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HINDUTVA, ZIONISM AND CULTURAL NATIONALISM - AN INTERFAITH RESPONSE Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

Edited

Viji Varghese Eapen

Church of South India Publications


Copyright Š 2012 Church of South India, CSI Centre,#5, Whites Road, Royapettah,Chennai - 600 014. Cover Design: D.Solomon Raja Type Setting: A. Japarani


Contents Foreword -M. M. Philip, General Secretary, CSI Synod

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Introduction -Viji Varghese Eapen

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1. Communal Fascism in India- Hindutva-Religion or Politics? -Ram Puniyani 01 2. Response to “Communal Fascism in India-HindutvaReligion or Politics?” -S Chandra Mohan 14 3. The Resurgence of Hindutva: A Challenge to the Churches - Aruna Gnanadason

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4. Zionism: The Politico-Racist Hurdle To World Peace - A. Faizur Rahman 27 5. Response to “Zionism: The Politico-Racist Hurdle To World Peace” - Allan Samuel Palanna 40 6. Kairos Palestine - 2009 Document

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7. Response to the Kairos Palestine - 2009 'A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering' -Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar 59 8. Toward an Emmaus Experience: An Indian Response To Kairos Palestine - Raj Bharath Patta

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9. Clarion Call to Combat Communalism and Cultural Nationalism (CCCCC Document) 72


Forword The Church of South India, which is an Indian Church, has always been committed towards a positive and creative relationship with sister faiths. The liturgy of the CSI, which is pregnant of a number of indigenous elements from the Indian context is a clear evidence of this fact. In fact, the CSI had produced a number of stalwarts, committed to the cause of communal harmony and interfaith dialogue, two of them being Dr. Russel Chandran and Dr. Stanley Samartha. However, it took almost 65 years, for the CSI to initiate an Interfaith Dialogue Centre at the CSI Synod Centre. It is to continue the mission of dialoguing with sister faiths, that we have initiated a dialogue centre at the CSI Synod, the name being, 'CSI Interfaith Dialogue Centre'. This centre is operated by the Department of Ecumenical Relations and Ecological Concerns, under the auspices of which a consultation on 'Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism' was held on Dec 20, 2011 (International Human Solidarity Day). I believe that, in a context of Hindutva forces in India and Zionist forces in Israel, heading towards a forceful homogenization through the ideology of cultural nationalism, this theme is most relevant. This document which is an outcome of a fruitful time of presentations, deliberations and discussions, during the Consultation, is hoped to be a road-map towards building a community that lives in peace and harmony. I do urge the Church leaders in particular and all religious leaders, in general to address the concerns highlighted in this document and creatively respond to the 'Clarion Call'. M. M. Philip General Secretary, CSI Synod

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Introduction India being a pluralistic nation is also a secular nation, and the Constitution of India guarantees us the right to practice and promote our faith peacefully. However, in the recent past, many incidents of religious intolerance have happened, resulting in riots and killings. The Church, which is called to be a channel of 'love and peace', definitely has a key role to address this issue, by being a facilitator in fostering dialogue among religions, encouraging each one to learn (from) each other and respect each other. The Church of South India has always been committed towards the fostering of dialogue between/among various faiths and faith communities. In fact, we have been involved in various peace resolutions to curtail religious violence. To continue this mission, we have initiated a dialogue centre at the CSI Synod, using the available space and resources. The name of the centre is 'CSI Interfaith Dialogue Centre' or 'CSI IDC' in short. The objectives of this Interfaith Dialogue centre are to promote an awareness and knowledge of the importance of interfaith engagement between the world's religious cultures and traditions., to promote dialogue, mutual understanding, respect and collaboration between Christians and followers of other religions, to address particular pastoral, social and experiential concerns by fostering the practice of interreligious dialogue, to provide leadership, coherence and direction to present and future initiatives and involvements in interreligious dialogue, to co-ordinate with and complement the efforts of organisations with similar aims and concerns and to disseminate and promote the message and ideals of peace, cooperation and mutual respect. Today, India and Israel seem to be in the process of imagining a unified nation-state, trying to develop a coherent idea of what underlies its history and future trajectory as a nation-state. But, both the nations face growing anxieties from similar movements, Hindutva and Zionism, which could aggravate sectarian tensions and prevent just-peace in their respective regions. In fact, the argument for re-asserting the rights of a 'lost civilisation' is shared both by extreme Zionists

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as well as advocates of Hindutva. The Holy Land is seen by some Zionists as exclusively belonging to the Jews. Similarly the ideological progenitors of the Hindutva too advocate a Hindu Land, exclusively of and for the Hindus. Further, the greatest similarity between the two movements seems to be the effort to sacralise the nation-state and therefore give it divine sanction. Proponents of Hindutva conceive of India as Bharat Mata, Mother India and therefore deify the nation. Zionism argues that the Torah demands that it is incumbent upon Jews to create a sovereign commonwealth in which the Halakha, or 'sacred law' is implemented. Implicit in this sacralisation of the nation-state is the tendency to conflate political opposition with anti-nationalism and therefore 'antiHinduism' or 'anti-Semitism.' The newfound comfort between the proponents of these divisive ideologies seems to be more to do with politics than religion. It is in this context that the Church of South India organized a Consultation on 'Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism', on Dec. 20, 2011 at the CSI Synod Centre, Chennai. The objective of this consultation was to equip the Christian community to join hands with her Hindu and Muslim brothers and sisters, to be aware of and to counter these movements of political and cultural dominance. There were participants from the Churches, Educational Institutions, Civil Societies and the Media, who actively engaged in the deliberations Towards the end of the Consultation, a Clarion Call was made to document the procedure as well as to disseminate the information to the grassroots level urging the Christian Church and the Sister Faiths to form a network to fight against all forms of cultural hegemony and homogenisation. It is in response to this call that we publish this document and we hope that this would challenge each one of us to examine and re-orient our perspectives, in terms of becoming channels of peace. Viji Varghese Eapen Director, CSI Department of Ecumenical Relations

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COMMUNAL FASCISM IN INDIA-HINDUTVA: RELIGION OR POLITICS? Ram Puniyani During the last two decades, India has witnessed a strange political scene. The language of political interaction has been made to shift away from the struggles and travails of the poor and exploited i.e. those revolving around bread, butter, shelter, housing, health and education (the problems of this world). It has been made to take up the issues supposed to be related to 'faith'. We are witness to newer dangers to society, to democratic and secular values in the form of communalism, communal violence and rise of new social political forces basing themselves on 'Religion' in the political arena. We have been hearing a new word called Hindutva from last two decades or so. Though this Hindutva ideology was rooted in certain social segments from last many decades, its social visibility has been much more in the last decade. On first thought, it gives the impression as if it is some sort of religion. As we will see, it derives its name from Hindu Religion but it is a political ideology akin to the Islamist political ideology. This political ideology has raised afresh, the questions of nationality, community, identity and host of other issues in the social space. The Hindutva movement presents itself for building a strong nation based on the tenets of `Hindu Dharma', Hindu Rashtra (Hindu Nation). There are many notions attached to this word and we need to understand the meaning of this. But this is a newer set of value system, which has found sympathy amongst a section of population. We need to understand as to which segment of society is behind this political movement. While pursuing its political agenda, the Hindutva movement has brought to fore a number of precepts, which have found acceptance amongst some sections of society. It has popularized a new version of history, which looks at the past through the parameter of religion alone. Also, the major political force, which is the vehicle of Hindutva politics, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS) has been spreading this version of history from last many decades. Today, large section of media does accept this version of history. It, in a way has become part of 'social common sense'. Hindutva movement is being spearheaded by a plethora of organizations, the patriarch of which is RSS, the real 1


controller of all other organizations. It was founded in 1925 in the backdrop which needs to be understood in detail. In 1920 with the entry of Mahatma Gandhi into the political arena, the dynamics of the anti-British movement got tremendously galvanized. He brought in to the struggle, people of all religions, castes and creed. The Brahminical domination in the Congress started declining. At this time, the upper castes, and the Brahmins, supported by Jamindari elements and bania's, in order to reassert their hegemony on the social political and social scene came up with the idea of a Religion based National organization, the RSS. 'Slightly prior to this, Savarkar put forward the idea of 'Hindutva as the basis for politics, which stood for Nationalism based on Hinduism.' (Puniyani, 2000, 51) At that time the NonBrahmin movement was peaking itself and was threatening to shake the very social power of Jamindar-Brahmin nexus. At international level, the race based Nationalism of Nazis (Germany) and Fascists (Italy) was on the ascendance. This was the main inspiration for the ideas 'Nationalism' of RSS. "German National pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the nation and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races-the Jews. National pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown to the world how well nigh impossible it is for races and cultures having differences going to the roots to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in India to learn and profit by." (Golwalkar,1938, 27). Marzia Casolari, an Italian researcher who has done work on roots of Hindu Nationalism concludes that "(a) the main historical organisations and leaders of Hindu Nationalism had a distinctive and sustained interest in fascism and nazism; (b) fascist ideological influences on Hindu Nationalism were present and relevant; (c) to a certain extent, these influences were channeled through direct contacts between Hindu nationalists and members of the Italian fascist state."(Casolari, 2000, 37) RSS decided to keep aloof from day to day political struggles and began to train the young boys into the doctrine of Hindu Rashtra. As per this core ideology of RSS "Hindus and Hindus alone, constitute the Indian Nation, since they are the original inhabitants and sole creators of its society and culture. Hinduism is uniquely catholic and tolerant and hence superior 2


to other faiths, ‌.The subsequent entry and takeover by foreigners created an illusion that India was a land of many different and equal cultures‌.Only a 'truly secular' Hindu Rashtra will afford protection to non- Hindus."(Basu, 1993, 37) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is its political wing, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), is the organisation translating Hindutva political agenda on the emotive, religious ground, Bajrang Dal is a group of youth, who are active on the streets. Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram is engaged in promoting 'Hindu norms' amongst Adivasis, and Rashtraseviva Samiti is its women's wing. In addition there are other organisations like Saraswati Shishu Mandirs, which inculcate the young minds with its social, cultural and political understanding. These all are collectively called as Sangh Parivar (SP). The initial concern of Hindutva movement (RSS and Hindu Mahasabha) was to counter the politics of Muslim League and to influence the Congress in pro-Hindu direction. RSS was mainly focusing on Shakhas, training volunteers for Hindutva movement and Hindu Mahasabha was taking part in electoral politics. After independence the number of cadres of RSS increased, Hindu Mahasabha gradually went into oblivion. One of the ex-pracharak of RSS, Nathuram Godse, murdered Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, following which RSS was banned for some time. Meanwhile RSS volunteers kept on infiltrating in army, bureaucracy media and educational institutions. The number of RSS volunteers went on increasing and multiple RSS controlled organisations started coming up. RSS undertook mainly the campaigns of ban-cow slaughter in earlier period (1960s) but the response was lukewarm. It became very visible with its anti-communist noises during India- China war and projected 'Nationalist, Patriotic' fervor. Its political wing Jan Sangh undertook the campaign 'Indianise Muslims' (late 1960s). Meanwhile the ideology spread by RSS and the increasing urbanisation process were the key factor in the increasing intensity of communal violence. RSS gained higher respectability JP movement (1974), its political wing joined Janata Party, and came to power, got vital ministries (External affairs, Information and Broadcasting etc.) 3


and used the opportunity to further enter the bureaucracy. It left the Janata Party on the issue of duel membership, there was a demand from other components of Janata Party that former members of Jan Sangh leave the RSS. And so either they should leave RSS or the Janata Party. It did not want to leave the RSS. Janata Party broke and Jan Sangh reemerged as BJP on the plank of 'Gandhian Socialism'. The period of early 80s saw a great turmoil in the society. Initially the event of conversion of some Dalits to Islam was given a great projection as the threat of Islam engulfing India. In 1984, the Operation Blue Star( Indian army entering golden temple to evacuate the temple from the occupation of Khalistani militants was followed by the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her body guards. This was followed by massive anti-Sikh pogrom in which many congress workers lead the assaulting mobs. During this pogrom the RSS ideologue wrote a document subtly supporting Rajiv Gandhi's turning blind eye to the ongoing anti-Sikh pogroms (Nanaji Deshmukh, 1984). Later to appease the Muslim fundamentalists Rajiv Gandhi got a bill passed in the Lok Sabha to reverse the Shah Bano verdict granting maintenance to her by the Supreme court. In the same superficial and opportunist style he went on to get the locks of Babri masjid opened. Both the fundamentalist streams, Hindu and Muslim were on the ascendant. The opening of the locks emboldened the Hindu Fundamentalists and then the sections of Muslim leadership started feeling insecure on the Babri masjid issue. Opening of the locks of Babri Masjid gave a fillip to the SP and BJP decided to take up the Ram Janmbhumi issue. In 1990, due to his own compulsions vis-Ă -vis the politics of Devi Lal, V.P. Singh cleaned the dust of Mandal Commission report and decided to implement it. This implementation of Mandal Commission recommendations intensified the backlash of upper castes, who rallied around SP (Sangh Parivar) in a big way and the Rath Yatra got a tremendous response from these sections of society. With the Kar Seva of Dec. 6, the SP's political wing became politically more powerful getting more seats in the Lok Sabha and also coming to power in various state assemblies. The presence of religion in social and political space was not significant in the first few decades of India's independence. 4


The political formation of religion in politics is RSS which "was conceived primarily as the egalitarian vanguard of the 'Hindu Rashtra'(Hindu Nation),its leaders' conception of ideal society continued to be based on the varna(caste)system.(Jaffrelot, 1998,23). RSS remained a fairly insignificant formation till quite late. Through its 'quiet' work it did keep on training young boys into the Hinutva doctrine. Hindutva doctrine is the crystalised ideology of Hindu Communal politics. Historically,the development of the concept of Hindutva ‌comes in succession on the construction of Brahminism as Hinduism and this Brahminical Hinduism then forming the base for Hindutva politics. Savarkar began to articulate the ideology of Hindu elite (zamindars and Brahmins, kings) by integrating Brahminical Hinduism with nationalism, calling it Hindutva which further showed the way to building the Hindu Rashtra. His key sentence was 'Hinduise all politics and militarise all Hindudom.'"(Ram, 1998) This ideology asserts that India is a Hindu Nation and here Christians and Muslims are aliens. There is no place of 'Western' concepts like Secularism and Democracy in Hindu nation as Hinduism itself is the most 'secular' and tolerant religion. This ideology aims to bring in Hindu Rashtra in India and so far it has been consolidated on the hatred of Muslims, Christians and 'Western concepts'. It did go in to create a number of 'children' organizations, meant to bring in the Hindu Rashtra by working in different fields of society. Before independence this ideology was the rival to Muslim communal ideology. After 50s it kept communalizing the social space, receiving due provocation's from either the remnant Muslim communalism here or from the assertive postures of Pakistan on Kashmir issue, from across the border. The communalisation of society resulted in the communal riots, which began in a big way from 1960's and these riots went on assuming more menacing proportions over a period of time. The most ghastly of which were to be seen in the decades of 80s, post Babri demolition riots being amongst the worst as far as their impact on the psyche of minorities is concerned. Talking in the same breath one has to take note of the 'new' enemy of this ideology. From 1996 this ideology's followers have been paying 'special' attention to another minority about which they were 'just theorizing’ so far, the Christians. 5


The 'real' strength of this ideology started picking up in the social and political arena after the development model pursued so far resulted in the rise of vast sections of middle classes. The lopsided development on one hand resulted in the rise of rich farmers and on the other of vast mass of landlesss peasantry totally bereft of any support system. In cities it got compounded by the rising unemployment and underemployment due to rise of small-scale industries, which act as suppliers and subcontractors to the main industries. These type of industries resulted in the proliferation of small but prosperous industrialists on one hand and that of the workers whose living conditions are abysmal and wages are very close to the poverty line on the other. It also results in the rise of affluent professional groups. These middle sections have the peculiar type of existential anxieties; they are the one who have been the strongest supporters of the communal ideology. This is the sector, which has shown strong presence in the social space since the 80s. Hindutva : What is it? Hinduism is a collation of multiple religious traditions developed in Indian sub continent. While the religious streams were diverse in themselves the culture of people was equally diverse. Religion is only one of the markers of culture of the people while there are so many other components of culture which are similar amongst people of different religion in the same region. We can not equate religion with culture. This is so very well exameplified in the cultural similarities between Hindus and Muslims for example in Kerala. Also the culture of a Kerala Muslim and a Bangladesh Muslim is so very different. Hindutva as a term came in usage mainly from the second decade of 20th century. There is some vague mention of this term in 19th century as well, but it did not have a broad usage. This term began in the backdrop of consolidation of Brahminism into Hinduism. Savarkar was the one to initially formulate the politics of Hindutva, “the Aryans who settled in India at the dawn of history already formed a nation, now embodied in the Hindus ...Hindus are bound together not only by the tie of the love they bear to a common fatherland and by the common blood that courses through their veins and keeps our hearts throbbing and our affection warm but also by the tie of the common homage we pay to our great civilization, our 6


