dark skinned Kerala Jews suffered discrimination & racist attitude from Israel govt:

In Kochi, a Jew returns home to tell the story of a black pen

Artist, whose father migrated to Israel from Kerala at age of six, is showcasing that journey, and those of others before him, at the Kochi Biennale

Written by Vandana Kalra | Kochi | Updated: December 27, 2016 4:26 am
kerala, kerala artists, kerala art gallery, Kochi Biennale, Kochi Biennale artists, Kochi Biennale art exhibitions, Meydad Eliyahu, Meydad Eliyahuart, Meydad Eliyahu exhibition, Kerala news, India news Meydad Eliyahu chronicles the life of Cochin Jews. (Express Photo by Arjun Suresh) As a child of 12, Meydad Eliyahu remembers his excitement when his father, Abraham Eliyahu, gifted him a pen that he had always seen him keep with utmost care. The black pen with a silver-coloured cap was rather ordinary looking but Meydad knew it was dear to his father — it was among the few objects from Kerala that his family had carried with them when they were migrating to Israel in 1954. Abraham was six then. He had migrated with his parents and three siblings, leaving his grandparents in India.
In a quiet lane in Fort Kochi, around 2 km from Mattancherry, the Jewish quarters, Meydad, 33, is now narrating stories of his family and other Cochin Jews who immigrated to Israel from Kochi — in a collateral exhibition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale at Kashi Art Gallery.
Here, the Israeli artist has hundreds of photographs, letters and documents that attempt to chronicle the life that they led in Kochi in the 1940s and 50s and in Mesilat Zion — located in the middle en route from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv — where several of them settled on their arrival in Israel.
It was only last year that Meydad embarked on this exploration. The trigger was a trip to India with his family in December 2015. This was Abraham’s maiden trip to Kochi since he left in 1954. “It was very emotional to hear my father speak in Malayalam for the first time, as soon as he landed in Kochi,” says the Jerusalem-based artist.
The 12-day trip had them search for neighbourhoods familiar to his father in his distant recollections. The family could not locate their ancestral home, which was in Ernakulam, but Meydad did manage to find his great-grandfather Moshe Avraham Chai’s grave in the New Jewish Cemetery in Ernakulam.
“He held an important position in the Kadavumbagam Synagogue,” says Meydad. In the exhibition, he stands in a group photograph with other men from the community.
Meydad builds his narrative through such photographs taken in India before the departure of the Kochi Jews. There is also documentation of their arrival in Israel and the settlement during the initial years in Mesilat Zion. The jubilation is evident in a photograph that Meydad identifies as the first marriage among the migrants. There are also mundu-wearing men sowing seeds in the fields. The attire, Meydad notes, becomes more western in a few months.
“It could have been to assimilate with the European Jews,” says the graduate in art from Jerusalem studio. The spices, though, came from India for years, carefully wrapped in letters written by family members.
Financially well-settled in Kochi, the Jews made Aliyah or “the journey to their homeland”, from the early 1950s, after the creation of Israel in 1948. Meydad notes that in India they resided in peace, with no persecution, and the growing presence of the Zionists in Kochi might also have influenced their migration.
“Several of them were traders and led comfortable lives here. There were two distinct communities in Kerala — the Paradesi Jews who had immigrated from Spain and Portugal in the 15th and 16th centuries, and Jews who had been here. Their numbers were reportedly upto 3,000 at one time. Now, there are around five-six Paradesi Jews and less than 30 Cochin Jews in Kerala,” says historian B Thomas.
Life in Israel, though, was difficult. The first complication arose when the Israeli government restricted the number of migrants from Kochi, citing incidence of filariasis among them. “Some children were separated from their families and subjected to treatments that included strong radiation of the scalp. A number of them suffer from Parkinson’s and cancer today,” says Meydad.{reminds of such treatment by nazis

Nazi human experimentation - Wikipedia

The bitter memories of those years, he says, haunts the community till now. “No one wants to talk about those years. There were 1,500-2,000 people who migrated, but with a lot of effort I could find a few willing to discuss their journey from Kerala or talk about the early years after they moved,” he says.
The exhibit in Fort Kochi meanders between personal and community-based. Meydad’s sources include the Ben-Zvi Institute, National Library and the Zalman Shazar Center in Jerusalem as well as the personal archives of the numerous families. So the display features a family photograph of Shara Shabat, who immigrated to Israel in the 1970s, and now teaches Malayalam to a group of young women in Jerusalem. There is also a photograph of Tsipora Daniel, who moved from Mattancherry to Israel in the mid-1950s.
“She is among the few willing to discuss about the Kerala Jews in Israel. She also sings the traditional songs sung in weddings of the Kerala Jews. She was even part of my wedding,” says Meydad.
Most physical material in the exhibition comes from Israel, but Meydad says it has been his research in Kochi — which includes meetings with C Karmachandran, former associate professor at C Achutha Menon Government College, Kuttanellur, historian Thomas and Yosef Elias, keeper of the Kadavumbagam Synagogue in Ernakulam — that has been more revealing.
“The painful thing is that the dark-skinned Kerala Jews suffered from discrimination and racist attitude from the Israel government and institutions. They are completely ignored in the history books, even though they are a more integrated community today,” says Meydad, who is still adding material to the project.
Meanwhile, in his family home in Mesilat Zion, the meals now include authentic Kochi Jew dishes such as Hubba and Pastel, prepared from spices his mother, an Israeli Jew, purchased during her trip to India last December. The pen is a heirloom, which appears in a photograph in the exhibition, along with other souvenirs that the Eliyahu family travelled with, including silver-coloured boxes and a kippah.


