Palestine Update 446
Big powers and small minds
Israel and India are now united by near-identical political methods. Israel has turned out to be India’s model of roughing up Kashmir.
For long years, Israel had just one Trade office based in Bombay. In 1992, India decided to go further. Trade offices grew, a consulate opened up, and a full-fledged Embassy is part of the Chanakyapuri enclave where embassies of all countries are housed. P V Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister, flung open the doors of diplomatic relationships to Israel under economic compulsions.
India was bullied into its decision by the World Bank, IMF and in subtle ways by powerful western countries. India was still able to hold its own at the international level. The five years that preceded 1992 were years when Rajiv Gandhi went on a spending rampage leaving India’s foreign exchange coffers sapped. With barely a few weeks of foreign exchange left in the exchequer, India pledged its gold to the Bank of England. It is comical, but true, (and some people say apocryphal) that the gold being taken to the airport enroute UK had been stopped by a mechanical breakdown.
In the heady days of Indian political self-assertion, the Non Aligned Movement, and the Cold War era, India may not have been rich. But it did not have to obey western instructions. All that changed dramatically. India was down on its knees, slaved into signing on the dotted line of re-welcoming the notorious MNCs which had been booted out by the Indian government in the mid-seventies In 1992, India was forced to trade with Israel. Not many years before that, Indian passports had a prominent stamp on it which stated: Not valid for entry to Israel and South Africa – the two villainous Apartheid States.
Things have never been the same since then. India is now the copy cat of Israel. It pretends it has to learn agriculture from Israel while its simple looking farmers have all the traditional and perfect formulas for agriculture. We are now instructed to buy military hardware from Israel and, not too far back- some of it sub standard. Thanks to a well informed lobbyist, India cancelled a military contract only because the standards of the hardware were too inferior and under required standards.
The political facts have allowed India to decide in favour of Israel although racist-fascist Israel is not a worthy friend. India, under Modi, has established that Israel is a worthy friend. We have invented in our political minds the myth that our enemies are identical. We have agreed tacitly that Islamaphobia is a useful tool of ethnic cleansing of the Muslims. (The article below “Israel model in Kashmir” says it succinctly)
Another article from a similar political picture – The United States has no real sense of itself. India is divided between those who think that ‘America is the ultimate and that getting there is to find the land of milk and honey’. There are, on the other hand, those who think that if- if ever- America were to shrink as an economic power, it would mean liberation for the rest of the world. US history is the narrative of conquest, economic plunder and theft, racism, wars, slavery, support to the cruelest dictatorships, and taking back economic gains as the quid pro quo, and still believing that it is far and away the milk and honey country.
Susan Abulhawa confront’s this utterly false claim: She says: “The U.S. has sowed chaos, fear, food and water insecurity, crime and terror throughout the Global South. Those of us who know and understand this history, and present, do not see the Jan. 6 coup attempt as an aberration. It is most certainly not “like Baghdad” or like Libya or Sudan, or any other nation of Black and Brown societies unfortunate enough to have natural resources the U.S. wanted for itself.”
Joe Biden was arrogant (and racist too) when he disclaimed the Jan. 6 attempted right-wing coup. “This is not who we are,” he had said. He showed uninformed Americans are of their times past and the contemporary reality of their country. Abulhawa alleges that the Americans may simply be “unwilling to have a hard look in the mirror….. (it) “Has no real sense of itself, clinging instead to notions of exceptionalism and eternal goodness”. When the President himself lives in self deceit, many citizens would follow the man they elected by popular vote. And we must hold in profound respect those Americans who say to their country’s politics “We beg to differ”
Israeli model in Kashmir
The more BJP embraces Israel, the more the Kashmiri freedom fighters find themselves in credo with the Palestinians
“The situation in Kashmir is exactly the same situation in Palestine. If we recognize Israel’s takeover of Palestine territories, then we also have to recognize what India has done in Kashmir, so we completely lose moral standing,” said Imran Khan to a Turkish channel in July last year.
Relating Kashmir all the way to Palestine was not a far cry indeed if you remember the statement of India’s consul general in New York, Sandeep Chakravorty, given in 2019, wherein he insisted that the Israeli model in Palestine should be copied in Kashmir too. “I don’t know why we don’t follow it. It has happened in the Middle East. If the Israeli people can do it, we can also do it,” he said.
Chakravorty’s statement came after Modi’s second election and after the repeal of Article 370, and it seems to be an underestimation that it was only about the resettlement of Hindu Kashmiris. In fact, just like the Israeli model, the Modi government’s plan was a complete demographic change of Kashmiri population by flooding in not only Indian nationals from other provinces but also encouraging the over 700,000 Indian forces already present there to apply for permanent residence in the Occupied Valley.
Modi, anti-India agitation once again took an upshot with a new breed of young, educated, tech-savvy militants in Kashmir, with the likes of Burhan Wani and Zakir Musa. It is hard to say if this sharp increase in anti-India militancy provoked the Indian authorities to heighten security operations against the locals, or reciprocally, if increased Indian counter-terrorism measures actually push the youth to join militant groups — and this new wave of counter-terrorism had been refurbished by Israel.
After the Pulwama incident, Robert Fisk wrote, “For months, Israel has been assiduously lining itself up alongside India’s nationalist BJP government in an unspoken – and politically dangerous – ‘anti-Islamist’ coalition, an unofficial, unacknowledged alliance, while India itself has now become the largest weapons market for the Israeli arms trade.” India and Israel have entered agreements on joint counter-terrorism since 2014 and from then onwards search-and-cordon and search-and-destroy operations have become norm. These operations have featured ambushes of alleged militants, destruction of civilian properties, and increased surveillance of the locals, especially the youth.
