Our basic tenet is that ignorance breeds supremacism and that, taken to a high level, leads to institutionalized racism. Such a mindset, when unchecked and unopposed, can lead to serious problems between communities, religions, societies and nations. This article discusses such a mindset, an institutionalized way of thinking that seems perfectly correct, moral from one point of view and completely wrong, racist from another point of view. These points of view often arise from geographical and historic experiences.
We caution readers that the article below explores highly sensitive issues and is likely to offend many groups & constituents. The reasoning below is likely to come as a shock to those who are committed to only the European outlook of the world. We hope the shock becomes a wake up call and a trigger to greater education and understanding.
The importance of the discussion below requires us to sacrifice brevity in favor of clarity. The article is divided in the following sections:
- The Event, Issue and Reactions
- History of World War II and Its Meaning to India & Asia
- Genocide of Millions under Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill
- Legitimate Self-Interest – Different Standards for Israelis & Indians?
- The Indian View – Congruent opinions of Israel and Hitler
- Israel’s Friends in America and in India
- Different Treatment of Americans and Indians by Israel & ADL
- Our Appeal to the Israeli Consulates and ADL
1. The Event, Issue and Reactions
owned clothing store in Ahmedabad, Gujarat was named “Hitler” with the “i”
dotted with a Nazi Anti-Svastik. When asked, the co-owner explained that the store
was named after his grandfather who was affectionately called “Hitler”
for his strictness.
IndiaInk, the India-specific blog of the New York Times, and other American-European newspapers gave this store worldwide publicity. Orna Sagiv,
the Israeli Consul General in Mumbai, called this exercise of the store
owner’s personal right “unacceptable”. The New York Times and Ms. Sagiv got global Jewish organizations involved including the powerful ADL, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League in America. The store owner was subject to
intense pressure including over a hundred calls a day from outside India.
Orna Sagiv called Indians “ignorant” for not understanding the meaning of Hitler. Mr. Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a survivor of the Jewish Holocaust, went further.
- “It is a perverse abuse of the history of the Holocaust to name a business after one of the world’s most notorious mass murders and anti-Semites,…Hitler’s name is seeping into India’s popular culture without any appropriate context. Clearly there’s a need for more education in India about the history of World War II and the rampant anti-Semitism that led to the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust.”
We respect Mr. Foxman’s anguish and understand his emotional reaction. But we have a different viewpoint both about the history of World War II and the need for education on his part. The article below is about Mr. Foxman’s use of the terms “without any appropriate context” and “need for education in India about the history of World War II”.
But first we would like to point out that ADL and Mr. Foxman, perhaps unknowingly, engaged in religious defamation themselves. The article on ADL’s website uses the defamatory term “Swastika” for the evil Nazi symbol. This defames the sacred, benevolent Hindu symbol Svastik. Originally Indian, the Svastik has been a global symbol of God’s benevolence for the last 2-3 millennia, from Greece, Rome, Europe to Japan and the Far East.
As the National Director of a global organization, Mr. Foxman should know that the true meaning of Svastik and how Hitler changed its meaning and portrayal to create the Nazi Anti-Svastik. In case he does not, he should read The Svastik & Anti-Svastik; The Cross & Anti-Cross – Ignorance or Laissez-faire Racism?
2. History of World War II and Its Meaning to India & Asia
To Europeans, World War II was entirely about Nazi Germany, its conquest of European countries, its philosophy, its murderous actions against European Jews and Eastern Europeans. This was a reign of terror, of human rights crimes that lasted 10-15 years. That period and that regime creates revulsion in every person of European-descent and in every informed person in the world.
But to people in India and Asia, World War II proved to be an agent of liberation from British and European conquests & occupation. The Anglo-Europeans had unleashed a tide of wanton, barbaric unprecedented human rights crimes that lasted 2-3 centuries, not just 10-15 years. This was even worse than what Nazi Germany did. After all, the Nazi actions were the actions of one man and one regime. Europe’s atrocities in Asia were the premeditated, institutionalized actions of an entire continent, of an entire race against another continent, another race.
