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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Anti-Semitic PSA on Indian Trains?

This story is just too weird:
A security sign on a train from Goa to Mumbai in India featured a written warning to passengers not to take eatables from strangers because they could be drugged and a drawing illustrating two religious Jews reading the Torah.

"Never accept any eatables from a stranger or co-passenger whom you have never met before. They could be drugged," read security tip number 6, to the left of which appeared a diagram of two religious Jews.
Thoughts? Anyone ever seen a sign like on his/her travels?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok. weird doesnt begin to describe this story. were the jews in the cartoon supposed to be the druggers? the drugees? are they drugging each other?

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Curious. I doubt it could exonorate but what was #5? The picture borders that point as well.

12:52 AM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

#5 is "Naisusle" it'a the Indian word for "Watch the Gap."

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly? The Indian graphic designer probably had no idea what the images were, but they certainly were STRANGE looking people. The point of the illustration was not to take food from strangers. No need for an Abe Foxman moment, IMHO.

1:25 AM  
Blogger Pragmatician said...

Shmendrik makes a point, but I wouldn't rule out plain anti semitism.

5:53 AM  
Blogger LH said...

Train is from Goa, a common post-army hangout for young Israelis.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Shmendrik's "bad choice of clip art" thesis, but then, I tend to assume the best of people even when I shouldn't.

It looks like hamentashen in the drawing. Given some of the appalling hamentashen I've had over the years, maybe this is a fair warning. I never considered that I was being gifted with drugged hamentashen, but *something* has to account for all those rock-hard "eatables" that float around at Purim.

Now, if the drawing had featured the two Jews sharing a plate of Wacky Mac ... well, then train-riding Indians would have cause to be alarmed.

8:07 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

maybe the picture means "if you have unusual dietary taboos, and bump into someone who claims to have the same taboos, don't automatically trust them."

8:13 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Perhaps the people in the picture are what the regular train riders usually look like (not the strangers)...and anyone who doesn't look like that is strange?

Maybe they were giving out free Wacky Mac?

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if it was in an iranian. jordanian, or syrian train would you be surprised? what's so weird? india has one of the largest muslim populations (over 125M) in the world.

what's weird (really not weird, just surprising), is that apparently most people here dont know that much about one of the largest countries in the world.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

A bad latke can ruin your day. I don't know, I don't get it.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

India does not have a tradition of antisemitism, so I would be very surprised if there was any antisemitic intent. Probably just a bad choice of clip art.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't jump to conclusions about our ignorance or lack thereof, Anon at 10:21. While I'm no expert in matters Indian, I am well aware of the religious makeup of the country.

Given some encouragement, I'm sure Indian Muslims would happily join their brethren in anti-Semitism, but so far, most Indian jihadists have focused instead on killing Hindus and Sikhs.

Also, the civil service employees responsible for creating this kind of sign or document are primarily Hindus. I don't harbor any illusions that Hindus are great friends to the Jews -- at least, they wouldn't be if they knew how we feel about avodah zorah! For right now, though, most seem to subscribe to the "enemy of my enemy" philosophy.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key here is "stranger".
These Jews are probably the quintessential 'stranger' in that area, as the Israelis don't look anything like that.

9:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hamentashen? I thought it was a seder plate.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

according to those in the know, Hinduism is probably not actually ‘avoda zara [for non-jews]. go search the archives of the Avodah listserv.

11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe they're telling the israelis not to accept food from chabadniks?

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is outright anti-semitism, and it is warning travelers to stay away from Jews. There have been an onslaught of anti-Israel (anti-Jewish) actions in India. Israelis have been warned to stop visiting there-danger to their lives.

8:30 PM  
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Blogger Rafi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Pragmatician - I would respectfully disagree with you, and others that thought this imagine might have had any ill-will intended in it.

As a person that lived in India for over a year, I can say from experience that the country is filled with thousands of odd and incongruent tidbits like this, it's something you get used to.

Moreover, given that no Indian I encountered (aside from the Indian Jews I'd lived with in Bombay. Yes, there are Indian Jews.) had even heard of Judaism let alone ever seen an orthodox Jew in garb, I would conclude that this image was simply chosen for its 'strangeness' and portrayal of sharing food.

I would also take issue with prior comments that implied that given the demographic make-up of India (14% Muslim, I believe, in a population of 1.1 billion), it must automatically have anti-semitic viewpoints which an instance like this is representative of. It's simplistic comments/assumptions like these that feed into an 'us vs. them' mentality that has gotten us nowhere and is not in the spirit of the Jewish tradition, not to mention simply not being accurate.

11:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really get it. If we take the message literally, it says Jews could add marijuana to some food and feed the passenger. What for? Actually I think Israelis in India consume hashish and marijuana themselves, what's the point of giving marijuana to someone unknowing when you can share a joing with someone willing? Especially I don't get why some religious Jews are pictured, because drugs is what yongsters do, not grown-up and religious adults.

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