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Indians, Jewish Americans join hands in fight against terrorism

Aziz Haniffa in Washington DC | July 18, 2003 01:03 IST
Last Updated: July 18, 2003 01:43 IST

For years, the Indian American community envied the Jewish community, particularly their ability to organise the community politically and influence decision making at the highest levels.

This week, it joined hands with the Jewish community in the fight against terrorism marking the coming together of the peoples of two nations bearing the brunt of the menace.

A nascent yet politically enterprising Indian American group joined two powerful Jewish American groups and played host to some US lawmakers, who supported the development while expressing their support to the fight against terrorism.

The theme at the event, touted as the coming of age of a partnership between the two communities, was 'Standing for Democracy, Standing Against Terrorism'.

The venue - the Senate Dirksen Office Building Room on Capitol Hill.

"This reception marks the beginning of a long and enduring partnership for the two communities to work together on issues of mutual concern and interests and to leverage each other's strengths," the organisers said.

Over 100 Jewish and Indian American community leaders attended the event, hosted by the US-India Political Action Committee, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee and the American Jewish Committee.

According to a joint statement by the organisers, the two communities 'share a deep commitment to democracy, pluralism, strong families and entrepreneurship'.

"The partnership between these two communities is reflected in the growing ties between the US, India and Israel," the statement said adding, "This partnership also strongly advocates and supports a vigorous US response to global terrorism."

"This reception for United States' elected leadership will demonstrate that the Indian American and American Jewish communities are united in their support for democracy and opposition to the threat posed by global terrorism."

Among the lawmakers present were Congressman Frank Pallone (New Jersey, Democrat), Tom Lantos (California, Democrat), a Hungarian-born Jew and Holocaust survivor, Senator Ron Wyden (Oregon, Democrat), Congressman Mark Kirk (Illinois, Republican), Congressman Mark Foley (Florida, Republican) and Gary Ackerman (New York, Democrat), whose daughter-in-law is Indian American.

Speaking on the occasion, Pallone, former co-chair of the India Caucus, recalled that when he founded the Caucus over 10 years ago, "one of the first things I would hear was - how we (Indian Americans) can emulate the Jewish community, particularly the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, in terms of their lobbying abilities, their ability to organise the community politically."

A decade later, Pallone said, he was of the opinion that 'the Indian American community has been very successful at emulating the AIPAC and empowering themselves politically, becoming a really major political force across the country and in Congress."

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