The pot calling the kettle black - Wikipedia

Image result for pot calling kettle black

israel suffered under nazis
but continue nazi traditions

Racism in Israel - Wikipedia

Racism in Israel refers to all forms and manifestations of racism experienced in Israel, ... Racism on the part of Israeli Jews against Muslim Arabs in Israel exist in ... including against Ethiopian Jews, Indian Jews, Mizrahi Jews, Sephardi Jews, etc. .... however, there were problems in some areas, including... institutional, legal, ...

In Israel's mini-India, the rockets don't scare them - Times of India

Jul 20, 2014 - The 80,000 Indian Jews in southern Israel are bearing the brunt of Hamas attacks. ... there are many Indian men and women in uniform either in Gaza or ... taken on the sobriquet with close to 1,000 families of Indian origin living here. ... that they would expand the population to the peripheral areas and ease ...

In Israel's mini-India, the rockets don't scare them

| TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 06.46 AM IST
As the Israeli forces launch a ground attack, there are many Indian men and women in uniform either in Gaza or providing logistics to the soldiers. As the Israeli forces launch a ground attack, there are many Indian men and women in uniform either in Gaza or... Read More
The 80,000 Indian Jews in southern Israel are bearing the brunt of Hamas attacks. Though faithful to the drill — head to the 'strong room' when sirens sound — they refuse to let fear govern their lives

The ongoing battle between Israeli defence forces and Hamas may seem like a distant battle in a distant land to which India has no connection. In fact, most of those projectiles are landing in what is effectively Israel's mini-India.

There are more Indian Jews — Bene Israel, Baghdadi and Cochini — in Israel than in India today. According to one estimate there are around 80,000 Jews of Indian origin there, compared to the around 3,000 left in India. And most of them live in the southern Israeli towns of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Dimona and Bersheva, cities that have borne the brunt of the rocket attacks of the Hamas.  
[while white Jews live in cities a little far away and secure from attacks]
Also, as the Israeli forces launch a ground attack, there are many Indian men and women in uniform either in Gaza or providing logistics to the soldiers. Among them is municipal councillor from Ramle, Benny Binyamin who has both his children in the reserves.

"The government is likely to add another 18,000 soldiers from the reserves if need be," he says. "Let's see how it goes." For a long time, Dimona was known as Little India but Ashdod has now taken on the sobriquet with close to 1,000 families of Indian origin living here. Although many of them are now more Israeli than Indian, it is common to hear Marathi and a smattering of Hindi spoken in many homes. There have not been any reports of deaths or injuries so far though sirens and blasts are part of daily existence.

"We've just had two rockets landing in the vicinity," says Lizzy Isaacs, a senior citizen and member of the Indian Jewish community, rather matter-of-factly. It has been more than 10 days that they have been under attack now. "It is not as if life has come to a standstill because of the attacks," she says. "We go into our strong rooms as soon as the sirens are sounded.

You know what a strong room is, right?" A bank vault where you safely store your money, valuables, records and documents? "No, it's the strongest room in our house built with concrete and cement which protects us from attacks," she says.

Strong room and Iron Dome are two terms that keep coming up while talking to people in this part of the world. For the uninitiated, the dome is no architectural structure. It is the latest mobile all-weather air defence system designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells. As soon as enemy rockets are launched, Iron Dome's radar tracks their trajectory, calculates their impact point and launches a missile which within seconds locks onto the rocket and shoots it down.

"People laughed at Israel when it suggested the dome technology," says Nissim Moses, president of the Indian Jewish Heritage Centre who lives in Petah Tikva near Tel Aviv. "Today, it has intercepted 90% of the rockets." He is extremely proud of the Indian government refusing to criticize Israel in the current situation.

The Rajya Sabha was stalled on July 14 after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told members that India had diplomatic ties with both nations and that discourteous references could affect their relations. Adds Moses, "Gira to gira par tangdi upar (We may fall but we will never lose our attitude). That is how we live in Israel. The rockets don't scare us." A large number of Jews of Indian origin live in south Israel as they were sent to what are known as 'development towns' by the Israeli government when they first arrived as immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s, says Dr Shalva Weil, senior researcher at the Research Institute for Innovation and Education at Hebrew University. She lived with the Indian Jews in Israel for three years when she wrote her doctorate many years ago and is a leading researcher on the community.

The towns were planned in such a way that they would expand the population to the peripheral areas and ease pressure on the country's centre which was already pretty crowded. "We have very few Jews of Indian origin in cities like Jerusalem and Tel Aviv," she says.
[cities are for white Jews from Europe and elsewhere!! pure racism] "Many of them found it difficult to move out of the development towns. Also, Ashdod has become a very nice city over time. Indians also like to stick to their own. As an anthropologist, I think of Indians in Israel both as my friends and as Israelis, not just as Indian Jews." Interestingly, Ashdod means stronghold in Hebrew.

She adds that Indians Jews were supporters of the left-wing Labour Party when they first came to Israel. "Now, many have become right-wing supporters." Prof Lael Anson Best, head of the department of thoracic surgery at Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa whose family migrated from Ahmedabad, says Indians preferred to live in southern Israel because the hot and humid weather was much like India. Many more rockets had landed within 50 metres of his hospital in 2006.