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“Sheikh Hasina needs to protect minorities and then talk about Israel. If not, she should keep her mouth shut.”

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“The BMM on Sunday (May 16) formed a human chain and burnt the effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the foot of the Raju sculpture at Dhaka University, demanding an immediate end to Israeli naked attacks on Palestinians.” (Quote and Screencap: barta24.com)

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During Operation Guardian of the Walls, Bangladesh presented itself as a champion of the Palestinian cause and a foe of the State of Israel. As the war progressed, thousands of Bangladeshis protested against the State of Israel in Dhaka, where they expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and chanted “terrorist Israel.” An effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was even ignited in Dhaka.     

At that time, Bangladeshi Information and Broadcasting Minister Hassan Mahmoud strongly condemned the State of Israel, accusing the Jewish state of violating international law. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina voiced similar sentiments: “I, on behalf of the people and the Government of Bangladesh, express my deep sadness and concern about the recent attacks of terrorist nature and violence unleashed on the innocent devotees and civilians at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.”

“While expressing our deep condolences to the victims and sympathies to our Palestinian brothers and sisters, we unequivocally denounce such acts of terror and violence and urge the international community to take sustainable measures to end such kinds of acts anywhere and everywhere in the world including Palestine,” she wrote in the letter. 

While Bangladesh condemned the destruction in Gaza and the killing of Palestinian rioters, no statement was made by the Asian country condemning Hamas rocket attacks, although Bangladesh supports a two-state solution. Nevertheless, they refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist until a Palestinian state is established with East Jerusalem as its capital.  

However, soon after the conflict ended, Bangladesh announced that they would no longer write in their passports “valid to travel to every country except Israel.” Does this mean that there has been a drastic change in Bangladeshi policy following Operation Guardian of the Walls? Will Bangladesh join the list of countries that are making peace with the State of Israel? 

Although an official in the Israeli Foreign Ministry expressed such optimism, these hopes were quickly dashed. 

The Bangladeshi government denies that any change in policy has taken place. Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen said there has been no change in Bangladesh’s position towards Israel and that they still do not recognize Israel. He claimed that the fact that Bangladesh recently changed their passports, so they no longer forbid their citizens from visiting Israel does not mean that there has been a change in Bangladeshi policy. 

According to him, the changes were merely made for no other country that writes travel permitted to every country “except Israel” in their passports: “The changes have been made to maintain global standards. The passport is a national identity, and it does not reflect foreign policy.”

The foreign minister furthermore added that any Bangladeshi who tries to go to Israel will face legal action: “We remain very strong (on legal ground). Everybody knows it. Our customs authorities will stop them immediately. Customs will control those things and they do. They’ve been doing it for years. If anyone goes there, the person will be liable to be prosecuted.”

Shipan Kumer Basu, who heads the World Hindu Struggle Committee, stated in response: “Hatred against Israel is spread in Bangladesh in various ways. Propaganda against Israel is also going on via Facebook and TV. There is no end to their grievances regarding the Palestinians, again spreading hatred against Israel. They are repeatedly preaching how many Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks, but they are not preaching how many Israelis have died. This is not real journalism.”

“All those who have come to power in the Bangladesh government so far have maintained close ties with former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and his cronies,” he added. “It shows how much they love the Palestinians and how much they hate Israel!”

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Mr. Basu further said that since pre-independence times, minorities in Bangladesh have been subjected to various forms of harassment including the brutal persecution of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians, the rape of women, murder, land grabbing and the occupation of business establishments: “Under Sheikh Hasina, the oppression of minorities has increased ten-fold. The Muslims of Bangladesh must take responsibility for this. Compared to what they have done, Israel has done nothing to the Palestinians.”  

“They do not have the right to comment on the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” according to Basu, given the vast oppression of Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh. “Why is humanity only for the Palestinians and not the Israelis?” 

“Moreover, Sheikh Hasina called for people to unite against Israel. Sheikh Hasina has no such right, when she cannot even protect the minorities in her own country,” Basu insisted. 

“First, she needs to protect the minorities and then talk about the Israel issue.  If not, she should keep her mouth shut and let Israelis live.”

Prasanna Kumar Roy, a prominent businessman from West Bengal and the chief financial advisor to the World Hindu Struggle Committee, said that Bangladesh should establish diplomatic relations with Israel: “This would be good for both countries. The Palestinians should not criticize Bangladesh for removing the word ‘except Israel’ from Bangladeshi passports. Furthermore, Sheikh Hasina should release Bangladeshi leader Aslam Chowdhury. If not, Sheikh Hasina will suffer in the future.” 

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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