All of us who are concerned about peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field. —Albert Einstein
‘A week is a long time in politics’ and to follow this one of the tiredest clichés I would add that ‘7 months in politics is 160 degree turn if not 180. It was only on Dec 27, 2014 when amid popular buzz and speculation that India may be contemplating a shift in its Palestine policy, the BJP government had reiterated that there was no change in New Delhi’s policy of extending “traditional support” for the Palestinian cause even as it continues to maintain good relations with Israel. To seal the argument, the ministry of foreign affairs had also referred to the message sent to UN by PM Narendra Modi meant to mark the International day of solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 24 for the “Just cause of Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people for their struggle”.
It would be important to note that this message was sent when the Indian government had come under heavy domestic criticism for failing to condemn Israel’s offensive against Gaza in July 2014 which had resulted in over a thousand Palestinian casualties. Appearing to be fair to both the parties, our government had expressed concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, particularly heavy strikes in Gaza. It had shown concern at cross-border provocations from rocket strikes against targets in Israel.
Going back to the history of creation of Israel, India was also opposed to the creation of a state based on religion (Israel) and voted against the partition of Palestine at the UN General Assembly in 1947. India became the first non-Arab state to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization, as the sole representative of the Palestinian people in 1974 and recognized the State of Palestine in 1988. India was always supportive for Palestinian statehood through multilateral forums, including the United Nations and the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) forum. President Yasser Arafat was a close friend of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Prez Mahmoud Abbas had also visited India several times.
In February this year, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited India—a first since diplomatic ties between the two countries were established more than two decades ago. Mr. Ya’alon met Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and offered defence technology for Modi’s ‘Make in India‘ initiative, and they talked about India-Israel defence and security relations.
It is true that formal diplomatic relations between India and Israel had been established in year 1992, under the Congress party’s rule. Shri Narsimha Rao, the ex-PM and some of the BJP moles that were always there in Congress Party worked hard for close relationship with Israel. However, soon after the 2014 election that brought the Bharatiya Janata Party government to power, the sapling that was planted in 1998 when BJP had tasted power the first time, came to full bloom.
Nevertheless, when Congress Party had regained power in 2004, the relationship between India and Israel flourished by without much hype. It did not deteriorate as feared. The Congress Old Guards played the old game of run with the hare and hunt with the hound successfully. In its old wisdom the Congress party maintained a studied reticence in India’s relationship with Israel. The BJP, being a protégé of RSS suffers no such compulsions.
Putting aside the just concerns about human right violations, barbaric suppression of Palestinians by Israel and old history of Indo-Palestine friendship, a new glow of warmth in the relationship was observed between the two nations. India’s lingering Congress-era inhibitions in ostensible befriending Israel were cast aside. Israel is now being portrayed as an Agricultural Superpower for rural Indians while for urban Indians, it is an embodiment of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The powerful advocacy for Israel has generated a higher level of sympathy in India that is almost bypassing the support that once the Palestine Cause had enjoyed. The suppression and denial of State of Palestine and the effects of pain that converts into INTIFADA had been conjoined with the issues of national security and development to design a common platform of friendship. The new lexicon is developed about the “perception of common interests.”
A time when global changes in the international system are shifting balance of global economic power and there are palpable changes in the U.S.-Israel relationship, the new warmth of friendship with Israel goes against the flow of wind. The recent tensions between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government over Iran and the Palestinian issue are in the open for anyone to see. The Arab World, no matter how much divided inside, still are poles apart from Israel. Our relations with Arabs and Islamic nations in job market, business dominions and religious connection are important factors that no discreet administration should ignore.
Here I would conclude this write-up with quotes of Mr. Mohammed Adeeb’s (member of Rajya Sabha) article:
“Finally here comes the proof that the new “Modi-fied India” is a reliable ally of America n Israel. Yesterday UNHRC had brought forth a resolution condemning the violence in Gaza and was boycotted by India. In doing so we became party to an exclusive group comprising 4 other counties, namely Ethiopia, Ecuador, Nigeria and Paraguay as opposed to being part of a group that comprised all other “humane” countries across the world.
The “Original” Indian position was one of being a staunchly pro-active supporter/ activist for the Palestinian cause. This stand had made India a tall leader of the Non Aligned countries and the Muslim world. But then I think it will be juvenile on our part to expect that those who never condemned the Gujarat riots of 2002, would be taking a stand against the oppressors.
India has already changed its ideologies internally and now stand in the face of global isolation.”
By Naim Naqvi