Aseem Shukla’s Piece on the Gaza Flotilla

In his piece in The Washington Post’s “On Faith” column last Wednesday, Aseem Shukla, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), begins with the following:

Watching events unfold in the Middle East, I lose the hyphen in Hindu-American here and comment only as an American. I do not represent the Hindu American Foundation here, but represent the views of one stunned by the existential challenges in the Middle East (On Faith).

He then questions the motives of the flotilla organizers, characterizing it as a political stunt rather than a genuine humanitarian effort (why are the two mutually exclusive?).

The flotillas insist on direct access to land controlled by the same Hamas thugs that are committed to destroying Israel and have purposefully launched thousands of rockets at Israel. These seaborne do-gooders could easily unload their supplies in Israel and have them transported to Gaza if their concerns were only humanitarian. But theirs were political, and they chose to protest, provoke and, yes, in a few cases, covet the perverse martyrdom of the extremist.

The problem with Mr. Shukla’s article, and the reason I find it disingenuous, is that though he claims to lose his hyphen, his argument fits neatly within the political framework of HAF.

Since its inception, HAF has allied itself with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” working simultaneously to advocate for a stronger India-Israel-US relationship and to mark “common values” shared by the Jewish and Hindu communities.

From HAF’s first interfaith press release, 5/19/2004:

The leadership of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) (www.hinduamericanfoundation.org) interacted with several Jewish leaders from across the United States during the Annual Policy Conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington, D.C., May 16-18, 2004 (www.aipac.org). HAF, the only Hindu organization present at the annual conference attended by the most prominent U.S. elected officials including President George W. Bush, represented Hindu Americans during discussions that followed a breakout session devoted to United States-India-Israel relations (HAF).

From their second interfaith press release, 10/20/2004:

Addressing a meeting of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) on September 20, 2004, Mihir Meghani, M.D., President, Hindu American Foundation (HAF) (www.hinduamericanfoundation.org), highlighted the common values shared by the two communities and stressed the need for Hindus and Jews to work together to promote understanding, tolerance, and pluralism.

“Both communities are inspired by more than 5000-year-old heritages,” said Dr. Meghani in his address. “Family values, tolerance and acceptance of other religions, cultures, and customs are defining characteristics of the two,” he added (HAF).

Given this, it’s hardly surprising that there isn’t criticism to be found of the Israeli government on the pages of HAF site. Now mind, HAF doesn’t give a pass to just any state combating terrorism.

Last year, HAF put out two press releases as the war in Sri Lanka neared its end (2/27/09 and 4/22/09) in which they criticized both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE:

HAF has repeatedly condemned what it considers a disproportionate Sri Lankan response on the civilian ethnic Tamil population in its annual Hindu human rights report…

HAF has condemned both the Sri Lankan army as well as the LTTE for the violence, for the loss and displacement of innocent civilians, and the destruction of Hindu temples and other places of worship.  HAF believes there can be no military solution to the problem and the conflict should be settled through a durable political solution.

Yet there’s no such nuanced statement that I could find about the Israel-Palestine conflict. I suppose it could be argued that HAF wouldn’t comment or issue a press release on Israel-Palestine since it doesn’t involve Hindus; however, given HAF’s alliance with American lobbies that support the actions of the Israeli government, is it unfair to assume that the omission of such a statement or press release is an endorsement of the Israeli state’s actions? If such an omission isn’t political, then what is it?

Mr. Shukla’s narrative of the conflict would have us believe that a mere wall is all that protects Israel from certain destruction, completely ignoring the disproportionate means of violence at Israel’s disposal.

Please note that I’m not taking issue with Mr. Shukla’s characterization of Hamas as anti-democratic and dissent-quashing. I agree that its attacks on Israel must be stopped and that it must accept Israel’s existence. But his kid-gloved treatment of Israel and its role in the conflict fits so conveniently into the larger political agenda of HAF that I don’t see how he can claim some sort of objectivity by losing his hyphen in writing this piece.

98 thoughts on “Aseem Shukla’s Piece on the Gaza Flotilla

  1. He then questions the motives of the flotilla organizers, characterizing it as a political stunt rather than a genuine humanitarian effort (why are the two mutually exclusive?).

    Yes, it could be both. But, why are you surprised that Israel acted the way it did when the intention of the flotilla organizers was also to provoke them?