Hindu culture.”(Savarkar; 1923, 94) Thus “Hindutva according to him rests on three pillars: geographical unity, racial features and common culture.” (Jaffrelot, 1993, 26). He further went on to elaborate the criterion for who is a Hindu? According to him all those who regard this land as their fatherland and holy land are the only ones who are Hindus and thereby the people to whom this land belongs. This led to the automatic interpretations that the Christians and the Muslims, whose holy places are in Jerusalem and Mecca are not on par with the 'Hindus' who own this country. Initiating the theorizing of the 'doubting of patriotism of Muslims' ,Savarkar posits, “but besides culture the tie of common holy land has at times proved stronger than the chains of a motherland. Look at Mohammedans: Mecca to them is a sterner reality than Delhi or Agra” (Savarkar 1923, 108). This development of the concept of Hindutva comes in succession to the construction of Brahminism as Hinduism and this Brahminical Hinduism then forming the base for Hindutva politics. Savarkar began to articulate the ideology of Hindu elite (zamindars, brahmins, kings) by integrating Brahminical Hinduism with nationalism, calling it Hindutva, which further showed the way for building the Hindu Rashtra. These concepts were further refined and given the parallel projection by M. S. Golwalkar the second supremo (Sarsanghchalak) of RSS, an organisation formed in 1925, ostensibly aimed to train young boys in 'Hindu Culture'. Its ideology was based on Brahminical Hinduism; Hindutva and it aspired for the formation of Hindu Rashtra. This body which began as exclusively upper caste Hindu male organization (and continues to be so despite some sprinkling of low castes and a rare show piece in the form of a Muslim or a Christian) concentrated in indoctrinating adolescent boys in the 'hate other' (Muslim) ideology and began slowly consolidating in different parts of cow belt to begin with .Golwalkar drawing heavily from Nazi ideology went on to elaborate the ideas on Nation, Hindu Rashtra, in his book 'We or our Nationhood defined' and 'Bunch of Thoughts'. He was forthright in his criticism of Nationalism of Congress, and its 'amazing' theory that the nation is composed of all those who for one reason or the other happen to live at the time in a country. For Golwalkar racial factor in nationhood is crucial and he goes on to propound, “To keep up the purity of race and its culture, 7


Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of Semitic races, the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well nigh impossible it is for races and cultures having differences going to the root, to be assimilated in to one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindustan to learn and profit by.� (Golwalkar, 1938, 27). He is very candid in showing the other races and those belonging to 'foreign' religions their place, “The foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment not even citizens rights." (Golwalkar 1938, 52) Thus, Hindutva is a political and not religious category. Hindutva is a brew of (Brahminical) Hinduism with Nationalism i.e. politics of Hindu Religious Nationalism i.e. Political movement for Hindu Rashtra. Hindutva and Culture The politics of Hindutva asserts that the Hindu nation has existed for 8,000 to 10,000 years and Hindusthan has been in possession of Hindus for at least that length of time. Also, that in India for its proper running the majority community, the Hindus, should have a dominant role. Both these assertions are at the root of Hindutva movement and both of these contradict the Indian ethos and culture. Despite various theories about the origin of Aryans one can roughly say that their original abode was somewhere in the northwest, from where they migrated to different areas and on way they went on interacting with different cultures in Iran, Afghanistan and Indian subcontinent. The flowering of social life was a product of interaction of the Aryans and the native tribes. Though this also resulted in the caste system and other social evils, the interaction mainly resulted in growth of interactive culture. As a reaction against many social evils, Buddhism came up as a religion, which had wide popularity amongst the untouchables and some other sections of society. This development came as a corrective to the uninhibited growth of 8


social evils, and went a long way to enrich Indian culture. This culture was further enriched by arrival and spread of Islam (through Arab merchants in South and Mughal rulers in north) and Christianity (through traders again, through Malabar coast and through missionaries coming during the British rule). Thus India had been a vast social field developing, progressing and marching forward with the interaction of multiple cultural streams. During the rule of Mughals the syncretic culture reached its heights with development of Bhakti and Sufi sects. Both these were very popular amongst the people for the simplicity of their appeals, and unity of their message. People like Kabir, Nanak and Tukaram contributed their soul to the richness of the life of society. All this is a part of Indian ethos, which in nutshell can be ascribed to different facets of Indian syncretic culture, which stands on the principles of love for all fellow beings, respect for others faith, tolerance for others' religion and equal treatment to followers of different paths. In contrast Hindutva politics is based on upper caste ethos, and aims at the hegemony of one section of society, one type of religion over the whole society. It theorizes the subjugation of minorities to the upper caste ethos. It does away with the affirmative action needed for the protection and furtherance of the interests of disadvantaged sections of society. Hindutva contradicts the Indian ethos and syncretic culture and is a total break from the 'spirit' of Indian-ness.

Hindutva's Goal Hindu Rashtra is not a religious state; it is a `modern' phenomenon to impose the pre-modern social hierarchies on all sections of society. It is the goal of a section of society, which is the major beneficiary of current social privileges, the section of society, which have gained in the process of development of last few decades. It was the goal of section of society which was threatened by the social changes in pre-independence times (zamindar-brahmins) and who were champions of status quo and were allies of British at economic and political level. The Hindu Rashtra which is threatening to engulf the society from last two decades is the battle cry of the sections who again are upholders of a status quo vis-Ă -vis social position of women, workers, dalits and Adivasis. It is the offence of the section of society, which has benefitted maximum by proliferation of 9


middle classes-small industries, petty business and agriculture of the `Green Revolution' type and of the professional and bureaucratic cadres. Indian Nationalism as an encompassing concept based itself on secular grounds and attempts to strive for formal liberty, equality and fraternity supplemented by the liberal space to struggle to convert these formal concepts in to reality. Indian Nationalism is a positive concept, incorporating different religion's, ethnicity's and culture's and is an integral part of world economy and emerging global village. The chronicity, i.e. slow speed of this movement has its inherent problems. Whereas on one hand it can capture the social space, on the other it can also elicit a reaction to itself. This reaction to it from dalits, workers, women, section of middle class that is secular, is a big obstacle to the march of Hindutva. Big capital, the major industrial houses have a unique relation with Sangh Parivar. Whenever faced with crisis to their own existences the socially terrorizing atmosphere created by Sangh Parivar helps the bourgeoisie to wriggle out of the compulsions of liberal ethos. The conservative movement of Sangh Parivar helps the needs of capital to keep thriving in an uninterrupted way. Thus, this chronic, resilient, thriving Fascism, expressed through the vehicle of Sangh Parivar continues to throw up different shades of its existence, sometimes terrorizing (to the poor and the minorities) sometimes aggressive (to the neighboring `enemy' countries), and sometimes even appearing to collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. But the march, at the moment is on. The social roots of Hindutva are all for the support and continuation of the repressive capitalist regime; sustaining the bourgeoisie aspirations, while continuing to pursue its own project. Hindutva onslaught draws some support from fundamentalist concepts also. It culls out from the pastselective values to impose them on present. It uses religious imagery, glorifies the `golden past' of rule of Hindu kings, sees women primarily under patriarchal control dictating their way of life, dress code etc. It co-opts all and sundry religious professionals and personnel to strengthen its political base and it uses religion in a very effective way to create the nationalist hysteria. At present the situation is fairly in balance. The onslaught has achieved mammoth proportions in the north, but south and east are comparatively unaffected by its 10


paranoid aggression. The reaction of Dalits, though fragmented is definitely going to retard the march of the rath (Chariot) of Hindutva. The apparent target of Sangh Parivar, the Muslims are in a bind. On one hand they have been battered so much by Hindutva that they cannot afford to lie quiet any more. Secondly unlike the Dalits they lie in sub-critical zone of backwardness where they find it difficult to come out of the grip of their own `religious leaders', `the Muslim obscurantists' posing to be speaking on behalf of their community. Thus, they face a double attack from both Hindu Fascism and Muslim fundamentalism. Probably the suffering of the `poor Muslims' is so great that they will be forced to come out and resist the `bears hug' of Sangh Parivar and by side-tracking their `obscurantist leaders' will pose definite obstacle to the march of `Trishuls of Hindutva'. How Sangh Parivar overcomes this 'problem' which new `velvet gloves' it discovers to remove this obstacle remains to be seen. The response of Christian community though mixed, to a great extent has been that of responding in a strong secular manner, to defend the Human rights of different sections in general and to defend the secular rights of minorities in particular. This is a ongoing phenomenon set into motion due to the attacks on Christians by different wings of SP directed by the ideological formulation of the RSS. Recent times have seen a great intensification of attacks on the rights of weaker sections of society in general and on our democratic rights in particular. The process which picked up tempo after the Shah Bano case (reversal of the Supreme court judgement by an act of Parliament, after the Govt. decided to appease the communal section of Muslim leadership), and was followed by events like opening of the of locks of Babri Masjid, rath yatra, demolition of the Babri Masjid and the consequent anti-Muslim pogroms in Mumbai, Surat Bhopal and many other places), has been followed by the current anti Christian propaganda and accompanying attacks on them. This decade of 80 has been the one in which the major target of the Sangh Parivar (SP) has been the Muslim community. The major communal violence, anti-Muslim pogroms were conducted with precision by the various wings of Sangh Parivar. Most of the inquiry commission reports have indicted the members of SP for being instrumental in these riots in one way or the other. In these riots nearly 65% of the victims 11


have been the poor Muslims, while other poor strata of the society constitute the remaining. The attacks on them and consequent ghettoisation was preceded and accompanied hate campaign against them. This hate campaign, was based on the misinformation which was actively propagated by the SP and later became the part of 'social common sense'. Also that the Muslims are responsible for the Partition, they are more loyal to Pakistan, Muslim Kings destroyed Hindu Temples, they spread Islam on the strength of the sword, that they tortured the Hindus, that they are polygamous and do not follow the family planning norms. From 98 to 2001 the ire of SP was gunned against the Christian population. The Churches were attacked, Bibles burnt, missionaries intimidated, and one of them Fr. Stains, who was working amongst the leprosy patients and the other deprived sections of society, was burnt along with his two minor sons. The attack on this community has been preceded and is being accompanied by a sustained campaign to malign them: Christianity is a foreign religion, Christian missionaries are indulging in forcible conversions, they are instrumental for spreading insurgency amongst the North Eastern people, there is a plan to Evangelise the country and shortly Christians will outnumber the Hindus there by making India a Christian state. The same phase of our polity has seen increasing incidences of violence against women, more so in the states ruled by the BJP govt. This period of our society has also seen massacre of Dalits and increase in the atrocities against them (Laxaman Pur Bathe, and Shankar Bigha massacre of Dalits: both by the Ranvir Sena, which has the tacit support of the Rich landlords and also has the political patronage of BJP. Also ten Dalits in Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, (where the BJP-Shiv Sena coalition rules) fell victim to the police bullets. This period has also witnessed the worst attacks on the rights of workers whose organized strength has been reduced to a miniscule and there has occurred a proliferation of the small sector, where working conditions are the worst possible. The social justice scene has also been the worst, and the postMandal aspirations have been "successfully" sidetracked to the margins, in the din of religion based campaigns. These attacks are being conducted by different organizations like BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and many others like Hindu Jagaran Manch and Hindu Munnani, which are floated for the specific purpose of pursuing a particular agenda of the 12


Hindutva politics. All these diverse and unconnected looking activities are coordinated by RSS, which is the CORE of Hindutva movement and the basic unit from where all the activists of this movement are trained and to which the members of Sangh Parivar owe their unflinching loyalty. Prior to this, during the last four -five decades one has witnessed the anti Muslim propaganda creating the ground for systematic violence against them. This propaganda was based on total fabrications. Similarly, currently they are spreading the anti Christian venom by propagating that they indulge in forcible conversions, their educational institutions and hospitals are a mere ploy to convert the poor, Christianity is a foreign religion, they are anti-Nationals etc. These fabrications begin in the RSS shakha Bouddhik (intellectual sessions) and through various conveyor belts find their way to the common sense of society. BJP the political offspring of RSS has been in power in center, mainly in alliance with the other regional parties. This phase has witnessed many a changes, which are deeply at communalizing civic society. The Godhra episode followed by the anti Muslim pogrom in Gujarat has demonstrated the qualitative change in the nature of communal violence and the notions prevalent in section of population. The Gujarat carnage in a way has also woken up large section of concerned people to the dangers of communal politics. References Chritophe Jaffrelot, The Hindu Nationalist Movement and Indian Politics, Viking 1993. Marzia Casolari, 'Hindutva's Foreign Tie Ups in 1930s: The Archival Evidence, Communalism Combat, March 2000, p.37. M.S.Golwalkar, 'We or Our Nationhood Defined', Bharat Publications 1939. Nanaji Deshmukh,'Moments of Soul Searching', Pritipaksh, Delhi,Nov. 25, 1984. Ram Puniyani, Fascism of Sangh Parivar, Media House, Delhi, 2000 Romila Thapar, 'History of India' vol I, Penguine, Delhi. Page 39 - 40 T. Basu, P. data, S. Sarkar, T.Sarkar and S. Sen, 'Khaki Shorts saffron Flags, Orient Longman, Hyderabad', 1993 Vinayak Damoar Savarkar, 'Hindutva, Who is a Hindu?', Nagpur, 1923. 13


RESPONSE TO “COMMUNAL FASCISM IN INDIAHINDUTVA: RELIGION OR POLITICS?” S Chandra Mohan Summary of the Paper This paper answers several major questions, such as. 1. Who is behind the Communal issues in the country and who is behind the Hindutva ideology promotion, 2. What are their objectives and how they strategically operate in Indian history and what they want to achieve, 3. What is the essence of Hindutva and how the upper caste elites are cleverly doing the Hindutva political ideology, 4. What is the uniqueness of India related to culture, and how the RSS twists the truths, 5. What are the differences between Hinduism and Hindutva, the similarities and oneness of Hindutva with Fascism and Fundamentalism, and 6. How and why the hate campaign against Muslims and Christians is un-leashed. There is a saying in Tamil: “Cut the tree out and remove the roots also”. In this paper Dr Ram Puniyani clearly identifies the RSS and its Sangh Parivar as the devils of all devils, and instruments for communal tensions in this country, and which has infiltrated into army, bureaucracy, politics, and arenas of science, history and education. Hindutva is a political ideology, but not a religious one which promotes and advocates a State where the upper caste elites rule with systems and institutions which uphold Varnashrama Dharma. In other words, their objective is to facilitate a rule of an elite male dominated feudal landlordism and neo landlordism with Caste and Patriarchy concepts so that they persist with power and finance capital at the expense of democracy, equality and fraternity and dignity of fellow human beings. He further cites that RSS wants to equate Brahmanism as Hinduism and make Brahamanical Hinduism as Nationalism. RSS opposes the syncretic culture which is operating in India due to the influence of Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Bhakti movements, Sufism and other cultural and religious traditions which brought the true tolerance and secularism. RSS, on the otherhand twists with the lie that it is Caste Brahmanism, equating Brahmanism with Hinduism, which brought secularism and tolerance in this country. It recalls another Tamil saying: “Hiding the entire pumpkin in a 14


bowl of rice�. Dr Puniyani emphasizes that the Hindutva politics is based on upper caste ethos, at the hegemony of one section of the society (the Caste affirming Chit-bhavan Brahmins), and one type of religion (the Hindutva Brahmanism) over the whole society. He cites history for affirming his above sayings. He traces the history from 1900 to date, saying that the interest of RSS is not Hindu Rashtra, as against many of our Christian brother's thinking, but rule of upper caste landlords in India in favor of Brahmins, Kings, Zamindars and Vaishyas. He explains how they play the revision of history in favour of their ideology through glorification of Kings and through appreciation of women who lived a life of patriarchal control. He tells how they systematically marginalized Dalits, Adivasis, Women and Workers. He cites how they plotted atrocities on Muslims from 1980s to 1998, popularizing the belief that all Muslims are terrorists and loyalists to Pakistan, making them to live now in a powerless condition. RSS has twisted the very partition history of India as if the Muslims were for it. He further tells that from 1998 onwards, their atrocities and venom have turned towards Christians to terrorize them. They use the slogan forcible conversion and say that Christians are making India as Christian State. Thus they are trying to end the freedom of speech and right to propagate given under the Constitutional rights. While reading his narratives, it is an experience of shock to get reminded of the 'strategy' of Rajeev Gandhi who wanted to please Muslim Fundamentalists in the issue of Shabano case and opened the lock (Pandora Box) of Babri Majjid to please the Hindutva Fundamentalists, which resulted in the Campaign for Ram Janbhoomi, in the Karsevaks demolishing the Majjid on Dec 6, 1992, exactly on the day that Dr Bhabasaheb Ambedkar is remembered all over the world. RSS really hates Dr Ambedkar as he was the one who was instrumental to bring out a Constitution which legally affirms the Dalits and other marginalized the equality, which, strategically was a death blow to the Caste and Patriarchal supremacy. It is interesting to note how RSS is unhappy about the Mandal Commission results, and the work of VP Singh which favoured the backward caste to economic uplifting. At many places, Dr Puniyani insists the 15


point that Hindutva is a politics of feudal elements and represents the political agenda of upper Caste elite. Although he is not elaborate on the Caste vis a vis land owning relationship (the higher your caste, the more the land you own, the lower your caste, no land for you; even if you have a land, that will be robbed from you), his paper implies that the land ownership mostly rests with the Zaimindars, Kings and Brahmins who patronize Brahmanism, and wants no land to the poor. Usurping of Panchami Dalit lands by the upper and middle caste through the help of the bureaucrats is a classical example in India. He affirms that the agenda of upper caste is not social change, nor assertion of Dalits or the marginalized, but woo all the middle caste (class) professionals to join with the upper caste dominant forces. These middle class professionals have emerged great in number through the economic policies practiced by the successive development models patronized by the politically powerful: ex-zamindars, kings and Brahmins and who wanted the Dalits and marginalized to remain always in poverty and the women in patriarchal bondage. Thus we see wider gap of rich and poor in this country and greater gender insensitivity. He elaborates the pain of Muslims and cautions them from becoming another fundamental group. The marginalization and backwardness of large mass of Muslims are caught by their religious leaders, and hence are not able to get rid of such grips. Hence there is a need for Christian social action to redeem all those caught in the grips of Fundamentalism. He appreciates the intervention of many Indian Church leaders who are voicing with the perspectives of Human Rights and works for preserving the secular fabric of the nation. Response As a pastor from the CSI and as a faith activist, I would like to look at the issue, also would like to see how, we as an Ecumenical Church can respond. 1) Vested interests, which formed RSS as the snake which bites and kills all democratic forces in India, have strategic and 16


