Partition. In Gaza.

Protest Flags.jpg
Flags flapped in the 75 degree perfect Californian weather, flags of Mexico, Cuba, the Philippines, the U.S. and of course, Palestine. I was standing in front of the Federal Building in Los Angeles, in solidarity with thousands of people of all races, ages, and religions. I was one of many who this past Saturday, congregated in their city centers to protest the attacks on innocent lives in the Gaza strip. As of this post, we are 20 days into the attacks and over 1,000 people in Gaza are dead.

The attacks in Gaza are highly controversial with a fierce tug and pull between the sides. LA’s Mayor Villaraigosa and NYC’s Mayor Bloomberg have both taken a pro-Israel stance, as well as the 390 members of Congress who this past week voted “aye” to the passing of House Resolution 34. The resolution “recognizes Israel’s right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza, reaffirms the United States’ strong support for Israel…” On the streets it seems most people are angry about the situation on the Gaza side, not necessarily pro-Hamas, but more aligned with a ‘pro-humanitarian stop the killing of innocent people’ stance.

Protest Holding Flag.jpgI knew how I personally felt, but what I wanted to know is, “Is this a South Asian American issue? As desis, why should we care?” Short of learning that Gandhi was an anti-Zionist, there’s not too much out there on the matter. But at Saturday’s protest, there were many desis out walking the street in solidarity. So I hit the streets and asked them why they were there. This is what they had to say.

“A lot of people were here for the protest,” said Omar of the band Elephant with Guns. “I couldn’t find my friend so I just joined the people I was with and started playing[he starts beating a hand held drum and chanting] one, two, three, four, we don’t want your racist war. Five, six, seven, eight, stop the killing stop the hate.”

“I thought it was great turnout and I was very inspired by it,” states Amy, a young professional. “It’s important for South Asians to be here because we need to show our solidarity. We went through it in India during our fight for independence.”

“I think that this is not particular to Arabs, to people of Middle East orgins, or to South Asian origin but I think that any community that has lived under any kind of occupation or the injustices of any type of colonization should be committed to this cause,” said Naaz, a PhD student at UCLA. “I’m from an Indian background. The types of atrocities that were committed under the British in India and the way that they systematically tried to divide people and divide Hindus from Muslims was unjust. We are still living with a lot of the scars of that British occupation…I think it’s about Western hegemony that is still continuing in the form of capitalism, and in new imperialistic projects, like Iraq, Afghanistan and maybe even Pakistan… As a community of color the west has been manipulating us for a long time.”

“South Asians tend not to be as connected to other communities in general,” said the Mad Guru, wearing an image he had designed pinned to the front of his shirt. “We can’t keep seeing problems as other people’s problems somewhere far away. I mean, you have to understand that if you don’t stick up for other peoples’ rights, then no one is going to stick up for your rights either.”

The protest was great, but there are other ways people in the South Asian community are showing support too. Some in the Sikh community jumped on board earlier this week. Protest Omar.jpg

We are Sikhs who stand against the brutality of Israeli occupation and the ongoing siege, blockade, and massacre of Gaza. Now more than ever, we call on our Sikh sisters and brothers to think about what our faith and our Sikh identity really means. Why did Guru Nanak Sahib seek to abolish the caste system in South Asia? Why did Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib sacrifice his life for the sake of others’ (non-Sikhs) right to freely practice their religion and live free of persecution?…Because for Sikhs, fighting against all forms of tyranny and oppression is a spiritual obligation. [racewire]

It’s great to see so many people acting in solidarity, but it’s understandable that more people haven’t spoken out because the issue is so confusing and potentially so divisive. South Asian mag Samar posted a well researched myth-busting piece last week to clarify the politics around the issue.

We may disagree with the politics of Hamas, just as we may disagree with the politics of the British Labor Party, but it does not follow that we should condone the slaughter of all leaders and members of Hamas, their families, government employees, and random members of the Palestinian population which elected them to power, any more than we would condone the slaughter of all leaders and members of the Labour Party, their families, government employees, and random members of the British population which elected them to power. The fact that the US and EU cannot see this equivalence demonstrates that they are dominated by the same racism which allowed slavery to flourish and the indigenous peoples of North America and Australia to be exterminated. [samar]

Sure we can protest to express our solidarity but that is by no means the only nor most strategic tactic. I called my representative today to express my disappointment on his ‘aye’ vote on HR 34, and I will call him again tomorrow to ask him to co-sponsor Kucinich’s resolution on the humanitarian issues in Gaza. My office will be hosting a brown bag to learn more about the issue. I’ve been sending action alerts to my friends. I’m not saying you have to pick ‘my’ side on this issue, nor am I saying you have to be a gung-ho freedom fighting activist. But what I will say is this is an important issue. As South Asian Americans, this issue is relevant to us. Do your research and get educated on this complex situation. And if you feel moved by what you learn, do something about it.

Protest Streetlight.jpg

This entry was posted in Politics by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

320 thoughts on “Partition. In Gaza.

  1. And, BTW, one could, of course, find a university course making the claim that Rome didn’t fall to the barbarians, all archaeological evidence (e.g., massive declines in trade in wine, loss of technologies for 100′s of years (e.g., pottery-wheel in Britain), etc. etc.)) to the contrary.

  2. basically, rob to clarify: if alexander was trying to conquer india (as a military feat, for its wealth, to enrich himself), would you call him anti-hindu? if his biographers (paid for their services) wrote that indians practiced a debased religion and so alexander was justified in killing them: would you take them at their word? or would you think that they were making alexander appear righteous and religious?

  3. “Excepting the quarter of the saiyids, the ‘ulama and the other Musalmans [sic], the whole city was sacked”. In his descriptions of the Loni massacre [Timur] wrote, “Next day I gave orders that the Musalman prisoners should be separated and saved.”

    Hmmm–that only coincidentally sounds like the tapes of the LeT orders wrt hostages in Mumbai?

