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Yesterday's New York Times ran a story about Indian-Americans finding an activist role model, and sometime partner, in American Jews. Indians often say they see a version of themselves and what they hope to be in the experience of Jews … Read More

By / October 3, 2007
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

Yesterday's New York Times ran a story about Indian-Americans finding an activist role model, and sometime partner, in American Jews.

Indians often say they see a version of themselves and what they hope to be in the experience of Jews in American politics: a small minority that has succeeded in combating prejudice and building political clout.

Sanjay Puri, the chairman of the U.S. India Political Action Committee, said: “What the Jewish community has achieved politically is tremendous, and members of Congress definitely pay a lot of attention to issues that are important to them. We will use our own model to get to where we want, but we have used them as a benchmark.”

One instance of Indians following the example of Jews occurred last year when Indian-American groups, including associations of doctors and hotel owners, banded together with political activists to win passage of the United States-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Act, which allows New Delhi to buy fuel, reactors and other technology to expand its civilian nuclear program.

I remember when Bush announced the passage of the United States-India Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Act. One of the administration's finer foreign policy moments. An overlooked commitment to global outreach at a time when the U.S. was taking a lot of flack for its supposed unilateralism and cowboy diplomacy.

I think the U.S. relationship with India these days has taken on a similar tint to our relationship with Israel in the following aspect: Its a non-zero-sum game. On the biggest issue of the day The U.S, India, and Israel are up against the same menace. As the Times article goes on to say: "[A]mong Hindus, who are a majority in India and among Indian-Americans here, some assert that a vital bond they share with Jews is the threat to India and Israel from Muslim terrorists."

Although, some Indian-Americans are leery of emphasizing that commonality.

This makes me relatively suspicious, because there is the desire to reduce the complexity of the issues in a conflict,” said Vijay Prashad, professor of South Asian history at Trinity College in Hartford.

The India Community Center in Milpitas, Calif., represents the nonsectarian approach many Indian-Americans take to replicating the experience of American Jews. When Anil Godhwani began talking to other Indians in Silicon Valley about opening a center, “more than one person talked to us about making this a Hindu community center — sometimes in very strong terms,” he said. That was never his intention, though he was raised Hindu.

Indians have worked with The American Jewish Committee on immigration and hate crimes legislation. The American Jewish Committee has also organized group trips to Israel for Indian Americans.

This is a golden opportunity, one that must not be wasted. Jewish Americans and Indian-Americans must join forces and figure out how to conquer that most formidable of our common antagonists: our over-protective mothers.

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