The 200-300 year long European spree of the worst crimes against humanity is unprecedented in world history. World War II liberated Asia from Europe’s evil. More specifically, the 1930s Germany was the unwitting agent of Asia’s liberation.
This is why attitudes towards World War II, Germany and Hitler are different in Asia than they are in Europe. So when ADL’s Foxman writes “Hitler’s name is seeping into India’s popular culture without any appropriate context“, he demonstrates his own ignorance of world history. And it is he who needs to get more education about World War II.
To understand why Hitler is respected in Asia, read the words* of a 24 year old young man named Mao Zedong:
- Through the establishment of a new political system, and a change in the national character, the German states became the German Reich.
The Treaty of Versailles left Germany defeated, weak and utterly humiliated. That was also the state of Asia under European occupation. It was Hitler who lifted Germany from its malaise and made it a world power in a few years. Asia understands that aspect of Hitler and admires him for it. In that admiration, there is a wish for Asia’s own reemergence as a world power.
There is no evidence that ADL’s Mr. Foxman or the European-American media has ever tried to learn or understand this Asian view of World War II.
3. Genocide of Millions under Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill
Mr. Foxman of the Jewish ADL is absolutely correct about the need for education about “the rampant anti-Semitism that led to the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust“. He refers to the Jewish Holocaust under Hitler.
But does Mr. Foxman or ADL know about the Indian Holocaust under Winston Churchill? In that holocaust, 4-7 million people died in Indian Bengal and Bihar. This Indian Holocaust took place in 1942-1943 or concurrently with the Jewish Holocaust in Germany. The Jewish Holocaust was mainly due to Hitler’s hatred of Jews. The Indian Holocaust was mainly due to Churchill’s hatred of Hindus. At least Hitler was a dictator. But Churchill was not. Yet, Churchill was able to coerce the British system to deliver to Hindus “the doom that is their due“.
Mr. Foxman and ADL probably don’t know much about Churchill’s deep hatred towards Hindus. So we reproduce some of Churchill’s words** below:
- Churchill exclaimed, “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.”56 – page 78
- According to Amery, the next day he “went off the deep end in a state of frantic passion on the whole subject…….India by the beastliest people in the world next to the Germans.”9 – page 106
- “Winston may be right in saying that the starvation of anyhow under-fed Bengalis is less serious than sturdy Greeks…” – Amery on Churchill – page 196
- “Winston, after a preliminary flourish on Indians breeding like rabbits…….asked Leathers for his view.”38 – page 205
- More often that not the small,
brown, fangless, and numberless Indians whom the frail old pacifist
personified brought to Churchill’s mind a prey species
- Back in London, Churchill told his private secretary that “the Hindus were a foul race ‘protected by their mere pullulation (rapid breeding) from the doom that is their due. He wished that Air Chief Marshall Arthur Harris, the Head of the British bomber command, could “send some of his surplus bombers to destroy them ‘”20 – pages 246-247
Churchill chose his old friend Professor Frederick Alexander Lindemann, also known as “Baron Berlin“, to head his S Branch. And what were the views of the infamous Baron Berlin:
technologies such as surgery, mind control, and drug and hormone
manipulations would one day allow humans to be fine-tuned for specific
tasks. Society could create “gladiators or philosophers, athletes or artists, satyrs or monks” at will…64 – page 216
- At the lower end of the race and class spectrum, one would remove from “helots“ (the Greek word for slaves) the ability to suffer or to feel ambition. Science could yield a race of humans blessed with “the mental make-up of the worker bee.” This subclass would do all the unpleasant work and not once think of revolution or of voting rights.64 – page 216
- The outcome would be a perfectly peaceable and stable society, “led by supermen and served by helots.”64 – page 216
- To consolidate the rule of supermen – to perpetuate the British Empire – one need only to remove the ability of slaves to see themselves as slaves.65– page 217
And how did Winston Churchill defend Baron Berlin?
