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Hindu Nationalism’s New Temple
Duration
0:00 / 33:03
Published
February 22, 2024

On January 22nd, India’s far-right prime minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Ram Mandir, a gargantuan new temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram, in an event that marked the most consequential victory for the Hindu nationalist movement in its 100-year history. The temple has been erected in the exact spot where a centuries-old mosque, the Babri Masjid, stood until Hindutva supporters violently destroyed it in 1992. The attack on the Masjid catalyzed anti-Muslim mass violence across the country, and in the years since, Hindu nationalist, or Hindutva, groups like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)—a Nazi-inspired paramilitary of which Modi is a member—have used the campaign to construct a new temple on the site of the demolished mosque as a rallying cry in their efforts to transform India from a secular democracy to a Hindu supremacist nation. That ambition appeared to have been fulfilled at the Ram Mandir opening ceremony, with Modi declaring that “this temple is not just a temple to a god. This is a temple of India’s vision . . . Ram is the faith of India.”

The temple’s inauguration comes months before national elections in which Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears certain to emerge victorious. Over the course of its two terms in office, the BJP has already entrenched India’s annexation of the Muslim-majority of Kashmir, presided over anti-minority riots across India, and ratcheted up state-sponsored Islamophobia to such a pitch that experts warn that India’s 200 million Muslims are at risk of facing a genocide. With the completion of the Ram Mandir, this anti-minority fervor seems set only to intensify further. On this episode of On the Nose, news editor Aparna Gopalan speaks to writer Siddhartha Deb, scholar Angana Chatterji, and activist Safa Ahmed about the Hindutva movement’s epochal win, how it was achieved, and what comes next for India’s minorities.

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”

Articles Mentioned and Further Reading:

The Idol and the Mosque,” Siddhartha Deb, Tablet

Ayodhya: Once There Was A Mosque,” The Wire

Recasting Ram,” Sagar, The Caravan

Bulldozer Injustice in India,” Amnesty International

How the Hindu Right Triumphed in India,” Isaac Chotiner and Mukul Kesavan, The New Yorker

India’s Ayodhya Temple Is a Huge Monument to Hindu Supremacy,” Audrey Truschke, Time


Transcript

Nathan Goldman: Hey On the Nose listeners. I’m Nathan Goldman, the managing editor of Jewish Currents, here to let you know about our upcoming special print issue, After October 7: A Jewish Currents Reader. This past fall, as we abandoned our planned coverage and focused all our attention on the unprecedented crisis in Israel/Palestine, it quickly became clear to us that our winter issue would need to break the mold. As many have said, history didn’t start on October 7, and we felt that our offering to you in this moment shouldn’t either. So we’re sending subscribers a book-length anthology featuring writing from our archive that foregrounds the often-obscured context for this continuing catastrophe, with new introductions by the Jewish Currents staff alongside work published online in the fall. We hope that this reader speaks to these dark times and to whatever lies beyond them, compiling some of our best work into a resource for the years and struggles to come.

If you’re one of those podcast listeners who doesn’t get the magazine, now is a great time to subscribe. In addition to this special issue, you’ll receive our exclusive winter gift, a play which follows a woman in Gaza facing the threat of imminent Israeli bombardment. If you’re already a subscriber, log in on our website, JewishCurrents.org, to make sure that your address is up to date. And if you’re not yet a subscriber, we’d like to offer you a special discount for being a devoted On the Nose listener. For the next week, you can get 25% off a subscription by using the code ONTHENOSE2024 in all caps at checkout, either for you or for a friend. Just visit JewishCurrents.org/subscribe—again, the discount code is ONTHENOSE2024, all caps. With that, onto the episode.