  2. what he meant by losing the hyphen was that this was not a Hindu issue. Are you arguing that it is, because of some inter-faith meetings of HAF with AJC?

    What is needed is a leftfringe-american hyphenation. Are you sure you can claim some sort of objectivity by losing this hyphen in writing this piece.

  3. The problem with Mr. Shukla’s article, and the reason I find it disingenuous

    Why is it disingenuous? In your view it fits the “political framework of HAF” that does not mean the reason is not valid. It does not prove causality. Your whole reasoning is basically flawed.

  4. Vivek, the questions you raise are legitimate. The answer is that the “concern” of (non-desi, international) left-wing organizations about the Palestinians compared to, say, the Kurds, or the Uzbeks (just look at what’s going on in Kyrgyzstan right now) or the Coptic Christians in Egypt (who were the regular, normal Egyptians before the Arabs invaded) seems disingenuous from a desi perspective–so, I care about the Palestinians, but I hate people who ignore other forgotten victims of oppression, like the Kashmiri Pundits, Tibetan Buddhists, Pakistani Christians, Gujarati Muslims, Bangladeshi Hindus, Sri Lankan Muslims, etc. What’s with the foregrounding of the Palestinians, anyway? You are sucking up to Western memes!

  5. The reason HAF has reports on Sri Lanka and not Israel is probably because Sri Lanka has a sizeable Hindu population and Israel does not and there is conflict in Sri Lanka involving Hindus and in Israel there is not. (although the Sri Lanka conflict is not strictly a religious one).

    Mr. Shukla has the right to write a column based not on his affiliation with HAF or on his identity as a Hindu American but as a person, but clearly HAF’s good ties with the Jewish American community and the general good relationship between Hindus and Jews has influenced his writing/perspective. This doesn’t make it illegitimate or legitimate. It’s just another point of view with which one can agree or disagree.

  6. Hi,

    Some interesting comments – yes it is true that there are hundred of stories around the world where people have been abused and driven away from their homes. Yes look at Darfur, look at Arab countries where women are treated like chattel, what about even India – with some of the highest female infanticide rates in the world, not to mention dozens of human rights abuse cases against women and socially disadvantaged classes.

    Palestine is not some western meme – it is a region – one of the very few regions in the world where an external oppressor continues to practice apartheid – It is nothing but colonization. There are dozens of organizations working in related issues as outlined by Rabrindrnath. If you feel not enough is being done please work on it – but do not hate if one is obessed one particular human rights violation. It is like saying you hate Gandhi because he fought only for Indian Independence and not other countries in Africa or Asia!

    israeli occupation of palestine costs:

    • American lives (including Indian-American soldiers)
    • Ill will against America throughout the Arab world – we went to war in Iraq because we thought Iraq was a threat and that his fall would bring about peace in Palestine (see Wolfowitz: “The road to peace in Jerusalem runs through Baghdad”)
    • American Tax payer billions given to Israel and other proxy governments in Saudi Arabia and Egypt
    • Fuels Islamic terrorism
    • Does not make Israel any safer over the long term
    • Enslaves Palestinians (Although this should be on the top)!

    HAF seems nothing more than a right wing ideological organization trying to build links to another right wing organization (AJC/AIPAC). Radical segments of any religion are always a threat to free and open societies.

  7. What’s with the foregrounding of the Palestinians, anyway? You are sucking up to Western memes!

    You are myopic and clearly insecure.

    I’m presuming Vivek lives in the US, and as such, the Palestinian issue is very forefront whether you like it or not. The US is apparently stuck in a diplomatic K-hole with regard to Israel, Palestine and Egypt that amounts to billions of American dollars being spent on that area as a bribe to “be nice”. THEREFORE, it’s our tax dollars going to this area and sustaining a stupid and pitifully lopsided joke of diplomacy. Regardless of what side you’re on, citizen (or resident) taxes are an extremely hot issue now and it’s only reasonable for US citizens and residents to take active interest.

  8. Radical segments of any religion are always a threat to free and open societies.

    Ironically, this is exactly why so many people are willing to give Israel a wide berth as it tries to deal with Hamas, Hezbollah, and all their tacit supporters who “disapprove of violence” while still lionizing terrorists as martyrs. All of whom, I might add, continue to dispute Israel’s right to exist by referring to it as “colonialism.” Never mind that it was imperialism that forced them off that land in the first place.