- Churchill declared
that the Prof had a “beautiful brain” and came to seek his assistance
with practically everything that needed research – page 42
- “Love me, love my dog, and if you don’t love my dog, you damn well can’t love me,
” muttered a furious Churchill in 1941, after a member of the House of
Commons had raised questions about the Prof’s influence.27 – page 42
Read the above and ask yourselves whether you don’t smell Hitler & Himmler in Churchill & Baron Berlin? Than ask yourselves whether Hindus should admire the man whose actions led to their liberation from Churchill’s evil regime?
4. Legitimate Self-Interest – Different Standards for Israelis & Indians?
We seriously doubt whether Israelis know much about the genocide of Indians under Churchill. Even if they did, we doubt if that would make Israelis condemn Churchill as evil. The reason, we think, is simple. Regardless of what Churchill did in India, he was responsible for ending Hitler’s regime. Churchill was instrumental in removing the existential danger to Jews and that makes him admirable to Israelis and Jews.
We understand that because we realize that each society, each community judges world figures based on their impact on that society and community. But the Israeli Consulate in Mumbai, ADL, its National Director Abraham Foxman, and the New York Times don’t extend that understanding to Hindus.
Hitler was instrumental in ending Churchill’s and Britain evil, Nazi-like regime in India. His war weakened and nearly destroyed Britain. Without World War II, Britain would never have given up India, the foundation of its global empire. On this basis, Indians and Asians in general have a legitimate right to admire what Hitler did against Colonial Britain and Europe, the same legitimate right Israelis and Europeans have to admire what Churchill did against Nazi Germany.
To argue otherwise is to believe or state that European lives are more important than Asian or Indian lives.
5. The Indian View – Congruent opinions of Israel and Hitler
This section is likely to surprise, even stun readers. Every one in Europe & America thinks of Hitler and Israel as mutually exclusive. Meaning if you like Israel, you are against Hitler and conversely if you are for Hitler, you are by definition against Israel. This is presumed to be a self-evident truth from a European mindset.
This we think is precisely why the Israeli Consulate and ADL reacted to the naming of a small clothing store as Hitler. This is precisely why we stress the need for education among Israelis and Jewish organizations.
Because in India, the people who admire Hitler also admire Israel and the people who admire Israel also admire Hitler. We have seen and experienced this since our childhood in Mumbai. This is because Indians see the same traits in Hitler and Israel, the traits Indians would like to see develop in Indian society.
The traits we mean are the ability to rise from humiliating, decapitating defeat to a position of self confidence, respect and strength. It was Hitler who built up Germany into a strong industrial and military machine that challenged the world’s biggest power. Indians dream of turning India into such a mighty state.
The State of Israel is the vehicle that turned Jews from lambs to lions. Jews rose up to build a strong, aggressive Israel that
attacks its enemies successfully than suffer attacks. After centuries of
persecution, Indians know that
they have been lambs, continuously attacked and subjugated over
centuries without being able to win. Indians look
at Israel and hope to be like Israelis in the near future.
This is why we believe the store owner who named his store “Hitler” is also an admirer of Israel. His grandfather was affectionately called “Hitler”, because of his strict, no-nonsense attitude. Indians admire this trait
and dream on India being a strict rule abiding society rather than the
anything goes Indian mess of today. In this context, you can see why a
strict grandfather can be affectionately called Hitler and why a store
owner would lovingly name his store Hitler in the memory of his
The above seeks to explain why Israel and Hitler are almost congruent from an Indian point of view. The genocide of Jews by Hitler is outside the Indian
kaleidoscope just like the genocide of
Indians by Churchill is outside the Israeli/Jewish kaleidoscope.
6. Israel’s Friends in America and in India
American society is changing before our eyes. The African-Ameican, Caribbean-American, Hispanic/Latin, Asian communities are becoming more important politically. Israel is not an emotional issue for these communities. Frankly, they are more likely to view Israel as an irritant in America’s relationship with Africa. Latin America and Asia. The younger more secular European-Americans
seem less involved with Israel than their parents. We saw evidence of this in last month’s Democratic National Convention.