  4. The archaeological record shows that native indians have never created magnificent monuments like other civilizations. India has always been a pretty shabby place. Here is what the mongol-turk Babur who founded the Mughal Dynasty had to say about the land that he had conquered (note his contempt for indian architecture):

    http://www.indiavideo.org/text/according-to-babur-india-as-primitive-place-with-no-manners-332.php

    “Hindustan is a country that has few pleasures to recommend it. The people are not handsome. They have no idea of the charms of friendly society, of frankly mixing together, or of familiar intercourse. They have no genius, no comprehension of mind, no politeness of manner, no kindness of fellow-feeling, no ingenuity or mechanical invention in planning or executing their handicraft works, no skill or knowledge in design or architecture; they have no horses, no good flesh, no grapes or musk melons, no good fruits, no ice or cold water, no good food or bread in their bazaars, no baths or colleges, no candles no torches, not a candlestick”.

  5. if alexander was trying to conquer india (as a military feat, for its wealth, to enrich himself), would you call him anti-hindu?

    Ummmmm–yes!–is this supposed to be a difficult question? The only reason I can see for saying “no” would be some strong form of intentionalism, which seems pretty inapposite (e.g., “we wiped out the neighborhood only b/c we needed a better view of the open-air cinema–don’t blame us“).

  6. Ummm—if I’m supposed to be insulted by Babur, I laugh at his ignorance–”they have no horses”–yeah, the whole Sanskrit/Indo-European language family isn’t based around the horse. LOL!

  7. 253 · portmanteau said

    basically, rob to clarify: if alexander was trying to conquer india (as a military feat, for its wealth, to enrich himself), would you call him anti-hindu? if his biographers (paid for their services) wrote that indians practiced a debased religion and so alexander was justified in killing them: would you take them at their word? or would you think that they were making alexander appear righteous and religious?

    If someone is trying to kill me I’d call him “Anti-me.” I don’t really care all that much about the contextualization that attempts to unearth his hidden motivation. At the end of the day it’s violence towards me and I am not okay with that. Whether he wants me dead because he wants my money, wants me dead because he is envious of my wife, wants me dead because he wants my land, or wants me dead because he is motivated by some megalomaniacal desire to bring the world under one religion is relevant only insofar as it gives me insight into how his mind works so I can whoop his ass.

    The fact that they want to use the “Kill the kafir” meme to whip up their people into a frenzy just ends up reflecting negatively upon their whole society rather than just the ruler himself. It implies that there is a basic civilizational flaw that makes them unable to ever be at peace or allow anyone else to live at peace. My faith in humanity cannot withstand that admission.

  8. 257 · rob said

    Ummm—if I’m supposed to be insulted by Babur, I laugh at his ignorance–”they have no horses”–yeah, the whole Sanskrit/Indo-European language family isn’t based around the horse. LOL!

    I’m no expert but as I understood it the horses of medieval India were usually bigger and better fed than the few-steps-away-from-being-wild ponies the central Asians brought to the table. Of course, they also had a whole lot of them relative to the settled empires of India, China, the Middle East, and Europe. I’ve heard it said that the Mongols marched with up to 7 horses to the man. That’s pretty mobile.

    The quoted text, though, just strikes me as a racist rant against the people of Hindustan. You’d see similar writing coming from the idiots who thought phrenology was good science.

  9. Maybe it was India’s karma to be conquered and humiliated by afghans, mongol-turks and europeans? If you believe in karma which hindus do.

  10. 260 · Zaheer said

    Maybe it was India’s karma to be conquered and humiliated by afghans, mongol-turks and europeans? If you believe in karma which hindus do.

    How is life underneath the bridge troll?

  11. Maybe it was India’s karma to be conquered and humiliated by afghans, mongol-turks and europeans? If you believe in karma which hindus do.

    LOL–you know, this kind of talk doesn’t bother me–sticks and stones, old egg, sticks and stones. . . .

  12. 254 · rob said

    Hmmm–that only coincidentally sounds like the tapes of the LeT orders wrt hostages in Mumbai?

    ok: rob let’s forget this argument. you want to impose contemporary ideas on historical documentation, and create a tendentious fictional history that connects all islamic actors across time with same intention and imbues them with the same ideology. go ahead. but know it’s not productive and absolutely violates all norms that all modern, professional historians follow. i’m done here. if you think the tuzuk-i-timuri is some kind of document that historians should interpret at its word, god help you. in that case, do take everything kissinger writes in his memoirs as the truth: an accurate description of how and why it all went down the way it did.

  13. 255 · Zaheer said

    Here is what the mongol-turk Babur who founded the Mughal Dynasty had to say about the land that he had conquered (note his contempt for indian architecture):

    yes, of course, let’s take babur’s description of india at his word. we have another rob-like genius in our midst.

  14. Port, I think, with all due respect (and I mean that sincerely), that you may be the victim of deliberate decisions by the Indian Gov’t to write the textbooks in certain ways–you just sound on this topic (unlike others) like you’re living in upside-down world. Please see, e.g., Koenraad Elst, Negationism in India (1992).

  15. 258 · NV said

    If someone is trying to kill me I’d call him “Anti-me.”

    do you believe that a hate-crime is differently motivated than a garden-variety crime? if someone kills me because it bothers him that i’m a dothead does differ morally from when someone kills to rob me of my dimaond necklace. does intent matter? well, it certainly matters in modern notions of blame and culpability and it matters in our legal system. imagine if the mumbai terror incident was an incident motivated by class hatred. poor young men targeting the wealthy of south mumbai and first-world foreigners. it is very different from the actual incident which was fueled by religious animosity. we have to deal with it differently, for one.

  16. 265 · rob said

    Port, I think, with all due respect (and I mean that sincerely), that you may be the victim of deliberate decisions by the Indian Gov’t to write the textbooks in certain ways–you just sound on this topic (unlike others) like you’re living in upside-down world. Please

    no, i learnt all i know about history from well-respected historians of american origin. and honestly, your interpretation/quotation of tuzuk-i-timuri is such bs that shows obvious ignorance of how historians look at primary docs. yes, a lot of muslims pillaged and ravaged india (but they had lots of other motivations than just killing infidels). for chrissake, timur was interested in attacking the delhi sulatanate, another muslim empire. but really, do read that article about presentism.

