jews. This would automatically be influencing India’s decision makers into taking whatever Jew-friendly security measures might be required in future.
Needless to say, the current Indo-Jewish interaction is largely across the educated English-speaking social spectrum in India. There is little understanding among other groups in India as to what Jewish life really represents to India and the world. The awareness of Jewish values needs to be spread across a wider spectrum of Indians. It’s the common people who would further the connection between Indians and the Jews.
The average Indian needs to be made aware that the Jewish national home of Israel is highly humanistic and scientific, and benefits the entire global community. The masses in Indian need to know Judaism is not an expansionist or missionary religion. It has never promoted occupation of foreign territory nor imposed any religious dogma on any non-Jewish communities. The Jews have had a strong historic affinity and connection to their Holy Land, especially Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.
Both communities would benefit from such deepening of ties.