Tuesday, July 22, 2003

When the House passed a $3 billion aid package for Pakistan this week, Jewish and Indian American lobbyists teamed up to win an amendment pressuring Pakistan to stop Islamic militants from crossing into India.

Wearing lapel pins of the Stars and Stripes sandwiched between the flags of India and Israel, the amendment's supporters then gathered in a Capitol Hill reception room to celebrate the burgeoning political alliance between Indians and Jews in the United States.

Women in saris mingled among men in yarmulkes, a cacophony of accents united in a desire for access. Despite their obvious differences, the alliance has the potential to magnify the voices of two communities that are small in number -- about 5.2 million Jews and 1.8 million Indians -- but highly educated, affluent and attached to democratic homelands facing what they increasingly view as a common enemy.

Indians and Jews share "a passionate commitment to respect for others, for the rule of law and for democracy," Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor, told the jubilant crowd after the House vote. "And lately we have been drawn together by our joint fight against mindless, vicious, fanatic Islamic terrorism..."

So far, the Jewish-Indian alliance in the United States has focused on foreign policy. But the two communities also have combined forces on electoral politics. They worked to defeat former House member Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), whom they perceived as antagonistic both to Israel and to India.

"There was a natural connection already in Atlanta, through the business world, and then when McKinney was bashing both our homelands, we just took our business connections and social connections and made them political," said Harin J. Contractor, an Indian American student at the University of Georgia. "It was a great model to follow."

I've noticed this happening for awhile, Hindus showing up to pro-Israel protests, Israeli-Indian relations thawing, nice things about Israel in the Indian press, etc... I think its fantastic, Israel needs more allies and especially large, powerful Third World democracies. It is also true that Jewish and Hindu civilization are both roughly the same age and the oldest civilizations on earth.


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