Jews and Hindus gathered at the Israeli consulate last week. [Paul Lungen photo]
TORONTO — Jewish and Hindu groups gathered at the Israeli
consulate last week in a show of solidarity with the victims of the
Mumbai terrorist attacks.
About 25 to 30 people braved cold and bitter winds as speakers from
both communities paid tribute to those killed by Islamic extremists.
Innocent victims were murdered “in the name of a vicious ideology,”
said Ron Banerjee, director of public relations for Canadian Hindu
They were victimized twice, Banerjee said – once by the terrorists
themselves and then by the media, which suggested the killings were the
result of oppression or marginalization felt by the perpetrators.
“The implication that they have some legitimate grievances is completely unacceptable,” he told The CJN.
In an interview after the event, which saw participants march along
Bloor Street from the Israeli consulate to the Indian consulate,
Banerjee said many Hindus “consider the State of Israel as our ideal.
We would like India to be more like Israel. We admire the heroism of
Israel and the Jewish people – a tough yet compassionate approach to
minority rights and security considerations. It is a model to the
world, especially India.”
India’s BJP party, which is currently out of power but could win the next election in May, shares that attitude, he said.
In other remarks, Shirley Ann Haber of the Speakers Action Group,
remembered the mostly Hindu victims of the terrorists “and for them, we
mourn the senseless killing of innocents. As well, in a country where
there has been traditionally no anti-Semitism, the Jews were targeted –
this was evident in the Chabad Center, the Jewish Learning and Study
Community Center, where the young Rabbi Holtzberg and his young wife,
six months pregnant, were murdered with the other visitors.”
Haber said the terrorists hoped to instil fear, deter tourism and
destroy commercial relations. “But crucial is the hate – the hate of
western society, the hate of the United States, the hate of the Jews,
the hate of the Israelis.”
The rally was sponsored by Speakers Action Group, a charitable
organization that promotes “tolerance and understanding through
cross-cultural education,” the CHA, which represents hundreds of Hindus
across Canada, and the Toronto Zionist Council.
The CHA’s website states that the organization supports “multi-faith
initiatives with groups and people who share our values of democracy,
liberty, and merit-based success.”
The Speakers Action Group and the CHA have collaborated on programs
before. In February, the two sponsored “an interfaith evening to
promote understanding by exploring our common history and build bridges
between the Jewish and the Hindu community in Toronto,” Haber said.