sinister plans which are both contextual and long term. They have aimed to convert the Indian democratic nation into an inclusive nation of Hindutva. They use the terms Holy land and Father Land to alienate Christians and Muslims, branding them as outsiders. They want to equate Brahmanism as Hinduism and Brahamanical Hinduism as Nationalism. They terrorize and will continue to terrorize the minorities until they are 'obedient and servant' to its evil socio, political and cultural structures and ideological backing. They want the Caste rule in this country, a rule decided always by the upper caste/class elite at the expense of marginalized and democratic forces. 2) Indian Church is called to counter RSS and all Communalism forces. Our mandate is to bring a new heaven and new earth; life in fullness of all; kingdom of heaven on earth; to do the will of God in this world and to bind the strong man. To do them, we have clergies, laity, fellowship groups, Sunday schools, healing and educational institutions, added with great stalwarts, thinkers and leaders, and democratic forces inside and outside the Church, yet we are not able to adequately counter these issues and forces. We end our prayer in all worship services; asking God to help us not be conformed to the world, but act with diligent, in the renewal of our mind, in our transformation so that we witness Jesus of Nazareth, who is the only hope of the Church and fore runner of our mission. This prayer ends at the gate of the Church itself. The reasons are many 1.We are not rooted in the faith: We, the Christians, as persons baptized in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are persons who died to the sins of this world and born into the world of God. We are partakers of the body of Jesus through Holy Communion. In other words we are called to lead a Holy life and serve the neighbor. We are called out to promote a community of Koinonia where values of Dignity of Life, respect to each other and meaningful use of natural resources and communitarian life are upheld. We are also called as prophet Amos to ensure justice roll down as water. But I often see the Indian Christians emulating Western styles both in their personal and ecclessial realms. They appear to replicate several imperialistic dominant practices than affirming inclusive strategies. They and the church reflect practices of Brahmanism both within the church 17


and outside the churches. They speak about the love of God, forgiveness of God but fails to say that Jesus is also a God of anger who abhors evil forces, who looks forward for Justice, caring of the weak and expects transparency and accountability. Indian church is often passive in its attitude towards countering evil forces such as Brahmanism but does not teach Christians as God of anger. It tells the congregation to show the other cheek but fails to tell the congregation the response of Jesus while he was beaten in front of the High Priest with retort “If I have said anything wrong, tell everyone here what it was. But if I am right in what I have said, why do you hit me?� This silent violence of Jesus has never appeared in the preaching and practices of clergies and congregations. The man Jesus was not fully introduced in the churches. 2. We are not able to distinguish between Hinduism and Hindutva: India is a nation of many faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Sufism, and other religious traditions. Influence of these religions only has brought in this country, tolerance and acceptance of each other despite the religious faith that we have. But Hindutva forces twist the fact of this tolerance saying that it is Brahamanism brought tolerance. Hinduism has many religious traditions, such as Saiva, Vaishnava and others. Brahmanism is now trying to eat all these faiths to convert these faiths into Caste accepted ones. Hence, we need to deeply understand each religion in India, and their essence and reflect them with the perspectives of Jesus. 3. We have not searched us introspectively: We claim equality and fraternity. We profess one God and one baptism. We observe great Sacraments: Baptism and Holy Communion; Baptism as symbol of entering into the work of Justice and Peace, from Egyptian Caste bondage into Canaan of liberty, fraternity and equality; and Holy Communion as symbol of solidarity with one another. In fellowship groups and in worship services, we often demonstrate this oneness, even we participate in meals organized in the Churches also in families, yet but we are dividing ourselves in observing visible and invisible forms of caste and untouchability in our relationships 18


both within the Church and outside the Church, in families and in work places. We do approve such discriminatory practices knowing that they are against the very principles of the movement of Jesus. Hence, Christians often have a tall claim but in praxis they are more divisive than many others. 4. We have become a closed community: We do collectively respond when issues of anti-conversion bill come or at times when the nuns are raped or missionaries are burnt or at times there was atrocities against Christians, perpetrated in parts of this country. But we fail to participate with the neighborhood communities, in their struggle for equality, dignity and democracy and safe environment. When women from other religions are raped or tortured or terrorized, we read them but never act against these human rights violations. 5. We have oriented ourselves to prosperity theology: Jesus from the other world came into the world, lived a life to ascertain fullness of life to the marginalized. He questioned the anti-people activities of the Pharisees and Sadducees to the extent of condemning them and saying woe to all of them. He was politically murdered, yet he is raised and stands with all those who strive for justice and peace. Church on the other hand thinks that they are not from this world and encourages prosperity theology, which affirms that having the wealth is blessing of God and having poverty as curse of God. We are not taking seriously the word of Jesus that rich person will not go to heaven. 6. We conveniently read our Scripture to suit our taste: Let us take the example from the book of Esther. King Ahasuerus, in the company of other Kings and nobles, officials and people, commands his attendants to bring Queen Vashti before him with the royal crown so that the entire assembly shall behold her beauty. But Vashti refuses to display herself, as a woman of modesty. King then punishes her disobedience. Conveniently our interpreters twist this act of self respect of Vashti as

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disobedience to her husband, and tell our women that they should not be Vashti. Do they advice our women to show their beauty publicly? Convenient patriarchal reading is dangerous and we need right theology in our Churches. Here in India, lies are twisted and converted as truths and perpetuated by vested interests in the Government and outside. Hence, Indian Church should revisit her theology so that it becomes more practical to the contextual struggle of the marginalized. 7.Derailed institutions of healing and education: The very objectives of our healing and educational institutions are social transformation and welfare access to the poor. Now most of our institutions have become elite serving ones. This derailing needs attention. Their teachers and instructors were producing socially committed students once, now they have turned as servants to the interests of vested interests. Suggestions and Recommendations to the future a.Christians should understand the Historic Jesus, his aim and purpose in this world not from a pietistic point of view but from a point of view of solidarity with poor, from the point of view of Communalism and cultural Nationalism b.Christians should educate themselves with the analysis of the Indian society; they should understand why India is divided? Who divides India? Why the people are oppressing one another both within the church and outside the church? Why several want no annihilation of dominance and bondage? How we directly and indirectly perpetuate these dominance and bondage? c.Christians should be taught how we are mesmerized to imagine a life of true happiness, when the reality is not so. An imagination that everything is fine here when his society is having all kinds of discriminations related to socio, religious and gender is brutal. Christians are taught to learn a false life and are requested to teach others also a false life. Injustice is spoken about only when Christians feel that their rights are denied. They are not aware that each and every day new mind sets are created to deny the human rights of all eventually the 20


rights of Christians. Christians have not understood the writings on the wall. The truth is: all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of child birth. d.Christians should identify all forces who bring development and who bring anti-development. They should associate with democratic organizations and activists to ensure a life of dignity available to all. e.Christians especially the laity should rise up to build a church in the perspectives of Jesus. Sunday schools, youth fellowships, women fellowships and men fellowships should be reoriented from convenient theologies to more practical theologies of people empowerment. Identifying Brahmanism and other evil practices both within and outside the churches and shed them off is the only way for a true Christian responsibility. Jesus did question the Brahmanism practices and he suffered. f.Theological Institutions should revisit their theological teachings and prepare their faculty and students to counter Caste and Patriarchy both within the Church and outside the Church. g.The hope of the Church is Jesus of Nazareth. The hope of the Church is our youth, children and women. We need to orient our theology, our practices both within the Church and outside the Church, to redeem our future generation from all which pervert and twist the truth to Justice and Peace.

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THE RESURGENCE OF HINDUTVA: A CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCHES Aruna Gnanadason India has been home for centuries to all great religions of the world. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has stated that religious tolerance and the ability to evolve, despite differences, is the basis of India. Swami Vivekananda the great Indian thinker says that what makes our civilization great is the fact that it is based on the idea of the co-existence of faiths Sarva Dharma Sambhava. This notion implies that we have equal respect for all Dharmas, for all faiths. Elaborating this idea Swami Vivekananda used the metaphor of many rivers flowing into one mighty ocean. He quoted from an ancient hymn to say: "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, sources in different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee." Swami Vivekananda said very aptly, “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true.� (Quotes from papers presented by the Prime Minister on different occasion, retrieved from Wikepedia on 26 December 2011). Religious freedom has been the hallmark of India since its independence in 1947. The Constitution of India is often called both a legal and social document. India's freedom struggle from 300 years or so colonial rule took into its fold all sections of the society, the rich and the poor and women, youth, all religious communities, whether they be Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Parsis, Sikh or Jain. In fact all castes and communities took part in this struggle. As a result, the Indian Constitution reflects not only the values of Freedom Struggle but also values of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Indian Constitution incorporates the kind of nationalism known as territorial nationalism, where everyone born in the territory of India, is an Indian. All citizens in the territory of India, either by birth of or by acquisition are equal whether he/she is Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jain or Parsi or atheist! The mandate of the Constitution is to promote tolerance and harmony amongst people of India transcending religious linguistic, religious or section or sectional diversities and to preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture. (B.A. Desai, Senior Advocate, exminister, and formerly Addl. Solicitor General of India, in an article printed on line on 23 March 2011). 22


Hinduism as a Religion of Harmony? As has been often said, Hinduism is not one monolithic religion, and within Hinduism, there are streams and social movements which have stressed the unity of faith and which have affirmed a secular India where all religions can exist and coexist (such as the Advaita philosophy embedded in Hinduism). But what is of concern to us today is that a stream of Hinduism referred to as Hindutva, an ideology that was born early in the 20th century, forged by Veer Savarkar, but which came to prominence in Indian politics in the late 1980s, when two events attracted a large number of mainstream Hindus to the movement. The first of these events was the Indian government's use of its large parliamentary majority to overturn a Supreme Court verdict granting alimony to a Muslim woman, Shah Bano, a verdict that had angered many Muslims. The second was the dispute over the 16th century Mughal Babri Mosque in Ayodhyabuilt by Babur after his first major victory in India. The Supreme Court of India refused to take up the case in the early 1990s, leading to a huge outcry. Tempers soon flared, and a huge number of nationalist Hindus from all parts of India razed the mosque in late 1992, causing nationwide communal riots. The razing of the mosque and subsequent conflict arguably lifted the concept of Hindutva and its political counterpart the Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) to international prominence. As the theologian Sathianathan Clarke describes it: “The writings of Savarkar may be cited as representative of an inordinately influential form of nationalist thinking which homogenized the idea of India into one region, religion, and race. The relevance of interrogating Savarkar is twofold. First, he is the most creative proponent of redefining Hinduism in comprehensive terms: religion encompasses the manifold dimensions of geography, society, politics, and culture. Thus, he moves away from merely representing Hinduism as a religious phenomenon confined to rituals, myths, deities, and social norms. Rather, for him, it is much larger and broader, which is why Savarkar coined the term "Hindutva." Second, Savarkar's ideas have gained acceptance with the modern resurgence of Hindu nationalism. It can thus serve as an ideological base for understanding the main principles of the contemporary political, social and political phenomenon referred to as "Hindutva". (Clarke, “Hindutva, Religious and Ethnocultural Minorities, and Indian-Christian Theology�, on line article). 23


Sathianathan Clarke continues with this quote of Savarkar: “We Hindus are bound together not only by the ties of love we bear to a common fatherland and by the common blood that courses through our veins and keeps our hearts throbbing and our affections warm, but also by the ties of common homage we pay to our great civilization - our Hindu culture, which could not be better rendered than by the word Sanskriti suggestive as it is of that language Sanskrit, which has been the chosen means of expression and preservation of that culture, of all that was best and worth-preserving in the history of our race. We are one because we are a nation, a race and own a common Sanskriti (civilization).” Clarke explores this statement further, “Interestingly, though quite predictably, the common culture (that Savarkar refers to) which binds all Indians together is the one common Hindu culture with deep roots in Brahmanic religion, symbolized by its sacred language (Sanskrit). Accepting and working toward the reclamation of this religio-cultural commonality is crucial to the Hindutva agenda. As Savarkar puts it, "For the first two essentials of Hindutva -- nation and jati [race] - are clearly denoted and connoted by the word pitrubhu [Fatherland] while the third element of Sanskriti [civilization] is pre-eminently implied by the word Punyabhu [Holy land], as it is precisely Sanskriti including sanskaras i.e. rites and rituals, ceremonies and sacraments, that make a land a Holy land." One geographic region is made to correspond with one race, which in turn is constructed to be religiously and culturally homogenous through the civilization engendered and developed by the Brahmins.” The statement above made by Savarkar is what makes this ideology synonymous with the Zionist ideology of claims about the Holy land (Israel) which has been at the heart of the Occupation of Palestine by Israel; and the struggle of Palestinian Christians and Muslims to live in peace in their homes and on their land. There is no question that the trend of politicization of religion has affected the long tradition of religious tolerance and communal harmony in India. Hinduism has organized society on the basis of caste hierarchy, which was established and given religious legitimacy to the upper castes and has marginalized a big part of the Indian population as “outcastes”. Dalits (as they call themselves a title of resistance bestowed on them by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, their leader) as well as Tribals and Adivasis, who have endured 24


stigmatization, social oppression and caste based menial occupations for centuries have embraced Christianity as a way to find their dignity and to escape the clutches of the caste structure. Unfortunately, the caste structure followed Dalit Christians into the Church which also follows the same forms of graded social subjugation as found in society. In the past few weeks Christian documentation services have reported new incidents of violence against Christians - the burning of churches and other threats. Christians have been the targets of rape, murder, church bombings, Bible burning, and severe beatings. The killing of priests, raping of nuns, and torching of prayer halls and churches are means to terrorize, denigrate and threaten Christians. This violence, incited by the Hindutva forces has been happening on and off for the past 50 years, the most recent violent attacks were in Khandamal, Orissa in 2008. The strengthening of the Hindutva forces has two major implications for the churches. 1. This could lead to an erosion of the freedoms provided by law for every religious group to proclaim its own faith and welcome others into its fold. Freedom of religion laws could be promulgated by different states restricting the rights enjoyed by religious minorities this could include the imposition of barriers to their educational and other institutions and ministries. 2. This could lead to more violence against the minorities, Muslims and Christians a lot of which could be directed at Dalit, Adivasi and Tribal Christians. The Way Forward: What Does this Mean to the Churches? We need to find a way forward. To quote Sathianathan Clarke again: “Minorities, such as Dalit and Adivasi communities who experience and assert their cardinal differences from the Hindutva ideology, are particularly equipped and obliged to project and promote worldviews that are more amiable to plurality and thus less hostile to difference. The words of Amir Ali are apt here: "The concept of multiculturalism can prove to be an effective counter to the hegemonising project of Hindutva and there exists, on account of this very reason, a strong case for its promotion and encouragement in this country." Such models are extant in the 25


lives of local Dalit and Adivasi communities. They merely need to be recognized and lifted up as worthwhile, serviceable, and satisfactory paradigms for collective human living.” Clarke continues: “Traces of a pluralistic model are manifest in minority communities as they live their lives in quiet defiance against the agenda of Hindu nationalism. In the face of threats to assimilate Christians, Dalits, and Adivasis into a homogeneous Hindu identity, as well as the violent attacks against these minorities, how can Christian theology tap into the energy that fuels the obstinate expression of their religious and ethnocultural difference? What is the role of Christian theology in a context where human beings strive to be free in their expressions of difference within a unity that Hindu nationalism demands today?..... It must also be underscored that theology is not content with merely describing that which is lived out by Christian communities. Rather it aims toward constructing viable possibilities, which of course involves imagining relevant configurations for meaning and action out of and for the specific world of Christians in India.” In a context of a discussion on “Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism”, the need of the hour is to find alternatives and to define more clearly the role the churches can play in developing a healthy multiculturalism in India so as to challenge the notion of the exclusive and hegemonising claims made by Hindutva ideologues. This would require that the church ought to challenge some of the contradictions and hierarchies based on caste and other forces within its own life. The churches in India ought to break from their own colonial past and mission history so that they could display to the world the plurality that they uphold and affirm in their own lives. The churches in India need to reach outward to the world out of the rich theological and spiritual power that lies embedded in each tradition, such as that of the Church of South India. Then and only then can they be a viable alternative community powered by the love and grace we enjoy in Jesus Christ.

