Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mizoram ‘Lost Tribe’

Long before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was hugged at Ben Gurion Airport Indians have been getting hugged by the hundreds here by their Israeli families since the early 2000s in what can only be called an amazing fairy tale turned reality. A story still unfolding.
The theory that they belong to the mythical ‘Lost Tribe’ of Israel, Menashe, developed by some Mizos got official legitimacy in April 2005 when the Sephardi Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Shlomo Amar, officially recognized them as the descendents of the ancient Israelites or Bnei Menashe (BM).

Mizos are now officially direct participants in modern Israel’s national dreams and nightmares.

Mizoram ‘Lost Tribe’: How A Clone Of Israel Is Developing In South-Asia
This brought the eastern Himalayan mountain community, a mongoloid tribes-people, under the Law of Aliya, the right of any Jew to return home to Israel as a citizen, with some conditions, of course. It was the late Rabbi Avichail Eliyahu, famed founder of the Amishav, who had christened them Bnei Menashe. Amishav is an organization dedicated to finding and bringing to Israel Lost Tribe members in fulfillment of the Talmudic prophecies.
No doubt the Chief Rabbinate’s decision in 2005 was motivated by purely religious sentiment. Though lately this decision has come under serious dispute, so far more than 3000 persons from the states of Mizoram and Manipur have migrated to Israel under this Law. Michael Freund, a journalist and also the Chairman of the Shavei Israel, another organization which took over from Amishav, declared Operation Menashe 2017 in the beginning of this year hoping to ‘take home’ most of the Bnei Menashe soon. Significantly, Freund was an aide in the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his 1996 term.
One would need to be blind not to read the political implications of such an ‘organic’ link and the potential it has to play some kind of role in the geo-political realities of South-Southeast Asian region, where the most powerful countries of the world have an undying interest. Mizoram in particular, and the north eastern region of India in general are willy-nilly already part of the hidden or un-noticed global political currents.
Mizos are now officially direct participants in modern Israel’s national dreams and nightmares. Anyone who has doubts about this only has to think back to the angst in Mizoram during any flare-ups in the Jewish settlements in Israel’s borders. Till last count, Mizos formed the ‘largest ethnic group’ of settlers in these ‘occupied’ territories which is the bone of contention that fuels the middle-eastern conflict thereby making them a people of high controversy.
Several of them, including at least a few women, have joined the Israel defense forces. Some have made it to ‘elite’ Israeli armed corps and as nurses and caregivers. Many reportedly work as laborers in the greenhouses and farmlands which feeds 70 percent of the need for fresh vegetables and fruits in Jerusalem markets.
But it’s not the 7000 odd Mizos who have given themselves to Jewishness that are set to write a totally new chapter. Far more critical is the speculation about the role that the millions of Mizos at home will play as the far-away-wars spin into the home turf. The script already looks set.
Mizoram, located between Burma and Bangladesh is about 21,087 sq miles of land--- about the size of Israel. In every nook of the state, finds localities called Bethel, Israel, Zion and the like.
As hundreds of news mediums reported in 2005 more than 200 BMs were converted to Jews by a full fledged Israeli Rabbinical court which sat in Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram making them practically citizens of Israel under the Law of Return. The mikvah built to the precision of Jewish laws by an Iranian-Israeli rabbi, Doron Malca, was a virtual gateway to Israel for the converts. The Rabbinical court would have been stationed here had it not been for a complaint made against conversion into Jews by some Christian organizations which resulted in the Government of India asking them to stop. To overcome the problem, the migrants are now taken to Israel, put in absorption centers from where they are converted and given the full fledged rights of an Israeli citizen.
At least two Hebrew and Torah learning centers are functioning in the states of Mizoram and Manipur.

To read the full story AND its implication for India, click here.

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