Friday, February 5, 2010

RETROSPECTIVE by Navras Jaat Aafreedi

First Ever Holocaust Films Retrospective in South Asia

Copyright © 2010 by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi

Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Ph.D.
Indian Co-Chair, R&B Indian Pathan-Israel Fellowship
Open Space Fellow, Centre for Communication and Development Studies

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YERUSHALAYIM, Israelite Tribal Territories of Judah and Benjamin, Kingdom of David and Solomon, United Israelite Kingdom of Judah and Joseph, Twentieth Day, Eleventh Hebrew Month of "Shvat", 5770; Yom Chamishi (Fifth Day of Week/"Thurs"-day, February 4, 2010), Root & Branch Information Services


Dear R&B Readers,

It is with immense pride that we present to you this inspiring report by Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi on the Holocaust Films Retrospective that Navras organised in India, in Southeast Asia's Muslim heartland, from September-October, 2009.

Navras Aafreedi, an Israelite prince of the Aafreedi Pathan tribe, came to study in Eretz Yisrael from the Fall of 2006 through the Spring of 2007. Navras is Indian Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Root and Branch Association's Indian Pathan-Israel Fellowship (R&B has a Pakistani Pathan-Israel Fellowship, too). As you (should) know, Pathans (forty million of them) believe that they are descendents of the Lost Tribes of Israel. Navras the Pathan of course believes this. So do I.

Read Navras' report below and marvel at what ONE PERSON, a volunteer operating on a shoestring budget (if that!), with a good head and a good heart, can accomplish. Austrians say, "The situation is hopeless, but not serious". Prussians say, "The situation is serious, but not hopeless". Count me in with the Austrians when it comes to that "peaceful, easy feeling" state of mind . Count me in with the Prussians when it comes to Blitzkrieg ("Lightening War") Time.

Navras took ACTION, amazing ACTION. Remember that when paper pushing, brain and heart dead apparatchiki of the Israeli "government" and E.J.O's (Establishment Jewish Organizations) tell you "We can't do this" or "We can't do that" or "We need to convene a committee" or "We need a big budget", or "We need to conduct a study" or, or, or...Just press the "delete" button!

Navras brought Israel's battle to the Muslim heart of Southeast Asia. He did not ask himself, "Am I afraid?", or "Will there be a pogrom?", or "What will the goyim say?" or, or, or...It is a DIFFERENT kind of thought/perception world, that of the free Men (and Women) of the Mountains, the Fighting Israelite Pathans.

Today, Lucknow. Tomorrow, UP to the hills and valleys of northern Pakistan, where Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti and Gulf State petro-dollar profit financed Wahhabi mind murderers destroy the lives of orphan Pathan boys by attempting to turn them into suicide/murderers in Wahhabi madrassot ('schools'). Not much longer. Soon, oh so soon, the Pathans will REALLY wake up to their Israelite heritage, and SEE what the Wahhabi (primarily) Arab "imams" and "sheikhs" have done to Our People. And when the Pathans REALLY wake up, they will wipe out the Wahhabis among them, leaving none surviving. They will kill them.

So, my advice to all Wahhabi murder masters at your madrassot in northern Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Get out. Flee, while you still have time. Because your time is coming to an end.

Shalom from Yerushalayim,

Mr. Lowell Gallin

Founder and President
The Root and Branch Association, Ltd.

Cracking the Qur'an Code:
God's Land, Torah and People Covenants with Israel in the Qur'an and Islamic Tradition
Volume One, E-Book First Edition
(Jerusalem: Root and Branch Association, Ltd., 2009, 399 pages, $12.00) *********************************************

First Ever Holocaust Films Retrospective in South Asia

Conscious as I was of how ignorant my fellow Indians were of the Holocaust and how a section of Muslims among them denied its scale and magnitude, I had for a long time desired to do something to create awareness on the subject. Also, the fact that although Western History was taught at my alma mater, the University of Lucknow, but that the students were never told about the Holocaust, saddened me.

The Open Space Fellowship from the Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Pune, emerged as the means to that end and enabled me to organise, with worldwide help and support, largely in the form of film contributions, THE FIRST EVER HOLOCAUST FILMS RETROSPECTIVE IN SOUTH ASIA. During the Retrospective, forty-six film screenings took place in fourteen days in three phases at five venues - two universities, two offices of non-profit organisations and the world's largest school - over a period of two months, September and October 2009.

