For decades, diaspora Hindus have looked to American Jews as role models for attaining political power in the United States. Hindu Americans have established political groups fashioned after AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee; these organizations have worked to advance India’s economic and security interests much as their Jewish counterparts have protected Israel’s.
Now, as India draws scrutiny for its worsening human rights record under far-right Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hindu nationalist groups in the US are once again looking to their Jewish allies. This time, they’re modeling their efforts on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which casts certain criticism of Israel as anti-Jewish hatred. A new investigation by Jewish Currents news editor Aparna Gopalan shows how Hindu nationalists are promulgating a concept of “Hinduphobia” that equates opposition to Hindu nationalism with anti-Hindu bigotry. On this week’s episode of On the Nose, Gopalan speaks with Jewish Currents executive editor Nora Caplan-Bricker and Middle East Eye senior reporter Azad Essa about Hinduphobia, the India–Israel alliance, and the potential for the hasbara playbook to be followed by ethnonationalist movements worldwide.
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 Hindu Nationalists Using the Pro-Israel Playbook,” Aparna Gopalan, Jewish Currents
“The US Rolls Out the Red Carpet For Modi,” Aparna Gopalan, Jewish Currents
“How Modi uses yoga to whitewash India’s crimes,” Azad Essa, Middle East Eye
“The Settler-Colonialist Alliance of India and Israel,” Deeksha Udupa, The Nation
“How the Hindus Became Jews: American Racism After 9/11,” Vijay Prashad, South Atlantic Quarterly
“What FBI data about anti-Hindu hate crimes in the US reveals about fears of ‘Hinduphobia,’” Raju Rajagopal, Scroll.in
“A Gandhi statue is toppled in Queens, but was it a hate crime?” Arun Venugopal, Gothamist
Diasporic Desires: Making Hindus & the Cultivation of Longing in the United States and Beyond by Shana Sippy (forthcoming from New York University Press)