Aparna Gopalan: Welcome to On The Nose the Jewish Currents podcast. I’m news editor Aparna Gopalan, and I’m going to be your host today. This episode is focused on the Hindu nationalist or Hindutva movement in India, which has recently achieved one of its flagstone goals by replacing the historic Babri Masjid (or mosque) in the Indian city of Ayodhya with a new Hindu temple dedicated to the god Ram. For decades the Hindutva movement, which is led by the Hitler-inspired paramilitary organization the RSS, has used the campaign to build this Ram temple as a rallying cry in its efforts to transform India from a secular democracy to a Hindu-supremacist nation. By employing tactics ranging from a decades-long grassroots base-building campaign around an aggrieved Hindu masculinity, to archaeological maneuvers designed to prove that the Babri Masjid stood atop the original birthplace of the mythic figure Ram, to the violent demolition of that Masjid in 1992, which happened alongside riots that killed thousands of Muslims, the Ram temple movement has managed to take the RSS from a once-fringe and outlawed paramilitary group to the pinnacle of power in India, with RSS member Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janta Party (or BJP) controlling every wing of the Indian government in 2023.

In this context, the eventual construction and celebration of the resulting Ram temple, which took place on January 22 in the presence of Modi and the entire upper echelon of the Indian government, signifies the dawning of a new era in Indian politics, where far-right parties can openly incite mass violence against the country’s 200 million Muslims, and where the prime minister can declare, during an election year and from the steps of the new Ram temple, that Ram is the law of India. Today’s episode attempts to make sense of these epochal wins for the Hindutva movement, looking at the trajectory that brought us to this moment and at what might lie next for India’s minorities. Our first guest today is Siddhartha Deb. Siddhartha Deb is a writer of fiction, journalism, and cultural criticism, and author of several books, including the 2023 novel, The Light at the End of the World. Hi, Siddhartha.

Siddhartha Deb: Hello, Aparna. Hello, everybody else.

AG: Great to have you. Our second guest is Angana Chatterji. Angana is an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley and founding co-chair of the Political Conflict, Gender and People’s Rights Initiative. Her recent publications include the book Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India. Welcome Angana.

Angana Chatterji: Thank you so much for having me.

AG: Our third guest is Safa Ahmed. Safa is a writer, activist and Associate Director of Media and Communications for the Indian American Muslim Council. Hi, Safa.

Safa Ahmed: Hi, Aparna. And hi, everyone.

AG: So to start off, I thought it would be good to give our listeners some context about the Ram and how it comes to become such a central part of the Hindutva movement in South Asia (in India, specifically) in the second half of the 20th century. We know that a key plot point in the story of the Ram temple is 1992, but I wanted to step back a little bit and talk about before that; what were the various projects that the Hindu nationalist movement was involved in previously to 1992, and how the construction of the Ram temple and the demolition of the Babri Masjid gain the kind of ascendance that they do within that movement.

SD: It’s important to remember that the Hindu right in India was a very close collaborator with the colonial project, and the history of the Hindu right is essentially one of ignominy, and cowardice, and collaboration. And that part of it culminates, in some sense—if you’re looking for a flashpoint—with the assassination of Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, a right-wing fanatic. It’s been very conveniently claimed that he was no longer a member of the RSS at the point when he carried out the assassination. But essentially, what happened after the assassination of Gandhi is that the Hindu right was temporarily banned. There was crackdown on it from the Nehruvian State, and essentially, what happened was—you know, the assassination of Gandhi was on January 13, 1948, and then about a year later, in December 1949, just as the RSS was beginning to emerge from this backlash against it that followed the assassination of Gandhi, a little idol of Ram very mysteriously appeared in the Babri Mosque in December 1949. And that is, in some sense, the beginning of this plot to create a temple, to create a mythology of Ram’s birthplace, to create a project of Hindu nationalism that would take about 50 to 75 years to come to fulfillment. And that is what we are seeing now.

AC: My understanding is that the construction of the Ram Mandir project as an initiative provided multiple impetuses to the Hindu nationalist movement. In the 1980s, the politics of Hindu nationalism became more identitarian. Cultural nationalist projects proliferated. It also sought to foster legitimacy of the Hindu right at the grassroots level. So you saw where there were sporadic organizations before; you saw an in-depth proliferation of the Sangh Parivar, the organization of Hindu-right institutions across India, and their proliferation into education, into cultural morays of life, into political life, into economic life as well. And you look at what the writings were, what they were trying to put front and center, a manifesto emerges that seeks to foster Hindu ascendancy and to use something that would be sort of catastrophic, larger than life, and enduring. The Ram Mandir became—symbolically, politically—that project.

