Independent Media Centre Ireland

Indians can't be Israelis - official

category international | history and heritage | other press author Thursday November 10, 2005 14:02author by iosaf

(human interest story)

Earlier this year Israel's Sephardi chief rabbi recognized the community "Bnei Menashe" as one of 10 lost tribes of Israel, after examining their oral traditions, customs and religious habits, enthusiastically set about converting them wholescale.

The "Bnei menashe" live in what is now India. And according to their own oral traditions were exiled from the other tribes in the 8th century BC. The Indian government is very unhappy, and after a low level diplomatic spat, Israel announced yesterday that it would stop its conversion mission.

from their own website :-

"in North East India, in the land mass that lies between Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Bangladesh, there lives a small group of people who have been practicing Judaism for more than 25 years. They have not taken on a "new" religion. These people, in fact, have returned to the religion of their ancestors. They call themselves Bnei Menashe, descendants of the Tribe of Menashe, one of the ten lost tribes. Also known as the Shinlung, the Bnei Menashe relate their history of exile from the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C. across the silk route finally ending up in India and Myanmar."

The coverage so far,7340,L-3167135,00.html

The Times of India reports {"The continuation of the conversion activity in the same manner it is being done today can harm our good relationship with India", deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific in the foreign ministry, Amos Nadai, said in a statement. Participating in the discussion of Knesset Immigration, Absorption, and the Diaspora Committee over the immigration of members of the Bnei Menashe community hailing from the north-eastern states of Manipur and Mizoram, Nadai said that "India is intolerant of conversion activities on its territory"..."Noting India's respect for freedom of religion, under which the Jews in India thrived for centuries, Nadai told the committee that "to the best of his knowledge the Indian government has no objection to the immigration of Jews or non-Jews to Israel", but objects to "conversion" in its territory."}

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