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The Coalition for Peace Is the Legacy Left by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg, z"l: Hindus, Jews, and Christians against Islamist Terror

By Fern Sidman and Susan L. Rosenbluth

February 2009

Among the groups eager to get their message across to the millions of spectators who came to watch President Barack Obama sworn into office on January 20, was a new coalition formed to promote awareness of the need to defeat radical Islamism. Made up primarily of representatives of two communities that have been directly hurt by militant Islam, Hindus and Jews, the Coalition for Peace, which included likeminded Christians and Sikhs, held banners urging Mr. Obama "to protect the Free World from radical Islam."

Spearheaded by Arish K Sahani and Narain Kataria of the American-Indian Intellectuals Forum and Satya Dosapati of Hindu Human Rights Watch, the Coalition for Peace now includes Americans for a Safe Israel, the Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign, Christians and Jews United for Israel, the Jewish Action Alliance, Jews United for Israel, the Maccabean Resistance Movement, and the Zionist Organization of America.

It has also received support from The Jewish Voice and Opinion, which suggested that the formation of the coalition "could be the legacy left by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka."

"Their deaths along with so many others in Mumbai may have been the catalyst for the realization that Jews and Hindus must work together, just as Jews and like-minded Christians have been doing for sometime. Joining the Coalition for Peace is one of the Jewish community’s best options for making a difference in the struggle to overcome Islamist terrorism," read the statement.

Part of a Pattern

The Hindu leaders pointed out that the terrorism in Mumbai last November that resulted in the deaths of some 200 people, was just one of 60,000 terrorist incidents perpetrated by Pakistani-Muslim extremists that have struck India in the past ten years. Some 18,000 Indians have been murdered in these attacks.

"Pakistan, in coordination with Bangladeshi security agencies, is in the process of carving out the northern portion of India to create Mughalstan, which will serve as a contiguous area joining Pakistan and Bangladesh," said Mr. Dosapati, who resides in Marlboro, NJ.

As part of this process, he said, 350,000 Kashmiri Hindus have been driven from their homes by Kashmiri Muslim separatists who are supported by Pakistan.

Ethnic Cleansing

Like Pakistan, Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country. According to Mr. Dosapati, in 1947, almost 25 percent of Pakistan’s population was non-Muslim, mostly Hindus and Sikhs. Today, he said, that number has dropped to one percent. Bangladesh used to be 30 percent non-Muslim. Today, it is only seven percent.

"There has been ethnic cleansing in Pakistan and Bangladesh. In both countries, minorities were terrorized, raped, and mutilated. Their children and property were taken from them," said Mr. Sahani.

The Hindu leaders blamed Saudi Arabia for funding Islamist activities in Pakistan and Bangladesh, including the development of the Pakistani nuclear program.

"There is growing concern that nuclear Pakistan will inevitably assist other radical Islamist countries and groups, including those that have targeted Israel, to develop their own nuclear weapons. Pakistan has already declared that its first nuclear strike will be against India, especially if India decides it must respond militarily to continued Pakistani-supported terrorism," said Mr. Dosapati.

Rallies

In Manhattan in December and in Fort Lauderdale in early January, Hindus, some of them members of the Coalition, protested against radical Islamist terror at rallies that attracted hundreds of demonstrators.

Across the street from the UN in New York, Hindus, mostly from New York and New Jersey, held signs such as "Jihadi Terror in Mumbai Can Happen in Chicago," "Pakistan is a Rogue State," and "How Many More Mumbais Will It Take for the Indian Government to Act?"

Several of the demonstrators carried a poignant poster with a picture of the slain Jewish couple, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, with the caption "They were inhumanely tortured. Is it a crime to be a Jew?"

"It is important for countries such as the US, Britain, Israel, and India to come together to evolve a strategy to root out terrorism," said Gaurang Vaishnav, one of the speakers.

Another speaker, Dr. Radharaman Upadhyay, agreed. "The world will be devoured by the python of Islamic terrorism unless it takes effective steps now to counter it," he said, adding that he regretted that, "so far the world has seen only the radical and violent face of Islam."

"It is up to the practitioners of Islam to prove otherwise," he said.

South Florida

On Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jain, and Sikh representatives of 18 organizations marched towards the beach chanting slogans against Jihadists.

Several of the Hindu demonstrators had lost family members in the terrorist attack on Mumbai.