SA: So going off what Siddhartha and Angana very beautifully stated, I think it’s also important to point out the role of a certain political party in the creation and the mainstreaming of the Ram Temple movement. And there’s a specific name for the movement called the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, meaning the birthplace of Lord Ram, to claim that specific spot as that birthplace, as Hindu land. And we really can’t talk about that before going even one further step back and talking about the building of the Babri Mosque itself, which was built by Muslim emperors. It’s been standing since the mid-1500s, approximately, and it had been standing for centuries—through Muslim rule, through the British Raj, through independence. And it’s very important to note that the concept of the mosque being something that occupied a land that belonged to Hindus is not something that came around until much later on in history. I believe the first stirrings of this idea came actually in the 1850s, and then from there in the 1980s.

It was actually the ruling party of India today—at the time, it was not nearly so powerful—but the Bharatiya Janata party actually rode this movement all the way up to power in 1991 by mainstreaming this movement, by saying, like, “Hey, this land, it belongs to Hindus.” As we’ve already talked about, the BJP does have links with this Hindu supremacist, Hindu majoritarianism, that similar type of movement that actually did lead to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. So the BJP took this movement and they made it mainstream, and they’ve been promising for years and years that “We will not only destroy the Babri Mosque”—-to this day, they brag about their role in destroying the Babri Mosque, their role in being part of the mob that brought the mosque to rubble in 1992. The BJP could not be where it is today without riding that fervor, without creating that movement, and then effectively bringing that dream of seizing that land into reality.

AG: Thank you so much. I feel like you started getting into what the next question is, which is really great, which is about the moment in 1992. One piece of that that’s really important is the violence that accompanies the demolition of the mosque. So this is not simply about a structure being demolished. This is about riots that happened, planned and state-backed riots, which killed thousands of Muslims across India, and which don’t just happen in 1992 but basically give rise to a cycle of riots that continue and, most explosively in 2002, they come back to the fore. I want to draw out a little bit the connection that a few of you mentioned between the Ram Temple project and anti-Muslim violence. In what ways is anti-Muslim violence central to the message of the Ram Temple? And to what extent do you think the underlying violence of the Ram Temple project—to what extent is that what has been so attractive about Hindutva to its growing base since 1992?

SD: What is important to remember is that Hindu nationalism sees no place for Muslims in India—that is its core principle. There may be place for other minorities lower down in the hierarchy, but for Muslims, there really isn’t a place. And this is the core belief of the RSS, and the RSS is both a kind of cult and a kind of paramilitary organization. It’s a fascist organization. It has outlasted the fascists in Italy, the fascists in Nazi Germany that it was inspired by—it is going to celebrate 100 years in 2025—and it has done so because it is very devious. It is extremely good at strategy. It is extremely good at lying underground when it needs to.

But yeah, the thing that happened is that the late 80s to the early 90s was the moment where the RSS political ring, the Bharatiya Janta Party—that is the moment where the underground paramilitary cult and the mass mobilization comes together. It’s the beginning of feeling that the moment is ripe. I mean, the BJP as a political organization was a bit of a joke in India. It had two members in parliament before the campaign. And once the Ram Temple campaign began, I think the BJP went from having two seats in a 500-plus national parliament to 89. And that was because of the kind of mass mobilization that took place around the Temple, and it brought in the middle class. It used the media very well.