The films screened during the retrospective (absolutely free of charge) were seen by four thousand people. It was an event driven completely by philanthropy. All the films at the Retrospective had either been lent free of charge or donated. Almost all the films screened at the Retrospective had never been seen in South Asia before. The films Retrospective was accompanied by an exhibition of twenty posters, donated by Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

During the event, a trilingual brochure containing synopses of the films in English, Hindi (India's national language), and Urdu - the lingua franca of almost all South Asian Muslims, and a poem written exclusively for the event by the great Urdu poet, Anwar Nadeem, was distributed among the audiences, which consisted of noted intellectuals as well as academics and students.

All film screenings were followed by discussions which were attended by celebrities such as acclaimed filmmaker, M. S. Sathyu; theatre personalities, Dr. Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha, Jugal Kishor, Salim Arif and Professor Thontadarya; Urdu literary figures, Professor Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad, Dr. Ayesha Siddiqui and Anwar Nadeem; educators and social activists, Professor Roop Rekha Verma and Dr. Jagdish Gandhi; religious leaders of almost all communities in India and a number of academics and university students. It was also perhaps the first event dedicated to the Holocaust to have been attended by Muslims in such large numbers.

While the event was in progress, the two largest circulation Urdu newspapers of Lucknow, Rashtriya Sahara [2] and Aag [3], carried a story each denying the Holocaust and calling it "The Biggest Hoax of the Twentieth Century", which confirms the event's importance. It is highly significant that the Retrospective took place in Lucknow, which is not only a major Muslim cultural centre, but the centre of the Muslim heartland of South Asia, home to the world's largest Muslim population.

Muslim demonstrations against Israel are common in Lucknow. During the American invasion of Iraq, flags of Israel and the U.S. were drawn on the floor at the entrance to Lucknow's most famous landmark, the Shi’a Muslim monument called Bara Imambara, so that whosoever visited the monument trampled the flags. Americans and Israelis were barred from entering the monument.

Even India's response to the Holocaust was largely determined by Muslim attitudes towards Jews, as illustrated by the following paragraph:

"the opposition to the Jews came from the Muslim leaders in India who were pro-Arab. For them the bonds of religion were stronger than the sufferings of Jews under Hitler. Keeping in view the sentiments of the Muslims towards this question, the government imposed many restrictions on the settlement of Jews in India. How far the policy of the Indian National Congress to appease the Muslims was also responsible for this stand of the government needs further study. But there is no doubt that I.N.C.'s pro-Palestinian policy encouraged the British to insist that each Jewish refugee have a guaranteed job before allowed entry into India". [4]

The Holocaust Films Retrospective was inaugurated by the Mayor of Lucknow, Dr. Dinesh Sharma. During the first phase films were screened at the Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University from September 14th to the 18th. The second phase took place at the University of Lucknow from October 12th to the 15th, with a one day gap on the 14th. During the third phase films were screened at the Open Space – Lucknow office from October 22nd to the 26th, while the concluding day's screenings took place at the office of the non-profit organisation, Saajhi Duniya, on October 27th. On October 2nd, Gandhi's birth anniversary, observed as the International Day of Non-Violence as per a U.N. resolution, a Holocaust film was screened before an audience of three thousand and five hundred, at the World Convention Centre of the City Montessori School, which holds the Guinness record for the largest number of students and is also a recipient of the U.N.E.S.C.O. Prize for Peace Education 2002.

I am glad that I did not succumb to pressure from various quarters to include films on other genocides, conscious as I was that doing so would be comparing the Jewish Holocaust in Europe to similar acts of genocide in the twentieth century, which could result in the obfuscation and dwarfing of the Jewish trauma.

Jewish/Israelite History had always fascinated me, but I fell in love with Israel and the Jewish culture during the one academic year (2006-2007) I spent in Israel, supported by a scholarship from the Israeli Government. Now I look for opportunities to introduce my fellow countrymen to Israel and Jewish culture through various media.

Also, coming from a Muslim background and being a Secular Humanist gives me the privileged position of being at once an insider and an outsider in the Muslim community. It makes me well aware of the Muslim anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial among them. These efforts of mine are also aimed at improving South Asian Muslim attitudes towards Jews and Israel.

The work is significant in many respects. The field of Jewish-Muslim relations activism has largely been focused on Arab-Israeli relations, concerned with the Arab enemy right there at the doorstep of Israel. Yet eighty per cent of the Muslim population is non-Arab, largely resident in South Asia; and they have emerged as the epicentre of Muslim anti-Semitism and violence. They have declared war against the Judeo-Christian West and certain aspects of the composite Indic civilization. The Wahhabi Taliban and Wahhabi Al Qaida have their bases in South Asia. The strongest influence the extremist and fanatic Wahhabis have anywhere outside of Saudi Arabia is in South Asia, among the Muslims there.