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ZIONISM: THE POLITICO-RACIST HURDLE TO WORLD PEACE A. Faizur Rahman “We must expropriate gently the private property on the state assigned to us. We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it employment in our country. The property owners will come over to our side. Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discretely and circumspectly. Let the owners of the immoveable property believe that they are cheating us, selling us things for more than they are worth. But we are not going to sell them anything back." This cunning, cold-blooded stratagem attributed to Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, sums up the politicoracist Weltanschauung of Zionism, the philosophy that still forms the basis of the suppression and oppression of the Palestinians by the “mercenary state” of Israel. Indeed, the tentacles of Zionism have spread well beyond its original prey, the Palestinians, and the entire Muslim world has come within its reach now. Defining Zionism In the mid 1800s, European Jews began migrating to Palestine after a series of organised attacks against them in Eastern Europe. This led to a movement called Zionism, started by a group of Jewish youths, the Hovevei Zion (lovers of Zion). Zion is the Biblical name for Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:7). The object of the movement was the establishment of a national Jewish state in Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. Theodor Herzl, an Austrian journalist developed this into a movement called Political Zionism for the political recognition of the Jewish claim to a Palestine homeland. The entire idea of Zionism revolves around Jerusalem and its takeover. Although it is a city revered by the Jews, Christians and Muslim, the Zionists claim that it belongs only to them. They quote Psalm 132:13 to say that Jerusalem is nothing less than the “City of God” because God dwells there literally and therefore, without it the State of Israel could not exist. According to the founder of the pro-Zionist outfit Christians United for Israel and “End-Time” writer, John Hagee, the establishment of 27


Israel in May 1948 was the beginning of the process of rescuing “God's chosen people” from “bondage and persecution around the world” and restoring them to the Promised Land with Jerusalem as its capital. A brief look at the history of this “promised land” would help us understand better the terrifying nature of Zionism. Early History of Palestine Palestine, one of the most famous historic lands, is the only place revered by the Jews, Christians and the Muslims. It has been at the centre of the conflict for thousands of years and the present imbroglio too is rooted deep in its early history. Three peoples the Canaanites, the Philistines and the Israelites have been at the centre of these conflicts. The Canaanites inhabited Palestine around 3000 BC and it is they who called it “the land of Canaan” (Numbers, 34:2 & 35:10). The Philistines came (probably from Illyria) to “the land of Canaan” around 1175 BC and gave it the name of Philistia. The Israelites - who were “wandering in the wilderness” after their exodus from Pharaonic Egypt - came around the same time, and settled in the eastern part of the land. The Palestinians are the descendants of the Canaanites and the Philistines. There never existed any peace between the Israelites and the Philistines. The twelve Israelite tribes unified under the leadership of Saul about 1030 BC and fought many wars with the Philistines. And when Saul was killed, his son-in-law, David, reunified the nation of Israel and established the Kingdom of Israel about 1000 BC with Jerusalem at his capital. He ruled for 33 years followed by his son Solomon who ruled for 40 years. After Solomon's death the Israelite tribes revolted and the unified kingdom was split into Israel in the North and Judah in the South. The kingdom of Israel became extinct after being destroyed by the Assyrians in 721 BC. The Kingdom of Judah was captured by the Babylonians in 587 BC who destroyed the Temple of Solomon and forced the Jews to stay in exile in Babylonia. After the Babylonians the Persians occupied Palestine and remained there for two centuries before it was captured by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. 28


The present name of Palestine was given by the Romans who in AD 135 drove the Jews out of Jerusalem and named the area Palestine after Philistia. It was during the Roman era that Jesus was born at Bethlehem and as a result Palestine became the holy land of the Christians also. In AD 323 Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and made it the state religion. Palestine remained under Christian rule for more than three centuries before the Muslim Arabs occupied it in AD 638 and ruled it until AD 1099. The crusaders captured it in 1099 and established the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. However in 1187 Salahuddin Ayubi (Saladin) re-conquered it and restored Arab rule. It remained with the Arab Caliphs Omayyads, Abbasids and Fatimids until the Turkish conquest in 1517 which lasted till 1917. Recent History During the First World War (1914 1918) Britain offered to back the Arab demand for post War independence from the Ottomans in return for support for the Allies. Although the Arabs revolted against the Turks, the pledge given to them was not honoured. Not only did the British refuse to honour their pledge to the Arabs, they gave a contradictory pledge to the Zionist Jews to create a 'national home' for them in Palestine. This pledge issued in 1917 in the form of a letter from the British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild, came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, and it changed the course of history in Palestine and West Asia. In the first place Britain had no right to give such a promise to the Jews, for the simple reason that it did not possess any sovereignty or jurisdiction over Palestine at the time of issuing the Declaration. Moreover, the Balfour Declaration was morally unacceptable because the consent of the Palestinians was not obtained. It was also legally void because Turkey, the legal sovereign over Palestine at the time of the issue of the Declaration, did not consent to it. Nevertheless, this brought into existence the only nation in the history of the world to be created by dispossessing the native population of a sovereign country. Arthur Koestler, the famous Hungarian author and journalist, bluntly put it as “one nation solemnly promising to a second nation the country of a third.� Soon after the Balfour Declaration, Palestine was subjected to the British Mandate (1922-48) under Article 22 of 29


the Covenant of the League of Nations. This article, with regard to Palestine and other nations (Syria, Lebanon and Iraq) separated from the Ottoman Empire, laid down that “their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognised subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they were able to stand alone.” But the mandate itself was blatantly opposed to the letter and spirit of Art.22 as it gave the Mandatory (the British government) the additional power “to place the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as would secure the establishment of the Jewish national home.” It is not surprising that the terms of the mandate were formulated by the World Zionist Organisation and were settled by the British government “in consultation with Zionist representatives.” The sole aim of the mandate was to facilitate the immigration of the Jews into Palestine in violation of the rights of the original inhabitants, Palestinian Arabs, who at the time of the mandate constituted 92% of the population. Official records show that in 1946 the Jewish population increased to 608,230 (out of a total population of 1,972,560) from 83,794 in 1922 when the mandate was approved by the League of Nations. The response to this forced demographic change was rioting and civil war. The Palestinians completely rejected the mandate and demanded independence. But the Jewish immigrants were in no mood to allow the British to do that. When the British government tried to limit Jewish immigration and grant independence to Palestine, the Zionists unleashed an orgy of violence which included the killing of 91 senior officials by blowing up the King David Hotel at Jerusalem which was the seat of the government; the raiding of military stores; bombing Arab market places and homes; even the capture and hanging of British officers. Unable to control the Zionist terror, the British government in April 1947 formally referred the Question of Palestine to the UN. The Hypocrisy of the United Nations It may be noted that the Mandate for Palestine had legally ended with the dissolution of the League of Nations in April 1946. But instead of granting independence to the Palestinians, the British continued with the mandate for another year. Nevertheless, under pressure from the US, Soviet Union and their respective allies who were in turn manipulated 30


by the Zionists the General Assembly adopted on Nov 29, 1947, Resolution No: 181 (II) for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states with 57% (14,500 sq. km) of the territory going in favour of the Zionists who actually owned less than 6% of the land and constituted less than one-third of the population despite forced immigration. The original Land owners, the Arabs, got only 11,800 sq.km of their own property. In other words, 57% of their land was snatched away from them. The UN had no legal right to partition Palestine as it had no sovereignty over that country. Even if it is assumed that Turkey relinquished its rule over Palestine (through the Treaty of Lausanne) in favour of the League of Nations, the UN could not have claimed to have inherited the Palestinian sovereignty from the League after it was dissolved in 1946 because no such arrangement was in place. Therefore, Resolution 181 (II) was outside the competence of the UN and amounted to a land grab on behalf of the Zionists. It plunged the country into bloody massacres such as the unprovoked April 9, 1948 killing at Deir Yassin of 300 men, women and children by the terrorist outfit named Irgun headed by Menachem Begin. Shockingly, Begin went on to win the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, the planned killings were part of the “D-Plan� prepared by Yigael Yadin, Acting Chief of Staff during the 1948 war. The ultimate aim of this diabolical plan was to terrorise the Palestinians into evacuating their country. The result of the successful implementation of the D-Plan is before our eyes today. The Zionists have ethnically cleansed the Palestinians and captured more than 90% of Palestine since the ex nihilo creation of Israel on May 14, 1948. Muslim Jewish Relations in History The question is; what did the Palestinians do to the Jews to suffer this fate at the hands of the Zionists? The Arabs were neither anti-Semitic nor in any way responsible for the atrocities inflicted on the Jews by a Christian Europe. In fact, Muslims in general have never been racially opposed to the Jews. The Quran puts all believers in God on the same pedestal, and specifically mentions Jews, Christians and Muslims in this context. Those who believe [in Islam], and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians,- [in short]any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:62 & 5:69). 31


And not just that; to believe in all prophets and their scriptures without discrimination is made an article of faith for the Muslims. Say (Oh Muslims!); "We believe in God, and the Revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)." (2:136) Prophet Muhammad epitomised this Quranic philosophy. His Saheefat -al- Madinah the Constitution of the city-state of Medina which was enacted around 622 soon after his migration to Medina treated the Jewish minority of Medina on a par with the Muslims. According to the renowned Muslim scholar Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah this secular and democratic enactment was “the first constitution ever written for a state in the history of the world.” Article 25 of Saheefat -al- Madinah states that the Jews “shall be considered as a community along with the Believers; for the Jews their religion and for the Muslims their religion.” The relevant Arabic phrase is ummah ma'al mu'mineen. Dr. Hamidullah cites another narration of the constitution by Abu Ubaid which uses the phrase ummah min al-mu'mineen meaning, “a community forming part of the Believers.” Indeed many Muslim exegetes could not come to terms with the Prophet's exemplary display of religious freedom. And this prompted Dr. Hamidullah to write in a footnote that “the Jews are also believers in God, monotheists. So there is nothing therein [in the clause ummah min al-mu'mineen ] for a pious Muslim to be shocked at.” There are also instances of the Prophet having ruled in favour of Jews in some of their disputes with Muslims. And in 1492 when Ferdinand and Isabella issued the 'Edict of Expulsion' against the Jews of Spain, the Muslims nations welcomed them. According to the French-Jewish scholar Isidore Loeb there were about 235,000 Jews in Spain in 1492 out of which 50,000 were forcibly converted to Christianity and the rest were expelled. They migrated to various parts of the world including Europe and America with 20,000 dying en route. Loeb writes that a total of 122,000 Jews were given refuge by the Muslims of Algiers, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Turkey. Yet, the 32


Muslim world finds itself at the receiving end of Israeli hatred. Why? Exploiting the Bible to Justify Racism As discussed above, at the heart of Israeli expropriation of Palestine and the absolute victimization of its people lies the dogmatic and racist belief that “the land of Canaan” was promised to God's “Chosen people”, the Jews. This misconception is based on the prophecy of Genesis 17:8 which says, “And I (God) will unto thee (Abraham) and thy seed after thee, the land where thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan (Palestine), for a everlasting possession;” This verse is the “Holy title deed” based on which the Zionists claim a historic right to Palestine. But strangely enough this prophecy was not fulfilled, and the Bible acknowledges this. All these people [that is Abraham and his seed] died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth (Hebrews 11:13) 'Leave your country and your people,' God said [to Abraham], 'and go to the land I will show you.' So he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After the death of his father, God sent him to this land where you are now living. He gave him no inheritance here, not even a foot of ground. But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child (Acts 7:3-5) And as per Biblical standards if a prophecy attributed to God is not fulfilled it is not from God. If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:22) If this is a valid test, Genesis 17:8 can be easily dismissed as a fabrication or an interpolation because the promises of God, if they are really true, must be fulfilled. On the other hand if it is hypothetically assumed that the prophecy of Genesis 17:8 is true then Palestine becomes the joint property 33


of the Palestinians and the Jews, because God promises this land to the 'seed' of Abraham and the Palestinians are the seed of the Abraham through Ishmael (the Jews being the seed of Abraham through Isaac). But unfortunately, Ishmael is not recognised as the seed of Abraham because he was his son through a “slave woman” named Hagar. The Bible is quoted to prove that God approved of the manner in which Hagar and Ishmael were forced to wander in the “Desert of Beersheba” after being unceremoniously thrown out of Abraham's house by his wife Sarah.” The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your seed will be reckoned (Genesis 21:11-12) The worst part is that the Christian Zionists have joined hands with Israeli Zionists to attribute racism to a compassionate God who loves all His Children equally. Televangelist John Hagee invokes the concept of “divine election” (based on Romans 9: 7-13) and says that “a loving and gracious God has elected to save some and elected to allow others to be lost for eternity in the fires of hell.” The “saved” people are the Jews, the “spiritual children” from Isaac who was “born by the supernatural powers of God” when Abraham and Sarah were well past their reproductive age. The “lost” people are of course the Arabs, the “natural children” of Abraham through the son of a “slave woman”, Ishmael. What Hagee does not tell us is that the present day Jews are not the descendants of the Biblical Israelites. According to Arthur Koestler they came from Eastern Europe and their origin can be traced to the Khazars, a Tartar people of southern Russia, who were converted to Judaism during time of the Roman Emperor, Charlemagne (742 814). The Jews who lived in Palestine when it was under the control of Turkey were Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492. Most of the other Jews were either Arabs or Berbers of North Africa who were converted to Judaism. No wonder the Bible considers Abraham a stranger to Palestine. Manipulating the US It is common knowledge that the U.S is the backbone of Israeli state terrorism against the Palestinians. This was made 34


possible by the infiltration of pro-Zionist neoconservatives in the U.S. Government who echo the Evangelical belief that the occupation of all Arab lands by the Jews (in fulfillment of the prophesy in Genesis 15:18) is a prelude to the Second Coming of Christ and Armageddon; the Biblical concept of the last battle between the Good and the Evil before the day of Judgment. Journalist Joe Klein wrote in the Time magazine that; “I do believe that there is a group of people who got involved and had a disproportionate influence on U.S. foreign policy. There were people out there in the Jewish community who saw this as a way to create a benign domino theory and eliminate all of Israel's enemies....I think it represents a really dangerous anachronistic neocolonial sensibility. And I think it is a very, very dangerous form of extremism. I think it's bad for Israel and it's bad for America. And these guys have been getting a free ride. And now these people are backing the notion of a war with Iran and not all of them, but some of them, are doing it because they believe that Iran is an existential threat to Israel.” It is therefore not surprising that scaremongering Zionist Christians like John Hagee are working overtime quoting chapters 38 and 39 of Ezekiel - to sell the idea to the Americans that Iran is now developing something that is called electromagnetic pulse (EMP), a new-age weapon that kill not people but electrons. He writes that a fake Iranian satellite crossing over America could suddenly explode releasing several pounds of enriched plutonium, blanketing the USA with gamma rays cutting off instantly all electrical power for months. Therefore, if America does not attack Iran, what would result is “an American Hiroshima” and “in one second, we would be living in the nineteenth century.” This doomsday vision is among the passions of Newt Gingrich, the Republican presidential hopeful. One wonders what will happen to American if he gets elected. In fact, the 2006 war on Lebanon too can be viewed in the context of what Joe Klein warned. Thierry Meyssan, the author of the best-selling book 9/11: The Big Lie wrote in a July 2006 article, The Neo Conservatives and the Policies of Constructive Chaos, that the war on Lebanon was part of a Zionist- Neocon plan conceived in 2005 - as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of July21,2006 - and finalized at a meeting 35


organized by the American Enterprise Institute at Beaver Creek, Colorado in June 2006, to convert Lebanon into a miniChristian state and annex part of its territory with the ultimate aim to attack Syria and Iran. The meeting, he says, was attended by Dick Cheney, Benjamin Netanyahu, Richard Perle and Nathan Sharansky. The assessments of Joe Klein and Thierry Meyssan perfectly accord with the long-cherished Zionist dream of expanding the present boundaries of Israel to create, what has come to be known as, “Greater Israel” or Eretz Yisrael Hashlemah , the “Complete Land of Israel.” This diabolical irredentism is the result of a deliberate misrepresentation of a Biblical verse in which God addresses Prophet Abraham saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the Euphrates” On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates-- (Genesis 15:18). The borders are more clearly defined in Numbers 34: 115 and Ezekiel 47: 13- 20. In 1988 PLO chairman Yasser Arafat claimed that the obverse design of an Israeli coin worth ten agorot showed a map of "Greater Israel" that represented Zionist expansionist goals. Although Israel continues to deny the Eretz Israel accusations their denials are not convincing given the infernal past of the Zionists to say nothing about the existence of the ideology of Revisionist Zionism. Former Illinois congressman, Paul Findley, writes that Ultraorthodox Jews staunchly oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state as they believe that the Torah, Talmud and Halakhah prohibit them from sharing power with non-Jews in the “Land of Israel.” The Hidden Agenda of the Christian Right But what many are unaware is that the Zionist Christians are not exactly honest in their support for Israel. They have their own hidden religious agenda according to which, Jesus in his second mission will convert all the Jews to Christianity, and therefore, to hasten this process all must be done to help the Jews take over the Arab lands between Nile and Euphrates. Once again, John Hagee quotes Paul from Romans 36