And what the BJP really began doing very well from the late 80s (and it has continued) is that essentially, the only way to be a Hindu is to be a right-wing Hindu. There is no other way of—you know, there are multiple complicated, overlapping, contradictory histories of Ram, traditions of temple building, mosque building. India is a very plural place because it’s a complex, multi-layered, millennia-old place. They just simplified it into this massive, gargantuan temple with this massive, macho Ram. One of those slogans that I remember—I was in college in India, in Kolkata, in the late 80s—the slogan was, you know, garv se kaho hum Hindu hai—so, “say with pride that you’re a Hindu.” But, you know, not really pride: aggression. Say it with aggression, and not really—What do you mean by Hindu? Really, a Hindutva, a Hindu nationalist. So that is what really began to peak in the late 80s to the early 90s, and the demolishing of the mosque was an outpouring of a kind of incredible violence where all these aspects came together: the organizing, the paramilitary tactics of the RSS, the mass mobilization of the BJP. They got middle-class, lower-middle-class people to come from all over India. They created this mass mobilization, and then they co-opted the state, which had always played a partner to the Hindu right.

So they brought all these things together, and I have to say, the disappearance of the left, the decline of the left, has a lot to do with that. Because for all its faults, that was the only other political sort of ideology, which believed in organizing from the grassroots level up. Even today, the BJP and the RSS are very clear that along with the Muslims, the one other enemy is any kind of organized left. It’s not the liberals. That is why the people from connections with the organized left are in prison. Those are the only two places where they see real threats. That’s my understanding of it.

AC: The birth of the BJP also assumed the use of history for both the racialization and criminalization of Muslims and the othering of Muslims as both internal and external enemies—of the state, but also the people. So this became sort of an undeclared policy that no, we can’t really organize labor. No, we can’t shift the country’s 85% being daily wage laborers. No, we can’t really deal with land reform issues. Instead, what we will do is we will create this constant vortex where identity will subsume front and center. And don’t forget: Parallel to the construction of Ram as this figurehead also started the colonial project in its new phase in Kashmir.

And all these were ways of displacing legitimate economic concerns of social security, displacing legitimate concerns women had, for example, of their own security, with, again, a vortex of “the country is constantly under threat.” Because if the country is constantly under threat, culture is constantly under threat, memory and history are constantly under threat, then people will wait. People will wait to say: Yes, we will get to our economic problems, but first, let’s have the place—let’s secure the place. How do you secure the place? By creating the fictive enemy. So the construction of the Muslim—Indian Muslims as the internal enemy and Kashmiri Muslims as the external/internal enemy. And it parallels the rise of—if you look at the ways in which the Nazi Party rose in the 1920s and 30s by this symbolism that Jews were in a similar boat; they could never be fully trusted. Same way that the Muslim in India could never be fully trusted, the Kashmiri could never be fully trusted. The demolition of Babri Masjid signaled both the literal and symbolic death of Muslims: their history, their present, and their future.

SA: I think that was beautifully well put. I’ll just add a little bit to bring it back again to the BJP and to Narendra Modi, the prime minister, and how they’ve been very, very explicit about all of this. So for listeners who are less familiar with the politics of India, sometimes in hearing this, you might assume that Hindu nationalism is a fringe movement, or it’s something that people are actively pushing back against. And unfortunately, the reality is that the ruling party—the people who are the most influential in the country—are the ones who are going out and very blatantly saying that the Ram Temple’s significance is directly tied to violence against Muslims. And there’s one BJP politician, Nitesh Rane. He was at an election rally talking in front of a crowd of Hindu nationalist supporters, and he was saying: Muslims, don’t have fun in front of us—you used to have fun in the name of Babri Masjid, too. It’s a very clear link between the rise of Hindu nationalism and the building of the Ram Temple and the subsequent wave of violence that’s being enacted against Muslims. It’s a very explicit thing. And so, as Angana beautifully put it, the Ram Mandir symbolizes this moment where Hindu supremacy has become, in essence, state policy. This is the peak of it.

SD: One of the things that I find really difficult and troubling is this idea in the West, that whatever is happening is fringe or it’s like happening below the radar. The rise of the Hindu right has been cheered by Western leaders all the way, and this is true particularly of Modi, who was welcomed by Barack Obama to the White House, was welcomed by Donald Trump, has been welcomed by Joseph Biden. It doesn’t seem to make a difference whether it’s a Democrat or Republican administration, as far as the isolation of the Muslims in India are concerned. And one reason for that is the post-9/11 and the Islamophobia that we have seen pronounced in the Western world as well, and it has dovetailed very well; it has combined beautifully with the Islamophobia in India. The Hindu right is very aware of this, and they have manipulated it brilliantly, along with their pro-business credentials. So that is something I want to say to Western listeners: that you have to hold yourself culpable as well, because again, it’s very, very comparable to the situation in Palestine. What is going on? Things don’t show up just out of nowhere. They take a long time.