  9. The Gaza Flotilla was not only a political stunt, but it was an intentional provocation by people who wished to incite violence.

    I have very little sympathy for the state of Israel, and none whatsoever for it’s current government. But I have far more antipathy for Hamas and the IHH. These Jihadists must be stopped, and I am glad that in this case Israel stopped them.

    The “peace activists” of the IHH have very close ties with Hamas, who still hold Gilad Shalit, an IDF soldier they abducted in June 2006. Ever since the Shalit kidnapping, the IDF has had standing orders to use all necessary force to prevent any IDF soldier from being taken captive alive. The IHH Jihadists knew this when they beat and stabbed three IDF soldiers and dragged them below decks on the Mavi Marmara. They wanted to become martyrs and they got their wish. Their was no other conceivable response from the IDF but to use deadly foce, and the IHH knew this.

  10. Hezbollah was formed directly out of Lebanon’s invasion by Israel – and Hamas was founded by Israeli assistance as a counterweight to PLO.

    We cannot hope for peace by assaulting radical organizations by another radical organization – the present Israeli govt- We need to get to the root of the problem – continued palestinian occupation.

    The British called Subhas chandra bose and other Indian radicals terrorists! They were fighting for India’s freedom – so are many organization in Palestine. It is just that moderate organizations have been rendered useless by either imprisoning or killing off leaders – see Bargouti – the only place remaining is for radicals to arise.

  11. I don’t see anything wrong with Aseem Shukla writing in his own capacity and emphasizing that this is not the official position of the HAF. I don’t agree with Aseem Shukla’s views regarding the flotilla but I do feel that Israel/Palestine does get a disproportionate amount of coverage in the Western Media.

    What’s wrong with the HAF working with Jewish American organizations ? The HAF has no role to comment on the middle east and it should not be expected to. Tying up Shukla’s comments on the flotilla as some sort of official HAF position looks like an attempt to insinuate that this is the view of all those who may be supportive of the Hindu American Foundation.

  12. The British called Subhas chandra bose and other Indian radicals terrorists! They were fighting for India’s freedom – so are many organization in Palestine.

    The biggest and most far reaching freedom movement in India was the one headed by Gandhi. Which was a peaceful opposition movement. There is not a single equivalent movement in Palestine today.

  13. 14

    Please read my post again. I wrote “equivalent movement”. That means it should be remotely comparable in size and scope to Gandhi’s movement. (Not just an entry in Wikipedia)

  14. “The biggest and most far reaching freedom movement in India was the one headed by Gandhi. Which was a peaceful opposition movement. There is not a single equivalent movement in Palestine today.”

    When will there be a Palestinian Gandhi? I’m often asked this question by people who sympathise with Palestinian suffering but are uncomfortable associating themselves with resistance movements that they see as violent or terrorist. The reality of course is that Palestinian nonviolent resisters are not only active today but have a long and storied history in the Palestinian struggle. The real question is: why haven’t we heard about them? Like many resisting oppression, Palestinian Gandhis are likely to be found in prisons after being repressed by Israeli soldiers or police or in the hospital after being brutally beaten or worse. In recent years, the Israeli repression of Palestinian nonviolent dissent has increased significantly and Israel is showing signs of transforming into a fully-fledged police state. Even Israeli citizens, both Palestinian such as Ameer Makhoul and Jewish, have faced intimidation in one form or another for being critical of Israel’s policies. Surely, Israel has realised that its ongoing occupation, continued colonisation of Palestinian land, and its bombardment of civilian-packed Gaza have significantly and negatively impacted on its image abroad. The images of nonviolent Palestinian protests against the Israeli occupation aren’t helping Israel’s reputation either. Perhaps that is why recently many nonviolent activists and initiatives have been shut down and repressed. Jamal Juma, Muhammad Othman and Abdallah Abu Rahman may not be household names like Gandhi or Mandela but they have been just as consistent in resisting Israel’s illegal segregation wall in the West Bank by organising nonviolent demonstrations for years. And, like Gandhi and Mandela they have paid a price by being arrested on multiple occasions.

    (emphasis added) There are other articles like these here.

    So if it’s not that Palestinians aren’t trying – well, then you actually have to delve into an analysis.

  15. Wayne: “Radical segments of any religion are always a threat to free and open societies.”

    Some religions appear to be more prone to spawning “radical segments” than others. In the case of Islam, these “radical segments” include the ruling classes of Saudi Arabia and Iran. Far from being marginal crazies, the “radical segments” of Islam enjoy broad popular support.