"It is an ideology of hatred and violence, a method of committing the most heinous acts known to man, all in the name of a religion, Islam," said Joe Kaufman, chairman of Americans against Hate, who spoke at the rally.

The windy afternoon did not deter the show of unity and solidarity among the demonstrators, who lit candles and cast flowers into the ocean in memory of the Mumbai victims and others who were murdered by Islamist terrorists.

Leaders of the participating groups signed a resolution, urging the US government to intensity its campaign against global terrorism, "particularly those acts of terror perpetrated by so-called allies in the Indian sub-continent, which should be declared rogue nations," a clear reference to Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"Yes, We Can"

In Washington, the goal of the Coalition for Peace was to tell the new President that, "in the name of world peace," he must "reform radical Islamist madrassas so that these schools stop teaching hate;" seize Saudi assets "in order to pay for the Islamists’ crimes against humanity;" force Iran to halt its nuclear-weapons program that "directly threatens Israel;" and recognize that "Pakistan has played a double-game with the US, presenting itself as a friendly ally of America, while, at the same time, hosting terrorists who are plotting to murder all non-Muslims and especially targeting their next-door neighbors in India."

In addition to carrying banners demanding an end to "Saudis’ radical ideology in American Institutions" and protection for Israel, India, and the US from terrorist attacks, the coalition presented one dramatization depicting the need to end American dependence on Saudi oil and another showing that while Pakistani leaders happily take American funds, they also give weapons to terrorists.

"Yes, we can stop Pakistani double-games with the US," said a character in the dramatization who wore an Obama mask.

Planning Meeting

Less than ten days before the inaugural, some of those participating in the Coalition received an email that began "Greetings, Shalom, and Namaste," and invited them to participate in a planning session, held at a private home in Highland Park, NJ.

The political and religious commonalities between the Hindu and Jewish representatives were striking.

"Our goal is to work towards embracing tolerance and celebrating diversity, not crushing it," said Mr. Dosapati, who resides in Marlboro.

"Natural Allies"

He said he was pleased that pro-Israel Jewish and Christian groups had decided to join the Coalition, because, he said, the pro-Israel community and Hindus are "natural allies against terrorism."

"The same ideology that led to the terrorism in Mumbai has plagued Israel for decades," said Mr. Dosapati.

One of the banners prepared by the Coalition for the demonstration in Washington showed an Israeli soldier trying to protect children, while Palestinian terrorists hide behind a baby, using the infant as a human shield.

Facing the Future

Mr. Dosapati noted that Israel and India, "two of the world’s oldest civilizations," are free and democratic countries "surrounded by radical Islamists, whose ambition is to Islamize the whole world."

"What Israel and India face is the best example of the future that awaits the rest of the Free World. Unless the countries of the Free World come together to fight this terrible ideology, we face a very dangerous situation," said Mr. Dosapati.

The coalition’s mission, he said, is to raise awareness of this danger, which, he said, "is lost on politically correct media and multicultural apologists, who are perhaps as dangerous as terrorists, if not more so."

Millions of Victims

The Hindu leaders maintain that, in the past 1400 years, radical Islamists have murdered 270 million people, including Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, and African animists.

They said they hoped Buddhists would join the Coalition and would welcome the inclusion of moderate Muslims in the struggle against terror.

"Islamist terrorism is a problem not just for Israel and India, but for the entire Free World. It is also a problem for Muslims who yearn for freedom of thought, as opposed to the tyranny imposed on them by Islamist theology," said Mr. Kataria, who resides in Queens.

Stand against Madrassas

At the meeting, Mr. Dosapati pointed out that the lessons taught to Muslim children in countless Saudi-funded madrassas are designed to "spread hatred for everything and everybody that is not Muslim."

"Calling Jews and other ‘infidels’ apes and pigs is chillingly reminiscent of Nazi incitement," he said.

The only solution, said Mr. Kataria, is to convince the US to continue to stand with the victims of terrorism and not the perpetrators.

"It is absolutely essential for the US, the world’s only Super Power, to take the lead in exterminating terrorism from the face of the earth. Mr. Obama, yes, you can," he said.

"Too Aggressive"

The Hindu leaders’ insistence on involving Mr. Obama in the effort seemed to rankle at least one of the Jewish representatives at the planning meeting.

