Rockets hit synagogue, kill 7 Jewish tribe members in India

MK criticizes the Aliyah and Integration office for not making the immigration of Bnei Menashe a high priority.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Seven members of the Bnei Menashe group, a tribe that claims Jewish ancestry, were killed when a rocket hit their synagogue in Manipur India, the Knesset’s Diaspora affairs committee reported on Tuesday.

Although the group does not seem to have been targeted because of Jewishness, the tragedy emphasizes the danger of their situation and bolsters their claim to be allowed to emigrate to Israel, according to Diaspora Affairs committee members.

MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) who is head of the committee pointed out there are 5,500 Bnei Menashe in Northern India, many of whom would like to join the 5,000 who are already living in Israel.

Forer criticized the Aliyah and Integration Office for not making the immigration of Bnei Menashe a high priority given the escalating conflict in their native Manipur.

However, Michal Willer Tal, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Southeast Asia desk argued that since Bnei Menashe were not being targeted specifically because they were Jewish but because of their affiliation with the Kuki tribal umbrella, the effort to encourage their emigration to Israel should “low profile.”

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In addition, Willer said Israel being too assertive on the issue of Bnei Menashe might be viewed as intervening in India’s internal affairs.

The synagogue attack is only one of the many violent incidents that have erupted in Manipur between two groups, the Kuki and the Metei since last May.

Bnei  Menashe, who claim to be descended from the lost Israelite tribe Menashe, is part of the Kuki tribal umbrella.

The Kuki are majority Christian and their main adversaries are the Hindu-majority Metei tribal umbrella.

According to Reuters, 180 people have been killed in the conflict between the two tribal umbrellas since May, and before the most recent synagogue attack, another synagogue was burned killing one Bnei Menashe member.

Although the Jewishness of the Bnei Menashe was verified by then-Sephardic chief rabbi Shlomo Amar in 2005, Bnei Menashe members are required to undergo an orthodox Jewish conversion before being allowed to settle in Israel.