The most ardent and committed friends of Israel in today’s America are the members of the Christian Right. Israel understands this and does almost everything it can to avoid offending this community. For example, when a well known author termed Jews as imperfect Christians, Israel and America’s Jewish organizations held their fire.
India has a large outspoken and politically powerful Muslim minority. Indian Muslims sympathize with Arab Muslims and dislike, despise or hate Israel. The young English educated, secular Indians have no reason to be friendly to Israel.
The most ardent and somewhat committed friends of Israel in India are the members of the Hindu Right, religious conservative Hindus who see in Israel a friend against the phalanx of Muslim countries and an ally against what they see as Islamic fundamentalism. That India and Israel lie at the two ends of the Islamic Crescent is also the basis for the Indo-Israeli strategic relationship.
Gujarat and its capital Ahmedabad is probably the center of the religious Hindu movement. And we suspect that the owner of the store named for Hitler favors the Hindu movement. Yet, Israel and ADL chose to a worldwide campaign against this man and in the process angered the one community in India friendly to Israel.
Either Orna Sagiv, the Israeli Consul in Mumbai, & ADL are not educated about the above reality Or they feel they do not need any friends in India. We hope it is the first. But we are worried that the second may also be true. Israel and ADL might be so secure in America’s protection that they may not care about offending their friends in India.
7. Different Treatment of Americans and Indians by Israel & ADL
Columbia University is the pride of New York, the city with the largest Jewish population in the world,
not just in terms of numbers but also in terms of influence and power. Yet, if you wandered through the halls of Columbia University a couple of years ago, you would have found posters that described Israel, Israeli policy and especially Israeli
military in extreme terms. By extreme terms, we mean comparing Israeli
military with German Nazis trampling over Palestinians the way the Nazis
trampled over European Jews.
We do not recall any storm of protest from either the Israeli consulate in New York, the Jewish ADL or from the New York Times about these posters. Sensibly so.
They know that such pressure would create a severe backlash. America
& New York may cherish their deep and emotional relationship with
Israel. But neither America nor New York will allow Israel or its US
supporters to trample over the rights and freedom of expression of any
individual or entity in New York.
Recently, there was a global storm of anti-American protests over a disgusting defamatory YouTube video about Islam. But Google refused to remove that video from YouTube, a decision defended by virtually all of America.
Contrast this with how the Israeli consulate in Mumbai, the American Jewish ADL and the New York Times attacked a private business owner in a second -tier town in India. This man named his privately-owned store “Hitler” in the memory of his grandfather who was affectionately called Hitler by family and friends. This is private property and the choice of the store’s name is his exercise of his freedom of expression.
This act of a private store owner is trivial compared to posting pictures of Israeli soldiers as Nazi storm troopers or the anti-Muslim You Tube video. But the only one to be attacked globally was this store owner in India.
the stark distinction between New York and Mumbai-Ahmedabad, the
contrast between protection of individual rights in America and suppression of individual rights in India.
This also shows, we believe, the difference in the
respect accorded by Israeli officials and by global Jewish organizations to America and India. Israeli
officials are afraid to overreach in America but they have no problem in
dictating to Indian Government in India about Indian citizens. This
speaks volumes about the character of both Israel and India.
8. Our Appeal to the State of Israel and ADL
We urge ADL and the State of Israel to understand that major global events can be legitimately viewed differently in different societies in different corners of the world. Education and understanding of such diverse viewpoints is critical in today’s world.
We also urge Abraham Foxman, ADL’s National Director, to become more educated about India, Asia and their experience under European rule. This might prevent him from jumping to erroneous and prejudiced conclusions.
Finally we urge Mr. Foxman and the Jewish Anti Defamation League stop their practice of defaming the Svastik, the most sacred benevolent symbol of India and the World. Nothing is more heinous than religious defamation coming from a league created to fight religious defamation.
* page 181, From the Ruins of Empire – by Pankaj Mishra
** The page numbers and quotes are from Churchill’s Secret War, an extensively documented research book by Dr. Madhusree Mukherjee, a must read for all.
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