When Modi met Netanyahu in 2017, he said India had suffered first-hand the violence and hatred spread by terror, and so India and Israel would “cooperate to combat growing radicalization and terrorism, including in cyber space”. Since then, surveillance on social media increased; work on installing CCTV cameras in all schools across Kashmir to monitor activities of the youth was started; use of pellet guns to maim and blind Kashmiris was made vogue; and humiliating house searches in the middle of the night, typical psychological operations (PSYOPs) applied regularly by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the West Bank, have risen in Kashmir. In repulsion, the locals have been evolving their own techniques to suffocate the Indian forces; funerals of the martyrs have become a daunting phenomenon for the authorities. These funerals have increasingly been attended by tens of thousands, and the events’ images not only flood the social media, but the funerals themselves have become like religious processions in celebration of valour, and active grounds for new recruitments. Moreover, a new phenomenon of ‘disruptive crowds’ has evolved, wherein hundreds or thousands of locals force upon a cordon-and-search operation with stone-pelting and other assaults, forcing forces to flee the scene and resulting in the ‘victory’ of the militants.
This evolution has gone a step further with new militant groups in Occupied Kashmir raising the slogan of pan-Islamism and Islamic Shariah. Though most of these groups have advocated merger with Pakistan, this recent non-nationalistic ideological development is perhaps owned to Israel’s deepening involvement in India and more so in Occupied Kashmir. The more the BJP embraces Israel, the more the Kashmiri freedom fighters find themselves in credo with the Palestinians who suffer the same fate as they, at the hands of a same oppressor as theirs. Burhan Wani’s 2015 video address, “Leaving our homes, our families, the comforts of the world and sacrificing our future, we have come into the field of action so that the honour of our mothers and sisters is safeguarded so that a caliphate is established in Kashmir. We will not stop until a caliphate is established over the entire world,” symbolizes this shift to pan-Islamism.
In fact, there are reports on how social media has enabled ideologues from both in mobilizing their networks and coordinating and campaigning for each other’s causes. Likening the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to that of Occupied Kashmir can potentially electrify the whole Muslim belt in between the two poles, attracting sympathies from otherwise dormant stakeholders. Relating the two atrocities give amplification to both just causes and adds veritableness to Muslim unity.
It also adds to the burden on the United Nations which is guilty of criminal neglect over its two oldest cases, since 1948. Not just neglect, but a bias towards the oppressing parties in both cases. In the case of Palestine, the UN had inherited the “property” of the “Palestine Mandate” from the League of Nations, and the mandate says that “the Allied Powers agree that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2, 1917 (the Balfour Declaration)… in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people”, clearly wording out Israeli precedence in UN law-making.
Likewise, Resolution 47, on the Kashmir dispute, required Pakistani fighters to withdraw, as the first step; Indian troops to reduce phase-wise as a second step; and the plebiscite to be held as a third – underscoring Indian legitimacy over Kashmir from the onset!
All this makes sense in relating Palestine with Kashmir, it makes sense for the Muslim world to understand that they are victims of a world-system biased against them, and awareness and re-assertion are the tools to fight this bias. Pakistan’s solidarity with Kashmir is only a preliminary that invites the concern of the Muslim world and the wider humanity over these injustices that are weighing on our conscience.
*The writer is a geopolitical analyst. She also writes at globaltab.net and tweets @AneelaShahzad
The United States has no real sense of itself
The author of this essay is a Palestinian writer, whose latest novel is “Against the Loveless World,” Atria, 2020).
Memes abounded on the internet in response to President-elect Biden’s remark during the Jan. 6 attempted right-wing coup. “This is not who we are,” he had said. One of the most salient of memes was a graphic of six panels, one for each word in that sentence, each depicting an era in U.S. history: from slavery, lynchings and burning crosses to Jim Crow, police murders, mass incarceration and separation of immigrant families.
Biden’s sentiments were echoed across a nation looking on in horror at its Capitol building. It is difficult to know if Americans are ignorant of our history and reality or simply unwilling to have a hard look in the mirror. But it is clear that this country has no real sense of itself, clinging instead to notions of exceptionalism and eternal goodness.
Rather than engage in much needed national self-reflection, lawmakers and journalists doubled down, suggesting that the scenes in Washington were something foreign and un-American. Another popular phrase repeated ad nauseam was that the Capitol “looked like Baghdad.”
In fact, the Baghdad of my youth was a vibrant and beautiful tapestry of a high-functioning ancient society with deep cultural traditions, acclaimed literary and artistic outputs, self-sufficiency and strength — even after the CIA had engineered a coup that ultimately brought Saddam Hussein to power.
Even under her tyrants, Baghdad remained an oasis of intellectual exchange, high literacy, towering libraries and socialist ideals that met the people’s basic needs. It was only after the U.S. decimated and looted Iraq that Baghdad became what it is in the American imagination. In reality, the American image of Baghdad is simply Baghdad à la U.S. invasion.
Likewise, Libya. Once one of the most prosperous African and Arab nations, with high literacy, free health care, no homelessness, free education, free electricity and zero national debt — a U.S. invasion made Libya one of the most dangerous places in the world, where slavery, illiteracy, abuse and chaos have taken hold with no reprieve in sight.
The U.S. has sowed chaos, fear, food and water insecurity, crime and terror throughout the Global South. Those of us who know and understand this history, and present, do not see the Jan. 6 coup attempt as an aberration. It is most certainly not “like Baghdad” or like Libya or Sudan, or any other nation of Black and Brown societies unfortunate enough to have natural resources the U.S. wanted for itself.
To be clear, what happened in Washington, D.C., was wholly American. It looked like the United States that all of the Global South knows good and well. It was, and is, indeed who we are.