"It seems too aggressive to greet Obama with this on his inauguration day," said the individual who was representing the Jewish Community Relations Council.

The others, however, pointed out that the demonstration was not against Mr. Obama, but, rather, against terrorism.

Kosher Food

Most members of the Coalition who participated in the Washington demonstration traveled to the capital the day before the inauguration. Coalition leaders had prepared accommodations in the empty house of one of their supporters in nearby suburban Maryland.

Demonstrators came from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, and, of course, Washington, DC, itself.

Although the Coalition offered vegetarian Indian meals to all participants, Jews who wanted kosher food were able to obtain it through the offices of the Chabad House in Washington.

Commonality of Cultures

Matt Abelson, 28, of Manhattan, said it was important not to join a Coalition like this simply because "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

He said he joined with Hindus and Christians "because we have a commonality of cultures."

"We are peace-seeking people who wish to live in a world with mutual respect for one another, and the forces of radical Islam represent the complete antithesis of this concept," he said.

"Multiculturalist Relativism"

The next day, the spirits of the demonstrators who gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House were as high as the mercury was low. Braving the biting sub-freezing temperature, they carried their signs and cheered when one of the speakers demanded an end to "multiculturalist relativism that gives free license to forces of evil as manifested in radical Islam."

Linda Rivera, a Christian member of the Coalition, said she was determined not to forget the "3.5 million Christians slaughtered by the Jihad in the Sudan" or the Coptic priests and other Christian clergy "who were murdered by Islamic fanatics."

"It is imperative to remain cognizant of the fact that Jihadists would love nothing more than to force every non-Muslim to live under the draconian Sharia law, where basic human rights will be expunged," she said.

Richard Hellman, head of the Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign (C-PAC), a pro-Israel lobby, said that because his group supports peace and freedom in the Middle East, "we work assiduously in Congress to lobby against a two-state solution and the fallacious concept of ‘land for peace’ as the panacea for Israeli-Palestinian tensions."

"And we work to abrogate any ‘road map’ that will see Israel engaging in any more territorial compromises," he said.

Islamist Hegemony

Sandra and Ed Warmoth, representing the Maccabean Resistance Movement, said they traveled from Orlando, Florida, to attend the Coalition’s demonstration because "the world must understand that the Islamist hegemony is an obdurate and implacable enemy of freedom."

"Jerusalem and the entire Promised Land is under attack by Arab-Muslim forces fighting an Islamist war by proxy under the guise of ‘Palestinian self-determination," said Mr. Warmoth.

His wife said she feared that Israel could be "eradicated through propaganda because the Arab-Muslim bloc has failed to accomplish their collective goal militarily."

They said they feared support for the Islamists was growing "at the highest levels of the US government."

More Jews Wanted

Some of the Jewish participants lamented the fact that more Jews had not come. A woman who asked for anonymity said she was "outraged" that none of the mainstream Jewish organizations had sent representatives.

"The Christians and Hindus are here pleading the case for Israel, speaking truth in the face of slander directed against Israel, and where are we?" she said.

Those who would like to join the Coalition were invited by Messrs Dosapati, Kataria, and Sahani to check out their website, http://coalitionforpeace.org/, and call 732-939-2060 or 718-478-5735. The email address is President@CoalitionForPeace.org.

Street Debate

In the late afternoon, some of the demonstrators left Lafayette Park and took their banners and signs to the streets to confront scores of jubilant Obama supporters. Most of the onlookers seemed unaware of the issues discussed on the signs; others thought the Coalition demonstrators were part of the inaugural celebration and asked to have pictures taken with them.

One man, however, was furious. "Can anyone blame the Palestinians in Gaza for launching ‘firecrackers’ into Israel?" said Jim Melton, suggesting that Israel "be charged in an international court with war crimes."

Another member of the crowd, hearing Mr. Melton’s diatribe against the Jewish state, blamed "the Saudi-owned US media" for encouraging "calumnies" against Israel.

"The result is that someone like him, who is obviously abysmally ignorant of the truth, is prompted to make such statements," she said.

Looking at the Coalition demonstrators, she said, "That is why they are here, I guess. To set the record straight, and I applaud their efforts."

The Jewish Voice and Opinion is a politically conservative Jewish publication which present news and feature articles not generally available elsewhere in the Jewish or secular media. Articles may be reprinted in their entirety with attribution.

 

 

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