Zionists and Hindu nationalists unite for a Trump election win

United in their anti-Muslim agendas, pro-Israel and Hindutva groups are rallying behind Trump and could pave his way to the White House

Donald Trump will almost certainly be chosen as the Republican party’s candidate in this year’s US presidential election. That in itself is a remarkable fact. He has been able to mould a right-wing party and allied conservative institutions into a neo-fascist movement.

But for all the liberal anxiety Trump’s popularity generates, there is little focus on the ways his movement is extending itself in new directions.

In particular, a number of pro-Trump politicians and activists are creatively broadening support for, and acceptance of, his politics among new constituencies, outside of his white Christian conservative base.

Take, for example, Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik. At thirty-nine years old, she is already the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives and is pitching herself as a running mate for Trump.

Earlier this year, she told CNN that, if she had been vice president, she would not have ratified the 2020 election. In effect, she declared her willingness to support a Trump coup.

Last month, she received standing ovations from the Make America Great Again (MAGA) audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference. She is solidly on the far right of US politics.

Yet last December, the liberal New York Times described her as a “voice of reason” after she used congressional hearings to accuse university administrators of failing to take action against students who say “from the river to the sea” or “intifada”, amid widespread campus protests against Israel’s war on Gaza.

Calling for clampdowns on pro-Palestine activists, it turns out, is one of the ways that MAGA politicians can find support from the “progressive except for Palestine” (PEP) constituency that prevails in many liberal institutions.

Most of the PEP crowd will not vote for Trump. But if Stefanik is the vice-presidential candidate, she will enable Trump to make inroads into liberal Zionist opinion, and perhaps donors, and help legitimise the much more authoritarian administration that a Trump win would usher in. 

Another example is Vivek Ramaswamy. In January, he ended his presidential campaign and endorsed Trump after finishing fourth in Iowa’s caucuses. The thirty-eight year-old will likely find a role in any future Trump administration.

Ramaswamy’s campaign endorsed the racist “great replacement theory,” which holds that woke elites are seeking to destroy what he describes as “Judeo-Christian” values, by replacing whites with Third World immigrants (like his parents!).

But what makes Ramaswamy interesting is the way he combines this white and Christian identity politics with Hindu nationalism. Central to this is his close relationship with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America (VHP-A), the main US organisation representing the Sangh Parivar network – the far-Right, Hindu supremacist movement behind the Narendra Modi government in India.

As the Savera campaign group has recently documented, Ramaswamy appeared at the VHP-A’s annual gala and drew on his close ties to VHP-A leader Renu Gupta during his campaign. 

Speaking at an event last May organised by Hindu Action, an advocacy group she chairs, he told the audience that Israel, the US, and India share a common thread as the three most unfairly criticised nations.

“I respect Modi,” said Ramaswamy, “for reviving national pride in India.”

Ramaswamy is part of a growing trend of Republicans working with Hindu supremacist organisations in the US to bring voters into the Trump movement.

Another key figure is Shalabh “Shalli” Kumar, the Chicago-based owner of the AVG Group of Companies, which manufactures electronic components such as printed circuit boards.

His relationship to Narendra Modi dates back to the year before the Indian politician became prime minister. In 2013, Kumar organised a group of Republican congresspersons to travel to India to meet with Modi, then chief minister of Gujarat.

The trip occurred while Modi was banned from entering the US due to his complicity in the anti-Muslim pogroms in in 2002.

Kumar went on to found the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) two years later. “The whole idea of the RHC,” he told an interviewer, “came from the Republican Jewish Coalition, who wanted to have a baby brother.”

Its honorary chairman is Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist and doyen of the global far right.

The RHC is part of a growing Hindu supremacist lobby in the US that emulates and works closely with Zionist groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

In Trump, Kumar discovered an American Modi. In the run-up to the 2016 election, the Kumar family reportedly gave $4.2 million to the Trump campaign. Among the events he organised was a “Hindus United Against Terror” concert in Edison, New Jersey, featuring a Bollywood-style depiction of a terrorist attack.

Trump appeared between dance performances to announce: “I am a big fan of Hindu.” 

Last year, Kumar established the Congressional Hindu Caucus, institutionalising a Hindu nationalist lobby in Congress, with none other than Elise Stefanik as co-chair.

From one angle, Ramaswamy and Kumar are simply advocating for the interests of their sections of the capitalist class. Ramaswamy owns Roivant Sciences, which operates in the lucrative market in pharmaceuticals made possible by the US’s privatised healthcare system. His net worth is estimated to be $950 million.

At the core of his politics is a message of disconnecting Christian or Hindu pride from any obligation to share resources with those less well off.

Kumar is one of scores of Indian-American capitalists in the Chicago area who, until 2000, dominated a $70 billion industry in manufacturing printed circuit boards, but have since been devastated by Chinese competition. Their support for Trump rests in part on the hope that his protectionist policies will revive their profitability.

But in a world ruled by racial capitalism, class interests are never neatly separated from ideas of race and culture. Both Zionists and Hindu nationalists also see in Trump’s anti-Muslim racism a reflection of their own agenda.

“The way the Muslim religion is being practised today… there’s something wrong,” Kumar told The Hill in 2016. “Mosques should be monitored completely, vetting should be taking place.”

The vision of groups like the RHC and the VHP-A is a military and ideological alliance between Israel, India, and the US, grounded in anti-Muslim racism, Wars on Terror, and settler-colonial projects in Palestine and Kashmir.

Stefanik, Ramaswamy, and Kumar show that MAGA politics has the potential to capture significant support and acceptance outside of its core white Christian conservative base, by appealing to Jewish and Hindu supremacist politics.

To understand this, we shouldn’t expect to find in MAGA politics a coherent worldview. It’s more like baby food: an easily digestible mush of incongruent ingredients, with different flavours for different constituencies. Christian nationalists jostle uneasily with Hindu nationalists. Zionists ally with antisemites.

This inconsistency helps the Trump movement appeal to multiple audiences. But it can be made into a liability if opponents are able to pounce on the contradictions to pull apart the MAGA coalition.

We can only do that, though, if we firmly repudiate both Zionism and Hindu nationalism.

This article first appeared in New Arab.

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