    Israel, by the way, was not founded by a “radical segment” of Judaism, but rather by a bunch of very secular Jews whose primary ideological influences were Nationalism and Socialism. Even the current right-wing government of Israel is not representative of a “radical segment” of Judaism.

  16. What’s with the foregrounding of the Palestinians, anyway? You are sucking up to Western memes!

    Personally, I think that a) you are correct that the international media is unfair in its focus and this is reflective of global politics more broadly and b) it is interesting from my perspective as someone who has and will study South Asia to consider that Palestine/israel, Sri Lanka/LTTE area, India/Pakistan, Pakistan/Bangladesh, Northern Cyprus/Cyprus, and Catholic Northern Ireland/Protestant Northern Ireland are all former British colonies that have seen communally based politics and territorial partitions, usually involving massive violence. I have also read papers which have drawn these comparisons, studies that established a correlation on the contrast between British and French colonies in Africa, etc. So although that might not be the purpose of the post, it allows you to raise the question you raise and allows me to raise the further question – well why not just talk about these issues in former British colonies that share similar dynamics? Or from a humanitarian standpoint, why not just look at all countries that do so.

    I also really like that the post helps understand the positioning of HAF, which is important for me, because one has to make sense of the ‘soft’ Hindu-American right, especially to discern whether or not it’s actually soft or more of a smokescreen. Putting it in the context of issues that are not directly South Asia related helps get rid of some of the crap that might surround a discussion around the topics you raised and is useful for practical purposes. Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow, and everybody needs a break from South Asia specific fights about communalism once in a while, while still paying attention to what matters to us :)

  17. many people who don’t care about the israel-palestine conflict inordinately. there are many people out there who feel that there are many more dire human rights issues (in the sense of maximal negations of utility and human flourishing) than that of gaza. there are many people out there who think that the existence of israel as a jewish state is of less than world-shaking importance. i fall into that category myself, and am posting this comment so that the silent majority may have a voice before this comment thread follows its natural course, which all discussions about israel-palestine in a mixed ideological environment seem to evolve toward in a final equilibrium of anomie and accusation.

  18. This site has gone ridiculously left-wing. Even the ACLU from the UWS find you guys too liberal.

  19. Some religions appear to be more prone to spawning “radical segments” than others. In the case of Islam, these “radical segments” include the ruling classes of Saudi Arabia and Iran.

    I note that you left out the ruling classes of Israel and the United States here. Here’s the source for Israel – http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article10456.htm. I’ll give you the source for the U.S. after your next racist comment.

  20. there are many people out there who feel that there are many more dire human rights issues (in the sense of maximal negations of utility and human flourishing) than that of gaza.

    I agree with this, but I need to see a strategy mapped out as to how those situations will actually be addressed. The only solution I can think of on the basis of your logic is that resources in terms of conversations, protests, etc. should be allocated according to reducing maximal negations of utility and human flourishing. Which kind of makes you a vanguardist in terms of how you think movements should work.

    That’s fine – I just want to understand what you actually believe. Because i think that there is a silent majority that agrees with you (I used to be a part of it) but then there is the question of – what do you do? At which point, I left the silent majority and joined the group that will engage wtih hegemony and risk being controlled by it, but might end up f”£ked because of it, because i ultimately agree with the basis on which you make the criticism.

  21. Human Development Report Rankings:

    At #110. Palestinian Territories

    South Asia rankings in the HDR

    India #134 Pakistan #141 Bangladesh #146

    We have enough issues of our own so the Mid East problems such as Israel/Palestine would not be on the top of the list for South Asians.

  22. So you dont care about the validity of his or HAF’s arguments about Israel or his opposition of Islamic terrorism. What gets your goat is that some silly hyphen business sounds disingeneous to you. Must have really weak ammunition to rely on a premise like that for a whole blog post dude. BTW, go to Gaza and see which side they put you on based on that hindu name of yours.

  23. Yet there’s no such nuanced statement that I could find about the Israel-Palestine conflict. I suppose it could be argued that HAF wouldn’t comment or issue a press release on Israel-Palestine since it doesn’t involve Hindus; however, given HAF’s alliance with American lobbies that support the actions of the Israeli government, is it unfair to assume that the omission of such a statement or press release is an endorsement of the Israeli state’s actions? If such an omission isn’t political, then what is it?

