An Indian Jewish Community Finds Itself in the Hindu-Christian Crossfire

A wave of ethnoreligious conflict has swept through the northeastern Indian state of Manipur, and has not left the B’nei Menashe—a local group claiming Jewish descent, many of whom now reside in Israel—unscathed. Avi Kumar reports:

Caught in the middle of violence between Meitei Hindus and Kuki Christians, the B’nei Menashe . . . have been displaced from their homes. The B’nei Menashe identify as Jews, most belonging to the Mizo and Kuki ethnic groups that hail from the hills of . . . Manipur, while the Meitei live in the valley.

Some 200 homes and churches have been set ablaze in Manipur. Yoel Bayta, a B’nei Menashe father of four, has been killed, and synagogues, Torah scrolls, and a mikveh (Jewish ritual bath) reportedly have been burnt. Many have been living in shelters awaiting the chance to return home, and some people have been unable to reach missing family members.

Lemuel Haokip, [a] communal leader, told JNS that the homes of many members of the group were razed, and the B’nei Menashe had to flee to the forest to hide until the Indian military arrived. Individuals are now housed in military camps operated by the Assam Rifles—part of the Central Armed Police Forces under India’s home affairs ministry—and others are hiding in private residences.

There is no indication that there is anti-Semitism involved in the current violence, which seems to involve the B’nei Menashe insofar as they are Kuki and Mizo.

Read more at JNS

More about: Anti-Semitism, Bnei Menashe, Indian Jewry


When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount