On Sunday, December 10th, HAF Executive Director Suhag Shukla spoke at Philadelphia’s rally against antisemitism. The following are her prepared remarks from the event:
“Shalom and Namaste.
History tells us that over 2000 years ago, seven families came to the shores of my ancestral and sacred homeland, India. They were Jews seeking refuge from persecution, some say after the destruction of the First and Second Temples.
Whether they arrived by intention or simply by the destiny of the seas’ winds, they had stepped into a Hindu civilization whose core ethos was Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahudha Vadanti – The Truth is One. The wise call it by many names.
And so in a place where difference was accepted and pluralism exalted, these seven grew to thousands and contributed to India in even greater measure.
Over the centuries, the Bene Israel were joined by Jews from across the world. They not only survived. They thrived, as did their way of life, in one of the few places on earth that has been immune to the disease of antisemitism.
Indeed, antisemitism is a disease because hate is a disease. It spreads. It mutates. It kills — not just human bodies but the human spirit.
The earliest strains stemmed from greed for power and land or fear of outward differences. But over time, hate mutated. Millions have suffered gravely under the influence of intoxicating and lethal ideas like my race is superior to yours, that my God must be your God or that your ways are wrong. And today, these old forms of hate have become viral by a contagion that divides us into two contrived tribes — either oppressed or oppressor — blinding otherwise well meaning people to our shared reality and individual humanity.
But there are antidotes.
It’s understanding that the world is complex and that there are no simple answers. It’s finding common ground and respecting irreconcilable differences. It’s recognizing that there exists a bright line between good and evil, civility and savagery. It’s having moral clarity and moral courage. It’s choosing love over hate.
And what do these antidotes deliver?
An unequivocal and universal condemnation of terrorism, the rape of women and the killing of innocents, as well as the admission that the refusal to do so in this moment is rooted in blatant antisemitism.
They deliver an emphatic YES when asked whether faculty celebrating the actions of Hamas or students calling for the genocide of Jews constitutes harassment of Jewish students.
They deliver peaceful and principled protests that gather in front of city halls not mobs who target a business simply because it’s owned by a Jew.
When the antidote works, a peaceful, fair, and just society emerges where everyone, regardless of where they’re from, how they pray, or who they love, flourish.
The Jewish tradition might say that the antidote delivers Tikkun Olam and in the Hindu Tradition, the last verse of the ancient Rig Veda says:
May we march forward with a common goal. May we be open-minded and work together in harmony. May we share our thoughts for collective wisdom.
Sangachhadhwam samvadadhwam samvo manaansi jaanataam
So let us join together and be the antidote and start by taking a stand against antisemitism together.
Namaste and Shalom.”