Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hindu Extremists Seek Ties with Israel and Its U.S. Lobby

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Hindu Extremists Seek Ties with Israel and Its U.S. Lobby

Article excerpt

Hindu Extremists Seek Ties With Israel and Its U.S. Lobby

The Hindutva movement appears to be gaining momentum throughout India, and spilling over its borders. Like a contagious disease, this form of religious fanaticism is spreading even among expatriate Hindus, who increasingly are putting their financial power at the service of Hindutva forces.

This includes a segment--a minority so far--of America's estimated 800,000 Hindus. Organizations such as the Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the U.S. chapter of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHP--World Hindu Council), and the Friends of India Society International (FISI) are lobbying in and around Capitol Hill in support of ideas considered both fanatical and fascistic by many supporters of secular government in India.

Shekhar Tiwari, in charge of congressional relations activity for the FISI, told the Washington Report that his and allied groups are latecomers on the lobbying scene. Nevertheless, the BJP-RSS-VHP public relations skills were evident during the visit of former BJP President Murli Manohar Joshi.

According to India Abroad, during Joshi's August visit American supporters arranged a meeting with State Department, Pentagon and Indian Embassy officials, as well as analysts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Studies, and the Institute of National Strategic Studies. The meeting, which was closed to the media at the request of Joshi's supporters, was intended to dispel the "myth" that the BJP was a right-wing Hindu fascist party.

The radicals are attempting to overcome their late entry into the influence game in Washington by developing ties with its most experienced and powerful advocates of foreign aid and a foreign country, the Israel lobby. This follows a number of incidents over the past few years linking Israel or its American supporters to developments in India which have given impetus to the conclusion by Hindu extremists that Israel is the key to the Washington door.

One such development was the report of alleged Israeli intelligence agents being spotted in war-torn Kashmir. Israel denied the charges and said the Israelis temporarily detained in Kashmir by Indian authorities were tourists or adventurers.

In the summer of 1992, while I was in Kerala on India's southwestern coast, there were reports from credible sources that Israelis were seen in the state meeting with BJP and RSS officials. This was immediately before the worst communal riots in the state since the Moplah rebellion of 1921 (a Muslim-led farmworkers rebellion against upper caste Hindu, Christian and Muslim landowners).

The extremist leaders seem to have intensified their new courtship.

Prior to the 1992 clashes, Kerala had been a model of communal harmony, even though it is one of the most religiously diverse Indian states with a population that is 60 percent Hindu, 20 percent Muslim and 20 percent Christian. Kerala's former thriving Jewish community has emigrated en masse, largely to Israel, and now numbers only 22 persons.

Early last year, the Federation of Assemblies of Muslim Youth of Sri Lanka wrote a letter to Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao linking the rise in anti-Muslim sentiments in India with the resumption of relations with Israel. The letter stated that in Sri Lanka "the first major communal clash between the [island nation's] Muslims and Tamils occurred within a year" of the opening of an Israeli interests section in the U.S. Embassy in Colombo. The section was subsequently ordered closed by the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa. The Federation urged Rao to take the same action in regard to Israeli representation in India.

All this may be the result of nothing more than conjecture. But reports indicate that BJP-RSS-VHP supporters in the U.S. would like to see a Zionist- Hindu alliance and are striving hard to develop it. …

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