In Israel's mini-India

  1. Times of India ‎- by Robin David ‎- 23 hours ago
    There are more Indian Jews — Bene Israel, Baghdadi and Cochini — in Israel than in India today. According to one estimate there are around ...

    In Israel's mini-India, the rockets don't scare them

    In Israel's mini-India, the rockets don't scare them
    As the Israeli forces launch a ground attack, there are many Indian men and women in uniform either in Gaza or providing logistics to the soldiers. 
    The 80,000 Indian Jews in southern Israel are bearing the brunt of Hamas attacks. Though faithful to the drill — head to the 'strong room' when sirens sound — they refuse to let fear govern their lives

    The ongoing battle between Israeli defence forces and Hamas may seem like a distant battle in a distant land to which India has no connection. In fact, most of those projectiles are landing in what is effectively Israel's mini-India.

    There are more Indian Jews — Bene Israel, Baghdadi and Cochini — in Israel than in India today. According to one estimate there are around 80,000 Jews of Indian origin there, compared to the around 3,000 left in India. And most of them live in the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Dimona and Bersheva, cities that have borne the brunt of the rocket attacks of the Hamas.

    Also, as the Israeli forces launch a ground attack, there are many Indian men and women in uniform either in Gaza or providing logistics to the soldiers. Among them is municipal councillor from Ramle, Benny Binyamin who has both his children in the reserves.

    "The government is likely to add another 18,000 soldiers from the reserves if need be," he says. "Let's see how it goes." For a long time, Dimona was known as Little India but Ashdod has now taken on the sobriquet with close to 1,000 families of Indian origin living here. Although many of them are now more Israeli than Indian, it is common to hear Marathi and a smattering of Hindi spoken in many homes. There have not been any reports of deaths or injuries so far though sirens and blasts are part of daily existence.

    "We've just had two rockets landing in the vicinity," says Lizzy Isaacs, a senior citizen and member of the Indian Jewish community, rather matter-of-factly. It has been more than 10 days that they have been under attack now. "It is not as if life has come to a standstill because of the attacks," she says. "We go into our strong rooms as soon as the sirens are sounded.

    You know what a strong room is, right?" A bank vault where you safely store your money, valuables, records and documents? "No, it's the strongest room in our house built with concrete and cement which protects us from attacks," she says.

    Strong room and Iron Dome are two terms that keep coming up while talking to people in this part of the world. For the uninitiated, the dome is no architectural structure. It is the latest mobile all-weather air defence system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells. As soon as enemy rockets are launched, Iron Dome's radar tracks their trajectory, calculates their impact point and launches a missile which within seconds locks onto the rocket and shoots it down.

    "People laughed at Israel when it suggested the dome technology," says Nissim Moses, president of the Indian Jewish Heritage Centre who lives in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv. "Today, it has intercepted 90% of the rockets." He is extremely proud of the Indian government refusing to criticize Israel in the current situation.

    The Rajya Sabha was stalled on July 14 after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told members that India had diplomatic ties with both nations and that discourteous references could affect their relations. Adds Moses, "Gira to gira par tangdi upar (We may fall but we will never lose our attitude). That is how we live in Israel. The rockets don't scare us." A large number of Jews of Indian origin live in south Israel as they were sent to what are known as 'development towns' by the Israeli government when they first arrived as immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s, says Dr Shalva Weil, senior researcher at the Research Institute for Innovation and Education at Hebrew University. She lived with the Indian Jews in Israel for three years when she wrote her doctorate many years ago and is a leading researcher on the community.

    The towns were planned in such a way that they would expand the population to the peripheral areas and ease pressure on the country's centre which was already pretty crowded. "We have very few Jews of Indian origin in cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv," she says. "Many of them found it difficult to move out of the development towns. 

    {is there a mini racism to keep dark skinned Indians away from white Jews of bigger cities?i wonder}where are the other dark jews from Africa settled in Israel? or the Mongoloid Jews from India's north east state?

    Mongoloid Jews of India | ah ok lah

    Mongoloid Jews of India | ah ok lah

    Mongoloid Jews of India | ah ok lah
    Dec 12, 2006 - a group of more than 8,000 people from India's remote North-Eastern border states of Manipur and Mizoram who claim descent from one of the ...

    Lost' Indian Jews coming to Israel despite skepticism over ties to ...
    Jewish immigrants of the Bnei Menashe arriving at Ben Gurion airport in Israel, Dec. 24, 2012

    Also, Ashdod has become a very nice city over time. Indians also like to stick to their own. As an anthropologist, I think of Indians in Israel both as my friends and as Israelis, not just as Indian Jews." Interestingly, Ashdod means stronghold in Hebrew.

    She adds that Indians Jews were supporters of the left-wing Labour Party when they first came to Israel. "Now, many have become right-wing supporters." Prof Lael Anson Best, head of the department of thoracic surgery at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa whose family migrated from Ahmedabad, says Indians preferred to live in southern Israel because the hot and humid weather was much like India. Many more rockets had landed within 50 metres of his hospital in 2006.

    This time they have been spared. Best adds that most new homes now have strong rooms. "Earlier, we had underground bunkers, but can you imagine an older person rushing to the bunker within 15 seconds of the siren being sounded? My work room is now my strong room." Isaac Solomon, a senior citizen of Indian origin who lives in the southern city of Eilat, is known as the Gandhi of Eilat for the work he does with the Indian community. "Two rockets did hit our city," he says, casually. "But nothing to worry. Just damaged a footpath and a car. Eilat is still heaven on earth for me."

    comment:- is there racism in Israel between WHITE JEW IN CITIES AND NON WHITE JEWS IN THE PERIPHERY?

    Ethiopian Jews in Israel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Ethiopian Jews in Israel refers to the immigrants and descendants of the immigrants of the Beta Israel communities of Ethiopia, who now reside in Israel. Most of ...

    The History of Ethiopian Jews › World Jewry
    After the rise of Christianity in Ethiopia in the fourth century, the Jews who refused to convert were persecuted and withdrew to the mountainous Gondar region ...