11:26 to justify his deceptive pro-Israel tele-evangelism. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. Put in simple language this verse means that when Jesus, the Deliverer, comes in his second coming the Jews will overcome their “godlessness” of having rejected Christ, and become the followers of the Messiah, and thus be saved as all other Christians are! It is a strange paradox that, on the one hand we have the Christian Zionists supporting Israel with financial, moral and military aid in the dogmatic hope of one day converting all the Jews to Christianity, and on the other we see the cunning Zionists - who never accepted Jesus as their Messiah - successfully manipulating the Christian Right using their own Bible to achieve the goal of Greater Israel. The ultimate victims of this unholy scheming between two Machiavellian religious groups are the innocent Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, who have been rendered refugees in their own homeland. The Tools of Zionism It would be naïve on part of the world community to think that Zionism poses a threat to the Palestinians alone. The foregoing arguments prove that Zionism is one of the biggest hurdles to world peace. It thrives mainly on disinformation, lobbying in the US and of course, the good old British policy of divide and rule. Paul Findley refers to a 1978 article written by journalist Harold R. Piety in the Middle East International in which Piety decried “the inaccuracies, distortions, and perhaps worst inexcusable omission of significant news and background material by the American media in its treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” Findley writes quoting Piety that the deficiency of U. S. media in reporting on the Middle East can be traced “to largely successful efforts by Israel and its pro-Israel lobby to overwhelm the American media with a highly professional public relations campaign, to intimidate the media through various means, and finally, to impose censorship when the media are compliant and craven.” The intimidatory weapons against balanced journalism include “threats to editors and advertising departments, orchestrated boycotts, slanders, 37


campaigns of character assassination, and personal vendettas.” And the fact that most of the American media today is controlled by people of the Jewish background comes in handy to spread disinformation in favour of Zionist policies. This was brought out in a damning article by the Research Staff of National Vanguard Magazine based in West Virginia. Findley also exposes the pervasive influence exerted on American policy by Jewish organisations such as the B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish National Fund and the United Jewish Appeal. This is apart from the hundreds of pro-Israel public action committees (PACs) registered under U.S. federal law. The defacto leader of this pack is “the leading Jewish political force in America”, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Findley writes that AIPAC's influence on Capitol Hill goes beyond U.S.-Israel relations. The organisation has an international outreach program through it promotes Israeli interests by manipulating the American foreign policy. Complementing the U.S. Zionist lobby in its endeavor to misinform the American public is the Christian Right which actively spreads the canard that Islam's “theology of triumphalism” is the biggest threat faced by America. John Hagee thunders; “On 9/11 when the Islamic terrorists flew their hijacked airliners into the twin towers and the Pentagon, Americans discovered we were at war a world war [emphasis added] against fanatical Islamic terrorists who believe that killing Americans and Jews is the will of Muhammad the Prophet and the will of God, called Allah” and “this is a religious war that Islam cannot and must not win.” The intention of the Zionists and their supporters seems to be to drive a wedge between the three Semitic religions Judaism, Christian and Islam. The Way Forward The only way to defeat the evil designs of Zionism is for the peace loving Jews, Christians and Muslims to forge an indivisible unity. Luckily for us not all Jews and Christians agree with the Zionists. Findley devotes an entire chapter titled Not all Jews toe the line to record the bold dissent of several honest Jews against the policies of the Zionists. It may be pointed out here that the newfangled doctrine of Zionism is no 38


different from the hypocritical puritanism of the Scribes and the Pharisees, the experts of Torah who lived during the time of Jesus, on whom Jesus heaped no less than seven curses (see Matt. 23: 1- 37)! He called them “blind guides”, “hypocrites”, “snakes” and “brood of vipers.” And in one fiery outburst Jesus said; ßfÌÌ é KYYSrgg[yÚÚ/] ÝGß q‰‰ êÞê¡ +17$ÚÌÒؼ^Þ^ÞÏ ÒKËÎ ßTµÄÄÓèîJI‘… •‰´g1I ÊTB*™LûϪª†xx ïòohkÕRÒRË ßÞ¼µ¯ÔÚþøþ ttn b† ØØÌ))A5¯²ô úú‰ ¡Yee•FF@-- jp[[ ø•üyÚZH €y ßéÒÌÕÕ / ¶©•Ä [¶¶k‰XDß ©amNBB§-Ž {pvîôô ss<ª* Í:=¶§ ßק¤ÉÃÃÀÀºÞÞä÷îèø gOÿðb •‹©©©••ÀÃÊÊ )õû××knîpéìÚ[ÛÞ ßifÌ ËÑËËÑää hvìà ÎÂìØÔeš”ê 6ë ¹ÑL00èÜn` ß( »—‘Á:º03³3³¤ ßÚìæ.IC=\VP[©•© ßT¦ÆÚ 'G[É÷öû$ê&$M -Âü¢ìn‰®ß‹ÇÇ .É‹ÌÁ-® ìÓÇ ZAGœ•• ‘|}s ß/9¿ ú—–6Vj“²·¶Ë ü ¾ðA‘‹Tc •P×‡Ï y&ô n P& ìöt_ †vlæ @´ª ß‘›¥ª* NÑÛ»Úùþø+ CWp„GQ• s77ñÒ z0³ôÒŸ«y¨” ·²³¹ 4íl]MC9$˜öv ß‘ž*)>HM>S¤¹€z•~~’œk›Ä ‘›7‡¬ féHêD$ü mFëì͸•{ Æ•„¬˜?@+&ÕÀÁ· ßž«°À½®«+ã÷?^]] au•‘ “;¤¯l ™§«-¥•]àר”Šv hOC /y Ž•…ëÜǷߌ–¦µ5ERQ[á ("!5 e“¬¶ÖÐ gÌô9 cm¬÷æ ä‹™4¡y… ]†•X °‡ˆt¼©Šq¹©Ÿ‹€ ÅÆC9/ ß•Ÿ©¸>NXU ˜Yý05Jsœ§ÁÙã ”[qº3 ¶•îÔ jþ6ÑúüÒ½¾•• žŸšhTš ß ⇓• ßurãü ã÷öû:54›îI‡Æ¸ ⇓∃♠ Γ⊆ι• ßT¦ÀØ ¦»º¿Þý ùø"u Ck¾æà]‰ ⇓∃♠ Γ⊆ι• ßT¦ÀØ ¦»º¿Þý ùø"u C7_iú7–•bo âaeâ¹ ]S©¤…†rI mCDD °±O?¿¿Â¶*%Ÿ ⇓∃♠ Γ⊆ι• ßT¦ÀØK_^c‚¡ ÞÜa w?¤èQ)J©©ä潕•ÀÆ-•‹–‚ º»ÑE;1 # ߉ž•-¬, { $N ÿ2-,, “$M‹‹‰ú_• ï: ßT¦»êþ',Vj‰¢HlG…´ä5¤0Ÿßï ¡ì¿¡(ØÃÃ:„…qA( V,-x üýó • ßœ›¥ ±ÁÍÍMW· &Fo ,6Kj~§¼•¾¼ ][Ð ˜âG6ŸN:‰aL É‹8 ÚC>D0 øàÌÿÖ¼ÇE?B8 M89/ ß„ lyÿŽJOYd 4MLFq•7(…•£ _[Þÿ •< Zs‘ e[2agSY ^45!@,÷úõëì Š ߘ—³ ×!5_ ˆœµèøðCuu•àÜYª ŽŽ:é$ÓöÃÅ•uïŬ۱²žÝØ¿–ÌÁÂ-ž” †‡Š ߇““•§» ípÚÔè핶Âf•Ž¢ 6¡ÒæðÜ ßá½=KKKY__ß߃OCCC}úúe ßßò^<6ßcome to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than God." (3:64) Therefore, let the people of the Book, the followers of the Abrahamic path, the people who recognise the uniqueness of our Creator, sink our minor differences, unite on our major commonalities and lead the world towards peace and prosperity. 39


RESPONSE TO “ZIONISM: THE POLITICO-RACIST HURDLE TO WORLD PEACE” Allan Samuel Palanna Many thanks to Mr. Faizur Rahman for expounding the seemingly diverging and often competing accounts of the Palestinian cause and placing it cogently in the context of rising Zionist inclination in international deliberations. One of the many strengths of this paper is that, Mr. Rahman has given a Just historical account of the various transpositions of power from the subaltern perspective of the Palestinian cause. This is particularly important in the context where history is made subservient to ideology/ies. An asymmetrical view of history emerges from stark denial or deliberate amnesia with regard to the terrain of history that is incompatible with ideology/ies. Therefore a historical account that is both subversive and subaltern is appropriately called for. The Use and the Misuse of the Bible Mr. Rahman has rightly pointed out the issue of exploiting the Bible for adverse ends (p.8ff). Yet, the Zionist interpretative framework is set in the “canon within canon” approach or the relativist approach to scripture that Zionist ideologues profess to, which would ignore such comparisons. Also, the disparate contexts of the various books of the Bible also pose a challenge to interpretations. The obvious and the unavoidable tension that arises in trying to juggle a biblical text and its potential to enlighten an ethically challenging situation such as Zionism, in this instance, is that, primarily, the very exercise is in the danger of being anachronistic. It may as well have little or no implications to a wider audience in inter-faith or secular spheres. In the theological exercise, one may either incline towards 'theological purity' or 'theological realism', where the former category seeks moral and ethical derivatives entirely from scripture and has little or no correspondence to the historical secular world, and the latter seeking a close alignment between theological and historical secular thought. Therefore, inclining towards any of the above theologizing categories has its inherent difficulties of either being irrelevant in terms of the former category or treading an uncritical ground in terms of the latter. 40


Any theologizing in a space 'dedicated' to the historical secular sphere is bound to raise crucial questions of relevance and uncritical acceptance. For instance, views that support Zionism may be justified by citing particular passages. It is theologically viable as it can be understood, or conveniently reasoned that God wants it to happen anyway. It is a slippery slope to regard that any support for the occupation is to be seen as continuing the divine sanction for the occupation. How does one reconcile freedom to create (or destroy) on the one hand and responsibility on the other? Therefore, one constantly needs to strike middle ground in theologically addressing historical secular concerns without simplistic interpretation of texts. This is well taken in a context where there is a danger of being anachronistic as pointed out earlier or towing the line of theological realism when addressing contemporary ethical dilemmas. What may be of primary importance when embarking upon such a task is the ability to listen to the ethical underpinning of a particular situation from the perspective of justice and critically address the issues that emerge from it. A Just perspective is indeed faced with critical ethical issues on one side and counter philosophical forces on the other. Whilst the worst opposition is a liberal force of relativism, that which takes heavy precedence in recent thought today, especially in Zionist ideology/ies, is a more pragmatic analysis, which although confessing not to be relativist is indeed a call to put aside some belief systems that are life-denying when dealing with issues of dehumanization, especially in the Palestinian context and reclaim belief systems that are liveaffirming. The Challenges of Interpretation Mr. Rahman's engaging and pointed analysis of the Zionist fingerprint in American policies (p.10ff) is well taken. Probing further the motive of the Christian Right, it is also critical to point out the significance of the Armageddon or the righteous battle to necessitate the coming of Christ. Resorting to violence is inescapably built into the framework of Christian Zionist thinking. Therefore, the road to peace is clearly not an option because of the necessity of violence in furthering the 'ultimate destiny'. One of the reasons why a certain section of 41


the 'evangelical' West has come to accept the literal interpretation of the Bible is the increasing privatization of the Biblical message. Tim Gorringe points to the difficulties of confining texts to 'private devotion' or a purely historical-critical approach that has little to do with the pressing questions of the present. He says, To recognize the political dimension of all that we do is not to ask that every work of scholarship be a manifesto. It is simply to recognize, make explicit and take responsibility for our common life...[This] makes our Biblical work, with all else, inescapably political. With the methodology in view, as one encounters the Biblical texts, one becomes conscious of reading two texts: the ancient Biblical text and the text of the contemporary situation. Placing these two texts in conversation with each other is sharply ironic as the contemporary situation may or may not entirely correspond to the Biblical world. In the process of interpretation, one must also take into account the world-view of the interpreter and recognise that it has limitations and errors, as does the author's. The corrective to the interpreter's bias is 'bracketing' which Van Manen described as 'the act of suspending one's various beliefs in the natural world in order to study the essential structures of the world'. Richard Hays reflecting on the process of hermeneutics puts it beautifully, â&#x20AC;&#x153;...we are necessarily engaged in metaphor-making, placing our community's life imaginatively within the world articulated by the texts.â&#x20AC;? However Stephen Barton's note of caution is useful in that he points out that one needs to tread the fine line between what he calls 'conservative complacency' and 'liberal/liberationist moral relativism' in approaching texts. He eloquently puts it thus: What is required is creative fidelity where fidelity involves recognisable continuity with our scriptural faith tradition, and creativity is an openness to the Spirit to inspire us to interpret and 'perform' that tradition in ways which are lifegiving. Therefore, there is a need for creative imagination and rigorous exegetical skill to piece together the fine links between the text and the context of dehumanization. 42


Future Directions It is, therefore, the task of the interpreter to carefully glean through the scriptures and flesh out trajectories that affirm the Just Palestinian cause. One such example is: Ezekiel 47:21-23: So you shall divide this land among you according to the tribes of Israel. You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who reside among you and have begotten children among you. They shall be to you as citizens of Israel; with you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe aliens reside, there you shall assign them their inheritance, says the Lord GOD. Of course, this is not the best scenario as the difficult question of “To whom, ultimately, does the land belong?” is not adequately addressed. Therefore, a wider ethical paradigm needs to be affirmed. Mr. Rahman has rightly suggested that Christian and Israeli Zionists have attributed “racism to a compassionate God who loves all His Children equally.”(p.9). Therefore, it is necessary that the ethical paradigm of compassion is to be reclaimed. Compassion may not be confused with 'pity' where there is an unhelpful suggestion of unequal power relations. The Biblical understanding of compassion goes much beyond its English equivalent and exudes the crucial component of Justice. Swadesh Mohan argues that compassion is central to all the great religions that originated in Asia - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Islam. Islamic teaching also gives great importance to compassion. One of the five pillars of Islam is Zakah (i.e., sharing of wealth), which is designed to help the needy and the poor as well as the spiritual well-being of the giver. Compassion is one of the names of Allah and a description of the prophet Mohammed (PBUH). Four key values in the Qur'an that are most prominent are: Justice ('adl), benevolence (ihsan), compassion (rahmah), and wisdom (hikmah). The priority of the value of compassion, as expressed in the Bible means that it acts something like a “canon within the 43


canon,â&#x20AC;? a hermeneutical principle and an ethical canon by which all actions can be judged. William Spohn calls compassion the 'optic nerve' of Christian discipleship because compassion motivates one to open one's eyes to the suffering reality irrespective of the political or religious scenarios. It actively interprets that reality in light of the Reign of God and demands that one takes responsibility for it. In the JudeoChristian tradition, compassion is a manifestation of God's love and justice. It is the way God interacts with creation and is, therefore, the way people should interact with one another. In all of these spiritual traditions, directly addressing the suffering of others through compassion is a religious obligation. In such responses we can see the hallmark of our shared humanity. This surpasses and counters narrow interpretations and legitimization of scripture as reflected in Zionist readings and justly addresses the Palestinian cause because of the existence of excruciating suffering and unbridled injustice. Also, another issue that needs to be crucially addressed is the modern Christian penchant for 'pilgrimage to the Holy Land' akin to the Haj pilgrimage. The Bible does not prescribe any such piety that needs to be followed. However, a cursory glance at popular Christian magazines suggests the evergrowing demand for 'Holy Land tours'. A certain sense of 'geopiety' (adoration for a particular land) combined with the grandesque imagery of 'pilgrim's progress' has propelled the anti-Palestinian stance taken by the person in the pew. Most tours are organized by firms that enjoy the support of the Israeli government and are tailor-made to project Israel as the rightful owner of the Land. It is here that the Zionist agenda is most successful in clandestinely winning the support of the 'average' Christian. Therefore, the area of alternative tourism that justly focuses on the situation needs to be urgently encouraged. It is worth engaging in the task of reclaiming convictions that impel religious and secular understandings to act compassionately and to honour persons. This is the test of true religiosity and challenge of upholding common values shared across the apparent divides.

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“KAIROS PALESTINE 2009 DOCUMENT” ‘ Introduction We, a group of Christian Palestinians, after prayer, reflection and an exchange of opinion, cry out from within the suffering in our country, under the Israeli occupation, with a cry of hope in the absence of all hope, a cry full of prayer and faith in a God ever vigilant, in God's divine providence for all the inhabitants of this land. Inspired by the mystery of God's love for all, the mystery of God's divine presence in the history of all peoples and, in a particular way, in the history of our country, we proclaim our word based on our Christian faith and our sense of Palestinian belonging a word of faith, hope and love. Why now? Because today we have reached a dead end in the tragedy of the Palestinian people. The decision-makers content themselves with managing the crisis rather than committing themselves to the serious task of finding a way to resolve it. The hearts of the faithful are filled with pain and with questioning: What is the international community doing? What are the political leaders in Palestine, in Israel and in the Arab world doing? What is the Church doing? The problem is not just a political one. It is a policy in which human beings are destroyed, and this must be of concern to the Church. We address ourselves to our brothers and sisters, members of our Churches in this land. We call out as Christians and as Palestinians to our religious and political leaders, to our Palestinian society and to the Israeli society, to the international community, and to our Christian brothers and sisters in the Churches around the world. 1. The reality on the ground 1.1 “They say: 'Peace, peace' when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). These days, everyone is speaking about peace in the Middle East and the peace process. So far, however, these are simply words; the reality is one of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, deprivation of our freedom and all that results from this situation: 1.1.1 The separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, a large part of which has been confiscated for this purpose, has turned our towns and villages into prisons, separating them from one another, making them dispersed and divided cantons. Gaza, especially after the cruel war Israel launched against it during December 2008 and January 2009, continues to live in inhuman conditions, under permanent blockade and cut off from the other Palestinian territories . 1.1.2 Israeli settlements ravage our land in the name of God and in the name of force, controlling our natural resources, including water and agricultural land, thus depriving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, and constituting an obstacle to any political solution.

