Phyllis ("Filly") Chesler Half Right: India is a JEWISH country

October 9, 2005

In News

Editor’s note: “If you open up, like, Phyllis Chesler’s book, The New Anti-Semitism, she says Jewish feminists are anti-Semites, NPR is anti-Semitic, BBC is anti-Semitic, Los Angeles Times is anti-Semitic, New York Times is anti-Semitic, Washington Post is anti-Semitic. Everybody is anti-Semitic. The term is devoid of any content. Anyone who ever criticizes Israel is anti-Semitic…. The people who write this stuff — you know, you just quoted Mr. Weiner that Mr. Abbas is not a member of the PLO. If you read these people — Phyllis Chesler, her book The New Anti-Semitism had lots of praise by serious intellectuals like Paul Berman. She keeps saying in the book that India is an Arab country, and she’s very emphatic about this, that India is an Arab country. That’s the level of intellectual, you know, debate and discussion in this country when it comes to the Arab world.” Finkelstein on DN! — No New Antisemitism

by Achal Narayanan

CHENNAI, India (RNS) A group of 218 people belonging to an Indian tribe recently
recognized as “lost descendants of ancient Israelites” will soon be welcomed to
their new homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The emigrants are members of the Bnei Menashe tribe living and practicing Judaism in
northeast India. The Bnei Menashe believe they are descended from one of the 10
lost tribes of Israel who were exiled when Assyrians invaded the northern
kingdom of Israel in the 8th century B.C.

Many of the exiled Israelites made their way across the “silk route”, ending up in
China. The Shinlung tribe, as they were also called in China, eventually
migrated to Myanmar and northeast India, losing many of their Jewish customs
along the way.

There are more than 300,000 Bnei Menashes in the state of Manipur, but most of them follow Christianity. Only around 6,000 have converted to Judaism — many in the 1970s.

The rabbis sent to Manipur and Mizoram states by the chief rabbi of the
Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar, declared the converts “descendants of the Jewish

Bnei Menashe members welcomed the announcement, saying they could now “go to the
Promised Land.” Michael Freund, founder of Shavei Israel, an association
assisting “lost Jews” to return to Israel, described the proposed relocation by
the 218-strong Bnei Menashe group as “a turning point.”

“This is a major historical event,” he said, “because these members of a lost tribe of Israel can return home after 27 centuries.”

2006 Religion News Service.