  17. 267 · portmanteau said

    that you may be the victim of deliberate decisions by the Indian Gov’t to write the textbooks in certain ways

    and yes, since when has the indian government mangled its history books in pro-muslim ways? when i was in school, the bjp was in power :)

  18. Here’s an excerpt from Elst on Tuzuk-i-Timuri–I really am puzzled at why you think the “haha, it’s just an exaggeration” school of interpretation is infallible:

    But, according to [professor of the type to which Port gestures], these were merely exaggerations by court poets out to please their patrons. One wonders what it says about Islamic rulers that they felt flattered by the bloody details which the Muslims chroniclers of Hindu persecutions have left us. At any rate, [such scholars] never managed to underpin this convenient hypothesis with a single fact.
  19. do read that article about presentism

    I did, and–presentism can get out of hand, but–you don’t find that parallel between Timur’s sack of Delhi and the LeT attack on Mumbai chilling? I mean, we are allowed to draw some parallels/lessons from history, no? Lest we be mere [herd animals] to the slaughter. . . .

  20. and rob, no serious historian considers koenrad elst an authority on anything. i can’t believe you picked such a kook (a well-known partisan historian and publicity hound; did you get onto him through steve sailer, by any chance?) to tell me that i don’t know my history:

    Manini Chatterjee, in a review in the Calcutta Telegraph, called Elst’s book Ramjanmabhoomi vs. Babri Masjid a “very bad book”.[50] She also said that it was marred by miserably tentative terminology, like “maybe” and “possibly”.[51] Paul Teunissen’s review of the same book criticizes Elst for the unfavourable portrayal of Syed Shahabuddin.[50] Thomas Blom Hansen described Elst as a “Belgian Catholic of a radical anti-Muslim persuasion who tries to make himself useful as a ‘fellow traveller’ of the Hindu nationalist movement”[52] Ashis Nandy criticized the alleged dishonesty and moral vacuity of Elst.[53] Meera Nanda has criticized Elst and claimed that he holds Semitic monotheism responsible for the crisis of modernity.[54] Sarvepalli Gopal in the book Anatomy of a Confrontation calls Elst “a Catholic practitioner of polemics” who “fights the Crusades all over again on Indian soil”. He also says that it is difficult to take serious an author who “speaks of the centuries when there were Muslim rulers in India as a bloodsoaked catastrophe”.[55] Ayub Khan says that Koenraad Elst is the most prominent advocate of Sangh Parivar in the West. He further says: “Such is his importance in Hindutva circles that L.K. Advani quoted him at length while deposing before the Liberhans Commission investigation the demolition of Babri Masjid.” In a reply to Ayub Khan, Elst says that he has been critical of the Sangh Parivar in his writings.[56] Christian Bouchet criticized Elst’s book The Saffron Swastika for having placed far too much trust in Savitri Devi’s autobiography, and for claiming that Savitri Devi was bisexual.[57] Hindu revivalists have been generally favorable to Elst’s work. David Frawley wrote that Elst has a command of political and social issues in India that is unmatched by any western writer and researched in great detail.[58] Elst has replied to most of his critics in books or in articles.[59]

    i would shut up, if only i wasn’t so outraged and flabbergasted.

  21. 270 · rob said

    don’t find that parallel between Timur’s sack of Delhi and the LeT attack on Mumbai chilling?

    i am not in the habit of comparing apples and pigs.

  22. no serious historian

    I dunno, Port, that seems to demonstrate that Elst is partisan, and has (a lot of!) partisan critics. Calling it ‘a very bad book’–boo-hoo. I think your invocation of “well-respected,” “modern, professional” and “serious” is a guise for an ideological fad. And, yes, unlike, science, history is subject to such fads. I tried to advert to one of the more crazy ones above, the fashion of Germanic historians (and their fellow-travelers) to claim that the traditional account of “Rome” falling to the “barbarians” was inaccurate–a fad that was demolished by the massive archaeological evidence to the contrary. Do you really think that the average, say, physician, in the US or in India (of whatever confessional or ethnic background) believes what you’re saying? I am the first to agree that I live in a “bubble,” but my experience is quite to the contrary.

  23. fine, go to any historian of south asia with tenure in a reputed university who’s published peer-reviwed work (perhaps, even at your undergrad institution) and see if they endorse (any of) elst’s writings. i guarantee you that it will not happen. i’m that confident. elst is way-way out there.

  24. 273 · rob said

    I dunno, Port, that seems to demonstrate that Elst is partisan, and has (a lot of!) partisan critics. Calling it ‘a very bad book’–boo-hoo.

    yes, ahmedinajad and other holocaust deniers are partisan and have a lot of partisan critics too. but i can tell the kooks from the sane people (sorry to go all godwin on you, but the boo-boo you made here is of that sort of magnitude).

  25. OK, one last quote from my library shelf–this from a (seemingly non-partisan) book on the history of languages, Nicholas Oster, Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World (2005), pp. 222-23:

    “After the Muslim invasions, India became a very different place. It is hard now to conceive what opposite and harshly existing extremes, both of daily life and of values deeply held, had to be reconciled to create the India now familiar to us. . . . [India's] rulers were now foreigners with an alien, and uncompromising, vision. They were firm believers that there was but one god, of universal dominion, and that idol-worshippers were fit only for conversion or death. . . . Their buildings were austere, and they believed that any graphic or sculptural illustration was tantamount to blasphemy.”

    This is the sort of “mainstream” (to my Western-educated self) stuff that I’m talking about (and that I was bred on here in my US education, and that is also consonant with the views of my grandparents back in the Desh), that makes you (to me) sound like you’re in upside-down world. Can you tell me why Oster is wrong? (I’m open to learning. . . .)

  26. i’m done here. if you think the tuzuk-i-timuri is some kind of document that historians should interpret at its word, god help you. in that case, do take everything kissinger writes in his memoirs as the truth: an accurate description of how and why it all went down the way it did.

