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All You Need to Know About Anti-Semitism and Religious Conflicts

Illiberal, identity politics, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, galloping in tandem

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Anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism, from much before Elizabethan times, remained a sentiment in two powerful strands. Pixabay

BY SAEED NAQVI

Was Shylock victim or villain? The question never arose when Geoffrey Kendal came to school in the 50s and 60s to perform Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice was a great favourite because it appealed to us at several levels. There was the continuing suspense on whether or not Shylock, Jewish money lender, would be able to exact the pound of flesh he had meanly inserted in the agreement, should the needy merchant, Antonio, fail to pay back the loan.

A pound of flesh closest to the heart was Shylock’s revenge: he had been insulted by the Christians; he had had his “Jewish gabardine” publicly spat upon. But Shylock’s grief reaches epic proportions when Christians inflict a nasty bit of “Love Jihad” on him: his daughter Jessica runs away with Lorenzo, a Christian. Worse, she runs away with his “ducats”, the currency those days. “O’ my daughter; O’ my ducats”. I cannot remember a courtroom with such nail biting suspense when Portia saves Antonio from Shylock’s blade.

Anti-Semitism, from much before Elizabethan times, remained a sentiment in two powerful strands. One was the direct Christian prejudice against Jews in Europe which climaxed with Hitler in Germany. The Islamic conquest of Spain in the 8th century led to the flourishing of a composite culture in which Muslims, Christians and Jews contributed in equal measure. The Reconquista or the return of Christian rule in 1478 led to the Spanish Inquisitions which were harsher on Jews than on Muslims.

Anti-Semitism
The general projection of both as heartless bullies automatically accelerates anti-Semitism among various religions. Pixabay

The basic conflict, whether in Northern Europe or in the Iberian Peninsula, was always between Christianity and Judaism, not the least because Christians blamed Jews for Christ’s death. What has puzzled me always is the deafening Jewish-Muslim acrimony. I shall never forget the day in the Royal Palace in Rabat, Morocco when I found myself seated in the office of Andre Azoulay, the late King Hasan’s principal adviser. He was the second most powerful man in the Kingdom. He was a Sephardic Jew like so many others in the country who held key posts. A mandatory annual event was the jamboree hosted by His Majesty for Sephardic Jews in the diaspora. This sentimental reunion was a continuation of a medieval tradition. When 50,000 Jews were expelled from Spain after the Reconquista, Morocco and other North African states had accorded the new “refugees” extraordinary hospitality. Even after Jews from this part of the world had made their homes in Israel, they remembered how well Morocco had treated them. I have seen photographs of King Hasan dominate Sephardic drawing rooms in Jerusalem.

By the 80s, the Jewish state and the international Jewry had become so powerful that even “reworking” Shakespeare became a legitimate intervention. Rather than discard the Merchant of Venice and select any one of Shakespeare’s plays in 1989, Director Sir Peter Hall chose to tweak Shakespeare and impart rationalism to Shylock’s character. Dustin Hoffman virtually reimagined Shylock, toning down his usurious rate of interest, thereby enhancing the sympathy factor for the money lender. A sort of Christian ganging up against a hapless “professional” was played up. Shylock’s tragic end is ironically the heart of the play’s mirth.

The toning down of the Shakespearean prejudice against Jews was clearly a function of guilt on account of the excesses during the second war. The remarkable rise in anti-Semitism in recent decades by comparison leaves one aghast. Sympathy for Jews has given place to an awe for the Jewish state. The exceptional achievements of Jewish people will always shine through but individuals are being submerged in unwholesome Zionist excesses.

These excesses are being amplified by Donald Trump’s singularly one-sided support for anything Benjamin Netanyahu demands. The general projection of both as heartless bullies automatically accelerates anti-Semitism. Take the Deal of the Century: only the duet and their closest groups were ecstatic. There will be a corresponding spike in ill will.

Anti-Semitism
An undercurrent of anti-Semitism remains unnoticed because the global media is more willingly focused on Islamophobia. Pixabay

Do you think American campuses are falling over each other in adoration for Trump and his Buddy — after he signed an Executive Order aimed at combating anti-Semitism on college campuses.