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1.1.3 Reality is the daily humiliation to which we are subjected at the military checkpoints, as we make our way to jobs, schools or hospitals. 1.1.4 Reality is the separation between members of the same family, making family life impossible for thousands of Palestinians, especially where one of the spouses does not have an Israeli identity card. 1.1.5 Religious liberty is severely restricted; the freedom of access to the holy places is denied under the pretext of security. Jerusalem and its holy places are out of bounds for many Christians and Muslims from the West Bank and the Gaza strip. Even Jerusalemites face restrictions during the religious feasts. Some of our Arab clergy are regularly barred from entering Jerusalem . 1.1.6 Refugees are also part of our reality. Most of them are still living in camps under difficult circumstances. They have been waiting for their right of return, generation after generation. What will be their fate? 1.1.7 And the prisoners? The thousands of prisoners languishing in Israeli prisons are part of our reality. The Israelis move heaven and earth to gain the release of one prisoner, and those thousands of Palestinian prisoners, when will they have their freedom? 1.1.8 Jerusalem is the heart of our reality. It is, at the same time, symbol of peace and sign of conflict. While the separation wall divides Palestinian neighbourhoods, Jerusalem continues to be emptied of its Palestinian citizens, Christians and Muslims. Their identity cards are confiscated, which means the loss of their right to reside in Jerusalem. Their homes are demolished or expropriated. Jerusalem, city of reconciliation, has become a city of discrimination and exclusion, a source of struggle rather than peace. 1.2 Also part of this reality is the Israeli disregard of international law and international resolutions, as well as the paralysis of the Arab world and the international community in the face of this contempt. Human rights are violated and despite the various reports of local and international human rights' organizations, the injustice continues. 1.2.1 Palestinians within the State of Israel, who have also suffered a historical injustice, although they are citizens and have the rights and obligations of citizenship, still suffer from discriminatory policies. They too are waiting to enjoy full rights and equality like all other citizens in the state. 1.3 Emigration is another element in our reality. The absence of any vision or spark of hope for peace and freedom pushes young people, both Muslim and Christian, to emigrate. Thus the land is deprived of its most important and richest resource educated youth. The shrinking number of Christians, particularly in Palestine, is one of the dangerous 46


consequences, both of this conflict, and of the local and international paralysis and failure to find a comprehensive solution to the problem. 1.4 In the face of this reality, Israel justifies its actions as self-defence, including occupation, collective punishment and all other forms of reprisals against the Palestinians. In our opinion, this vision is a reversal of reality. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity. This is our understanding of the situation. Therefore, we call on the Israelis to end the occupation. Then they will see a new world in which there is no fear, no threat but rather security, justice and peace. 1.5 The Palestinian response to this reality was diverse. Some responded through negotiations: that was the official position of the Palestinian Authority, but it did not advance the peace process. Some political parties followed the way of armed resistance. Israel used this as a pretext to accuse the Palestinians of being terrorists and was able to distort the real nature of the conflict, presenting it as an Israeli war against terror, rather than an Israeli occupation faced by Palestinian legal resistance aiming at ending it. 1.5.1 The tragedy worsened with the internal conflict among Palestinians themselves, and with the separation of Gaza from the rest of the Palestinian territory. It is noteworthy that, even though the division is among Palestinians themselves, the international community bears an important responsibility for it since it refused to deal positively with the will of the Palestinian people expressed in the outcome of democratic and legal elections in 2006. Again, we repeat and proclaim that our Christian word in the midst of all this, in the midst of our catastrophe, is a word of faith, hope and love. 2. A word of faith We believe in one God, a good and just God 2.1 We believe in God, one God, Creator of the universe and of humanity. We believe in a good and just God, who loves each one of his creatures. We believe that every human being is created in God's image and likeness and that every one's dignity is derived from the dignity of the Almighty One. We believe that this dignity is one and the same in each and all of us. This means for us, here and now, in this land in particular, that God created us not so that we might engage in strife and conflict but rather that we might come and know and love one another, and together build up the land in love and mutual respect. 2.1.1 We also believe in God's eternal Word, His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, whom God sent as the Saviour of the world. 2.1.2 We believe in the Holy Spirit, who accompanies the Church and all 47


humanity on its journey. It is the Spirit that helps us to understand Holy Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, showing their unity, here and now. The Spirit makes manifest the revelation of God to humanity, past, present and future. How do we understand the word of God? 2.2 We believe that God has spoken to humanity, here in our country: "Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days God has spoken to us by a Son, whom God appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds" (Heb. 1:1-2) 2.2.1 We, Christian Palestinians, believe, like all Christians throughout the world, that Jesus Christ came in order to fulfil the Law and the Prophets. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and in his light and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we read the Holy Scriptures. We meditate upon and interpret Scripture just as Jesus Christ did with the two disciples on their way to Emmaus. As it is written in the Gospel according to Saint Luke: "Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures" (Lk 24:27) 2.2.2 Our Lord Jesus Christ came, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God was near. He provoked a revolution in the life and faith of all humanity. He came with "a new teaching" (Mk 1:27), casting a new light on the Old Testament, on the themes that relate to our Christian faith and our daily lives, themes such as the promises, the election, the people of God and the land. We believe that the Word of God is a living Word, casting a particular light on each period of history, manifesting to Christian believers what God is saying to us here and now. For this reason, it is unacceptable to transform the Word of God into letters of stone that pervert the love of God and His providence in the life of both peoples and individuals. This is precisely the error in fundamentalist Biblical interpretation that brings us death and destruction when the word of God is petrified and transmitted from generation to generation as a dead letter. This dead letter is used as a weapon in our present history in order to deprive us of our rights in our own land. Our land has a universal mission 2.3 We believe that our land has a universal mission. In this universality, the meaning of the promises, of the land, of the election, of the people of God open up to include all of humanity, starting from all the peoples of this land. In light of the teachings of the Holy Bible, the promise of the land has never been a political programme, but rather the prelude to complete universal salvation. It was the initiation of the fulfilment of the Kingdom of God on earth. 2.3.1 God sent the patriarchs, the prophets and the apostles to this land so that they might carry forth a universal mission to the world. Today we constitute three religions in this land, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 48


Our land is God's land, as is the case with all countries in the world. It is holy inasmuch as God is present in it, for God alone is holy and sanctifier. It is the duty of those of us who live here, to respect the will of God for this land. It is our duty to liberate it from the evil of injustice and war. It is God's land and therefore it must be a land of reconciliation, peace and love. This is indeed possible. God has put us here as two peoples, and God gives us the capacity, if we have the will, to live together and establish in it justice and peace, making it in reality God's land: "The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it" (Ps. 24:1). 2.3.2 Our presence in this land, as Christian and Muslim Palestinians, is not accidental but rather deeply rooted in the history and geography of this land, resonant with the connectedness of any other people to the land it lives in. It was an injustice when we were driven out. The West sought to make amends for what Jews had endured in the countries of Europe, but it made amends on our account and in our land. They tried to correct an injustice and the result was a new injustice. 2.3.3 Furthermore, we know that certain theologians in the West try to attach a biblical and theological legitimacy to the infringement of our rights. Thus, the promises, according to their interpretation, have become a menace to our very existence. The "good news" in the Gospel itself has become "a harbinger of death" for us. We call on these theologians to deepen their reflection on the Word of God and to rectify their interpretations so that they might see in the Word of God a source of life for all peoples. 2.3.4 Our connectedness to this land is a natural right. It is not an ideological or a theological question only. It is a matter of life and death. There are those who do not agree with us, even defining us as enemies only because we declare that we want to live as free people in our land. We suffer from the occupation of our land because we are Palestinians. And as Christian Palestinians we suffer from the wrong interpretation of some theologians. Faced with this, our task is to safeguard the Word of God as a source of life and not of death, so that "the good news" remains what it is, "good news" for us and for all. In face of those who use the Bible to threaten our existence as Christian and Muslim Palestinians, we renew our faith in God because we know that the word of God can not be the source of our destruction. 2.4 Therefore, we declare that any use of the Bible to legitimize or support political options and positions that are based upon injustice, imposed by one person on another, or by one people on another, transform religion into human ideology and strip the Word of God of its holiness, its universality and truth. 2.5 We also declare that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the Palestinians of 49


their basic human rights, bestowed by God. It distorts the image of God in the Israeli who has become an occupier just as it distorts this image in the Palestinian living under occupation. We declare that any theology, seemingly based on the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes the occupation, is far from Christian teachings, because it calls for violence and holy war in the name of God Almighty, subordinating God to temporary human interests, and distorting the divine image in the human beings living under both political and theological injustice. 3. Hope 3.1 Despite the lack of even a glimmer of positive expectation, our hope remains strong. The present situation does not promise any quick solution or the end of the occupation that is imposed on us. Yes, the initiatives, the conferences, visits and negotiations have multiplied, but they have not been followed up by any change in our situation and suffering. Even the new US position that has been announced by President Obama, with a manifest desire to put an end to the tragedy, has not been able to make a change in our reality. The clear Israeli response, refusing any solution, leaves no room for positive expectation. Despite this, our hope remains strong, because it is from God. God alone is good, almighty and loving and His goodness will one day be victorious over the evil in which we find ourselves. As Saint Paul said: "If God is for us, who is against us? (â&#x20AC;Ś) Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long" (â&#x20AC;Ś) For I am convinced that (nothing) in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Rom. 8:31, 35, 36, 39). What is the meaning of hope? 3.2 Hope within us means first and foremost our faith in God and secondly our expectation, despite everything, for a better future. Thirdly, it means not chasing after illusions we realize that release is not close at hand. Hope is the capacity to see God in the midst of trouble, and to be co-workers with the Holy Spirit who is dwelling in us. From this vision derives the strength to be steadfast, remain firm and work to change the reality in which we find ourselves. Hope means not giving in to evil but rather standing up to it and continuing to resist it. We see nothing in the present or future except ruin and destruction. We see the upper hand of the strong, the growing orientation towards racist separation and the imposition of laws that deny our existence and our dignity. We see confusion and division in the Palestinian position. If, despite all this, we do resist this reality today and work hard, perhaps the destruction that looms on the horizon may not come upon us. Signs of hope 3.3 The Church in our land, her leaders and her faithful, despite her weakness and her divisions, does show certain signs of hope. Our parish communities are vibrant and most of our young people are active apostles for justice and peace. In addition to the individual commitment, 50


our various Church institutions make our faith active and present in service, love and prayer. 3.3.1 Among the signs of hope are the local centres of theology, with a religious and social character. They are numerous in our different Churches. The ecumenical spirit, even if still hesitant, shows itself more and more in the meetings of our different Church families. 3.3.2 We can add to this the numerous meetings for inter-religious dialogue, ChristianMuslim dialogue, which includes the religious leaders and a part of the people. Admittedly, dialogue is a long process and is perfected through a daily effort as we undergo the same sufferings and have the same expectations. There is also dialogue among the three religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as well as different dialogue meetings on the academic or social level. They all try to breach the walls imposed by the occupation and oppose the distorted perception of human beings in the heart of their brothers or sisters. 3.3.3 One of the most important signs of hope is the steadfastness of the generations, the belief in the justice of their cause and the continuity of memory, which does not forget the "Nakba" (catastrophe) and its significance. Likewise significant is the developing awareness among many Churches throughout the world and their desire to know the truth about what is going on here. 3.3.4 In addition to that, we see a determination among many to overcome the resentments of the past and to be ready for reconciliation once justice has been restored. Public awareness of the need to restore political rights to the Palestinians is increasing, and Jewish and Israeli voices, advocating peace and justice, are raised in support of this with the approval of the international community. True, these forces for justice and reconciliation have not yet been able to transform the situation of injustice, but they have their influence and may shorten the time of suffering and hasten the time of reconciliation. The mission of the Church 3.4 Our Church is a Church of people who pray and serve. This prayer and service is prophetic, bearing the voice of God in the present and future. Everything that happens in our land, everyone who lives there, all the pains and hopes, all the injustice and all the efforts to stop this injustice, are part and parcel of the prayer of our Church and the service of all her institutions. Thanks be to God that our Church raises her voice against injustice despite the fact that some desire her to remain silent, closed in her religious devotions. 3.4.1 The mission of the Church is prophetic, to speak the Word of God courageously, honestly and lovingly in the local context and in the midst of daily events. If she does take sides, it is with the oppressed, to stand alongside them, just as Christ our Lord stood by the side of each poor person and each sinner, calling them to repentance, life, and the 51


restoration of the dignity bestowed on them by God and that no one has the right to strip away. 3.4.2 The mission of the Church is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice, peace and dignity. Our vocation as a living Church is to bear witness to the goodness of God and the dignity of human beings. We are called to pray and to make our voice heard when we announce a new society where human beings believe in their own dignity and the dignity of their adversaries. 3.4.3 Our Church points to the Kingdom, which cannot be tied to any earthly kingdom. Jesus said before Pilate that he was indeed a king but "my kingdom is not from this world" (Jn 18:36). Saint Paul says: "The Kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom.14:17). Therefore, religion cannot favour or support any unjust political regime, but must rather promote justice, truth and human dignity. It must exert every effort to purify regimes where human beings suffer injustice and human dignity is violated. The Kingdom of God on earth is not dependent on any political orientation, for it is greater and more inclusive than any particular political system. 3.4.4 Jesus Christ said: "The Kingdom of God is among you" (Luke 17:21). This Kingdom that is present among us and in us is the extension of the mystery of salvation. It is the presence of God among us and our sense of that presence in everything we do and say. It is in this divine presence that we shall do what we can until justice is achieved in this land . 3.4.5 The cruel circumstances in which the Palestinian Church has lived and continues to live have required the Church to clarify her faith and to identify her vocation better. We have studied our vocation and have come to know it better in the midst of suffering and pain: today, we bear the strength of love rather than that of revenge, a culture of life rather than a culture of death. This is a source of hope for us, for the Church and for the world. 3.5 The Resurrection is the source of our hope .Just as Christ rose in victory over death and evil, so too we are able, as each inhabitant of this land is able, to vanquish the evil of war. We will remain a witnessing, steadfast and active Church in the land of the Resurrection. 4. Love The commandment of love 4.1 Christ our Lord said: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34). He has already showed us how to love and how to treat our enemies. He said: "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your

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enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous (â&#x20AC;Ś) Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matt. 5:45-47). Saint Paul also said: "Do not repay anyone evil for evil" (Rom. 12:17). And Saint Peter said: "Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called" (1 Pet. 3:9). Resistance 4.2 This word is clear. Love is the commandment of Christ our Lord to us and it includes both friends and enemies. This must be clear when we find ourselves in circumstances where we must resist evil of whatever kind. 4.2.1 Love is seeing the face of God in every human being. Every person is my brother or my sister. However, seeing the face of God in everyone does not mean accepting evil or aggression on their part. Rather, this love seeks to correct the evil and stop the aggression. The aggression against the Palestinian people, which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted. It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed. Primary responsibility for this rests with the Palestinians themselves suffering occupation. Christian love invites us to resist it. However, love puts an end to evil by walking in the ways of justice. Responsibility lies also with the international community, because international law regulates relations between peoples today. Finally responsibility lies with the perpetrators of the injustice; they must liberate themselves from the evil that is in them and the injustice they have imposed on others. 4.2.2 When we review the history of the nations, we see many wars and much resistance to war by war, to violence by violence. The Palestinian people have gone the way of the peoples, particularly in the first stages of its struggle with the Israeli occupation. However, it also engaged in peaceful struggle, especially during the first Intifada. We recognize that all peoples must find a new way in their relations with each other and the resolution of their conflicts. The ways of force must give way to the ways of justice. This applies above all to the peoples that are militarily strong, mighty enough to impose their injustice on the weaker. 4.2.3 We say that our option as Christians in the face of the Israeli occupation is to resist. Resistance is a right and a duty for the Christian. But it is resistance with love as its logic. It is thus a creative resistance for it must find human ways that engage the humanity of the enemy. Seeing the image of God in the face of the enemy means taking up positions in the light of this vision of active resistance to stop the 53


injustice and oblige the perpetrator to end his aggression and thus achieve the desired goal, which is getting back the land, freedom, dignity and independence. 4.2.4 Christ our Lord has left us an example we must imitate. We must resist evil but he taught us that we cannot resist evil with evil. This is a difficult commandment, particularly when the enemy is determined to impose himself and deny our right to remain here in our land. It is a difficult commandment yet it alone can stand firm in the face of the clear declarations of the occupation authorities that refuse our existence and the many excuses these authorities use to continue imposing occupation upon us. 4.2.5 Resistance to the evil of occupation is integrated, then, within this Christian love that refuses evil and corrects it. It resists evil in all its forms with methods that enter into the logic of love and draw on all energies to make peace. We can resist through civil disobedience. We do not resist with death but rather through respect of life. We respect and have a high esteem for all those who have given their life for our nation. And we affirm that every citizen must be ready to defend his or her life, freedom and land. 4.2.6 Palestinian civil organizations, as well as international organizations, NGOs and certain religious institutions call on individuals, companies and states to engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation. We understand this to integrate the logic of peaceful resistance. These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice. The aim is to free both peoples from extremist positions of the different Israeli governments, bringing both to justice and reconciliation. In this spirit and with this dedication we will eventually reach the longed-for resolution to our problems, as indeed happened in South Africa and with many other liberation movements in the world. 4.3 Through our love, we will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents. Our future and their future are one - either the cycle of violence that destroys both of us or peace that will benefit both. We call on Israel to give up its injustice towards us, not to twist the truth of reality of the occupation by pretending that it is a battle against terrorism. The roots of "terrorism" are in the human injustice committed and in the evil of the occupation. These must be removed if there be a sincere intention to remove "terrorism". We call on the people of Israel to be our partners in peace and not in the cycle of interminable violence. Let us resist evil together, the evil of occupation and the infernal cycle of violence.