    So do we need to take everything what your “reputed” historians (can you name one, Romila thapar?) as nothing BUT the truth and accurate descriptions and ignore the Mughal / other Musim historian’s documents and how they describe vanquishing the idolators / destroying their temples etc..

    Rob,

    Having studied in the Indian school system, I can tell you that Indian history books go through multiple levels of “secular washing” (similar to white washing). NCERT is the board that designs the syllabi and from the days of Nehru dominated by communist historians, In the BJP rule, they tried t replace the communist nuts with right wing nuts but were unsuccessful.

    I wonder what these folks would say about Bin laden in the future, he is a revolutionary who is fighting the imperialists for class reasons and not for jihad (?).

  27. if alexander was trying to conquer india (as a military feat, for its wealth, to enrich himself), would you call him anti-hindu? if his biographers (paid for their services) wrote that indians practiced a debased religion and so alexander was justified in killing them: would you take them at their word? or would you think that they were making alexander appear righteous and religious?

    Sure, if Alexander’s historians wrote that Alexander wanted to get rid of a followers of a debased religion and going by his religious dictates waged a crusade, I’d do the following things.

    1. See if the religious book followed by Alexander is available.
    2. Get a copy and read to see if there are instructions to wage a crusade against idolators and polytheists and calls for demolishing those places in his religious literature.
    3. If that tallies with what Alexander’s historians say, that constitutes a stronger proof for me.

    BTW, don’t you think Alexander is glorified too much?. Because this warlord is of greek origin, he is called “great” and “civilized” whereas other warlords like Chengiz Khan / Attilla are called barbarians.

  28. 277 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    Having studied in the Indian school system, I can tell you that Indian history books go through multiple levels of “secular washing” (similar to white washing). NCERT is the board that designs the syllabi and from the days of Nehru dominated by communist historians, In the BJP rule, they tried t replace the communist nuts with right wing nuts but were unsuccessful.

    Speaking of washing, you forgot “progressive” in your standard laundry list of how offensive our textbooks are. And clearly it is the Congress that is responsible.

    Of course, all these links can be immediately discounted because they were written by “liberal” “educated” people.

  29. Speaking of washing, you forgot “progressive” in your standard laundry list of how offensive our textbooks are. And clearly it is the Congress that is responsible.

    Of course, all these links can be immediately discounted because they were written by “liberal” “educated” “people”.

    he.he. Thanks for your links. I don’t have to say anything. :-)

  30. 280 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    I don’t have to say anything.

    that’s true. thank goodness they removed the polluting influence of twinkle twinkle little star from the textbooks. and the mention of the beef in 6th century ad? oh the hurt it caused me!

  31. That’s true. thank goodness they removed the polluting influence of twinkle twinkle little star from the textbooks. and the mention of the beef in 6th century ad? oh the hurt it caused me!

    Ouch… I’m ok with the twinkle part, but I like the steak done medium well. Too bad they removed it.. :-)

  32. 276 · rob said

    “After the Muslim invasions, India became a very different place. It is hard now to conceive what opposite and harshly existing extremes, both of daily life and of values deeply held, had to be reconciled to create the India now familiar to us. . . . [India's] rulers were now foreigners with an alien, and uncompromising, vision. They were firm believers that there was but one god, of universal dominion, and that idol-worshippers were fit only for conversion or death. . . . Their buildings were austere, and they believed that any graphic or sculptural illustration was tantamount to blasphemy.”

    i’m not sure which set of invasions is being referred to here (i cannot comment unless i know what is being referred to there). that said, i’ve heard great things about this particular oster work.

    So do we need to take everything what your “reputed” historians (can you name one, Romila thapar?)

    yes ponniyin, i was wondering why you hadn’t commented till now. romila thapar is not american and i haven’t read her too much. READ, what i said:

    no, i learnt all i know about history from well-respected historians of american origin.
    fine, go to any historian of south asia with tenure in a reputed university who’s published peer-reviwed work (perhaps, even at your undergrad institution) and see if they endorse (any of) elst’s writings. i guarantee you that it will not happen. i’m that confident. elst is way-way out there.
    BTW, don’t you think Alexander is glorified too much?. Because this warlord is of greek origin, he is called “great” and “civilized” whereas other warlords like Chengiz Khan / Attilla are called barbarians.

    yes.

  33. romila thapar is not american and i haven’t read her too much. READ, what i said:

    I’m just trying to understand the logic. If it is not OK to take the Muslim/Mughal historians at face value, because they are amenable to writing history as it suits the rulers of their time, can we not use the same standard to modern historians how so ever “reputed” they be ?.

    Clearly, Romila Thapar etc. belong to a certain school of historians promoted by the government of the time who some of you think as “reputed” but some others think they are not.

  34. 284 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    If it is not OK to take the Muslim/Mughal historians at face value, because they are amenable to writing history as it suits the rulers of their time, can we not use the same standard to modern historians how so ever “reputed” they be ?. Clearly, Romila Thapar etc. belong to a certain school of historians promoted by the government of the time who some of you think as “reputed” but some others think they are not.

    first, people who are paid to write someone’s biography are not called historians. when did i say here that i revere romila thapar? i doubt what we’re talking about is even her area of expertise. is that the only historian whose name you know? why are you even bringing her up? what i was talking to about rob did not refer to her at all. note that i said “any historian.” the adjective “reputed” modified “university.” by reputed university, i mean not bob jones university.

  35. when did i say here that i revere romila thapar? i doubt what we’re talking about is even her area of expertise. is that the only historian whose name you know? why are you even bringing her up? what i was talking to about rob did not refer to her at all. note that i said “any historian.”

    What you said echoed Romila Thapar’s views on Muslim invader’s temple destruction. Good to know that you do not revere Thapar.

    http://www.flonnet.com/fl1608/16081210.htm

    Somanatha and Mahmud Mahmud of Ghazni’s raid on the Somanatha temple in 1026 did not create a Hindu-Muslim dichotomy. Indeed a rigorous historical analysis of five different narratives or representations of what happened yields surprising new insights.