    First, not everyone on the left wing political spectrum hates Israel or Jews. The left does NOT belong solely to the anti-Israel group. And you can support Israel and also be for a two state solution. A two state solution is supportive of BOTH Israelis and Arabs.

    Second, Shukla was right to speak as an individual on this since this does not involve Hindus. This is HAF’s purpose: http://www.hinduamericanfoundation.org/about/who_we_are . Hindus have faced a lot of prejudice mockery racism and bigotry in the US, and this organization is there to speak up against such discrimination and hopefully the next generation will have a better experience. In addition, Hindus whom HAF speaks up for may have a range of individual opinions on Israel/Palestine, so Shukla’s views should be his own and not HAF. Within my own family there is a range of opinions so HAF should not get involved in something that has nothing to do with Hindus.

  24. Those were not just sites on wikipedia (I’m not even sure how that’s so denigrating, but whatever) but several links to very active organizations. Over the years I have known many people–many of them Jews and several of them Quakers, who are very active in facilitating these sorts of movements. How you expect a population of 3M to yield a move of equivalent size to that from a population of 300+ million (lowballing India’s population before Independence) is beyond me. Yes, there is no immediate equivalent of Gandhi. Maybe Indians should be a little humble about how damn lucky we were that a charismatic man was so willing to throw his entire life into the abyss of history for our cause, and have a little more compassion for a people who are trying despite not having found their Gandhi yet. Last I checked the Gandhian sensibility included compassion and not rudely dismissing the honest efforts of hardworking activists.

  25. To do what Dr. A is asking Razib to do necessitates creating a priority list by utility and human flourishing potential (with available resources.) Most people on the left are uncomfortable with the implications of making such a ranking overtly (rather than, say negating that such rankings are real to them by moving from Western Europe or N. America to rural parts of the Congo or the Wanni.) I’m guessing this is the position of the ‘silent majority’–whether or not one’s attitude is, “screw gaza,” the act of allocating finite resources to mitigating a different and more ‘deserving’ tragedy is not immoral

  26. but I need to see a strategy mapped out as to how those situations will actually be addressed.

    i think it’s a tactical, not strategic issue. the focus of jews and muslims on this question is understandable. the left and neocon right’s own fixations (aside from those with cultural/ethnic attachments to the aforementioned groups) is less comprehensible. my annoyance with the focus on israel-palestine got aggravated in the year 2000 when i saw a tiny box on the tens of thousands dying per week in the democratic republic of congo, juxtaposed by a much larger story of a few jews and a multiplicative greater number of a palestinians dying in israel-palestine.

  27. IHH are Turkish Islamists not peace activists who were aiming for martyr dom, which some got what they wanted.

    This is what is being talked about within Turkey: “The IHH Is a “GNGO” – a “Governmental-Non-Governmental-Organization”

    “To many in and outside Turkey, the answer seems to be simple. This happened because the NGO in question is what a friend humorously referred to as a ‘GNGO’: a ‘governmental-non-governmental-organization’. While there may not be any evidence of a direct link here , there can be no mistake that the Erdogan government is morally and politically behind this group – the IHH – that has now gained international fame according to some, and notoriety according to others.

    “[Moreover], this is not the first time that this group has put Turkey in a difficult diplomatic situation after being aided and abetted by the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. It will be recalled that, a few months ago, the same group tried to force its way through the closed Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, only to end up clashing with Egyptian forces and straining ties between Ankara and Cairo.

    “It is telling that one of the leading ‘activists’ on the Turkish side in that event was Murat Mercan, who is a key AKP figure: an MP and the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Parliament. Turkish-Egyptian ties are still recovering from what happened then. Clearly, the latest events in the Eastern Mediterranean were also watched closely in Cairo, and there must have been further displeasure among the [Egyptian] leadership over Prime Minister Erdogan’s agitation of the Arab street.”"

    Also Turks are questioning putting Israel/Palestine issue above their own, and their country unlike any South Asian country was smack dab in the center of this whole mess:

    “”How can I be proud of a government which gives more priority to Palestinian children than to its own children? How can I be proud of a government that has not done enough to free children who are in prison for throwing stones? Are they less precious than Palestinian children who throw stones at Israelis?” http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4367.htm

  28. there are many people out there who think that the existence of israel as a jewish state is of less than world-shaking importance.

