Indian soldiers’ bravery revisited on Haifa Day in Sydney….reports Sandeep Datta
The Indian soldiers’ valour as displayed in 1918 during first World War to free the Israeli city of Haifa was remembered in Australia .
On Sep 23, 1918 Indian soldiers of two elite army units from Jodhpur and Mysore, in a heroic battle with Ottomans, liberated the port city of Haifa.
“The Indian horsemen armed with just spears and swords attacked Ottoman army and defeated their artillery guns on Mount Carmel. The action of the Indian troops has been vividly recorded in the official history of the war,” said Balesh Singh Dhankhar, president of Overseas Friends of Bharatiya Janata Party, Australia and national interfaith coordinator, Hindu Council of Australia on this occasion.
Speaking over phone, Dhankar said the historical day was organised by the Hindu Council of Australia and New South Wales (NSW) Jewish Board Deputies, an umbrella organisation of All Jewish Community Organisations in NSW, Australia.
During the event, Jeremy Spinak, president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, said: “Jews migrated from Middle East over 2000 years back were first non-indigenous religious groups to settle in India…This is not begining of new friendship, our friendship goes back centuries – this is a new chapter of close partnership in action.
On this occasion, a book titled “India and Israel together for 2,000 Years” of V. Ravi Kumar was presented to Vic Alhadeff, CEO NSW Jewish Board of Deputies. He shared how Jews suffered discrimination almost everywhere but in India.
“When Jews had to face discrimination in all countries including UK, Russia, Germany Italy, they never faced it in India,” said Alhadeff. “Jews in india have flourished since they migrated and they are on senior positions like in army, government, Bollywood.”
According to Haifa Historical Society’s research, a large number of Indian soldiers sacrificed their lives in this region during the First World War and nearly 900 area cremated or buried in cemeteries across Israel. During World War I, over 1.3 million Indian soldiers fought across Europe, Africa and Asia, of which 121,000 were the casualties of the war.
About 80,000 Jews from India migrated to Israel after Israeli independence in 1949.