AG: Just following up on that and to bring us to the present moment: On January 22, we saw the actual inauguration of this Ram Mandir that, as Siddhartha put it, since the late 1940s, this has been portented, this has been worked towards. There’s been grassroots efforts that are pushing towards the construction, and finally, this temple has actually been constructed. Legal hurdles have been cleared, a whole Mosque has been cleared, local communities have been cleared to make room for this temple. I’m curious about whether any of you want to speak to the actual ceremony that took place on the 22nd of January.

The ceremony was basically government run. You know, sometimes in the West, the way the Temple is being portrayed is as a purely religious or purely cultural phenomenon that doesn’t have to do with politics. And yet, when you’re actually observing what’s happening in India, the Prime Minister of India is officiating the ceremony or is holding a central role in the ceremony. Government ministers, Supreme Court justices—that’s the guest list for the ceremony. And the Prime Minister of India stands in front of the temple and says: Ram is the new law. I’m curious for you to sketch out for our listeners the political message of the Ram Temple ceremony and the construction of the Ram Temple, especially coming, as it does, in an election year. What does this signify, in terms of what stage the Hindutva movement is at in India, and what might come next now that the greatest ambition has been fulfilled?

SD: I was there at the Temple two years ago on a reporting piece for Tablet magazine. And it’s a giant, you know, I think 54,000 acres. It is meant to be gargantuan. It is meant to be a kind of megalomaniacal structure in what is actually a very small pilgrimage town with quite beautiful little temples—which will not be left alone either, they will also be cleared away for what is essentially a part temple, part fascist national monument, and part holiday resort for diaspora Hindu Indians to fly in and partake of notional Vedic rituals.

But what is very interesting, the day chosen for the inauguration of the temple was just a few days before Republic Day on January 26. And this is, again, part of the Hindu-right project to remake their own sort of—not a Republic Day, because they don’t believe in a republic, but they’ve created their own sort of religious national celebration, which is going to shift it from the nationalist celebrations of Republic Day. And that’s why the date was chosen very carefully. They are remaking India into a Hindu nation. I mean, they make no bones about this.

And that is what the Prime Minister’s participation, his dogwhistles, his gaslighting of minorities, his gaslighting of anybody who’s critical, anybody who thinks independently—that is what the temple is about. The only other thing to be said is that it is, of course, an attempt to cover up a country that is actually deeply troubled. Even if you left aside the question on majority, it is deeply troubled at the level of social justice, equality, basic public health, climate collapse. It is just this project of violence that’s kind of holding it together at the moment. And that’s what the Ram Temple is about. It’s a celebration of violence. It’s not a celebration of spirituality by any means.

AC: The Prime Minister’s participation in the inauguration sends the message that for the security of the country, these are the projects that we must now honor; these are the projects that are crucial, it is no longer something fringe, it is no longer something that is happening without consent. It has the legitimate approval of the government, which then links it to state policy. It links it to national identity, it links it to the way that the future will unfold and it makes Hindu nationalism the sine qua non of nation building in India today.

I also want to say that Modi has extolled previously Golwalkar’s vision. Golwalkar was an early ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a key Hindu-right organization, and professed deep admiration for Nazi Germany. I want to offer a small quote here, if I remember correctly. He said: To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by purging her country of the semitic races, the Jews. Race pride at its highest had been manifested here. Continuing that in India, the non-Hindu may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, not even citizens’ rights. And it was a way of connecting the founding vision of Hindu nationalism to political practice, through then, also, statecraft. That’s what was symbolized in January. Alongside it, the physical and organized attacks, the lynching, the abuse, the deep systemic discrimination have made India’s Muslims one of the most vulnerable populations anywhere in the world.