“This is our message to universities: if you want to accept the federal dollars you get each year, you must reject anti-Semitism.” What must students do to become good boys entitled to federal funds? Abandon “Boycott, Divest and Sanction Israel movement” which has been popular on campuses.

Jewish lobbies in Poland, for example, were bringing to bear their considerable clout on property transactions. Properties owned by Jews before the war were being successfully reclaimed by the old owners at throw away prices. When a Polish law sought to prevent these transactions, the State Department intervened. Officials in Washington would keep a watchful eye to protect Jewish interests. Imagine how Poles would respond to such interference.

Rise of anti-migrant, anti-Semitic leaders in Hungary, Germany, Austria, Poland, is a depressing list. By their behaviour the Trump-Netanyahu duet have only aggravated the situation.

At an international conference in Warsaw last year, Israeli Foreign Minister, Yisrael Katz accused the Polish leadership of anti-Semitism. His language was unbelievably coarse: “Poles suckle anti-Semitism from their mother’s milk.” How would this outburst have registered with Primetime TV viewers in Poland?

Also Read- Here’s How the Youth is Helping Politics Grow in India

An undercurrent of anti-Semitism remains unnoticed because the global media is more willingly focused on Islamophobia. Is under reporting of anti-Semitic incidents a deterrent? The very first question Trump’s first press conference was by Jake Turx, newly minted White House correspondent for Ami magazine, an orthodox Jewish publication from Brooklyn. The question was on the recent surge of hate crimes against Jews. Trump completely misunderstood the question. He thought the young reporter was accusing the new President of anti-Semitism. Some tongue lashing followed. A startled Jake Turx sought to mollify Trump.

“You have Jewish grandchildren. You are their Zayed (Yiddish for grandfather).” The mist may have lifted that day, but Turx’s publication from that day is a useful guide to burgeoning anti-Semitism, of which the vicious knife attack in Monsey, New York, during Hanukkah celebrations last December has been among the minor incidents. (IANS)

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Dangerous Forces Behind New Delhi Riots

Here's everything you need to know about the ongoing New Delhi communal riots

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New Delhi riots
Since the past few months, there have been a lot of anti-CAA/NRC protests in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

By SALIL GEWALI

Till just a week back the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of New Delhi (India) was heavily praised in the media as if God has sent down a bunch of benevolent and seasoned leaders to save the country. Most of the front-ranking columnists reveled in the party’s landslide victory. It was made clear through the media writings that AAP is the best option for India. But one is amazed how come its all elected members have become “seasoned and virtuous” leaders overnight when their past records are annoyingly off-putting. Disparity, discrimination, misgovernance and corruption were the glaring hallmarks of the party’s previous regime in the capital state. But all such outrageous venality has been gleefully overlooked, nor that has ever become a subject of discussion, analysis, and apprehension in the newsroom

In fact, the media does not ever focus its spotlight on this APP party that cheers up and instigates Muslim communities and other specific kinds of hooligans. However, the media endlessly grills the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath because he is from a party that loves the country and believes in its rich cultural ethos.

New Delhi riots
Till just a week back the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of New Delhi (India) was heavily praised in the media in spite of all the corruption and funding done by the party. Wikimedia Commons

Well, if Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister ever yells against gun-toting criminals, the media loses its cool. When such miscreants from a particular community are arrested, then the media groans, it screams and it beats its chest and try utmost to discredit the whole administration. It will forcefully claim that the Uttar Pradesh government is depriving the “minority” by appeasing the majority (Hindu) and therefore the Muslim are “not safe” in the country. What it means is that the culprits from the minority community must not be booked and put behind the bar. Were the dreaded terrorists Burhan Wani, Yakub Memon and Afjal Guru and such others not “glorified”, and sometimes exonerated, by the media? No surprise, media has no sense of regret in branding a “holy cow” as a “ferocious wolf” and vice versa these days in India.  This is, in fact, a tragedy, a trend that is pushing the country to a kind of anarchy and chaos of misinformation.

What is very astonishing is how long the media can keep the truths buried and thus play with the emotion and naivety of the masses and continue to mislead them!

