India and Israel Start to See Enemies Within

Jul 28, 2015

PHOTOGRAPHER: NARINDER NANU/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

By Pankaj Mishra

Cultural revolutions are underway in two nation-states — India and Israel — founded by secular nationalists in the late 1940s. Right-wing demagogues, emerging in both countries from among previously unrepresented masses, seek to forge a new national identity by stigmatizing particular religious and secular groups.

There are eerie similarities between the Hindu thugs who assault Muslim males marrying Hindu women and followers of the far-right Israeli group Lehava (Flame), who try to break up weddings between Muslims and Jews.

More importantly, religious-political chauvinism is now amplified by figures in power as well. Last week, Israel’s minister of religious services claimed that Reform Jews were not Jews. A minister in Narendra Modi’s government has described Indian Muslims and Christians in India as “bastards.”

The new ruling classes seem obsessed with moral and patriotic education, reverence for national symbols and icons (mostly right-wing), and the uniqueness of national culture and history.


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23 comments on “India and Israel Start to See Enemies Within

  • 5
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    Ahh religion, that great beacon of moral teachings. Where would the world be without religion? People would blindly kill and rape and the world would become total chaos…. Oh wait!…



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  • The extreme right-wing happenings in India are only the external manifestations of the deeper and subtler evil called Hinduism. People in the west merely see the tip of the iceberg.

    Hinduism might not have apostasy. But religious-minded Hindus subtly ostracize atheists socially. The voice of atheists is silenced not by fatwa but by social and cultural pressures.

    Atheistic propagandists do not have a noticeable presence in India. Secularism is a greatly misunderstood and misused concept, and does not perform the function of a substitute for atheism.

    The antidote to religion in India is a strong dose of atheism. But, even as science and technology advance, religious-mindedness is on the increase in India. More temples are being constructed on platforms, without any civic sense, and the local authority turns a blind eye. There is a vast population who believe and rely on astrology in India.

    Despite a vast bulk of writing on Hinduism, there is not even one popular work that puts Hinduism in perspective impartially, without fear of criticizing its many dogmas, doctrines, superstitions and all unscientific assertions.

    Hinduism deserves no special treatment and deserves to be dissected and commented upon like any other religion.

    The solution to the right-wing menace in India lies at the deeper level of outlook and belief. The epidemic of madness in the name of Hinduism and Hindu-based culture cannot be stopped by superficial measures or by legislation. The change must happen internally, within every believing Hindu.

    Nonsense must be called nonsense. How many Hindus have the courage to do that?



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  • No democracy is perfect, but characterizing Israel as an ‘important democracy’ is a bit of a stretch. Since 1948 Israel has achieved a Jewish electoral majority by forced and coerced expulsion of non Jewish people and by selective immigration. Israel discriminates against its non-Jewish citizens at home and is manipulating ethnic demographics via its illegal Jewish only settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Whether ‘Israeli democracy’ is racist or a theocracy depends on whether one defines Jewish people by their ethnicity or religious adherence. Being atheist is not enough. We have to be humanist too.



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  • Dan
    Jul 30, 2015 at 4:12 am

    Zionism (which fuels the Israeli hard right and vice-versa) is not a religion and is not Judaism. It is more like a nationalistic frenzy, more about racism, and, perhaps, something on its way toward fascism (which has religious aspects to it, is a political liturgy). They attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them as a false Jew.

    That sounds familiar for religious fundamentalists!

    A bit like Hammy’s YECs attacking and claiming other Xtians who take science and evolution seriously, are not TRRrrrooo believers!

    OR:

    ISIS and Boko Haram, claiming Muslims who educate their daughters, are heretics!



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  • Dear moderators, my mother was a bit displeased that I lifted something from one of her articles and posted it here without her permission. Would it be possible for you to delete it? —Dan



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  • I agree with your comment. I would add (perhaps superfluously as I am not thinking too clearly at the moment) that Israeli and Jewish are entirely different. Not all Israelis are Jewish and not all Jews are Israeli. I have some former co-workers who couldn’t stop referring to me as an Israeli. I am an American from a “Jewish” family, yet have no religion. I told them that. They didn’t get it. They were stupid (provincial, indoctrinated).



