As my readers know, I was quite taken with the initiative shown by Hindu-Americans in terms of creating a Hindu-Jewish-Christian-Buddhist Coalition for Peace against Islamic terrorism. Under the leadership of Satya Dosapati of New Jersey and Arish K. Sahani, of the Indian-American Intellectuals Forum, the coalition-in-formation held conference calls, rented buses, traveled to Washington, and stood in the bright, freezing weather, holding inspiring signs. They read:
“Protect The Free World From Radical Islam;” “Stop repeat of 9/11 in the free world;” “Seize Saudis Assets To Pay For Crimes Against Humanity;” “Stop Iran From Making Nuclear Weapons!”; “Reform Radical Islam Madrassas. Stop Teaching Hate;” “Don’t Reward Terror. Don’t Force Jews From Judea and Samaria.”
To see the photos, press HERE.
Often, great ideas start small; only a handful of people, one by one, stand up to tyranny. At a time when American publishers are cautious about publishing books that might be perceived as negative by Muslims and by Muslim terrorists; and when so many writers engage in self censorship in order to be published, it is no small thing for individuals to stand up, publicly and visibly, one by one, against Islamic terrorism. Thus, far fewer than the hoped-for “one million” people came out nor did the signs attract much media coverage.
To be fair, so much was going on in DC yesterday. It might not have been the best place or moment to launch a visionary coalition. But if not now, when? According to Fern Sidman, a Jewish activist and journalist who traveled with the Hindus:
“The Hindus were exceptionally hospitable people, very thoughtful and generous. Very respectful, kind and caring. Their mission under the banner of Coalition For Peace is to educate the world to the dangers of proliferating Islamic terrorism. Charging Pakistan with playing a “double game” with the USA, purporting to be a US and western ally, when in fact they sanction state sponsored terrorism by allowing Islamic extremists to train in their country with impunity and they point to the Mumbai massacre as proof. They also say that over the last 10 years 18,000 Indians were murdered in 60,000 terror incidents perpetrated by Islamic extremists from Pakistan. Their assertion is that Pakistan works in concert with Bangladesh in kind of a religious apartheid with the goal of murdering Hindus. They say that Kashmiri separatists have murdered the majority of Hindus in that disputed territory.”
Coalition organizers have also pointed out “that over the course of 1400 years, Muslim jihadists have slaughtered 270 million people of which 120 million are Africans, sixty million are Christians, eighty million are Hindus, and ten million are Buddhists.”
It is crucial that Western intellectuals begin to factor these numbers and this perspective into their critiques of Western imperialism and Western-Christian religious wars.
According to Marion Dreyfus, another journalist-activist who accompanied the Coalition:
“They are well organized and refreshingly well informed and pro-Israel. They produced an extraordinary profusion of professional and attractive posters and amazing banners, most pointing to our firm stance against nuclearization of Iran, against the increasing radicalization of Pakistan, the vast outrages of radical Islam against India as well as Iraq and Israel. We are grateful for the remarkably gracious and generous hospitality of a number of Hindi families, in magnificent homes brimming with goodwill toward us (I brought a friend) and our goals for Israel and against radicalism in Islam. We had a few voluble non-Indian friends coming who also protested Darfur and the ongoing rape and genocide/jihad against Christians, animists and black Muslims in the Sudan. ”
Only a small group of Jews and Christians joined the Hindus. When I asked Fern Sidman about this, here is what she said:
“The majority of the people there were Hindus from the central New Jersey area. The Hindus, under the leadership of Dosapati and Sahani, did a yeoman’s job in trying to reach out to the Jewish community. On Sunday, I attended a Hindu/Jewish meeting in Highland Park, NJ. Most of the Jews were Obama supporters who were there to forge ties and links to the Hindu community in terms of interfaith services, field trips, etc. A woman was there representing the Jewish Community Relations Council. When Satya (Dosapati) rose to speak about the demonstration, he was quieted by the Jewish moderator who said, “we can talk about this another time. This is not the place for a subject like this.” His name was Joe Novick. According to Satya, many grassroots Jewish organizations had contacted him and endorsed the demonstration, but none showed up.”
I laughed, I groaned, and suggested to Sidman that more than 80% of American’s Jews had voted for President Obama whom they are confident will stand against Islamic terrorism. The smaller, grassroots groups are not funded to be everywhere. The larger Jewish organizations will turn out their membership only if their leaders are being featured or honored as speakers; not otherwise. The Hindu Coalition had no featured speakers. Sidman noted that representatives of two Christian groups: Builders of Zion and the Christian Israel Public Action Campaign were there. The majority of the people there were Hindus from the central New Jersey area.”
Marion Dreyfus writes:
“Many of the media people interviewed us individually, and we spoke at length to some of them. Some people argued with us–they seemed to me to be Muslim, and to be ferociously pro-terror and anti-Israel, refusing to engage in dialogue if they found we knew our facts and they were losing. One blonde with an Arabic-printed green tote and a checkered Arafatian headscarf screamed at us about “Israeli massacres,” and would not engage in talk at all, as she bitterly stalked away, muttering “Shame!”
In any event, in Dreyfus’s view, “The rally seemed extremely effective, in that we did elicit substantial media coverage, and got a great deal of exclusive, unrivaled attention as we occupied about 200 linear feet where we displayed signs and banners and role-playing for the myriads who passed by all afternoon. We expanded the visual vocabulary of many people who seemed new to our causes, and we stood firm in documenting truth to calumny with many of the ill-informed ‘vanilla’ observers who took on faith the CNN/MSNBC view of things until they spoke with us and read our signs. And we bonded strikingly with the remarkably staunch and intelligent and committed people in the coalition; they stated that they will be delighted to speak and stand with us in the future in rallies or colloquies.”
We live in amazing times. America has just elected its first multi-racial President whose extended family includes relatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. Whatever happens, the world will not easily be able to say that President Obama is a “racist,” or that he is “biased” against terrorists because they are Muslims. In his inaugural speech he specifically said:
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”
And, for the first, time, the Dalai Lama has publicly admitted that non-violent approaches will not work with terrorists because their “minds are closed.” His conclusion is a monumental one.