From my childhood, growing up in rural West Bengal, India or Bharat as we call her, the pain and the agony of poor Hindus suffering due to Islamic expansionism and aggression always moved me. It motivated me to join the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and the quest for a solution later inspired me to start Hindu Samhati. As a Hindu monk and activist, very early on I decided to dedicate my life to seek answers to many unanswered questions on the sufferings of my people.
In my own lifetime, I have seen millions of Hindus perishing in Bangladesh since the partition of 1947 . Not only in Bangladesh, in Hindu majority independent India, also Hindus from Kashmir were thrown out with one night's notice and have not been able to return. They are still living as refugees in despicable conditions in their own land.
Elsewhere in India the situation is equally grim. In the last 1400 years, Islamist expansionism has wiped out most of the ancient indigenous civilizations in the East and taken over their territories. None could regain back their ancestral land.
The Jewish people are the only exception. Not only did they reclaim their ancient ancestral land from the clutches of the migrating Arabs, but also established a technologically advanced, spectacular democracy, a tolerant nation co-existing with other faiths in an otherwise intolerant neighborhood.
My recent first visit to Israel is a pilgrimage to discover the soul of the Jewish people and realize what motivated them to carry out a 2000-year-old struggle, despite being persecuted worldwide, despite losing 6 million people, almost 40% of its tiny global population and then to come back from the ashes and establish a beautiful nation.
In that context, my recent first visit to Israel is a pilgrimage to discover the soul of the Jewish people and realize what motivated them to carry out a 2000-year-old struggle, despite being persecuted worldwide, despite losing 6 million people, almost 40% of its tiny global population and then to come back from the ashes and establish a beautiful nation. My learning through this travel is dedicated to my people, the Hindus in Bharat and worldwide.
My exploration took me to a Kibbutz, Ma'agan Michael, the largest in Israel. While the previous day I had visited the Western Wall and the dedication of the Jewish people towards their faith moved me, the visit to the Kibbutz was an eyeopener. Dr. Martin Sherman, a weekly columnist for Arutz Sheva, who played a key role in organizing my visit, helped me walk through the Kibbutz.
Dr. Sherman has always been a big proponent of strong India - Israel and Hindu - Jewish relations. In articles published in the past, he mentions the need for strong India-Israel relations as an idea whose time has come. He urged the Israeli government to establish strong relations with the world's biggest democracy as they have established strong relations with the world's strongest. For the readers, I provide his two articles [2,3] and endorse his viewpoints.
Dr. Sherman is also founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategicisrael.org). He had always been supportive of our rallies in India where Devdutta Maji who accompanied me to Israel played a key role. These rallies with 20,000 people in 2014 and 70,000 people in 2018 took place in Kolkata, India where we showed solidarity with the people of Israel and the 2000-year-old struggle of the Jewish people. In our last rally we also urged the Indian government to move our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.
To explain to the Hindus in Bharat, a Kibbutz is essentially a center in Israel, far away from the glitter of Tel Aviv, where everything is shared, and everyone is equal. It is here the sapling of Jewish Nationalism or Zionism was nurtured and grew into a mighty tree. When the Jewish people were carrying out their 2000-year-old struggle, and were being persecuted worldwide, many felt the urge from throughout the world to return to their ancestral land which they could call home.
Their religious books had always emphasized Israel as the home of their ancestors. Yet that land was being occupied by the Arabs and they would not spare an inch of prime land suitable for a human to live in. The Jews who were returning or did Aliyah, as is called in Hebrew, could only find swamps infested with mosquitoes or dry, arid land unsuitable for a human to live. In their love for their ancestral homeland, they accepted with open arms whatever came to them.
The young Jewish boys and girls who settled in these Kibbutz, worked in the fields and transformed the desert into an oasis. There was only one kitchen and one goal, one bigger purpose for all residents. It was a unique social experiment, akin to a commune but with an element of faith, fulfilling the purpose of the Almighty to reclaim the ancient land of their ancestors.
David Ben Gurion, the Jewish Hero and the first Prime Minister of Israel and who reclaimed Israel, was a big proponent of the Kibbutz. While young Jewish boys and girls, tilled the land and made the "Desert Bloom" they had to ward off regular attacks from Arab decoits (bandits). Here in these Kibbutzim thus blossomed comradeship, brotherhood, fellow-feeling and a disciplined patriotic approach to defend the land.
When I visited the Kibbutz, I saw the best class agrarian economy centered around the Kibbutz. There were beautiful colored fishes, cows being bathed and milked using the most advanced technology. Everything was mechanized and measured. Everything had an application of science and technology to it. It is this mindset of using science and technology and combining businesses with it, that helped the Jewish people overcome all odds and become a nation of innovators and the start-up capital of the world.
But the motivation and the drive to endure the unendurable, to fight malaria, diseases, arid desert conditions with not even a drop of water to drink at times, fight intolerant Muslim marauders and even mighty Arab armies who invaded Israel the very next day after David Ben Gurion declared independence, came from the Kibbutz. Here the brotherhood of Jews who came from different parts of the world and adopted the Kibbutz as their home was forged with blood and sweat.
As I continue my travel throughout Israel, I am overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on me by the people of Israel. During my visit, I had the honor to address a gathering in the International Centre for Public Diplomacy where MK Sheron Haskel was in attendance as well as a few other dignitaries. My address was very well received.
I also had the honor to meet heroes of Israel, like ex-Major General of Israel Defence Force Gershon HaCohen, Mr. Zalman Shoval who is special Envoy for Prime Minister Netanyahu, former two-time Ambassador to US and who had worked with David Ben Gurion, intellectuals like Dr. Martin Sherman and Prof. Mordechai Kedar, Knesset (Israeli Parliament) members and cyber security expert like M.K. Anat Berko, Mr Nir Koren, VP of Israel Innovation Institute and others.
My quest to touch the touch the heart of the Jewish people and realize their motivation to strive, invent and innovate, reclaim their ancestral land despite global massacres after massacres, is ongoing. As I leave the shores of the Mediterranean and head back to Bharat, I carry the message of Hope or Hakitva for a billion plus Hindus. If the tiny Jewish population of just 16 million people worldwide and just 6.5 million in Israel can do it, it is possible the Hindus can adopt the same principles to reclaim their lost lands as well.
Next year in Dhaka and Lahore
Am Israel Chai. Bharat Mata ki Jai. May the Hindu-Jewish brotherhood grow and prosper.
** Thanks to the Hindu community of America, Prof. Martin Sherman, Sheri Oz, Alan Mazursky, Dr. Michelle Harrison, Phyllis Chesler, Peggy Shapiro, Zemira Eli Nathan, Michael Dickson, Yoni Zierler and Gilad Kabilo from StandWithUS who sent me the invitation, Moshe Govrin, Sharon Esh, brother Emanuel and family, Laxman and well-wishers of our movement for making this visit a reality and to Arutz Sheva who helped publicize it.
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