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5. Our word to our brothers and sisters 5.1 We all face, today, a way that is blocked and a future that promises only woe. Our word to all our Christian brothers and sisters is a word of hope, patience, steadfastness and new action for a better future. Our word is that we, as Christians we carry a message, and we will continue to carry it despite the thorns, despite blood and daily difficulties. We place our hope in God, who will grant us relief in His own time. At the same time, we continue to act in concord with God and God's will, building, resisting evil and bringing closer the day of justice and peace. 5.2 We say to our Christian brothers and sisters: This is a time for repentance. Repentance brings us back into the communion of love with everyone who suffers, the prisoners, the wounded, those afflicted with temporary or permanent handicaps, the children who cannot live their childhood and each one who mourns a dear one. The communion of love says to every believer in spirit and in truth: if my brother is a prisoner I am a prisoner; if his home is destroyed, my home is destroyed; when my brother is killed, then I too am killed. We face the same challenges and share in all that has happened and will happen. Perhaps, as individuals or as heads of Churches, we were silent when we should have raised our voices to condemn the injustice and share in the suffering. This is a time of repentance for our silence, indifference, lack of communion, either because we did not persevere in our mission in this land and abandoned it, or because we did not think and do enough to reach a new and integrated vision and remained divided, contradicting our witness and weakening our word. Repentance for our concern with our institutions, sometimes at the expense of our mission, thus silencing the prophetic voice given by the Spirit to the Churches. 5.3 We call on Christians to remain steadfast in this time of trial, just as we have throughout the centuries, through the changing succession of states and governments. Be patient, steadfast and full of hope so that you might fill the heart of every one of your brothers or sisters who shares in this same trial with hope. "Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3:15). Be active and, provided this conforms to love, participate in any sacrifice that resistance asks of you to overcome our present travail. 5.4 Our numbers are few but our message is great and important. Our land is in urgent need of love. Our love is a message to the Muslim and to the Jew, as well as to the world. 5.4.1Our message to the Muslims is a message of love and of living together and a call to reject fanaticism and extremism. It is also a message to the world that Muslims are neither to be stereotyped as the enemy nor caricatured as terrorists but rather to be lived with in peace and engaged with in dialogue. 55


5.4.2 Our message to the Jews tells them: Even though we have fought one another in the recent past and still struggle today, we are able to love and live together. We can organize our political life, with all its complexity, according to the logic of this love and its power, after ending the occupation and establishing justice. 5.4.3 The word of faith says to anyone engaged in political activity: human beings were not made for hatred. It is not permitted to hate, neither is it permitted to kill or to be killed. The culture of love is the culture of accepting the other. Through it we perfect ourselves and the foundations of society are established. 6. Our word to the Churches of the world 6.1 Our word to the Churches of the world is firstly a word of gratitude for the solidarity you have shown toward us in word, deed and presence among us. It is a word of praise for the many Churches and Christians who support the right of the Palestinian people for self determination. It is a message of solidarity with those Christians and Churches who have suffered because of their advocacy for law and justice . However, it is also a call to repentance; to revisit fundamentalist theological positions that support certain unjust political options with regard to the Palestinian people. It is a call to stand alongside the oppressed and preserve the word of God as good news for all rather than to turn it into a weapon with which to slay the oppressed. The word of God is a word of love for all His creation. God is not the ally of one against the other, nor the opponent of one in the face of the other. God is the Lord of all and loves all, demanding justice from all and issuing to all of us the same commandments. We ask our sister Churches not to offer a theological cover-up for the injustice we suffer, for the sin of the occupation imposed upon us. Our question to our brothers and sisters in the Churches today is: Are you able to help us get our freedom back, for this is the only way you can help the two peoples attain justice, peace, security and love? 6.2 In order to understand our reality, we say to the Churches: Come and see. We will fulfil our role to make known to you the truth of our reality, receiving you as pilgrims coming to us to pray, carrying a message of peace, love and reconciliation. You will know the facts and the people of this land, Palestinians and Israelis alike. 6.3 We condemn all forms of racism, whether religious or ethnic, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and we call on you to condemn it and oppose it in all its manifestations. At the same time we call on you to say a word of truth and to take a position of truth with regard to Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. As we have already said, we see boycott and disinvestment as tools of non violence for 56


justice, peace and security for all. 7. Our word to the international community 7. Our word to the international community is to stop the principle of "double standards" and insist on the international resolutions regarding the Palestinian problem with regard to all parties. Selective application of international law threatens to leave us vulnerable to a law of the jungle. It legitimizes the claims by certain armed groups and states that the international community only understands the logic of force. Therefore, we call for a response to what the civil and religious institutions have proposed, as mentioned earlier: the beginning of a system of economic sanctions and boycott to be applied against Israel. We repeat once again that this is not revenge but rather a serious action in order to reach a just and definitive peace that will put an end to Israeli occupation of Palestinian and other Arab territories and will guarantee security and peace for all. 8. Jewish and Muslim religious leaders 8. Finally, we address an appeal to the religious and spiritual leaders, Jewish and Muslim, with whom we share the same vision that every human being is created by God and has been given equal dignity. Hence the obligation for each of us to defend the oppressed and the dignity God has bestowed on them. Let us together try to rise up above the political positions that have failed so far and continue to lead us on the path of failure and suffering. 9. A call to our Palestinian people and to the Israelis 9.1 This is a call to see the face of God in each one of God's creatures and overcome the barriers of fear or race in order to establish a constructive dialogue and not remain within the cycle of never-ending manoeuvres that aim to keep the situation as it is. Our appeal is to reach a common vision, built on equality and sharing, not on superiority, negation of the other or aggression, using the pretext of fear and security. We say that love is possible and mutual trust is possible. Thus, peace is possible and definitive reconciliation also. Thus, justice and security will be attained for all. 9.2 Education is important. Educational programs must help us to get to know the other as he or she is rather than through the prism of conflict, hostility or religious fanaticism. The educational programs in place today are infected with this hostility. The time has come to begin a new education that allows one to see the face of God in the other and declares that we are capable of loving each other and building our future together in peace and security. 9.3 Trying to make the state a religious state, Jewish or Islamic, suffocates the state, confines it within narrow limits, and transforms it into a state that practices discrimination and exclusion, preferring one citizen over another. We appeal to both religious Jews and Muslims: let 57


the state be a state for all its citizens, with a vision constructed on respect for religion but also equality, justice, liberty and respect for pluralism and not on domination by a religion or a numerical majority. 9.4 To the leaders of Palestine we say that current divisions weaken all of us and cause more sufferings. Nothing can justify these divisions. For the good of the people, which must outweigh that of the political parties, an end must be put to division. We appeal to the international community to lend its support towards this union and to respect the will of the Palestinian people as expressed freely. 9.5 Jerusalem is the foundation of our vision and our entire life. She is the city to which God gave a particular importance in the history of humanity. She is the city towards which all people are in movement and where they will meet in friendship and love in the presence of the One Unique God, according to the vision of the prophet Isaiah: "In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it (â&#x20AC;Ś) He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Is. 2: 2-5). Today, the city is inhabited by two peoples of three religions; and it is on this prophetic vision and on the international resolutions concerning the totality of Jerusalem that any political solution must be based. This is the first issue that should be negotiated because the recognition of Jerusalem's sanctity and its message will be a source of inspiration towards finding a solution to the entire problem, which is largely a problem of mutual trust and ability to set in place a new land in this land of God. 10. Hope and faith in God 10. In the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope. We believe in God, good and just. We believe that God's goodness will finally triumph over the evil of hate and of death that still persist in our land. We will see here "a new land" and "a new human being", capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters.

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RESPONSE TO THE KAIROS PALESTINE-2009 A MOMENT OF TRUTH, A WORD OF FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE FROM THE HEART OF PALESTINIAN SUFFERING Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar Introduction The invitation to comment upon the Kairos Palestine document - 'A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith and Hope from the heart of Palestinian Suffering' during its launching in December 2009 in the historic town of Bethlehem was for me a deeply moving and a challenging experience. It was an invitation to what I would term as 'being co-yoked'. In my opinion as co-workers in the reign of God, we are also called to be 'co-yokers' - people called to bear the prophetic yoke of 'truth-telling', of 'speaking truth to power', and 'speaking the truth in love' in partnership with other communities struggling for just peace across the world. The use of the biblical metaphor 'yoke' here is intentional. The metaphor is not only biblical but also helps us to recognise that the task ahead involves hardships, which can be best achieved by working resiliently in mutually edifying, energising and empowering partnerships. Moreover, inherent in the metaphor of the yoke is the possibility of fruition amidst struggles which instils in us hope amidst struggle. In this reflection on the Kairos Palestine document I build further upon my response in Bethlehem tying my reflections with the experiences of the struggles of the subaltern communities in India. A Caveat Before I begin my reflections I would like to make it clear that though the popular Pauline understanding that 'if one member suffers, all suffer together' (1 Cor. 12:26) undergirds and provides an archetype for Christian solidarity, it needs to be understood that any rhetoric about empathetic co-suffering has its limits. We can, so to speak, 'stand in the shoes' of 'others', however, the shoes can 'never become our own' in the fullest sense. To claim complete knowledge of the depth of the suffering in Palestine without the experience of such suffering would be a distorting enterprise, which needs to be avoided. However, it is legitimate to explore points of convergence between the stories of people here and elsewhere. For example, 59


convergences can be drawn between the Palestinian situation as reflected in this document and other situations of oppression. Such a drawing out of convergences will help provide perspectives on how an alignment of our different struggles can be made possible. In this light, it is only with the humble recognition and acceptance of the Pauline challenge to 'co-suffer' as more of a mandate to enter into affirmative solidarity, that I offer my reflections upon this important document. Reflections Let me begin with an acknowledgement of the profundity of the theological depth of this document. Such theologising can only be born out of what we could call a 'pathos' experience which recognises God's own involvement in human suffering and takes up the creative project of restructuring justice and reconstructing hope from such an awareness. This pathos experience makes this a truly 'passionate' document. Our faith and hope emerge, as this document makes it clear, from our belief in the Triune God. The perspective of God as the creator of everyone in imago dei (image of God) undergirds our theological rationale to resist every attempt to tarnish this image in us. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, is the one to whom the suffering ones in this 'unjust and inhuman society' cling on to in order to 'straighten themselves up in order to live as dignified human beings'. The force of the biblical revelation of the true messiah lies in the fact that though he is the one 'whose appearance was so marred beyond human semblance', yet, it is he who would startle the nations (Isaiah 52:13-15). Christ the 'startler', who shares our brokenness - is the one whom we are called to follow in ushering in God's reign of justice and peace. With regard to the reflection in this document upon the Holy Spirit as the indweller with whom we are called to be co-workers (3.2), it needs to be mentioned that subaltern theologies have recognised the Holy Spirit as the 'life-giver, unifier and empowerer' for those engaged in liberation struggles. The Holy Spirit has the capacity to revive dry bones, give them life and unify them and make an army out of them. In a context where there is potential that divisions emerge even within the struggling communities (as is mentioned in section 1.5.1 of the 60


document) the role of the Holy Spirit as unifier cannot be neglected. The aspect of the Holy Spirit as the comforter 'who 'groans' along with the suffering ones in their sufferings' should also not be missed. I am deeply touched by the ex-centric ('ex' connoting the outward looking aspect of our focus) or the 'other-centred' dimension in this document - which is reflected in the way in which the feelings of fear and insecurity which envelope Israeli society is recognized. It is remarkable that in a context ripe with suspicion, paranoia and mistrust, this document offers assurance which has the potential to allay their fears. It is also challenging to note that the understanding of the 'other' which emerges in the document is one that seeks to engage and respect the humanity of the other and not denigrate or dehumanise it further. The resolute resilience which has been creatively appropriated to sustain a wholistic vision of total liberation even for the obvious oppressors - despite the horrifying constraints imposed by the excruciatingly painful and blatantly violating conditions, speaks volumes about the radically subversive task of re-humanisation that the Palestinian Christians have undertaken. This task is possible only through a commitment to enable the flourishing of what African-American theologian Dwight Hopkins beautifully captures as the 'grace of possibilities inherent in full human potential'. It is heartening to see articulation of hope in a context of gloom. Of particular significance is the point regarding the resurrection being the source of hope (section 3-4), I need to say that this is something which enjoys resonances with most Asian liberation theologies. As Bishop V. Devasahayam puts it, it is with that hope of the resurrection 'we affirm God's continuous presence among the burning thorn bushes of Asia'. In the light of the resurrection, the hope that we hold on to is a resolute hope because, to use a paradoxical metaphor, it is like walking a tight rope anchored by the poles of the crucifixion and the resurrection, both of which obligate of us a faith in action. However, I would like to further reflect upon the resurrection hope in the light of a poignant and radically challenging experience that I encountered in my conversations 61


with a displaced Christian refugee recently in a refugee camp in Orissa, a state where Dalit and Adivasi Christians have suffered alarming persecution from the fundamentalist Hindutva forces. This conversation opened my eyes to the power of the resurrection to not only invigorate hope, but also to the power of the resurrection to convert the oppressors, something which is not thought about often. When I asked the man what he thought about the people who had burned his house and driven him and his family out of the village, his answer left me spellbound. Amidst the uncertainty and the miserable conditions of the refugee camp, he said that he and his family prayed that the power of the resurrected Christ would touch his persecutors in the same way that it touched Saul and converted him into Paul, an apostle who was now even willing to risk his life for the cause of the very people he once wanted to completely annihilate. Such is the understanding of the power of the resurrection that the suffering people have the power to restore the humanity of even those who have made a vocation out of dehumanisation. From the resurrection springs a theology of resilient refusal to dehumanise and demonise the 'other'. This is truly the work of the Spirit which, to use the words of the Anglican communion's document on interfaith relationships entitled Generous Love,: the Truth of the Gospel and the Call to Dialogue: An Anglican theology of Inter Faith Relations, 'comes to us in our weakness, enables us to witness to the Lordship of Jesus and to commend to others the faith which gives us life through his name.' The scope of the Kairos Palestine document can be enhanced further if it touches upon the life transforming power of the resurrection that has the power to change even the persecutor and radically reverse their approach. The life-transforming capacity of the resurrection needs to be acknowledged. With regard to the Palestine issue the challenge for the global church is not just to align ourselves to the struggles of our brothers and sisters but also to recognise the complexity and ambiguity involved in the situation particularly reflecting upon the ways in which we can be and have been co-opted, often unintentionally and unconsciously, into the schemes of those who have wrought in the situation and who perpetuate the situation of injustice in Palestine. Given that this reflection is part of a booklet which analyses both Zionism and Hindutva, and that the main 62


presentations produced in this booklet were presented during the inaugural seminar of the newly inaugurated CSI Interfaith Centre, I think one of the pertinent challenges these two issues raise for the global Church is linked to the issue of interfaith relationships. The Palestinian context and the Indian context of Hindutva's cultural nationalism bring out the need to adopt a polysemic or multi-layered theological approach to the issue of interfaith relationships in the context of Christian-Jewish dialogue as well as Christian-Hindu dialogue. The Palestinian context in fact has enabled me to understand the shifting nature of racism, and, along with the Indian context, has exposed the dangers of letting Christianity's interaction with the Jewish faith and Hinduism be shaped predominantly by the deplorable guilt of the holocaust and Christendom respectively. Let me explain further. Though there is absolutely no doubt that Christianity's triumphalistic colonial entanglements and anti-Semitic tendencies should be unequivocally decried, there is need to rethink whether, in the changed context of today, ChristianJewish and Christian-Hindu dialogue can continue under an outdated epistemological premise which imbues Christians with a spirit of repentance for colonial guilt and Jews and Hindus with an ahistorical sense of victimhood. In the light of what is happening in Palestine and parts of India, ChristianJewish and Christian-Hindu dialogue cannot be oblivious to the shifting identity of the 'victims' in today's context where Hindu and Jewish fundamentalists have become perpetrators of violence against the minorities and marginalised communities. A polysemic approach is needed to understand how the anachronistic invocation of post-holocaust and postChristendom guilt, in contexts where religion is used to violate human life and dignity, can make us conduits in present practices of injustice and xenophobia. The Palestine and Indian experiences have problematised my previous assumption that the often-invoked criterion of 'unity-in-difference', derived from the Trinitarian unity, could be uncritically appropriated to inter-faith relationships. They helped me understand that intransigent politically-expedient affirmations of religious difference should be reassessed with a focus on the injustices that such 'differences' may obfuscate. Our hospitality to other faith traditions, unless predicated by the obligation of justice, is meaningless and cannot engender the flourishing of all life. 63


Therefore, our inter-faith dialogue should necessarily have an element of truth-telling and not be dictated by and implicated in the political expediencies of mutual ingratiation between the leaders of major faith communities, which would invariably entail the preclusion of difficult yet pertinent issues as well as the insistent evasion of the concerns of those marginalized. The challenge that is ahead of us is to recover interfaith dialogue as a tool to engender life by resisting injustice. Only then will be born a response, which is both concrete and practical and which seeks actively to divest itself of any collaboration in perpetuating injustice. Our true solidarity can no longer be business as usual. Plerosis (fullness) is never complete without kenosis (emptying). The organisers of Kairos Palestine risked trust when inviting people from across the globe to be part of the ongoing quest for just peace in Palestine-Israel. The possibility of risking trust when it is also likely to be misunderstood is essential for the project of liberation. This helps in 'making friends' for the cause of justice. A vivid biblical example that springs to mind is the parable popularly known as the parable of the Good Samaritan who risks trust as he seeks to make the innkeeper an ally in the task of healing and restoration of wholeness. The Samaritan makes the innkeeper a partner in the process of restoring wholeness by entrusting the wounded man into his care. There is no guarantee that the motivations of the Samaritan would not be misunderstood, his intentions and involvement in the whole process questioned, or that even his invitation to the innkeeper to share in the completion of the healing process be rejected. Yet he invests and risks trust in a context of possible suspicion and fear and what emerges out of this process is 'reciprocity of diakonia' across divisions out of which blooms the possibility of wholeness. The Church today is called to such a ministry of risk-taking. My fervent hope and prayer is that the Kairos Palestine document will generate life-transforming decisions across divisions and reinvigorate new attempts to end the ongoing injustice in Palestine. And in response to the poignant question posed in the document whether we would be able to help the people of Palestine to get their freedom back my response is 'through the enabling grace and sustenance of the Triune God, we surely will'. 64


