ISRAEL’S recent brutal foray into Gaza and its targeting of Palestinians elsewhere in the occupied territories has elicited strong reactions from across the world.
While many of Tel Aviv’s protectors and friends parroted the line that Israel has a right of ‘self-defence’ — even as the Jewish state mercilessly murdered children in Gaza — thousands of conscientious people of all faiths and nationalities took to the streets in cities across the world to condemn this butchery. However, some states that had formerly supported the Palestinian cause were conspicuous by their silence, apparently to please Israel. India is among this group; in a recent vote at the UN Human Rights Council calling for a probe into Israel’s recent atrocities, India chose to abstain. This led the Palestinian foreign minister to observe in a letter to New Delhi that the abstention “stifles the important work of the Human Rights Council at advancing human rights for all people”.
India’s about-turn where the Palestinian cause is concerned is not new and has been decades in the making. Initially, spurred by a sense of Third World solidarity, India offered support to the Palestinians, with Yasser Arafat calling Indira Gandhi his ‘sister’. However today, under the Hindutva banner India is a firm ally of Israel, with Benjamin Netanyahu boasting of the “deep friendship” between New Delhi and Tel Aviv.
Perhaps this is a natural pairing, as right-wing governments in both states have applied similar brutal methods in occupied Palestine and held Kashmir. Of course, the irony that Hindutva’s founding fathers lionised the Nazis is lost on many. Today, India-Israel relations are clearly a marriage of convenience, with both states sharing notes on how to brutalise the Palestinians and Kashmiris. However, regardless of such dicey friendships, people of conscience across the world will continue to raise a voice for the Palestinians, while the plight of the Kashmiris will also not be forgotten. State-sponsored brutality cannot snuff out the desire of the people of Palestine and Kashmir for freedom and dignity.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2021