June 2, 2001
By DEAN E. MURPHY
A Web site run by militant Hindus in Queens and Long Island
was recently shut down by its service provider because of
complaints that it advocated hatred and violence toward
Muslims. But a few days later, the site was back on the
Internet. The unlikely rescuers were some radical Jews in
Brooklyn who are under investigation for possible ties to
anti-Arab terrorist organizations in Israel.
The unusual alliance brings together two extreme religious
philosophies from different parts of the world that, at
first glance, have little in common. But living
elbow-to-elbow in the ethnic mix of New York, the small
groups of Hindus and Jews have discovered that sharing a
distant enemy is sufficient basis for friendship.
So tight is their anti-Muslim bond that some of the Hindus
marched alongside the Jews in the annual Salute to Israel
Parade on Fifth Avenue last month. Yesterday, several of
the Jews joined a protest outside the United Nations
against the treatment of Hindus in Afghanistan by the
"We are fighting the same war," said Rohit Vyasmaan, who
helps run the Hindu Web site, HinduUnity.org, from his home
in Flushing, Queens. "Whether you call them Palestinians,
Afghans or Pakistanis, the root of the problem for Hindus
and Jews is Islam."
The budding Hindu-Jewish relationship presents a view that
counters a popular perception of New York City - not as an
open door to immigrants seeking a better life, but as a
political way station, where some people come or stay not
to make money but to engage in politics from afar.
For some of the Jews in Brooklyn and the Hindus in Queens
and Long Island, their time in the United States is
temporary, made necessary only because of the threat of
Islam in South Asia and the Middle East. Ultimately,
members of both groups said, they must leave New York to
confront the enemy face-to-face.
"I would love to move back to India provided the situation
improves there," Mr. Vyasmaan said. "We have made a promise
to do so."
Mr. Vyasmaan, who is 30 and came to New York from New Delhi
when he was 13, said matter-of-factly that he and many
others expect to die in the battle for Hindu supremacy.
Nonetheless, he is protective of the identities of some of
HinduUnity.org's biggest financial backers.
Some of them have been implicated in Hindu nationalist acts
in India and are only in the United States biding their
time, he said. One of the site's major supporters on Long
Island was involved in destroying an ancient mosque at
Ayodhya in northern India in 1992, Mr. Vyasmaan said. The
mosque was built on a site that is also holy to Hindus. The
incident led to widespread rioting between Hindus and
Muslims in India, and it is still profoundly divisive.
"Now they won't let us build a temple at the site of the
mosque," Mr. Vyasmaan said. "So there is more controversy.
He plans to go back."
HinduUnity.org advertises itself as the official site of
Bajrang Dal, a fundamentalist Hindu movement in India that
has chapters throughout that country and has frequently
clashed with Muslims and was among the groups blamed for
the 1992 attack. The Web site also goes by the name
Soldiers of Hindutva, a term that refers to the primacy of
Hindu religion and culture. Mr. Vyasmaan said the Web site
has 500 people affiliated with it.
The Jews in Brooklyn, meanwhile, are followers of Rabbi
Meir David Kahane, the assassinated Israeli politician
whose teachings advocated the expulsion from Israel of all
Arabs, most of whom are Muslim.
Their headquarters in Brooklyn was raided in January by the
F.B.I. as part of a federal investigation into their
association with two Kahane political parties that were
banned in Israel and designated as terrorist organizations
by the State Department. The designations followed a series
of violent attacks on Palestinians, including the killing
in 1994 of 29 Muslims in the West Bank by Baruch Goldstein,
a Kahane adherent who was born in Brooklyn.
Central to the Kahane message is that all Jews belong in
Israel, making any Jew in the United States a temporary
resident. Many of the group's biggest supporters shuttle
back and forth between Israel and New York, keeping one
foot in each country.
Rabbi Kahane was Brooklyn-born, as were many of his
supporters, and was shot to death at a Manhattan hotel in
1990. His son, Binyamin, who took up his father's
teachings, also carried an American passport but spent most
of his time in Israel. He was killed with his wife when
their car was ambushed in the West Bank in December.