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  • It does sound familiar, but I really don’t think that Zionism is motivated by religious feeling alone. No. Some of its adherents may be religious as hell, but Zionism itself is not a religion.
    Religion is bad.—I know all that. But we mustn’t blame all the ills of the world on it.
    Yet it does sound familiar. Fascism is a political liturgy. It is religion (I think).



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  • Dan
    Jul 31, 2015 at 1:51 am

    It does sound familiar, but I really don’t think that Zionism is motivated by religious feeling alone. No. Some of its adherents may be religious as hell, but Zionism itself is not a religion.

    I think, “The land is ours because the Tora says god gave it to our race/religion”, is a pretty strong connection.

    Obviously the politics of greed, and theft by force of arms, play a part.



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  • Dan
    Jul 31, 2015 at 1:48 am

    I am an American from a “Jewish” family, yet have no religion.

    Others coming to this site in a similar position, referred to themselves as, ” “secular Jews”.



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  • Meanwhile religion clashes with politics elsewhere!

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/07/pastor-admits-bid-build-christian-state-north-korea-150730213021931.html

    Pastor ‘admits bid to build Christian state in N Korea’

    A Canadian pastor being held in North Korea has admitted to planning “subversive plots” against the communist nation during a public interrogation, Pyongyang’s official news agency reported.

    Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim, of the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto, was arrested by North Korean authorities in January just after he arrived from China, according to Canadian consular officials.

    Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency said late on Thursday that Lim had admitted to carrying out “subversive plots and activities in a sinister bid to build a religious state in the DPRK”, using North Korea’s official name.

    South-Korean born Lim has visited North Korea more than 100 times since 1997 and has helped establish an orphanage and a nursing home there, according to the church. He has lived in Canada since 1986 and is a Canadian citizen.

    “I delivered a ‘report on what is going on in North Korea’ before tens of thousands of South Koreans and overseas Koreans at sermons on Sundays at my church and during preaching tours of more than 20 countries,” KCNA quoted him as saying.



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  • Alan4discussion

    Agreed. There is a strong connection.
    I wish we could continue our discussion of color and sound (perception, the real-ideal problem). That was stimulating and challenging.



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  • Of all the nations on earth, you’d think the Jews would know that stealing Palestinian land by settlement is immoral. I walked to the end of the railway at Auschwitz Birkenau and wept. But the settler movement has removed my support for Israel.



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  • David R Allen
    Aug 1, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Of all the nations on earth, you’d think the Jews would know that stealing Palestinian land by settlement is immoral. I walked to the end of the railway at Auschwitz Birkenau and wept. But the settler movement has removed my support for Israel.

    The minority of Jews with this, “chosen people who can tread on others and do as they like”, has been around throughout history (read the OT). It was one of the causes of anti-Semitism in centuries past.
    They are at present getting away with this against Palestinians, but it does not take much imagination to see a predictable historical reaction from right-wing Germans! We can see a parallel situation with ISIS contempt for others outside their sect, with a similarity to “offended anti-Semitism” chants of blasphemy, anti-Islam, apostasy etc, to any criticism of their actions.
    Some Jewish bankers like Madoff are not new in history, but reference to them is usually met allegations of “offensive racism” or the well known claim of “religious persecution”, thus avoiding objective rational discussion.

    We also need to remember that many of the 1940s Zionist terrorists, were survivors of dog-eat-dog conditions of the concentration camps, who were not wanted back by the populations in their home communities, so were dumped in colonial Palestine.



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  • @OP – There are eerie similarities between the Hindu thugs who assault Muslim males marrying Hindu women and followers of the far-right Israeli group Lehava (Flame), who try to break up weddings between Muslims and Jews.

    With the standard targets of religious bigotry featuring as usual!

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-03/israel-teen-stabbed-at-gay-pride-march-dies-as-pressure-mounts/6666808

    A teenager stabbed at a gay pride march has died of her injuries as the attack and a firebombing that killed a Palestinian child increased pressure on Israel to crack down on Jewish extremists.

    Shira Banki, 16, was among six people stabbed at the Jerusalem march on Thursday by a suspect identified as an ultra-Orthodox Jew released from prison only weeks earlier for a similar attack.

    The five other victims suffered various degrees of injuries.



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