  36. 266 · portmanteau said

    258 · NV said
    If someone is trying to kill me I’d call him “Anti-me.”
    do you believe that a hate-crime is differently motivated than a garden-variety crime? if someone kills me because it bothers him that i’m a dothead does differ morally from when someone kills to rob me of my dimaond necklace. does intent matter? well, it certainly matters in modern notions of blame and culpability and it matters in our legal system. imagine if the mumbai terror incident was an incident motivated by class hatred. poor young men targeting the wealthy of south mumbai and first-world foreigners. it is very different from the actual incident which was fueled by religious animosity. we have to deal with it differently, for one.

    Like I said. Their underlying motivations only matter to me insofar as it gives me insight into how they think so that I can more effectively protect myself. Whether they covet my money or my soul doesn’t matter so much if the end result of losing to them is going to be the same.

    The end result of desecrating my temples, I’d say, is a bit worse than simply killing me. But whether they desecrate our sacred places to loot them or just because they’re assholes also doesn’t matter to me. Desecration is desecration.

  37. 286 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    What you said echoed Romila Thapar’s views on Muslim invader’s temple destruction. Good to know that you do not revere Thapar.

    ps: you have shown your facility with history (paid biographer=historian!). i made my points without knowledge of romila thapar’s outlook piece. below are some quotes that describe thapar’s work. now can you please tell how exactly my views on temple destruction echo thapar’s? can you elaborate? i presented no views on temple destruction, except a speculation that some ancient monuments (monuments=!temples, btw) may have been too old to survive until the mughal period. what is so controversial about that? stuff which happened around 300 bc may not be left standing in the early 16th century. otoh, some monuments may have been destroyed by muslim invaders (which i also accept). rob and i were having an argument about accepting the tuzuk-i-timuri at its word, and then later, about the kookiness of elst. what is so difficult to understand about that? and what does that have to do with romila thapar’s views on somnath? you just want to align me somehow with thapar, and then because of my puported similarity with thapar, i must be wrong too. okay, enjoy yourself.

    sm intern: my apologies again. this thread is so far gone :(

    MAHMUD’S raid on the temple of Somanatha and the destruction of the idol has become an event of immense significance in the writing of Indian history since the last couple of centuries. According to some writers, it has been seminal to antagonistic Hindu-Muslim relations over the last thousand years. Yet a careful investigation of the representation of this event and related matters in various sources of this thousand year period suggests that this conventional view is in itself a misrepresentation of the reading of the event in terms of Hindu-Muslim relations. In 1026, Mahmud of Ghazni raided the temple of Somanatha and broke the idol. Reference is made to this in various sources, or reference is omitted where one expects to find it. Some of the references contradict each other. Some lead to our asking questions which do not conform to what we have accepted so far in terms of the meaning and the aftermath of the event. An event can get encrusted with interpretations from century to century and this changes the perception of the event. As historians, therefore, we have to be aware not just of the event and how we look upon it today, but also the ways in which the event was interpreted through the intervening centuries. An analysis of these sources and the priorities in explanation stem, of course, from the historian’s interpretation. I would like to place before you five representations of this and other events at Somanatha, keeping in mind the historical question of how Mahmud’s raid was viewed. They cover a wide span and are major representations. The five are the Turko-Persian chronicles, Jaina texts of the period, Sanskrit inscriptions from Somanatha, the debate in the British House of Commons, and what is often described as a nationalist reading of the event.

    so that’s what she is doing in the piece. i am not qualified to evaluate her work. nevertheless, do you want to make comments about her method? what do you think was wrong about her investigation? why do you think it’s these documents that talk about ghazni’s raid are not worth studying?

    according to thapar:

    INTERESTINGLY, what appears to be the earliest mention of a ‘Hindu trauma’ in connection with Mahmud’s raid on Somanatha comes from the debate in the House of Commons in London in 1843 on the question of the gates of the Somanatha temple.33 In 1842, Lord Ellenborough issued his famous ‘Proclamation of the Gates’ in which he ordered the British army in Afghanistan to return via Ghazni and bring back to India the sandalwood gates from the tomb of Mahmud. These were believed to have been looted by Mahmud from Somanatha. It was claimed that the intention was to return what was looted from India, an act which would symbolise British control over Afghanistan despite their poor showing in the Anglo-Afghan wars. It was also presented as an attempt to reverse Indian subjugation to Afghanistan in the pre-British period. Was this an appeal to Hindu sentiment, as some maintained?
    Did the local people make a distinction between the Arab and West Asian traders on the one hand, often referred to as Tajika, and the Turks or Turushkas on the other? And were the former acceptable and the Turks much less so? Clearly they were not all homogenised and identified as Muslims, as we would do today. Should we not sift the reactions to the event by examining the responses of particular social groups and situations? Hormuz was crucial to the horse trade, therefore Nuruddin was welcomed. Did the profits of trade overrule other considerations? Were the temples and their administrators also investing in horse trading and making handsome profits, even if the parties they were trading with were Muslims and therefore of the same religion as Mahmud?
  38. About Koenraad Elst, I have read many of his works and find them to be rigorously researched in general. It is utterly ridiculous to present a litany of opinions in response to an argument. It is even more ridiculous to believe that a US based education is unbiased. Human thinking is structured and people cannot help framing things a certain way. Thus, what the social sciences in the US dish out is very much suspect and in fact there is awareness of this factor in academia now.

    Rob, don’t forget the muslim conquest of India lasted almost a thousand years with new and different dynasties taking part in the quest for power. I remember reading somewhere that in the course of this 1000-period they destroyed about 600,000 temples. Don’t remember the source or the basis of this deduction but it sounds quite believable to me. Temples had a lot of wealth, and outrage at the worship of false gods was a great excuse to get at it.

  39. 289 · Divya said

    It is even more ridiculous to believe that a US based education is unbiased.

    you could take a cross-section of academics from all over the world, and get their opinion on elst regardless of their political affinities and predilections. and i agree that american social scientists are not unbiased (no one is!), but i assume that if most of them with many different agendas think elst is a little nutty, chances are that he is nutty. if historians the world over think elst’s scholarship is problematic, is it not plausible to think that his ‘scholarship’ is suspect? surely, that does not absolve the american social sciences of its analytical problems. i mean psychology and psychiatry are not considered as ‘methodologically rigorous’ as physics, but within broad margins we depend on this disciplines to diagonose the mentally ill.

