During the latest war between Israel and Hamas, I have been waging my own mini-battle on Facebook, flying the flag for Israel. I have nearly 1400 Facebook friends, the majority of whom have been acquired as a result of my latest book. They are a kind of international, multi-ethnic fan base. My usual "status updates" on the site relate to my work. But recently I have been firing off salvoes in support of Israel.
Facebook is a microcosm of the world, you meet all sorts there. So naturally these strongly-worded posts on my timeline have elicited a range of responses. I was pleased to see the "likes" and messages of support from friends (actual or online-only), but there were sharp rebukes too. A few came from the liberal-leftie brigade, brainwashed Westerners who, with dreary predictability, wheel out their arguments of moral equivalence. Israel is as bad as the terrorists, blah blah blah…
But the really vile messages were posted by a number of my Muslim "friends" from around the world. These quickly degenerated into ugly personal attacks. I was called a "bloodthirsty Jewish bitch" (even though I am Christian), and exhorted to die along with everyone else in "fascist" Israel. Luckily, it is easy to "unfriend" someone on Facebook and make them instantly disappear. In that respect, at least, it's got the edge on real life.
Then, to my surprise, I noticed that I was receiving "likes" and supportive messages from people with unmistakably Asian names. A couple of clicks later I found myself on the Facebook page of the India Stands With Israel community. Their "About" statement reads: "We The People Of India Love Peace & Hate Terrorist Activities. Our Prayers & Blessings Are With Israel".
Well, it isn't hard to see why. Violent, radical Islam is as much an enemy of the Hindus as it is of the Jews and Christians. In the past three decades India has suffered upwards of 50 terrorist attacks resulting in deaths and injuries, largely emanating from neighbouring Pakistan. The most horrific were the four-day-long attacks on Bombay in November 2008, leaving 164 dead and 308 wounded, perpetrated by a cell of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based mainly in Pakistan. No wonder Indian prayers and blessings are with Israel.
I began to get 'likes' from Asian readers
With its 1.27 billion people, India has the second largest population in the world, it is a democracy and an increasingly powerful global player. Surely, in addition to their moral support, there must be a way to harness in a more practical sense the Indians' empathy for Israel?
In fact of the four major religions, three of them have every reason to unite in their battle against the violent jihadists of the fourth. Jews, Christians and Hindus are all under threat from militant Islam. More Christians are being massacred by jihadists in the world's so-called ungoverned regions than people of any other creed. Their ancient communities are being persecuted, forced to flee, or else wiped out.
It seems to me that the only way to stamp out the plague of radical Islam is by closer solidarity between the peoples of the other three great religions, in whatever form it must take – political, martial, cultural, Facebook... No nation, no peoples, no single creed can do it alone.