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


The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law