SA: As Siddhartha and Angana have pointed out, it’s important to talk about just how dystopian this grand celebration is in the context of how much violence Muslims and even Christians are facing on a day-to-day basis in India. We’re at the point where India has attempted to strip Muslims of their citizenship en masse through the Citizenship Amendment Act. Mob lynchings are frighteningly normal—mob violence in general is normalized. The circulation of hate speech on social media—it is very acceptable to talk about killing Muslims, mutilating them, sexually harassing them, assaulting them in public. There’s this overall climate that is building towards a genocide, and they have been very explicit about that as well. In the midst of this, we have this ceremony.

To point out how international media has covered this, it does feel dystopian, because on the surface, you see people talking about the religious ceremonies, and the decorations, and the people who come out to celebrate the fireworks, etc. But then you have a closer look at who’s speaking at the ceremony. It’s this fascist-inspired Prime Minister, and then the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which, as Angana mentioned, is a Hindu supremacist paramilitary group, the oldest and perhaps the most powerful in India, directly related to the mainstreaming of the Hindu nationalist movement in India. Mohan Bhagwat: He was there, he spoke a few words at the inauguration of the temple. Major Hindu militant groups in India actually canvassed throughout India inviting people to the ceremony, encouraging them to come out. We can see, from the people who are celebrating, just exactly what the celebration stands for, and that it was never going to stop with the destruction of the Bhabri Mosque.

I believe, a week or so after the Ram Mandir was inaugurated, a court in Uttar Pradesh claimed that there was evidence that there was a temple under another historic mosque called Gyanvapi Masjid, also in Uttar Pradesh. So now Hindu supremacists are saying “That mosque is going to be ours as well.” There’s another mosque in Mathura city, which they’re saying “That mosque will also be ours—demolish them all, turn them all into temples,” and BJP politicians have also been calling for this, saying that every single mosque in this nation should be turned into a temple. One politician from Karnataka state specifically said: This is revenge for 1,000 years of Muslim rule. It’s a very, very explicit call to erase Muslim heritage, Muslim presence, Muslim identity, Muslim contribution in every aspect of Indian society. And of course, it’d be extremely naive to believe that they would not erase all this Muslim history without also aiming to erase Muslims as a people in India,

SD: It’s important to point out that the mosque that they demolished, claiming that it was built on the birthplace of Ram and a temple dedicated to Ram, the archaeological evidence has been tampered with. All institutions in India are easily corrupted and corruptible. That includes the courts that gave the judgment in favor. What seems very likely, if you sift to the archaeological evidence, is that the Babri Masjid was built on top of something else—that is true, and that was probably a smaller mosque, and that mosque probably was built on top of a Hindu temple. But that temple was probably built on top of a Buddhist shrine. That is, in some sense, India. And you know, one could actually delight in that and say “There are all these layers to our past.” But that is obviously not what the Hindu nationalists believe in.

AG: A lot of us are obviously watching right now with horror the genocide that’s taking place in Gaza. And it brings to mind what you have been referring to, which is that India is laying the groundwork for mass violence in the future. And there’s already eruptions of mass violence against Muslims in India in the present. I wanted to hear your thoughts on watching the temple come up in a moment of genocide and what that brings up for you in terms of where India is headed.

SD: I thought I would just start with an actual story when I was reporting in Ayodhya a couple of years ago, I was interviewing a Dalit Buddhist activist (who is obviously opposed completely to the Ram temple). He was telling me about his story of joining the flotilla that went to Gaza and were being turned back at the border. And I asked him: Why did you go on this caravan? Why did you go on this journey? And he said: It’s an act of solidarity, I think I understand what Palestinians suffer from. So I just thought that in some sense, that is a hopeful story and one worth sharing, given what we see today. Obviously, the links between the Hindu right and Israel are very close, Netanyahu and Modi are very close. What we are seeing is the very similar kind of erasure of a people, erasure of history, erasure of a place. And, you know, we are seeing that this is a global project, in some sense, of the right everywhere. And so, it demands a global project of solidarity in response, in resistance to that.

