FREMONT, CALIFORNIA: On Sunday afternoon, 15th October, a group of Hindu Americans gathered with Israeli and other Jewish Americans to express solidarity with them against the horrific attacks by Hamas last weekend.
Fremont Mayor Ms. Lily Mei, Dr. Romesh Japra – Americans4Hindus leader, founder of Festival of Globe (FOG) and India Post, Israeli Americans and other local Jewish people, and members of the Hindu and Indian communities, joined the peaceful demonstration which was held next to the Unity Sculpture in Fremont.
Sai Nagarajan said forcefully, “If you got a human heart, you got a soul, you will stand up today and say enough is enough!”
Dr. Romesh Japra addressed the gathering, “All the groups you mentioned earlier whether Hamas, Hezbollah, or ISIS, or Al Qaida, or Lashkar-e-Taiba, all these terrorist groups don’t belong on this earth. “We want to live peacefully. Everybody has to be happy, healthy, and celebrating. Life is all about celebration. But these terrorists come on the way. Like you said, in Mahabharata, Krishna said the same thing – they need to be eliminated, they need to be taken care of.”
He cautioned against giving in to the sympathy card for terrorists, “We are so happy the whole world is turned against them except a few countries, and we want to make sure that they continue doing that. Unfortunately, there is a lot of pressure for them to back off.”
Islamic terrorism hits far too close to home for Kashmiri Pandits and Bengalis whose ancestors fled Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) during the bloody Partition of India.
Pandits were forced to flee in the recent past (1989-90). One of the representatives of Kashmir Hindu Foundation (KHF) narrated, “What in one night, January 19th, 1990, we were thrown out of our own house in Kashmir, I have not gone back since.”His father, who was also present, had not been home for the last 33 years.“I just want to be here in solidarity with our Jewish friends here.” He concluded by saying that we need to stand up to terrorism.
FOG Bengal group members echoed similar sentiments. Simadri Moitra said, “When the world is marred by a specter of terrorism, it’s imperative for us as a community to stand steadfast against this terrorism meted out to innocent children and women. They don’t deserve it. No one deserves it. Let us all be a beacon of hope and show to the world that we stand against terrorism, we stand against any inhuman, brutal killings.”
Deb Biswas, whose parents and grandparents were kicked out of what is now Bangladesh, told the tragic story of members of his sister’s family. Jihadis marked them with the color ‘H’ (for ‘Hindu’) in yellow color, later segregating and slaughtering them. Fortunately, his parents got out while his mother was pregnant with Mr. Biswas’s eldest sister. “That’s the reason you could see me here”, he said.
There are a lot of moral debates on Israel’s counteroffensive.
FOG Board member Chandru Bhambhra pointed out, “Retaliation and terrorism are two different things. Retaliating is needed because we have to stand up.” He called for everyone to unite with Israel, cautioning that the next target could be India.
Members of the Jewish community, many of whom were emotional, expressed their gratitude to the Hindu American and Indian community for their support. They were also quick to distinguish between Hamas and the people of Palestine.
Ross Yasikov clarified, “Israel is never fighting against the people of Palestine. Israel is fighting the terrorist organization, Hamas that is committing unimaginable crimes against humanity. It’s not about the people of Palestine versus the people of Israel. Everybody wants to live in peace except for those terrorists.”
Natasha Gottlieb said, “It’s really helpful in these horrible times to have a friend because we have families there and Israel is grieving. And our kids, and our brothers, and sisters, they are fighting not only for our existence and the Israeli existence but against this sheer evil organization that committed crimes against humanity.”
She was extremely thankful that the Hindu community was standing with them despite the chance that they may get hate from the other side. “Thank you for taking a stand and staying strong with us.”
Talila Golan grew up in the very part of Israel that has been hit. Even though her immediate family has moved to other areas and is safe, she still has classmates, childhood friends, and their families there. Everyone would be evacuated as there were still bombs and missiles falling in the area, and they were still collecting bodies.
“Some of the bodies are hard to identify because they have been dismembered, burned. It’s not just the people that are mourning, the loss of people; it’s also my childhood, my youth country. It will be rebuilt, never will be the same.”She keeps having flashback memories of what was a beautiful, green place. “It was one of the major agricultural areas of Israel. Now gone! All the fruits, all the dairy cows, all that gone!”
She pointed out the indiscriminate killings of Hamas including Muslims and foreigners such as Thai and Filipino workers, German and American citizens. “It’s not in the news but Hamas killed everybody. They didn’t stop and ask who you are.“To be honest, what they did to us, they do to their own people all the time and it’s not in the news.”She said that they did not really care about Palestine; all they cared about was blaming Israel.
Dari said that what was happening in Israel has not happened since the Holocaust. “It’s(Hamas) not a liberation army; it’s a death army!”She said ominously that this was darkness not just for Israel, but for the whole world. “Because first they will come for Jewish people, or for Israelis, then they will come for Jewish people, then they will come for the whole human civilization.”
“We all need to be the ambassadors of life, of love, and of light. We need to unite, all the sane people of this world, and to fight this horror”, she concluded.
Talia Cogan said, “Every one of my fellow Jewish, Israeli friends start with ‘Thank you’ but it’s not something we say just for the sake of saying it because for the past week, we have not just been devastated by what happened in Israel and every one of us have family or friends there.”
She said they most hurt when they went on social media and saw people that just had pure hate in their hearts.
“It was so important for us to come here today, see that we still have friends and to hear from the Hindu community all the words of support. We just want this to end, we want no terrorism, we want everyone to live in peace, with our Hindu brothers, our Muslim brothers, our Christian brothers, it doesn’t matter.”
(Quotes and interviews have been edited by the author for clarity and brevity.)
India Post News Service