New Delhi riots
The AAP and the protestors are leaving no stone unturned to defame the Modi government which passed the Citizenship Bill to give the shelter to the prosecuted Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Sindhi, Christian communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India. Wikimedia Commons

The police have already found a whole lot of evidence substantiating that certain APP leaders of New Delhi have allegedly been found to be involved in the most “despicable riots” and violence. They have incited the particular community, which they lovingly called marginalized MONORITY, after the Citizen Amendment Bill passed by the Modi Government. Most of the non-ruling parties, such as – Congress, CPM, TMC…, got together to incite the Muslim communities by their inflammatory speeches. A huge amount of public property across the country has been destroyed with impunity by the frenzied crowds; trains, motors vehicles, buildings have been set ablaze while many innocent people have been shot and killed.  There are increasing numbers of political leaders who thus “plan and orchestrate” such terror activities. Instigating the crowds has become a new game.

Nothing could be abominable than the fact that a political representative of the citizens allowed hundreds of miscreants into his building to throw petrol-bombs and acid pouches upon the citizens right from the terrace?  The building belongs to Tahir Hussain who has recently been elected APP leader. Though he was defended initially by the media and his party by suppressing his sinful acts but later police arrested him and charged him of killing a number of Hindus by using his building for the terror activities. Most of the rioters have been invited from other neighboring states.

How do we define this decadence? The dead body of an Intelligence Bureau constable Ankit Sharma was recovered from a ditch behind the house of Tahir Hussain in which many other Hindus were also found killed, and some women raped and shot dead. The autopsy report says that Ankit Sharma was stabbed brutally over 400 times. His father Ravinder Sharma claims that it is the handiwork of APP leader Tahir Hussain and his party cadre.

What a big irony that this is a party that is still receiving the heroic applause from the media fraternity claiming this will save the citizens in every respect.

One wanton Sharukh Khan who blatantly brandished a pistol and fired eight bullets at police personnel in the recent Delhi riot was shielded because he was from the Muslim community. Some media quickly gave him a Hindu name — “Anurag Mishra” calling him Hindu terrorist. Later he was arrested in Uttar Pradesh by the police putting all scandal-mongers to shame.

 About all these increasing threats to the innocent commoners and the integrity of the nation are hardly covered by the media which is purportedly busy in spreading the false news or hiding the misdeeds of the particular community and political leaders. It is leaving no stone unturned  to defame the Modi government which passed the Citizenship Bill to give the shelter to the prosecuted Hindus, Sikh, Buddhist, Sindhi, Christian communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India. It was in fact initiated out by the BJP government on the humanitarian ground which was even contemplated by the previous Congress government.

New Delhi riots
The police have already found a whole lot of evidence substantiating that certain APP leaders of New Delhi have allegedly been found to be involved in the most “despicable riots” and violence. Wikimedia Commons

Well, the violence and terror activities of the last two months have clearly revealed the most disgusting ground realities which will never augur well so far as the “sovereignty and peace” in the country is concerned.

Needless to say, speaking against the country is openly encouraged here. Many columns are being written by specific journalists from India or USA or Uk.. and published that in the reputed international newspapers and magazines. Tarnishing the image of the country and the ruling government is seemingly the prime motive.

 One Muslim leader — Waris Pathan recently thundered that 10 crores Muslims are capable to overpower 100 crores Hindu population in India and the news never raises the eye brow of any journalists or it never became a threat to the democracy in the country. The rabble-rouser has vented his anger at an event in Gulbarga in Karnataka in the presence of his boss Asaduddin Owaisi, the chief of AIMIM. There is a cabal of elites who pat on the back of those forces who openly defend the “terrorists” from across the border.  Arundhati Roy, Kanhaiya  Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, Shehla Rashid Shora, Mr. Jignesh Mewani, are few who have been made iconic figures as because they are capable to praise in the open forum the heroism of terrorists like Afjal Guru, Burhan Wani, Yakub Memon…

What more? When the questions of “sedition” are raised against those terrorists’ sympathizers then the media comes forward to denounce the whole country.

Also Read- Ratan Tata Calls for Focus in Education of Millions of Indian Youth

Hence, the so-called intellectuals and political parties have systematically fed false information and “incited” millions of Indians to voice against the Indian ethos and values, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. But mind, all these formidable forces are sweet-hearts of the mainstream media in India. Consequently, these “treacherous adventures” of those media always go to make the majority of Indian intellectuals cheerier, lustier, and more belligerent and hurtful.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’.
Twitter: @SGewali