SA: I’ll speak as a Muslim surveying this entire scenario. I wasn’t born in India, I never lived there, but my parents did. They grew up in South India. So it’s like a very different experience of India. It was a bit more harmonious. They grew up with Hindu friends—in fact, friends from all religions—and it could be considered coexistence from their understanding. And to see that now become this incredible dumpster fire of hatred, and genocidal rhetoric, and calls for death, mutilation, every kind of horror upon an extremely vulnerable minority—that has been extremely scary for them. And it’s been scary to see in the diaspora as well, for me.

To your point, Aparna, about seeing the Temple coming up in a moment of genocide: I think the one thing that I’m holding on to is the fact that, in this moment of genocide, with all the horrors we’re seeing in Palestine, every imaginable atrocity being committed against innocent men, women, and children in the Gaza Strip—I’ve seen Zionism’s mask come off, where it can no longer parade around as this righteous anti-colonial reclaiming of land. It can no longer pretend that it is a cause that is pro any form of humanity, or life, or coexistence, or justice. I feel that with the direction India is headed, it is a very dark path, but I am convinced that the mask that Hindutva is putting up is already very flimsy. I feel like even flimsier than the one that Zionism held onto for so long. I believe that mask will also fall, and I believe the world’s eyes will be opened to what this project is, and hopefully with the same fervor that they call for Palestinian protection, for their freedom, for their right to live. I believe the same will happen for the minorities of India.

AG: Thank you so much. And on that note, thank you everyone for joining us today, and we’ll see you at the next episode of On the Nose.

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Oct 19 2023
Unsettled After October 7th (51:52)
The Unsettled podcast speaks with scholar Tareq Baconi and Gazan activist Isam Hamad.
Sep 28 2023
Elon Musk, the Jews, and the ADL, with Know Your Enemy (01:05:14)
Alex Kane, Mari Cohen, and Peter Beinart discuss the contradictions of the Anti-Defamation League with Know Your Enemy’s Sam Adler Bell.
Sep 14 2023
Trans Halakha (44:24)
Nathan Goldman talks to three members of SVARA’s Teshuva-Writing Collective—Laynie Soloman, Alyx Bernstein, and Rabbi Xava de Cordova—about reimagining halakha for trans life.
Aug 31 2023
Nosegate (28:36)
Arielle Angel talks to Rebecca Pierce, Jody Rosen, and Alisa Solomon about Bradley Cooper’s turn as Leonard Bernstein—wearing a prosthetic nose.
Aug 17 2023
The Jewishness of Oppenheimer (47:05)
In an episode presented in partnership with The Nation’s podcast The Time of Monsters, Mari Cohen, Jeet Heer, David Klion, and Raphael Magarik discuss Christopher Nolan’s new biopic about the infamous physicist.
Aug 3 2023
Camp Kinderland at 100 (57:18)
Judee Rosenbaum and Mitchell Silver talk to Arielle Angel about the storied summer camp, founded by Jewish unionists in 1923.
Jul 20 2023
Chevruta: Be Fruitful and Multiply? (30:26)
Torah scholar Laynie Soloman and feminist theorist Sophie Lewis study a Talmudic text that complicates the biblical injunction to procreate.
Jul 6 2023
What Indian Ethnonationalists Learned From Israel Advocates (35:10)
Aparna Gopalan, Azad Essa, and Nora Caplan-Bricker discuss how the hasbara playbook offers a template for defenders of supremacist politics everywhere.
Jun 22 2023
The Struggle to Stop Cop City (38:01)
Micah Herskind, Keyanna Jones, and Josie Duffy Rice join Claire Schwartz from Atlanta to talk about the fight to prevent the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest and the construction of the US’s largest police training center.
Jun 8 2023
The Plight of Masafer Yatta (26:57)
Alex Kane talks to Palestinian journalist Basel Adra about the West Bank hamlets where over 1,000 Palestinians live in fear of being expelled by Israel.