    I am in this camp as well. Again, Razib brings perspective to discussion rather than just emotional and ideological one-upsmanship. It is exasperating to see the oxygen being sucked away by this mountain of a molehill issue that truly affects a minuscule number of people.

  29. when the intention of the flotilla organizers was also to provoke them?

    So, “he hit me first” is a good enough excuse when it comes to Israel? Except in this case, it wasn’t even “he hit me first”, it was “he brought food first, so i hit him”.

  30. We should be talking about events that affect South Asia. Shukla was talking as an American about an incident that happened in the Middle East that has nothing to do with South Asia.

    Now we are getting into the whole Israel/Palestine Turkish faux flotilla AGAIN (Taz I think already brought this up), which has nothing to do with South Asia. There are plenty of sites like Huffington Post where this is talked about ad nauseum.

  31. I would reckon that for most Desis , the issue of Israel/Palestine is not all that important. More importantly its not one that we can do anything about..

    It’s unfortunate that this one conflict gets so much unwarranted attention, when much greater magnitudes of suffering are pretty much ignored .

  32. I’m really confused as to why self described leftists such as Vivek even bother with groups like HAF or people like Aseem Shukla. I ask this in the true spirit of discussion, not simply as a drive by post.

    There really is no such thing as the Hindu community. There are no broad based Hindu groups in America. No matter all the squealing over the HSC and the California textbook controversy, there is no “Hindu youth” in the traditional sense of “here’s a group with goals”. Because of a lack of a congregational structure to Hindu worship, that sense of community does not really exist and its doubtful whether or not Hindu culture will really take root in this country.

    For example, the Muslim community, despite its relatively small size is very well represented. For example, Eboo Patel and Interfaith Youth Core. If you look at the staffing there, not one is Hindu.

    Indians with Hindu backgrounds in the USA are much more likely to consider themselves Indian, Desi, or South Asian before giving themselves a religious label.

    Mind you, I see that the conversation has moved to another topic than Vivek’s, that is, the importance of the Israel/Palestine issue to Non-Muslim South Asians but I think people should keep in mind the relative obscurity and irrelevance of the Hindu “community” in America.

  33. @Keshav: Not all Hindu Students’ Councils are affiliated with the VHP (or w/e acronym it is) e.g. I don’t think the Yale HSC is anybody’s affiliate. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Also: there are linguistic-cultural divides that prevent Hindus from forming broad coalitions – our only common language is English, which doesn’t express Hindu concepts very well… And why do we need a lobby anyway? We don’t need school holidays for Navaratri, Pongal, Holi, etc (which happen on a different day every year anyway); we don’t have a country that endorses our religion officially on whose behalf we can exert pressure; we aren’t underrepresented in money-making career paths. The HAF is completely unnecessary.

  34. [Please note that I'm not taking issue with Mr. Shukla's characterization of Hamas as anti-democratic and dissent-quashing. I agree that its attacks on Israel must be stopped and that it must accept Israel's existence. But his kid-gloved treatment of Israel and its role in the conflict fits so conveniently into the larger political agenda of HAF that I don't see how he can claim some sort of objectivity by losing his hyphen in writing this piece.]

    All very well to criticise Hamas for refusing to recognise Israel – a state created and maintained based on a principle that India soundly rejected after Partition – but what about Israel being ready to recognise a Palestinian State? Remember Likud, Bibi’s party that currently runs Israel? A simple google yields…

    http://www.knesset.gov.il/elections/knesset15/elikud_m.htm

    Likud – Platform

    The following are excerpts from the ‘Peace & Security’ chapter of the Likud Party platform. The other chapters are currently being translated.

    From which (bolded for emphasis by me):

    “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.

    “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs.”

    Which sounds as honest an argument for maintaining a colony as I have ever seen. And that, rather than the Hindu/Muslim/Jewish blahblah dynamic, is where the real relevance of Palestine to other colonised countries lies. (Though the spatial segregation of majority and minority populatins within Israel itself is also strangely similar to what happens in India.)

  35. “The HAF is completely unnecessary.”

    In that case, any South Asian American religion-based group/organization, especially one whose members are from India, is really unnecessary. They should all be labelled “soft” right, not just the HAF.

