Israel's romance with India crushes both Kashmiris and Palestinians

Israel's blossoming romance with India crushes both Kashmiris and Palestinians
6 min read
21 Feb, 2018
Comment: India offers platitudes of support for Palestinians, while bankrolling the Israeli occupation by buying weapons to use on Kashmiris, writes CJ Werleman.
The Netanyahu-Modi 'bromance' costs Palestinians and Kashmiris dearly [AFP]
During the Cold War, Israel and India shared a complex relationship - with the former seeking to establish ever-closer ties to its number one patron, the United States, while the latter chanted "Hindi Rusi bhai-bhai" ["Indians and Russians are brothers"] as it sought "strategic autonomy".

This complexity is exacerbated by the fact that India not only voted against the Israeli state's entry into the United Nations, but also voted for a resolution that condemned Zionism as a form of racism or racial discrimination.

"Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English," read an article published by Mahatma Gandhi in 1938. "It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs... Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home."

The collapse of the Soviet Union, however, sparked a relationship between Israel and India that would make the writers of a cheesy romance novel blush.

Bullets, teargas, shelling: Kashmir's stand in solidarity with Palestine 

Their commonalities are too hard ignore - both were born in 1947, India by throwing off its British occupiers, and Israel by petitioning enough sympathetic votes in the United Nations; both seek to colonise territory inhabited by a Muslim-majority who resist their respective colonial projects; both peddle Islamophobia as a tool to give their national security discourse a veneer of credibility; both are governed by ruling parties that occupy the very far right of the political spectrum; both make dubious claims to being fully-fledged democracies; both commit war crimes and crimes against humanity that go largely unnoticed by the Western media.

While India has given lip service to Palestinian statehood and human rights, given its existence and history is defined by resisting a foreign occupation, Israel has nevertheless employed Israel to assist in its occupation of Kashmir

Also, both are known to use civilians as human shields - Israel in Palestine, and India in Kashmir, but I digress.

Some have described the blossoming relationship between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a "bromance"; one that enriched Israel with $1.6 billion-worth of weapons sales in 2016, making itself the second-largest supplier of arms to the Indian state; and one that has enriched India with drones, bombs, and missiles - many of which will be used to further entrench its occupation of Kashmir.

Binyamin Netanyahu and wife Sarah receive a statue of
Gandhi on a recent visit to India [Hindustan Times/Getty]

Last month, what looked to be an on-again, off-again deal to sell India 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an Israeli weapons manufacturer, became set to materialise in a deal worth $500 million.

While the media fixates on both the closer ties forged between the two states and the eyeball-popping dollar amounts of these arms deals, the plight of the Kashmiri people, who no doubt will be on the receiving end of these Indian-procured weapons, remains altogether ignored.

You see, while India has given lip service to Palestinian statehood and human rights, given its existence and history is defined by resisting a foreign occupation, Israel has nevertheless employed Israel to assist in its occupation of Kashmir, a security partnership that began more than a decade ago.

Capitalising on the United States' "war on terrorism" discourse, which posits democratic states around the world to be under threat by "radical Islam", India, like other opportunistic states battling separatist and nationalist aspirations from Muslim populations, began mischievously conflating Kashmiri independence aspirations with the ideology and motives of terror groups such as al Qaeda.

In 2003, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and then-Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee entered into a Statement of Friendship and Cooperation that declared, "Israel and India are partners in the battle against this scourge" and that "there cannot be any compromise in the war against terrorism".

India's search operations disrupt and destroy Kashmiri lives

Since then, Israel has provided Indian security forces with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), spy satellites and training in counter-insurgency operations, as well as a range of weaponry tailor-made for putting down separatist militias, including assault rifles, advanced air to ground arms, night vision goggles, and laser range-finding and targeting equipment.

Moreover, Israeli intelligence agencies travel to India to train their counterparts in occupation security methods, and Indian commandos now travel to Israel watch and learn how the self-proclaimed Jewish state works round-the-clock to kill the hopes of the Palestinian people. It's no coincidence then that in both Palestine and Kashmir today you find the same draconian security visuals: from ever-present heavily armed soldiers to military checkpoints; from surveillance drones flying overhead to armoured vehicles roaming the streets.

In both Palestine and Kashmir, identical measures are put into place for the purpose of pacifying the occupied

"There is one Indian soldier for every three common men in Srinagar, Kashmir," Ahsan Nazir Raja, a human rights activist in Kashmir, told me. "There isn't a single street that doesn't start and end with an Indian military checkpoint."

Moreover, Indian security forces in Kashmir have borrowed from Israel the psychological technique of collective punishment, instilling terror into the minds of those who may contemplate resistance in the future. Subsequently in both Palestine and Kashmir, identical measures are put into place for the purpose of pacifying the occupied - from curfews to social media bans; from electricity cuts to home demolitions; from shooting haphazardly into crowded protests to curtailing freedom of movement; from indefinite detention to extrajudicial killings - these measures meet the Geneva Conventions' definition of a war crime.

A Kashmiri mother's search for her 'disappeared' son

"In Kashmir, India unleashes its military might and stifles dissent by taking recourse to draconian laws like the AFSPA [Armed Forces Special Powers Act] and PSA [Public Safety Act]," observes Human Rights Watch.

Essentially, AFSPA allows Indian soldiers to kill Kashmiris with impunity and/or on the grounds of mere suspicion alone, while the PSA allows Indian forces to detain anyone up to two years without charge or trial.

"In style and character, the power structure and subsequent consolidation trend is quite similar to that followed by Israel against the Palestinians," observes Shaid Lone, a journalist in Indian-administered Kashmir. "This utter disregard for human brotherhood, dignity, equality, liberty and freedom reveals how both countries are making a mockery of open government and how the global advocates of democracy maintain a criminal silence to protect their own economic and national interests."

So while India continues to offer public platitudes to the Palestinian struggle for independence and freedom, it, like so many others, helps bankroll the Israeli occupation while, simultaneously, carrying out a campaign of terror meant to break the backs of those who seek independence and freedom from under its national flag.

CJ Werleman is the author of 'Crucifying America', 'God Hates You, Hate Him Back' and 'Koran Curious', and is the host of Foreign Object.

Follow him on Twitter: @cjwerleman

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.