During his last visit to New York, two weeks before his
death, Binyamin Kahane reminded a gathering of several
hundred supporters in Brooklyn of their obligation to
settle in Israel.
The Brooklyn group runs a Web site, Kahane.org, that aims
to keep the Kahane movement alive despite the political
crackdown in Israel and the terrorist designations in the
United States. The site's manager, Michael Guzofsky, said
the Jewish-Hindu relationship in New York is a practical
one that reflects a common suffering at the hands of
Muslims. The alliance is born from adversity, he said, and
transcends the differences in their religious traditions,
which, he acknowledged, the two groups have never addressed
"I definitely understand their pain even if I don't know
much about their faith," Mr. Guzofsky said of the Hindu
fundamentalists. "Their Web site is a little more militant
than ours, but an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth kind
of speech is something you can find in the Old Testament. I
am not going to judge people who have been oppressed by
others and who fight back."
The Hindu Web site is up and running only because Mr.
Guzofsky and other Kahane backers came to its rescue.
Several weeks ago, the company that ran the site's Internet
server, Addr.com of Greenwood Village, Colo., notified Mr.
Vyasmaan that it was canceling its contract.
Matt Johnson, a representative of Addr.com, said that the
company had received complaints about offensive content on
the site, which contains historical accounts about Hinduism
and the centuries-long conflict between Hindus and Muslims
in South Asia. This week, a commentary on the site called
on Hindus "to stand up and take arms" against Muslims in
India, urging them to "exterminate and banish" them. The
site also urged Hindus to "Fight if you must! Die if you
Mr. Johnson said representatives from HinduUnity.org
contended that the Web site was informational and did not
advocate violence. But after three days of telephone calls
between New York and Colorado, Mr. Johnson said, the
company decided to pull the plug, saying that
HinduUnity.org was a hate site.
When Mr. Vyasmaan got word of the decision, his first call
was to Mr. Guzofsky's office at the Hatikva Jewish Identity
Center in Brooklyn. Mr. Guzofsky had run into a similar
problem in December, when he was forced to find a new
server because of complaints about the Kahane site. Mr.
Guzofsky was in Israel, but he returned the phone call
within hours and quickly set out to solve Mr. Vyasmaan's
The solution came by means of a businessman in Annandale,
Va., Gary Wardell, who designs and services Web sites and
who branched out into the server business last year. Mr.
Wardell offered to help Mr. Guzofsky in December when he
read about kahane.org's problems, eventually taking on the
job as the Kahane site's host. Although Mr. Wardell said he
is converting to Judaism from Christianity and has taken an
avid interest in the teachings of Rabbi Kahane, he said his
motivation in assisting Mr. Guzofsky was as much financial
"I am a small business and I need customers," Mr. Wardell
said. "Sometimes when you have bills to pay, that takes the
focus of your attention."
Early last month, when Mr. Guzofsky told him about
HinduUnity.org, Mr. Wardell agreed to a similar business
relationship for the same bottom-line reasons, he said.
Mr. Guzofsky said his group had not officially endorsed the
views on the Hindu Web site, but they support the right of
the Hindus to express them. For that reason, there is a
link to HinduUnity.org on the Kahane Web site and, Mr.
Guzofsky posted an announcement this week about the Hindu
protest outside the United Nations.
"It is a core issue of free speech," Mr. Guzofsky said. "We
have made it clear to the folks at HinduUnity.org that if
their site ever comes down again, we will offer them a
mirror site with ours so people can be updated concerning
their events. I would hope they would do the same for us."
Mr. Vyasmaan said there is no doubt that the favor would
be returned. Already, he said, Hindus associated with the
Web site have written to Congress urging that the two
Kahane political parties be removed from the State
Department's list of terrorist organizations. It is a cause
very dear to Mr. Guzofsky, who said he was recently asked
by the authorities to submit fingerprints and handwriting
samples for use in their investigation into his Brooklyn
Mr. Vyasmaan said doubters of the Hindu-Jewish commitment
need to look no further than his home in Flushing, where he
displays a large picture of Rabbi Kahane.
"He was a great man," Mr. Vyasmaan said. "It almost
appeared as if he was speaking for the Hindus."