    Expecting Mr. Shukla, even as an individual, to express opinions markedly different from those espoused in connection with HAF, is like expecting Vivek to express opinions/view things on Sepia Mutiny markedly different from those expressed on Pass The Roti. He’s not officially representing PTR, I assume, but his writing here is probably similar to his thoughts there. Both are shaped by their respective biases and ideologies. Depends which “bias” you side with.

  36. “But his kid-gloved treatment of Israel and its role in the conflict fits so conveniently into the larger political agenda of HAF that I don’t see how he can claim some sort of objectivity by losing his hyphen in writing this piece…”

    I think Mr. Shukla is not claiming to be objective, unless you equate being an unhyphenated American as being objective. Americans are not objective, many take sides. I think he’s trying to ensure that his comments are not seen as being officially endorsed by the HAF or as being put forth as by their spokesperson as their official position on the flotillla incident. There are no doubt many members who have differing views on the incident.

    It says at the bottom of the piece:

    “Views expressed here are the personal views of Dr. Aseem Shukla, and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Minnesota or Hindu American Foundation.”

  37. There must be some event actually relevant to South Asia that an SM blogger can put up and pitch anti-Hindu sentiments and demonize any group that speaks up for Hindus, and perhaps even squeeze in a little antisemitism a la a Zionist-Hindu conspiracy theory.

  38. [There are already 2 states - Arab Palestine East of the river Jordan and Jewish Palestine west of the river Jordan.]

    Nitin – even if you accept that, and most people with any understanding of history don’t, there are a large number of non-Jewish Arabs in Palestine West of the Jordan River – in fact there are possibly more non-Jews than Jews there – and right now they’re living at best as second class citizens, and at worst under occupation or under a cripplingly punitive blockade. The policy of ethnic cleansing undertaken by Israel in its early years was not entirely successful, in that a large proportion of the Arab indigenous population remained within the Green Line, and after 1967 the vast majority of the Arab population remained where they were (West Bank and Gaza), under Israeli control of some sort to this day. It’s all very well to tell people that they ‘really’ belong West of the Jordan, but if they and their families are actually from West of the Jordan, it doesn’t make any sense.

    How is this relevant to South Asia, you ask? At the very least we’re looking at:

    1 colonialism, repression based on force, and the misappropriation of land and resources; something that the subcontinent suffered through. And

    2 two competing TYPES of nationalism – one based narrowly on religious identity, the other on a broader cultural identity.

    It’s ironic that the proponents of one type of nationalism (ie the one opposed to Partition) in the subcontinent support the other kind in Palestine. What is that about?

  39. The OP merely seems to be hastily playing at some “Hinjew” conspiracy by attacking Shukla in this manner. I’m not entirely sure of any purpose of this post other than to perpetuate hackneyed canards on the internet.

  40. I am still trying to figure out how “losing a hyphen” equates to making a claim of objectivity. I had no idea that “real” Americans (by which I obviously mean the unhyphenated) were so objective. Who would have thought that the Arizona legislature would be vindicated on the pages of this venerable site?

    I think that the author is simply stating that he is not making the comment in his capacity as a Hindu-American or on behalf of any organization. For the purposes of his article, the author is making the comment in his individual capacity and is not consciously applying a “Hindu” lens to the issue. Sure, he is no doubt influenced by his individual cultural upbringing, experience and identity, much as your friendly neighbourhood Lebanese lesbian who decided to write on the issue would be. But his view of the situation is not being expressly or deliberately subjected to the Hindu framework of analysis, such as it may be. Given that he may be known for his work with HAF, where he either expresses the HAF position, or takes a Hindu focus on the issue du jour, I would argue that it is appropriate for him to alert his audience that he is speaking in his own individual capacity. Whether or not his views parallel or identical to HAF are irrelevant, as he is not speaking on HAF’s behalf. I may agree with my country’s government or my employer on a particular issue but until I have authority to speak for it, I may only speak on the matter in my own individual capacity. Furthermore, even if HAF does endorse the views, that doesn’t mean he can’t speak in his own individual capacity on the issue. If we are going to get into “disingenuousness” i would, however, question why someone speaking in an “American”, non-religious capacity, does so in the “faith” section of the paper.

    I am more curious as to why the poster believes that HAF is somehow obligated to condemn Israel. Is it supposed to condemn the attack? Or is it supposed to condemn the existence of Israel? If so, why? What arguments does the poster bring to the table? What nuance is the poster expecting/demanding and why does he feel he is entitled to demand it of HAF? Why should HAF “borrow trouble” to use a tried and true North American phrase?

