A MINI-ISRAEL THRIVES IN PUSHKAR ITSELF

FPJ BureauUpdated: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 09:57 AM IST
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This holy city of Rajasthan has a large number of Israeli tourists; some come here for recreation while others to recuperate from harsh military training

Pushkar : While the world spotlight is on Israel, the holy town of Pushkar thrives with its quota of Israelis. At any given time over a thousand Israelis could be spotted here.

Close to a month after hostilities broke out between Israel and Palestinians,  visitors from the “promised land’ could be seen following the developments of Israel’s military action in Gaza on their laptops.

The Israelis – both men and women could be seen talking about the conflict in the holy city’s ghats and in various restaurants.

A large number of youth from Israel come to rest here after two months of strenuous compulsory military training back home. These youth serve as reserve force and are called “reservists”. A large number of 86,000 such reservists who have been called by the Israel government to do national duty in the Gaza war have spent their holidays here after completing their training.

The Israeli tourists have made this holy city a mini-Israel and one could see a large number of Israeli men and women loitering in the ancient town. These Israelis are greeted with “Shalom” by  shopkeepers, mostly selling hand printed textiles which the Israelis buy.

Numerous shops display glow signs in Hebrew language and there are more than a dozen restaurants selling Israeli food.

These tourists do not like to talk about the Israel-Palestine conflict, but one of them – Benjamin Abraham,34 – who works as a computer operator in a diamond manufacturing company in Tel Aviv, who is on a second visit to the holy town and who got military training is ready to return home to serve the army. “ I am here and I have told my people about my location. I will pack up and return home to serve the country as a soldier once the call come”, said Abraham.Abraham’s family is of Indian origin and his grandfather served the railways in Kharagpur in West Bengal.

There is even a Chabad house located on the main street near the historic gurdwara here. The chabad is the place where Israelis offer prayers.

The Chabad here attracts large number of Jews from Israel specially after the Chabad at Goa closed down. The rabbi (priest of this community centre had gone to Israel, but even after two months the rabbi has not returned. The chabad works as a correction centre for the Israeli youth who throng the place in large numbers.

The locals, particularly the Purohit community, who are traditionally priests working in various temples are opposed to the Chabad and they want the Chabad to be shifted from the main holy town to some nearby village.

“The Israelis are at war with the Palestinians now and the whole Islamic world have joined hands to condemn the attack on Gaza and the killing of large number of persons particularly the children. We fear that someday some Islamic terrorist group would target the Chabad where the Israelis come for prayers and Pushkar would witness largescale killing” said Anuj Sharma, a youngster whose father is a priest.

The Chabad which is located in a hotel which has rented the property on a 10-year-old lease has been provided with a 24 hour armed security by the police. Armed Force is deputed on this center for security measures. The community center became sensitive after it was revealed that in 2011 Pakistan-born mastermind David Headley had done recce in this place.

He had stayed in a hotel just opposite to the Chabad and had plans to target the Chabad to attract international attention.

Prakash Bhandari

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