    Temples had a lot of wealth, and outrage at the worship of false gods was a great excuse to get at it.

    thank you! very brief and articulate.

  40. you have shown your facility with history (paid biographer=historian!).

    he..he.. I just said Muslim/Mughal historians in the general sense. I never mentioned any aid biographer by name. This is what you said.

    i didn’t say anything when amitabh made the comment, but delhi has a lot of old hindu monuments that couldnt have survived to be destroyed by the mughals. it is, as you know, a city with a very long history (not a couple hundred years, but a lot more than that :) ) second, for the stuff that is approximately from the same time as the mughal era, is not getting preserved (organizations like INTACH worked very hard to change that). if it is in private hands, people just sell it because of the propert values. secondly, i’ve come across no evidence that an important hindu monument was destroyed IN DELHI because of mughal invaders (i’m not denying that wars in delhi musn’t have caused collateral damage (but the worst of them was probably in 1857, after the British were determined to avenge the mutiny),

    But then my close relatives come from the temple town of Kanchipuram where we have a few thousand+ year temples majestic and standing.. I have been to a few. I need to assume that similar temples existed in the North but were demolished by the idol destroying crowd and that assumption is proven right by various chroniclers of the time. If you are saying that Hindu monuments did not survive till Mughal era (starting from 1526) but were rather destroyed by the Muslim rulers prior to 1526 in Delhi, that is at least believable. It is not true that Hindu monumens do not stand on their own for thousands of years on their own.

    I think a thousand year anniversary is coming up for the following temple http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brihadishwara_Temple#History

    And in Delhi,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qutb_complex

    The most famous monument situated in the complex is the Qutub Minar; other important constructions in the complex are the Quwwat ul-Islam Mosque, the Alai Gate, the Alai Minar and the Iron pillar. Twenty-seven previous Jain temples were destroyed and their materials reused to construct the minar and other monuments of the complex.

  41. “you could take a cross-section of academics from all over the world, and get their opinion on elst regardless of their political affinities and predilections.”

    Okay, here is Elst’s website. Tell me what you find kooky (other than his looks, sorry I can’t help but recoil at that beard). Your cross-section point does not help with the problem of perception. Even the most intelligent people at a given time believe the wrong things – like the earth revolving around the sun. It depends on the zeitgeist. If you take a poll 10 years from now you will get very different results on Elst. The pre-9/11 world thought hinduism in general was kooky (they still do but not to that extent). Any defender of hindus was thought to be kooky. But seriously, I challenge you to tell me what precisely you find kooky about Elst.

    http://koenraadelst.bharatvani.org/

  42. The end result of desecrating my temples, I’d say, is a bit worse than simply killing me.

    good, so now you know why some muslims cannot stand the thought of american soldiers near mecca.

  43. 290 · portmanteau said

    is it not plausible to think that his ‘scholarship’ is suspect?

    enough with the denials! if it’s good enough for daniel pipes, the sangh, and the flemish right wing, it’s good enough for me!

    death to twinkle twinkle!

  44. 278 · Ponniyin Selvan said

    BTW, don’t you think Alexander is glorified too much?. Because this warlord is of greek origin, he is called “great” and “civilized” whereas other warlords like Chengiz Khan / Attilla are called barbarians.

    O wise one, what culture, ideas and civilization did Chengiz Khan/Attila leave behind? Alexander the Great, spread Greek ideas and civilization in the areas he conquered.

  45. December 23, 2008 Through Tel Aviv: India’s Reckless Road to Washington [http://www.counterpunch.org/prashad12232008.html] VIJAY PRASHAD

    On Thursday, November 27, in the middle of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Imran Babar, one of the terrorists, called India TV from Nariman House. He used a cellphone that belonged to Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, the co-director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center. The following day, Babar and his associates killed Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. The phone call he made was not long. Babar opened with a comment that made little sense to most people: “You call [Israel’s] army staff to visit Kashmir. Who are they to come to J &K [Jammu and Kashmir]? This is a matter between us and Hindus, the Hindu government. Why does Israel come here?�

    Little is known of Babar’s babbles outside the confines of Hakirya, the “campus� of the Israeli high command, and of South Block, which houses the Indian External Affairs and Defense ministries. What he referred to are the growing military and security ties between India and Israel. As well, he might have referenced the now rather solid links between the Hindu Right and the Israeli Right, and how their view of the conflicts that run from Jerusalem to Srinagar mirror those of the jihadis like Babar. Imran Babar and his fellow terrorists come to their critique from the standard anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism that blinds many aggrieved jihadis. Rather than make a concrete assessment of their grievances, they take refuge in as mythical a world as sketched out by the Israeli Right-Hindu Right, where Jews, Hindus and America are arrayed against Muslims.

    That the terrorists attacked the Chabad-Lubavitch Center has renewed the call to see the commonalities between the victims of terrorism, whether those in a Haifa restaurant or a Mumbai train, between 9/11 and 11/26. To do so flattens out a significant differences, and reduces the violence to their acts themselves rather than to the social context that leads people to acts of terror. Mumbai provokes the Right to seek recourse to the solutions of war and surveillance, methods that might create a moment’s sense of security before the wily adversary finds a new technological means to strike back. There is no common technical solution: better sniper rifles or iris scanners, better intelligence databases or cattle prods. The weapons used to deal the fatal blow to the terrorists are also incubators of a new generation of terrorists. This is an elementary lesson, lost to those who seek the silver bullet.

    Why Does Israel Come Here?

    On September 10, 2008, Israel’s top army official, General Avi Mizrahi landed in New Delhi. He met with India’s leading army, navy and air force officials before leaving for a short visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Mizrahi, a long-standing officer in the Israeli Defense Force, lectured senior Indian army officers at the Akhnur Military Base, near the Indo-Pakistan border, on the theme of counterterrorism. Later, in Srinagar, Mizrahi and his Indian counterpart, Army Chief Deepak Kapoor agreed to joint counterterrorism activities, notably for Israeli commandoes to train Indian soldiers in urban combat.

