What Do Hindus and Jews Have in Common? Everything That Counts.
What do one of the nation’s leading oncologists, an economist, detective and a former Indian cabinet minister, an expert on agr-itech, alternative green energy and cyber security, an independent human rights activist, and a retired college professor, who is a child of Holocaust survivors have in common? Everything that is important according to the over 300 Hindus and Jews who attended the first Hindu/ Jewish Dialogue at the Manav Seva Mandir Temple in Bensenville, Illinois August 23, 2015
The program, sponsored by the Global Hindu Heritage Foundation and by StandWithUs, was an important first step towards promoting greater understanding of the long historical connection of two ancient peoples, their common values, their amazing achievements, and the shared concerns about the threats of terrorism to India, Israel and the U.S.
This event, the first of its kind in the U.S., comes in the backdrop of a scheduled visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel and the meeting of PM Modi and PM Netanyahu in New York – the first such meet in a decade. It comes at a time of enhanced India-Israel economic co-operation, joint research and a deep sense of concern that Hindus and Jews have about the current agreement with Iran. They fear that it will result the increased likelihood of nuclear proliferation in an already volatile region. They also worry that the $150 billion Iran in scheduled to receive from the deal will both enrich and empower the leading state sponsor or terror and threaten the Middle East, the U.S. and the world.
The program was moderated by Peggy Shapiro, StandWithUs Midwest Director, child of Holocaust survivors, and retired college professor. Dr. Bharat Barai, Medical Director of the Cancer Institute and President of Indian American Community Foundation, spoke about the Jews of India, who have been a religious minority for almost 2,000 years without any instances of anti-Semitism from the local majority populace of Hindus. Robert Schwartz, Senior Policy Advisor, Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, detailed the economic, agricultural, and security benefits to both India Israel from their strong relationship. Dr. Richard Benkin, an independent human rights activist fighting to stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh, explained how his commitment to the Jewish faith inspired him to work on behalf of the oppressed. Subramanian Swamy, one of the architects of India’s original openings with Israel in the 1990’s, presented a riveting journey through the history of the Indian-Israel relationship, the subversive role of the former Soviet Union, and the prospect for unprecedented cooperation between the two thriving democracies, both of whom live in very dangerous neighborhoods.
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