The common force uniting Hindutva and Zionism is their shared understanding of the nation and the treatment of minorities. While Zionism sought to violently exclude the Palestinians, Hindutva proposes to reduce the Muslims in a subordinated position to the Hindu polity. Both ideologies aim to reclaim the imagined lost civilization by the cleansing of the people which they consider as impure and as invaders.
Aamir Raza | TwoCircles.net
Hindu nationalists in Indian have great admiration for Israel. In May, when the Israeli forces brutally led the crackdown on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, which is Islam’s third holiest site, the followers of Hindutva including the members of the ruling BJP in India enthusiastically supported Israel on social media with hashtags like #IndiaStandsWithIsrael #IStandWithIsrael #israeliLivesMatter.
Tejasvi Surya, a BJP parliamentarian known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric, wrote onTwitter,“We are with you. Stay strong, Israel.”
The idolization of Zionism by the followers of the Hindutva is deep-rooted in its political ideology, which is laced with supremacism, exclusivism and most importantly anti-Muslim hatred. Both Hindutva and Zionism espouse ethnic-nationalism which aims to define citizenship and belonging in the procrustean terms of ancient past, culture and race with having a “holy” geographical entity.
The idea of “Akhand Bharat” is similar to the idea of “Greater Israel” propounded by Theodor Herzl. Based on religious identity, both require the cleansing of Muslims to reach their desired utopia.
The Zionist concept of the nation is also encapsulated in the political philosophy of Hindutva. Much before the creation of Israel, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a staunch ideologue of Hindutva in his book Hindutva: Who is a Hindu (1923) concluded that a common nation (Rashtra), a common race (jati) and a common culture or civilization (Sanskriti) were the three essential elements of Hindutva. He also examined the origin of the words ‘India’ and ‘Hindu’, and declared that ‘Indian’ means ‘Hindu’. Muslims and Christians, by virtue of being non-Hindus, cannot, as per his definition, be authentic Indians. He was the first Hindutva ideologue who explicitly supported the Zionist movement and wrote, “No people in the world can more justly claim to get recognized as a racial unit than the Hindus and perhaps the Jews”. He further wrote, “Look at the Jews; neither centuries of prosperity nor sense of gratitude for the shelter they found, can make them more attached or even equally attached to the several countries they inhabit. Their love is, and must necessarily be divided between the land of their birth and the land of their Prophets. If the Zionists’ dreams are ever realized – if Palestine becomes a Jewish State and it will gladden us almost as much as our Jewish friends – they, like the Mohammedans, would naturally set the interests of their Holy land above those of their Motherland in America and Europe.”
The common force uniting Hindutva and Zionism is their shared understanding of the nation and the treatment of minorities. While Zionism sought to violently exclude the Palestinians, Hindutva proposed to reduce the Muslims in a subordinated position to the Hindu polity. Both ideologies aim to reclaim the imagined lost civilization by the cleansing of the people which they consider as impure and as invaders.
Writing in a 1939 text, “We or Our Nationhood Defined,” another Hindutva ideologue Madhavrao Sadashivrao Golwalkar stated, “India is therefore pre-eminently a Hindu nation, Hindusthan. The non-Hindu people in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language and must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing… not even the citizen’s rights.”
Golwalker too borrowed his political thought heavily from Zionist and Judaic exhortations and blamed “intrusion of Islam” for the loss of Jewish culture and traditions in Palestine and held that the Jews had “maintained their race, religion, culture and language” in exile and all that was needed to complete their “nationality” was a “natural territory.”
The land has become the central focus in the politics of Hindutva and Zionism which is visible from the brutal occupation of Palestine and Kashmir.
The Jewish settlement model in Palestine has amplified the imagination of Hindutvadis in India. This is why the BJP-led Union government is emulating Israeli methods in Kashmir. The government has tremendously changed the character of land Acquisition policy and the nature of property ownership in Kashmir since the abrogation and the removal of Article 370 and 35 which will eventually dilute the concentration of the Muslim population in the region and makes it easier for an outsider to purchase land in Kashmir. The enforced demographic change in Kashmir is a replication of Israel’s settler-colonial policies in the occupied West Bank, where the majoritarian forces have built illegal colonies and commercial spaces, with having a heavy military presence to carry out change in the socio-political landscape in the larger ideological framework of ‘Akhand Bharat’.
The ultimate aim of the ruling BJP and its parent organization RSS is to transform India into an ethnoreligious state according to special rights and privileges to Hindus within a multi-tier system of citizenship. The model state that they aspire to replicate is Israel. In line with their ideological affinity to Zionism, the BJP passed the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in 2019 to institute a policy similar to Israel’s Law of Return, which would grant Indian citizenship to Hindus from neighbouring countries depriving Muslims of same and with proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC) proof of belonging to India now lies on the shoulder of Muslims.
According to late Palestinian academic Edward Said, “Zionism initially portrayed itself as a movement bringing civilization to a barbaric and/or empty locale. The Arabs were seen as synonymous with everything degraded, fearsome, irrational, and brutal…”
Therefore, while the Law of Return permits Jews to ‘return’ to Israel, no similar right is afforded to the millions of displaced Palestinians. By making religion the main criterion of Indian citizenship, the CAA has a devastating purpose: of Israelizing India.
The followers of Hindutva revere Israel like a lodestar for its ability in humiliating and defeating the Muslims. The parallel universe of both the ideologies justifies brutal military occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid and are deeply convergent with each other in their structural framework, ideas and course of action.
Aamir Raza is a postgraduate in political science from Jamia Millia Islamia ( ). He is a contributor to The Quint, Muslim Mirror, The Raiot and Clarion India and currently works as an independent researcher in New Delhi.
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