Why Is India So Keen To Support Israel

“This land is our land. We are not going to give up. America has to withdraw the declaration it made” — these were the last words of Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh, 29 before he was ­­fatally shot by Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

With a Palestinian flag in his hand on December 15, Ibrahim Abu Thurayeh was taking part in the protests against Donald Trump’s declaration to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. He was killed after being shot in the head by an Israeli sniper. Ibrahim had lost his legs in 2008, during an Israeli air raid on Al-Bureji refugee camp in Gaza, but with his activism he had become one of the symbol of Palestinian resistance.

Since Trump’s declaration, Israeli military is on a renewed killing spree in Gaza. Gaza, an open-air prison, has survived three massacres in the last decade, along with regular raids and attacks by Israeli military.

Unfortunately, it seem Indian government is keen to replicate this ‘system’. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, during his 2014 visit to one of the outposts of Gaza, was “greatly impressed” by the system deployed by Israel in Gaza to maintain this caging, isolation and denial of fundamental rights of the Palestinian people. This is the ‘system’ India wishes to import and deploy on its western border- the same ‘system’ that facilitated the murder of Thurayeh and three others last Friday. This banal cruelty sums up Indian state’s response to Trump’s recent declaration and the protests that have followed it.

In wake of Trump’s declaration, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital ‘null and void’. The resolution was passed with a huge majority of 128 member states supporting, despite the intimidations of US President Trump. This goes on to highlight the growing isolation of the US over this decision and states standing up for principles of human rights and international law despite such crude blackmail.

Expressing their solidarity and support to the people of Palestine, South Africa’s ruling party African National Congress (ANC) unanimously decided to downgrade the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv to a liaison office.

As the whole world firmly stands with Palestine, why is India maintaining a silence? The Indian establishment has observed a “deafening silence’’, with a vague two-line statement by Ministry of External Affairs that says, “India’s position on Palestine is independent and consistent. It is shaped by our views and interests, and not determined by any third country.” Even though India voted in favour of the UN resolution on Jerusalem, it seems the decision was more to do with not running into any diplomatic embarrassment.

It is simply illegal to support Israel-US on Jerusalem decision, as Jerusalem is under the principle of corpus separatum and through a series of UN resolutions and is not under Israeli sovereignty. Further, East Jerusalem has been under Israel’s occupation since 1967.

Then why is India so keen to support Israel when, at this point, it means standing in opposition to the rest of the world. Not standing with Palestine is to stand with all of these crimes and human rights violations. This decision would also pave way for more illegal Israeli settlements, more destruction, dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. And it is not pragmatic to have such proximity with Israel: India’s proximity with Israel isolates it from most of its neighbours and geopolitical hinterland and may even affect its trade and investment possibilities with its main economic partners. India’s growing support for Israel is symptomatic of its own right-ward shift.

Under the new regime in India, freedom and dissent have taken a serious toll. Anti-minority hate crimes have increased significantly with mob lynchings going unpunished. Recently in December, a Muslim family was driven out of their homes in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh as Hindutva groups, including BJP’s youth wing, were advocating against living next to them. In Satna, Madhya Pradesh, Christmas carol singers were attacked by Hindutva mobs, a priest’s car burnt and the singers were taken into custody by the police. In active and tacit ways, the Indian establishment is allowing an atmosphere of fear and hatred to prevail.

Being driven out of their homes or being denied worship is something both Palestinian Muslims and Christians alike know very well. Palestinian Christians live only a stone’s throw away from the holy places in Jerusalem and are not allowed to go there. There is an ideological plank that brings Israel and today’s India together- a matter of concern for everyone.

It is urgent for us to revive people’s movement that challenges this ideological collaboration. When there are popular protests across the world against Trump’s decision and Israel’s growing belligerence, India will be welcoming Benjamin Netanyahu on a state visit in January 2018. Also when the international community is refusing to change the status of Jerusalem, an Indian company, Texmaco, is planning to collaborate on an Israeli rail project which runs through East Jerusalem in violation of Fourth Geneva Convention.

In 2005, 170 Palestinian unions, political parties, refugee networks, women’s organizations and other civil society bodies launched the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The movement urges for non-violent pressure on Israel till it complies with international law. One of the inspirations for this movement was the Indian anti-colonial movement. The BDS , along with the people of Palestine is attempting to take the Palestinian resistance to a global level.

Let us stand with Palestine and oppose this Indian government’s ‘silent’ endorsement of Israel’s regime occupation, colonization and apartheid. We have to make sure Netanyahu hears it loud and clear that the Indian people oppose export of Israel’s apartheid technology to India. We must reject the collaboration of Indian institutions and corporations with Israeli occupation and colonisation.

Disclaimer:The views expressed here are the author’s personal views, and do not necessarily represent the views of Newsclick.