    The Mizrahi visit in 2008 is not extraordinary. He had been to India in February 2007. In June 2007, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky brought a team of IDF officers to Jammu and Kashmir, where they met senior Indian officials at the 16 Corps headquarters at Nagrota in the Jammu region near the India-Pakistan border. Kaplinsky’s team discussed the problem of infiltration, how militants from the Pakistani side enter the India. The 720-kilometer barbed wire fence, an echo of Israel’s wall, has not prevented the transit of militants. Kaplinsky came to push other, high-tech means, such as night-vision devices, to help interdict militants. En route to Israel, Kaplinsky’s team went to the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command.

    In January 2008, to continue these contacts, the IDF’s chief, Brigadier General Pinchas Buchris came to India and met the top civilians and the top brass. They discussed the procedures to share intelligence on terrorist activity. A week after Buchris returned to Israel, India’s Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta spent time in Jerusalem, meeting IDF heads Gabi Askhenazi and Buchris. Between 2007 and early 2008, all three Indian defense chiefs visited Israel. The framework for these meetings is the 2002 agreement to form an Indo-Israeli Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, a long-standing attempt to create an entente between the armies of India and Israel, and to consolidate the immense arms trade between the two countries (India is now Israel’s largest arms buyer).

    The impetus for the relations goes back to the 1990s, when the governing Congress Party began to dismantle the dirigiste Indian State and to withdraw from India’s long-standing non-aligned policy. The Congress government believed that it was time to reassess its relations with the United States, and that the best way to get to Washington was through Tel Aviv. Stronger ties with Israel might soften the reticence in Washington toward India, and lead it to loosen its bonds with Pakistan and China. India banked on Israel to play the broker with Washington. (This is the argument of my book, Namaste Sharon: Hindutva and Sharonism Under U. S. Hegemony, New Delhi: LeftWord, 2003).

    In January 1992, the Indian government recognized the state of Israel. The next month, Defense Minister Sharad Pawar called for Indo-Israeli cooperation on counter-terrorism. Israel’s Director-General of Police Ya’acov Lapidot visited India for an international police convention, and returned to Israel with news that the Indian government wanted Israeli expertise on counter-terror operations. Government spokesperson Benjamin Netanyahu told India Abroad (29 February 1992) that Israel “developed expertise in dealing with terrorism at the field level and also internationally, at the political and legal level, and would be happy to share it with India.� In the Congress years, the main arena of cooperation came in arms deals, as India’s massive purchases provided stability to Israel’s previously volatile arms industry.

    When the Hindu Right came to power in the late 1990s, it hastened both the economic “liberalization� policy (with a Minister for Privatization in office) and it shifted its attentions to Washington, DC and Tel Aviv: an axis of the three powers against what it called Islamic terrorism was to be the new foundation of India’s emergent foreign policy. The close relationship between Netanyahu (then Prime Minister) and L. K. Advani (the Home Minister of India, and a brigand of the Hard Right) smoothed the path to intensive collaboration. Advani admires Netanyahu’s personal history as a member of the Sayeret Matcal (special forces) unit of the IDF; Advani himself has no such on-the-ground experience. In 1995, when in Israel, Advani happily received Netanyahu’s new book, Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.

    Advani has since made it his practice to quote from the book, particularly the view that a “free society must know what they are fighting,� which is the “rising tide of Islamic terrorism.� This was all honey in Advani’s ear. He drew the central concepts of his counter-terrorism policy from his friends in the Israeli government: a wall at the border, threats of “hot pursuit� across it; demur against political negotiation, escalation of rhetoric; limits on civil liberties when it comes to suspects in terror cases. Netanyahu had purposely refused to distinguish between Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, the PLO and the Muslim Brotherhood. Advani too began to collapse the distinction between Kashmiri separatist groups and post-Afghan war terror outfits based in Pakistan, between aggrieved Indian Muslims and Pakistani proxy forces. As well, Netanyahu and Advani crafted a stage on which to enact an endless battle between Democracy and Terrorism, where the role of Democracy is played by the United States, Israel and India and where the role of Terrorism is played by Islam. It is all simple and dangerous.

    During his June 2000 visit to Israel, Advani underscored his adoption of Netanyahu’s framework during a lecture at the Indian Embassy. “In recent years we have been facing a growing internal security problem,� he said. “We are concerned with cross-border terrorism launched by proxies of Pakistan. We share with Israel a common perception of terrorism as a menace, even more so when coupled with religious fundamentalism. Our mutual determination to combat terrorism is the basis for discussions with Israel, whose reputation in dealing with such problems is quite successful.� Advani invited a team of Israeli counter-terrorism experts to tour Jammu and Kashmir in September 2000. Led by Eli Katzir, an aide to Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the team conducted a feasibility study of India’s military security needs and offered suggestions for Israeli assistance. Three years later, Israel and India signed a military-arms pact that included a specific training mission. Israeli forces would train four new Special Forces battalions of the Indian Army; other battalions would learn the practice of “irregular warfare� and work with the Northern Command in Kashmir.

    When the Hindu Right lost the election in 2004 to a Congress-led alliance, the pace of contacts lessened. With both Advani and Netanyahu in the shadows, the alliance lost its main champions. The Congress government recognized how toxic this alliance would be, unnecessarily inflaming an already difficult relationship with Pakistan. This was also recognized within Israel. Efraim Inbar, director of Israel’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, who is actively involved in the Indo-Israeli contacts, recognizes the political problem; “this kind of cooperation needs to be secret if it can be,� he told Newsweek. The military and arms deals between India and Israel continued, even if it was now treated as a sideshow. India remains a major importer of Israeli arms. What lingers in the shadows is the Israeli work in Kashmir. Little is officially revealed of it, even as leaks here and there hint at the extent of the contacts.

    Technocrats of Terrorism.