    Regarding the arguments that the flotilla issue is of obvious interest to this site, given the identified issues of colonialism and religious/national identity, I look forward to sepia mutiny’s post on the Bloody Sunday report (fyi, just released this week so it is very timely, so get it while its hot!) given that the issue clearly meets the same criteria and sparked just as much outrage back in the day (aka I see your intifada and raise you the Troubles).

  41. atomicfunk07 - I’m not sure you understood my point. My idea cuts at the root of this whole thread which is – it is simply pointless. As I mentioned in the last paragraph of my post, the conversation has shifted relative to Vivek’s original point (to something resembling the importance of the Israel/Palestinian, non-South Asian problems to South Asians) but addressing Vivek directly, I would say that his commentary on this point is really entirely pointless (and I say that not as a personal attack).

    “The HAF is unnecessary”? I’m not sure I understood that part. Could you rephrase?

    And coming back to the general topic… The Hindu community doesn’t really exist, especially among the younger generation. Why is Aseem Shukla or the HAF considered worthy of a response to begin with? Why are they important?

    The reason I bring it up is because self-described leftists (I wouldn’t want to tell anyone what leftist means to them, but many people with similar ideas self-identify this way) take up this cause of anti-Hindu fundamentalism but I see this as a form of shadow boxing. You can’t have pervasive fundamentalism without a dedicated community and Hindus simply don’t have that. It’s almost like they need a cause to crusade against and created one for the sake of doing so. It’s kind of disingenuous.

    I think if Vivek and others who think similarly were to be more pro-active, they would tackle the more important fundamentalisms, mainly – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish.

  42. Sorry to double post but I forget to address one issue.

    The part about fundamentalism should have been preceded by referring to Vivek’s reference on the connection between AIPAC and the HAF and the remark about “giving a pass to terrorism”. Maybe I’m wrong but he seems to think that two fundamentalisms could be linked.

    Through that, I was trying to make the connection about how Hindu groups like the HAF are irrelevant while groups like AIPAC do wield considerable influence.

  43. I’ll believe that people who focus on Israel are really worried about “colonialism” when they also seek to expel the colonial Turks from Constantinople and give it back to the Greeks. The hypocricy of the anti-Israel crowd stinks to high heaven. Turks can kill Armenians, Greeks and Kurds and the hypocrits wail about the Palestinians not being able to get a relief flotilla from those noble Turks.

  44. I would reckon that for most Desis , the issue of Israel/Palestine is not all that important.

    You’d be wrong. And there’s no issue really, if media such as this blog, that hews to Congress ideology wants to press on. Of course, it’d be better to do so without beating about the bush.

  45. To those of who are argue that you don’t care about Israel Palestine issue, fine, then don’t continue to have your taxes sent to continue the occupation of Palestinians, and by extension, the occupation and control of other Muslim nations like Iraq and Afghanistan. The reason why the I/P issue is heated on an American website is because of the 80 billion and counting in tax dollars Americans send to Israel and the fact that Israel’s existence is legitimized by American foreign policies — UN vetoes included.

    Israel would not have the power to commit its atrocities without direct financial and political support that American citizens give it. So for Americans to support occupation and colonization on one hand and then call itself a “free nation” is where the hypocritical rub lies.

    Hindu desis will profit from its alliance with Jews — more access to media, political power, lobbying, but if they think are in an equal partnership, they are wrong. They are being used to divide and conquer. But then Hindus served the British army during WWII, so who knows. The desire to sit at the big boy’s table is strong, I guess.

  46. @ 47, if you are worried about colonial Turks, then go be an activist there. Just because you are incapable of holding two causes at the same time in your head doesn’t mean that others are incapable. The I/P issue is symptomatic of the larger western colonial presence in the Mideast since the 1700s. The fact that Israel is funded by U.S. tax payers and the fact that nobody in America can openly discuss the brutality of Israel’s occupation — in a nation that purports to be free and to have free speech — is why there are attempts to have this discussion/

    I/P is not an isolated issue. U.S. foreign policy in the Mideast — from its control and support of oppressive regimes in Egypt, SA, Jordan and gulf states to the pccupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and now murder of civilians on a daily basis in Pakistan — is a part of the same picture. Desi Muslims should be worried and should care.

    Only people who zero concept of history would think that I/P issue should not matter to Muslim desis.