TOWARDS AN EMMAUS EXPERIENCE: AN INDIAN RESPONSE TO KAIROS PALESTINE [On the Second Anniversary of the Kairos- Palestine Document in 2011] Raj Bharat Patta The document has created ripples among several contexts calling people to be inspired and challenged to accompany Palestinians in their search for liberation and justice. In the post resurrection narrative of Jesus, the Lukan perspective records the conversation of two people on their way to Emmaus debating on the 'talk of the town', the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As they walk the talk, Jesus Christ accompanied them and helped them to realise, recognise and refresh their faith articulations and built a community of peace among those two walkers on the road to Emmaus. That experience helped those two to learn from one another, appreciate one another, correct one another, strengthen one another, and all the more build friendship of solidarity to witness the resurrection and liberative power of Jesus Christ. Such a walk is an experience worth attempting! In concurrence with such an experience, when contextual articulations of faith narratives are at the crossroads, when experiences of 'walk the talk' among God-humantalk are perceived as competitors rather than collaborators, when such expressive talks fail to make their relevance felt, an attempt to bring together local critical faith articulations together for a walk becomes immanent. Such an attempts motive is to build bonds of solidarity, for dialogue and mutual understanding. In response to your invitation of 'Come and See', my coming to Palestine makes me realise that I am on an Emmaus journey here, allow me brothers and sisters in Palestine to be your co-pilgrim in the journey towards justice. As co-pilgrims we have a common destiny, as co-pilgrims we share our struggles by listening and sharing, as co-pilgrims we have embarked on a journey of hope, for we affirm in a God of hope, who is willing to journey along with us and as co-pilgrims we strengthen our commitment and resolve when hope seems blurred. Building friendships of solidarity is a step forward in realising our dream of liberation and justice. Here I have 65


attempted to highlight contextual realities bring out the resonances from our ground zero's, and thereby attempted to work out the theological response as kairos now from an Indian young Dalit ecumenical learner. Our Common Milieu: Resonances from Ground-zero Israel happens to be the cradle to three world's major religions, the Judaism, the Christianity and the Islam, and thereby receives the attribute 'holy' to their land. India like Israel also happens to be the cradle for four other world's major religions, the Hinduism, the Buddhism, the Jainism and the Sikhism, besides several primal religions, and thereby receives the holiness to her land. In both these holy sites, unholy sights have been practiced and perpetuated. 1.The unholy sights in the holy sites: Walls & Gates Journeying into the streets of Palestine led me to anger, distress, disappointment and frustration, for visualising the segregations and separations made by the Israel by their cruel occupations, confiscating the Palestine lands, by building walls, fences and gates and thereby dividing and dispersing towns and villages of Palestinians, which is beyond one's imagination in this so called 'holy land.' We have the foreign 'settlers' on mountain tops guarded by the security forces and the native inhabitants of the land of Palestine in gated communities. Their humiliations, discriminations and the human right violations done against Palestinians knew no bounds. These sites are not very new for a country like India. Our Indian societies are divided in the name of caste from ages, and we have the dominant caste groups living around the temple inside the village, where as those that are born outside the caste, the Dalits live segregated outside the villages as communities. We have the invisible gates around these Dalits communities, which are very strong and deep, for they are built on the grounds of purity and pollution. There are several examples to illustrate how Dalits were denied entry to the dominant caste localities, denied giving rents of their houses and adding on to it, Dalits are humiliated and ostracised when attempted to walk through their paths. Oppressions to Dalits have become subtle and aggressive these days, for there has been an increasing violence against Dalits with several killings, 66


rapes and arrests, for many go unreported, while the others go unattended. Dalits are forced to work as manual scavengers to clean the human excreta with their bare hands, which again is an occupational based and casted based discrimination that goes unabated. The cries of Dalits women are beyond description, for they have been oppressed in the name of gender, class and caste. Walls of divisions in the cemeteries, walls in the Churches, walls among different communities etc. are all a reality today done in the name of caste. 2.The Hydra of Zionism and Hindutva: Hatred & Violence Like Zionism in Israel which calls on for one nation and one religion, a Hindu cultural fundamental group in India which subscribes to the ideology of Hindutva calls on India for one Hindu rashtra (state) with one Hindu religion, for Hindus are a major religion. Both these trends are dangerous and venomous, for they have been attacking and persecuting the religious minorities in both our countries, particularly the Muslims and the Christians. For the onset of globalisation has come hand in glove to these ideologies, for it promotes homogenisation and counters all forms of diversities. It tries to bring in uniformity and not unity. These ideologies promulgate violence, for by any means they want to achieve their goal of one-ness, breeding exclusivism and absolutism in their perceptions. Once again it is the Palestinians and the Dalits they have been the worst victims of these ideologies. These ideologues perpetuate violence, encourage hatred and the make inflammatory speeches and hate campaigns against the minorities. The state governments are softer towards them. Saffronisation of education, extra-judicial killings, state sponsored violence, unjust trials in the courts of law, extraconstitutional authorities to the rabbis and swamijis etc. are all part of the package of these ideologies. Demolitions of places of worship (6th December 1992 Babri Masjid was demolished in Ayodhya by these forces), destructions of sites of spiritual importance, attacks on the properties and places of minorities etc. all happen due to these. Both these ideologies are like hydra, a multi-faced serpent from the Greek mythology, which has several faces and they prop up according to the need of the uncertainty that exists. 3.The plundering of lands & natural resources: groaning & pain The Israeli settlements and the dominant caste/class groups 67


plunder the lands of Palestinians and that of Dalits and Adivasis. In Israel, in the name of God, in the name of force and for the cause of security they plunder the land. In India, in the name of development, in the name of bonded labour and for the cause of prosperity they plunder the land. Such plundering makes communities landless and powerless, for in their land their spiritualities and their sentiments are inter-twined. These people have been the original inhabitants of their land, and the out-siders take away their lands and control their resources. This has been creating displacement among these communities, many turn up refugees and strangers in their own land. Not only the communities are affected by these plundering, but also the mother earth groans in pain and suffering due to the insensitivity of those in power towards her. The rich green lands are turned into deserts and thereby create ecological imbalances. The unholy alliances of patriarchy, capitalism, casteism, etc. make a vicious circle of oppression. Among various vertices of injustices around us, injustices done to mother earth and injustices done to those living in the margins of the society, the Palestinians, the Dalits, the Tribals, the Women, the migrants etc. particularly call for our attention as those interested in peace and justice issues. Both the creation and the people in the margins mutually share their pain and have been yearning for justice and peace now and only now! From the above contextual realities, deciphering the signs of our times, one can draw parallels between Palestinians and Dalits, one can observe several similarities and commonalities among our struggles. Here are a few of them for our understanding. a. Both happen to be the indigenous, local, inhabitants of their own lands, yet who do not have their lands with them. In both cases lands and natural resources are owned and controlled by those in the power. b. Both have been segregated and are oppressed either in the name of nationality and religious identity or in the name of caste and ethnicity. c. Both the oppressions have religious sanctions and have used religious Scriptures in justifying the oppressions. d. Both these communities do not enjoy the religious liberty, for they are denied access to the holy places, 68


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? Inculcate 'earth-centered spiritualities.' Let issues of land be the common denominator for our struggles, for an inter-facing of Dalit liberation theology and Palestine liberation theology is the need of the day to work out common strategies and methodologies for liberation. Encourage Dalits- Palestine theological dialogue. Eg. Chengara land struggle in Kerala and how 5000 Dalits have taken land by making their tents over there. ? Develop exchanges between our communities. Eg. Student social forum by SCMI and we want to invite young people from Palestine to speak and to learn from our contexts. ? Expose our local tour operators of pilgrimage to the realities of Palestine and encourage the alternative tourism. ? May the International day in solidarity with Palestine on Nov 29th be popularised, calling on the attention of the local congregations with necessary homilies and liturgies. Assigning one Sunday as Kairos Palestine Sunday and calling on to observe it globally shall strengthen our resolve, by making some activity on that day. ? At the ensuing WCC Assembly in Busan, Korea, we need to organise a joint madang, an open market place to display our struggle for justice, for no other issues than Dalit and Palestine journey for justice can add meaning to the theme, 'God of life, lead us into justice and peace.' ? Let the Dalit & Palestine issues be projected as justice issues, faith issues and not as mere diakonial issues. Conclusion Let me conclude by echoing the clarion call that was made by the National Council of Churches in India as an attempt in articulating Kairos- India, at its National Ecumenical Conference on Justice for Dalits in October 2010, “As Christians we claim to reflect the mind of Christ but we are vested in the logic of caste. Jesus says “no one can serve two masters, for a slave will either love the one and hate the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6: 24). In a context of caste division, caste discrimination and caste violence we announce from the rooftop:”No one can serve Christ and caste!” We also confess that in our caste-infested world “we have decided to follow Christ.” Empowered by a deep faith in God, who binds us into communion, who frees us for justice and who heals us towards wholeness, we join together to live faithfully as disciples of Christ in India today. This 70


involves public confession of our complicity in the sin of casteism, reaffirmation of our faith in a God of justice and a radical commitment to solidarity with those crushed under the weight of the caste system.â&#x20AC;? In line with that tone, if caste is pronounced as sin, occupation in Palestinian context needs to be pronounced boldly as sin, for we are all called like prophet Jeremiah, â&#x20AC;&#x153;See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10). May the walls of division in this land be tore down and destroyed so that peace and justice shall flow like an ever flowing streams. Today we need prophets like Jonah, who after an fish experience proclaimed a fast that challenges the polis of his day, the polity of his day and the prophecy of his day, thereby saving the territory and city of Ninevah. Jonah truly is a first prophet of his kind who has blend of Dalit- Palestine ethos in achieving justice. We pledge our support to the Palestinian struggles for justice, drawing parallels from our Dalits/Adivasi experiences. I thought young Joseph would be there welcoming but it was young men with guns at checkpoints incoming I thought young Mary would be there welcoming But it was young women with guns at checkpoints incoming I thought then it would be the manger that's welcoming but shockingly, it was the huge concrete wall of separation. a wall of division a wall of segregation a wall of occupation a wall of humiliation a wall of discrimination Making the birth of Jesus' place invisible. O Jesus, come now to be born again here to break these walls of domination to tear down these walls of demonization to break open the cruel hearts of oppressions to restore liberation and peace on this earth and to bring glad tiding of joy to all these people Come Jesus, and come now! In hope I leave, only to return to see Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus - in all freedom - in this land. 71


CLARION CALL TO COMBAT COMMUNALISM AND CULTURAL-NATIONALISM (CCCCC Document) Statement Committee Activism and spreading the awareness of how much Hindutva and Zionism can be detrimental to democracy and world peace, are the keys to defeating these ideologies. Hindutva, based almost entirely on politics have very little to do with Hinduism, which is a religion, a collation of multiple traditions prevailing in the subcontinent. Hinduism has Brahmanical and Shramanic traditions. Brahmanism is the most visible and dominant tradition of Hinduism and is based on birth based hierarchy of caste and gender. Shramanism includes traditions like Nath, Tantra, Bhakti and Siddha.” Hindutva, which on the other hand “was articulated in 1920 by Savarkar as the politics of Hindu elite, is based on Brahmanical values, Aryan race and culture. Rashtriya Swayam Sevak (RSS) took off from here and made this as the base of its politics for Hindu Nation, parallel to the concept of Islamic Nation by Muslim league and in opposition to the concept of Indian nationalism, secularism, liberty, equality and fraternity as propounded by the likes of Gandhi, Ambedkar and Bhagat Singh.” RSS goal today is to do away with the values of freedom movement, to do away with the principles enshrined in Indian Constitution and to bring back the caste and gender hierarchy in the new form. This politics is aiming at the suppression of the rights of Dalits, Women, Workers, Adivasis and Minorities.” Similarly, Zionism too focuses on imperialistic ambitions which of course go beyond the occupation of Palestine to a desire to control the world with the help of the USA. The books written by American scholars such as former congressman Paul Findley who exposes “the pervasive influence exerted on American policy by Jewish organisations such as the B'nai B'rith, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish National Fund and the United Jewish Appeal”, proves this fact.

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This is apart from the hundreds of pro-Israel public action committees [PACs] registered under US federal law led by “the leading Jewish political force in America”, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]. Citing Findley he said that “AIPAC's influence on Capitol Hill goes beyond US-Israel relations. The organisation has an international outreach program through which it promotes Israeli interests by manipulating the American foreign policy.” Further, the Zionists and their right wing Christian supporters of Zionism often manipulate the Bible to suggest that it preaches racism. The Bible is quoted to prove that God approved of the manner in which Hagar and Ishmael were forced to wander in the 'Desert of Beersheba' after being unceremoniously thrown out of Abraham's house by his wife Sarah. It could be seen as racism attributed to a compassionate God who loves all His Children equally. American televangelist John Hagee's book, “Jerusalem Countdown” in which he invokes the concept of “divine election” [based on Romans 9: 713] and says that “a loving and gracious God has elected to save some and elected to allow others to be lost for eternity in the fires of hell” also prove this claim. The “saved” people are of course, the Jews, and the “lost” people are the Arabs, who descended from a “slave woman” Mr. Rahman pointed out. However, there are several honest and well-intentioned Jews within Israel who detest Zionism and the only way to defeat the evil designs of Zionism is for the peace loving Jews, Christians and Muslims to forge an indivisible unity”. It is in this context that the Church of South India Department of Ecumenical Relations and Ecological Concerns, under the auspices of the CSI Inter-faith Dialogue Centre, organized a consultation on 'Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism', on December 20, 2011 (Human Solidarity Day), at the Church of South India Synod Centre. STATEMENT We, the participants of the Consultation “Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism”, held on December 20, 2011 at the CSI Synod Centre

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1.

Believe that India is a secular, democratic, country, where varied cultural people live.

pluralistic

2.

Affirm the Indian Constitution which call upon every Indian in this country for enabling each people to live in equality, fraternity and dignity.

3.

Commit ourselves for the promotion of secularism, promotion of values such as justice, equity and peace.

4.

Commit ourselves to combat communal elements which negate the enhancement and fullness of life o f all human beings, for which we need to form networks and friendships among minority communities and organizations that promote secularism.

5.

Call upon the Indian Church to introspect, identify elements of communalism, patriarchy and caste and eliminate all visible and invisible practices of the evils and their manifestations from every walks of the church.

6.

Call upon the Church leaders to enable youth, women and children of every congregation to b e c o m e vibrant in the understanding and addressing the Communalism, Zionism and cultural nationalism issues through varied programs of Capacitation.

7.

Call upon the Church to initiate Inter-faith d i a l o g u e programs and Conflict Transformation initiatives in each diocese through organizing Training of Trainers programs, to reach Education Institutions of the Church, congregations and various sections in the church.

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8.

Call upon the Church to make exchange visits of church congregations from countries where communal conflicts are experienced, especially dialogue between Palestine Churches and Indian Churches.

9.

Call upon the Church to rethink the 'pilgrimage to the Holy Land' (which with a certain sense of 'geopiety'(adoration for a particular land) indirectly supports the Zionist ideology of Israel as the rightful owner of the Land) and instead engage in the 'Pilgrimage in Solidarity with Palestinians'.

10.

Call upon the CSI Synod to publish immediately a small publication in all vernaculars of South India t o combat communalism and to orient t h e o l o g i a n s , pastors in contextual practical theology to address communalism and discriminations within the church and outside. For the Statement Committee - Paul Francis,Convenor,Statement Committee

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CONTRIBUTORS Allan Samuel Palanna, who is a Presbyter in the CSI Karnataka Southern Diocese, presently teaching in the department of 'Theology and Ethics' at the United Theological College, Bangalore. Aruna Gnanadason, who is a freelance writer, speaker and editor, was the Executive Director for Planning and Integration in the General Secretariat of the World Council of Churches, Geneva, Switzerland. Her main contribution is in the area of women's rights. S. Chandra Mohan, who is a Presbyter in the CSI Trichy-Tanjore Diocese, is an International Trainer of Trainers on DNH Local Capacities for Peace, Trainer of Christian Mission and Religious Dialogue, Trustee, Cornerstone Trust, Chennai and Trainer, Coastal Environmental Concerns A.Faizur Rahman, who is basically a practicing civil engineer, writes articles on gender and religio-political issues regularly in various mainstream newspapers such as The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, The New Indian Express, DNA and also in Muslim newspapers and websites such as The Milli Gazette, The Islamic Voice and Twocircles.net. Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, who is a Presbyter in the CSI Vellore Diocese, presently teaches in the Department of 'Theology and Ethics' at the United Theological College, Bangalore. Raj Bharath Patta, who is an ordained Pastor, Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church, currently serving as the General Secretary of the Students Christian Movement of India. Ram Punyani, who is a Former Professor, IIT Mumbai, has been working for the promotion of plural, secular democratic values since 1992. Has been writing on these issues regularly, also conducting workshops and delivering lectures on themes related to threat of fundamentalism, communalism, and terrorism. He is associated with the 'Center for Study of Society and Secularism', Anhad and 'All India Secular Forum'.

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Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism  

The "Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural NaTIONALISM - an inter-faith response" is a clarion call to the Church to network and creatively respond...

Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural Nationalism  

The "Hindutva, Zionism and Cultural NaTIONALISM - an inter-faith response" is a clarion call to the Church to network and creatively respond...

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