I am of the view that ignorance gives birth to stereotypes, which ultimately leads to feelings of hatred and hostility, so evident in South Asian Muslim attitudes towards Jews. Most South Asian Muslims know Jews only through secondary sources, for example:

the Qur'an, whose references to Jews are generally misinterpreted in a negative way;

the Muslim Press, which may be considered guilty of yellow journalism by being selective in presenting the truth and refusing to present it in its entirety.

The biggest manifestations of Muslim anti-Semitism in the twenty-first century have all emerged in South Asia:

the 9/11 attack perpetrated by members of Al Qaida, which has its base in South Asia, in Afghanistan and the tribal region of Pakistan;

the assassination of Daniel Pearl;

the 26/11 attack on the Chabad in Mumbai.

I have touched upon each of the above mentioned unfortunate events by organising programmes focused on them, for example:

Preview Screening of the documentary New Muslim Cool at the University of Lucknow, a day before its world premiere on the American channel PBS;

An Evening dedicated to Jewish-Muslim Relations among Muslim youth at the Academy of Mass Communication, Lucknow, where the celluloid adaptation of Daniel Pearl's widow Mariane's memoir, A Mighty Heart, was screened and a bilingual (Urdu and English) booklet on inter-faith relations, published by the Centre for Interfaith Studies, Pakistan, was distributed (the event's photos, press coverage, report and a link to the OPEN SPACE - LUCKNOW blog is now there at the Daniel Pearl Foundation website;

Prof. Deepika Marya's (University of Southern Maine, U.S.A.) lecture on 26/11 Mumbai and the Radical Project of Secularism in memory of Rabbi & Mrs. Holtzberg of Mumbai Chabad, at the Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow.

Besides this, I’ve gotten eminent Muslim scholars, such as the Anthropologist Prof. N. Hasnain, Urdu Poet Prof. Malikzada M. Ahmad and the Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Assembly, Sheikh Professor Abdul Hadi Palazzi, who is the world's most prominent Zionist Muslim cleric, to speak against Muslim anti-semitism, and Jewish speakers from the US, such as Human Rights Activist Dr. Richard L. Benkin and the filmmaker and writer Sadia Shepard, and from Israel, Sharon Rappaport, Political Secretary, Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, to give messages of Jewish-Muslim reconciliation.

Now I intend to invite the famous duo, Professor Judea Pearl and Professor Akbar S. Ahmad, for a Jewish-Muslim Dialogue in Lucknow, the first ever outside of the Judeo-Christian West.

I have also tried to introduce Indian youth, particularly Muslim Indian youth, to:

Jewish literature from India, Israel, the US, and Europe, by organising the readings of the works of Padmashri Nissim Ezekiel, Esther David, Meera Mahadevan (nee Miriam Jacob Mendrekar), Robin David, Yehuda Amichai, Sadia Shepard (Jewish, according to Halacha), Etgar Keret, and Tadeusz Borowski;

Jewish Music by organising "An Evening of Jewish Music" dedicaticated to World Peace in memory of Daniel Pearl on his birthday, as part of the Daniel Pearl World Music Days peace movement;
Jewish cinema by organising a retrospective of the Israeli filmmaker Professor Yael Katzir's award-winning documentaries.

One can read about my efforts for the betterment of Jewish-Muslim relations on the following sites: ; .

It is my hope, going forward from this point, that others will be inspired to further elucidate the ties and commonalities between Muslims and Jews, and thereby increase understanding between these ancient peoples and faiths.

Shalom from Lucknow,

Navras Jaat Aafreedi, Ph.D.
Indian Co-Chair, R&B Indian Pathan-Israel Fellowship
Open Space Fellow, Centre for Communication and Development Studies
About me:
About my research:

Press Coverage:
English Press:
Hindi Press:
Urdu Press:


[2] Qutubullah, "Holocaust: Beesveen Sadee ka Sabse Badadaa Jhoota Afsana", Rashtriya Sahara, Lucknow, September, 16, 2009

[3] "Sadee ka Sabse Badaa Jhoot? Holocaust", Aag, Lucknow, October 18, 2009

[4] Tilak Raj Sareen, "Indian Responses to the Holocaust", in Anil Bhatti and Johannes H. Voigt, eds., Jewish Exile in India: 1933-1945, Manohar in association with Max Mueller Bhavan, New Delhi, 2005, page 59

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