    Ami Pedazhur, a political scientist from the University of Austin-Texas, joins the chorus on the New York Times op-ed page with suggestions for the Indian government after Mumbai (“From Munich to Mumbai,� December 20). Rather than see anything new in the Mumbai attacks, Pedazhur conjoins it with an unbroken history that stretches back at least to the 1972 Munich attacks. What links Munich to Mumbai is neither the identity of those who kill nor those who are killed, but the means by which the killing occurs. Analysts of terrorism, like Pedazhur, are technocrats of counter-terrorist actions. They study how terrorists operate, and so what best security and military force can constrain them. The public policy that stems from this sort of technocratic view of terrorism has one end, to restrain the terrorist with more security checkpoints, more hot pursuit.

    Why does the Indian government take advice from a government whose own security services have a dismal record of preventing terror attacks and whose own armed forces have failed to create stability on its borders? Israel’s weaponry works fine. But Israel’s counter-terror expertise is questionable. Pedazhur takes pride in Israel’s counterterrorism policy. What pride there can be in a regime that maintains its safety through a ruthless military strategy is questionable. The Israeli government, regardless of the party in charge, is conspicuous not only for its treatment of the Palestinians but also, significantly, for its failure to create a secure society for its own citizens. It is easy enough to make the Palestinians the author of the troubles, but this of course ignores the intransigence of Israel’s political leadership to produce a settlement. Because it cannot make a political peace, the Israeli authorities have perfected various technological means to minimize the consequences of its failures. This is what it wishes to export to India. For India, the imports signal the surrender of its leadership to the current imbroglio. Gated countries wallow in fear and hatred.

    The costs of the Tel Aviv-New Delhi-Washington axis are too much to bear, at least for India. India cannot afford to mimic Israel’s failed neighborhood policy, nor can it follow the U. S. example that seeks to solve its problems by aerial bombardment. South Asia requires a regional solution to what is without doubt a regional problem, one with its roots in the Afghan jihad of the 1980s as much as the unresolved Kashmir question (with close to a million troops in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian government runs what is tantamount to an occupation – they provide the opposite of security for the residents of the state). When the Afghan civil wars came to a unjust quiet in the early 1990s, the various foreign fighters returned to their homelands, emboldened by their self-perception of their victorious struggle: they went to Chechnya, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and into the Kashmir struggle. Pakistan and India are equally victims of these veterans of the jihad, and both have a vested interest in their demobilization. But more than that, there is a danger that as the U. S. amps up its war in Afghanistan and treats Pakistan with contempt, the jihadis will take out their wrath with the same kind of ferocity as they demonstrated in Mumbai. Rather than risk a failed military strategy against the jihadis, it is time for a regional conference on human security, one that includes better cooperation between the states and a program for the lives of those who are driven to the compounds of hatred through their many, many grievances.

    Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad@trincoll.edu

  46. 292 · Divya said

    But seriously, I challenge you to tell me what precisely you find kooky about Elst.

    ok i just typed out a long response quoting from his articles. i just lost it thanks to an explorer problem. i will get back to you on this. i promise. there is no dearth of material. give me a week; i’ll do it when i’m taking a break on my current project.

  47. O wise one, what culture, ideas and civilization did Chengiz Khan/Attila leave behind? Alexander the Great, spread Greek ideas and civilization in the areas he conquered.

    he.he.. that’s the point. Alexander civilized the places where he conquered, later a lot of other Europeans civilized the rest (including British civilizing a vast area of the globe) , and now Bush is civilizing Afghans and Iraqis and Israelis civilizing the Palestinians.

    don’t know if this civilizing project will ever end. :-)

  48. Indianization “is the final solution to the Muslim problem in India” (Decolonizing the Hindu Mind, 2001, Page 57). Get the chills.

  49. 289 · Divya said

    the muslim conquest of India lasted almost a thousand years with new and different dynasties taking part in the quest for power. I remember reading somewhere that in the course of this 1000-period they destroyed about 600,000 temples. Don’t remember the source or the basis of this deduction but it sounds quite believable to me.

    This is the perfect example of the gullibility and stupidity of the hindutva brigade. What was the population of north India during the medieval age that could have supported such a huge number of hindu temples? Where are the ruins? The outrageous hindutva lies sound believable to you because you are completely brainwashed and incapable of thinking rationally.

    The reality is that the islamic invasions were far more disastrous for buddhists than for hindus. Wherever Islam went buddhism was completely wiped out: central asia, afghanistan, pakistan and north india. Hindus survived because unlike buddhists they were given dhimmi status. The Mughals even financed the construction of hindu temples Why do you think brahmins loved them so much if they were enemies of their religion? Why do you think the brahmin Peshwas sacrificed the Maratha army in Panipat in defense of Mughal rule? Why did the brahmin mutineers ally themselves with muslims in 1857 in a war to reinstall the mughals to power and kick out the british?

  50. 300 · Patanjali said

    289 · Divya said
    the muslim conquest of India lasted almost a thousand years with new and different dynasties taking part in the quest for power. I remember reading somewhere that in the course of this 1000-period they destroyed about 600,000 temples. Don’t remember the source or the basis of this deduction but it sounds quite believable to me.
    This is the perfect example of the gullibility and stupidity of the hindutva brigade. What was the population of north India during the medieval age that could have supported such a huge number of hindu temples? Where are the ruins? The outrageous hindutva lies sound believable to you because you are completely brainwashed and incapable of thinking rationally. The reality is that the islamic invasions were far more disastrous for buddhists than for hindus. Wherever Islam went buddhism was completely wiped out: central asia, afghanistan, pakistan and north india. Hindus survived because unlike buddhists they were given dhimmi status. The Mughals even financed the construction of hindu temples Why do you think brahmins loved them so much if they were enemies of their religion? Why do you think the brahmin Peshwas sacrificed the Maratha army in Panipat in defense of Mughal rule? Why did the brahmin mutineers ally themselves with muslims in 1857 in a war to reinstall the mughals to power and kick out the british?

    ally themselves with muslims in 1857

    just in case you thought the forum discussion was veering away from the blog…we come back to

    Sep(oy) Mutiny.