Are Tibetans the new Jews?
Jerusalem Post [Wednesday, March 26, 2008 19:34]
Ira Rifkin

In 1990, the Dalai Lama hosted a delegation of American Jews in Dharamsala, his home in exile in the hill country of northern India. His agenda was clear. Tibetans had lost sovereignty over their homeland and were scattering around the globe. How, he asked, had Jews preserved their cultural and religious identities during their own 2,000-year exile, and what might Tibetans do to preserve theirs?

Some 18 years later, the parallel between Tibet's unfolding and increasingly bleak prospects and the Jewish historical experience seems all the more relevant.

Just as after the failed first century Jewish uprising against Rome, Tibetans are becoming a minority in their homeland thanks to Beijing's strategy of drastically and irreversibly altering Tibet's population by flooding the territory with Han Chinese, China's dominant ethnic group.

Already, two out of every three residents of Lhasa, Tibet's capital, is Han Chinese. In 2006, Beijing hastened the process considerably by opening a high-speed rail link between Lhasa and Beijing. Saffron-robe clad Tibetan Buddhist monks have been replaced by Chinese-run brothels, karaoke bars and a sprawling amusement park that now surround the Portola Palace, the Dalai Lama's former residence and Tibet's equivalent of Jerusalem's ancient Temple.


There are parallels between the Tibetan and Jewish experiences but also with the Palestinians. It's all a power struggle between the weakened super power, the U.S., on one hand and on the other hand, up-and-coming China and other lesser powers including the resurgent Russia.

The U.S., Israel, and Western Europe are all playing each others' cards. That's why the Palestinians are reviled in the West while the Tibetans are lauded.

What the Chinese have done is hardly different from what the Jews have done. Their both wrong, as are the militant Palestinians and Tibetans (although the sin of the latter two is the lesser).


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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 – present, website developer and writer. 2015 – present, insurance broker.

    Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration.

    Volunteerism: 2007 – present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.

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