World Leaders And War Criminals

As modern-day war criminals go, you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be difficult to beat the Netanyahu-Biden duo. The former has initiated a genocide in Gaza and the latter has been giving him all diplomatic and military covering fire to get the job over quickly. Six thousand civilians are dead in Gaza as I write this (including 2,500 children and 1,500 women), with more to come as the ground offensive of this doomed enclave unfolds. Ukraine is being repeated in Gaza, with the logic of justice being up-ended as per their fascist convenience- Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine for invading another sovereign nation and killing civilians, while in Palestine a rampaging Israel is the victim for doing the same. Sheer moral bankruptcy and criminality under international covenants are now rephrased as geopolitics. Israel has even called for the resignation of the UN Secretary-General for having had the temerity to say that the Hamas attacks did not happen in a vacuum. And it has now taken to taunting the UNRWA, the relief agency of the UN in Gaza: on the latter’s pleas for allowing fuel into Gaza, this rogue state has suggested that it ask Hamas for the fuel! This is not just over-arching arrogance, it’s the confidence of a criminal who has bought both the judge and the jury.

How can a terrorist organization be equated or conflated with an entire nation, as the global North has done with Hamas and Palestine? And then obliterate that nation for the sins of those terrorists, as Israel has been doing for the last three weeks? This is like the RAF carpet bombing Ireland because of the activities of the IRA, or India bombing Lahore for the actions of Pakistan’s cross-border terrorists. Netanyahu, Biden, or their pet poodles in France and the UK may not comprehend this logic, but surely India should be able to see it, and at the very least demand that Israel respect this distinction. Previous Indian governments, from the time of Nehru to Vajpayee, had the humanism and vision to realize this; they had also learned from our own history the abject consequences of partition, and could therefore empathize with the Palestinians whose own ancestral lands had been partitioned in 1947. Not so with Naya Bharat where the benefits of Pegasus, hi-tech weapons, and training by Mossad matter more than shared history, humanitarianism, and justice. Islamophobia has now entered our foreign policy, it would appear; it was inevitable after the nine years of the present regime, for, as Hubert Humphrey had remarked: “Diplomacy is nothing but a domestic policy with its hat on.” Which is why Mr. Jaishankar has gone silent for now on this war, with even his usual waffling missing.

The Netanyahu-Biden strategy is clear: it’s time for the “final solution” in Palestine: occupy the Gaza strip, if not annex it. Readers would recollect that at the last General Assembly meeting in New York in September, Netanyahu had displayed the future map of Palestine as he saw it: it showed almost the entire region from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean (the present West Bank and the Gaza strip included) as part of Israel. The attack on Gaza is the first phase of converting this map to reality on the ground. Israel will occupy north Gaza after expelling all Palestinians living there (almost a million and a half) and either occupy it militarily or convert it into a buffer zone with a proxy government.  Over time it will push more Israeli settlers in there, dispossessing the few Palestinians who remain there, as it does in the West Bank. It will change not only the geography but also the demography of the area forever, with the blessings of the North and the silence of countries like India. This is what Netanyahu had meant when he stated, at the beginning of this “war”, that the Middle East would be changed forever.

By any definition of terrorism, and under international law, Israel is a terrorist state. It has forcibly occupied 85% of Palestine and allowed, under military protection, 700,000 Jewish settlers to encroach on Palestinian land in the West Bank. It distributes arms to these settlers and has killed thousands of Palestinians without any judicial process: it is an occupation force and behaves as such, in the teeth of opposition by the UN and in flagrant violation of all international laws. It has converted the blockaded Gaza Strip into what one commentator has described as the largest concentration camp in the world, and all this with the full support of the USA, which runs its own concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay. Between 200 and 250 Palestinian civilians are routinely killed by Israel every year (more than 120 have been killed in the West Bank in just the last two weeks) and has imprisoned about 5000 of them, most of them without any judicial process.

As of today, the UN has announced that it shall cease its relief operations in Gaza: Israel’s two-week-old blockade has ensured that no food, fuel, medicines or even water can enter this enclave where 2.5 million have been trapped like rats (“human animals”, according to an Israeli minister). 35 hospitals will be shut down, and the 140 babies in incubators and 130 patients in ICUs will almost certainly die. This is deliberate genocide, far more barbaric than taking hostages, even though the comparison is odious. And this is even before the ground offensive has begun! What more does it take to be a terrorist, pray?

What India, which has ditched all moral and ethical values for rank opportunism and, in the apt words of (retired) Ambassador Talmiz Ahmed has “corporatized” its foreign policy for the benefit of a few cronies, does not smell is the fecal stench of racism emanating from the Israel-Palestine issue. When “white” Ukranian civilians are killed by Russia the West is outraged, but when “brown” Palestinians are massacred by Jews it sees this as just retribution. Even an Uncle Tom like Rishi Sunak is blind to this. Historically, the Muslims have never persecuted the Jews- it has always been white Christians who have persecuted, disenfranchised, and murdered Jews, culminating, of course, in Hitler’s final solution. There were hardly any Jews in Palestine in 1947, the vast majority were in Europe and should have been given their sovereign state there. But the Christians didn’t want them as neighbors, apparently, and packed them off to an enclave in the Middle East under the Balfour declaration, one that belonged to the Muslims. So who is the racist and aggressor here? Self-proclaimed Zionists like Biden and Uncle Toms like Sunak should think about this. So should the Hindu Samrats. History has a way of coming back to haunt one. It may not repeat itself, as someone said, but it rhymes.

In these sorry times we could do worse than recollect the words of the poet, Mahmoud Darwish:

” The wars will end and the leaders will shake hands, and that old woman will remain to wait for her martyred son, and that girl will wait for her beloved husband, and the children will wait for their heroic father, I do not know who sold the homeland but I know who paid the price.”

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Raffa C

    Q – You ask “How can a terrorist organization be equated or conflated with an entire nation?”

    A – Could it be that Hamas is the elected government of Gaza?


    Statement “Historically, the Muslims have never persecuted the Jews”

    Fact (UN record) – Between 1920 and 1970, 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab and other Muslim countries


    Lastly – In search of peace, should seniors from the Indian Administrative Service fling terms such as “final solution” “Uncle Tom” into newspaper comment? Does that juvenile name calling go part way to explain how polarised and problematic the IAS has become?

    The dissatisfaction of the people with the IAS, and the belief in just how far this once “incorruptibale” service has fallen can be seen in reviews in India Today such as “Is it possible that there can be any case or cases of corruption without the involvement or connivance of IAS? It is practically impossible for a politician to have his way of corrupt practices without the tacit or articulate role of an IAS.”

  2. says: Salman

    Sadly, the writer is misinformed; “Historically, the Muslims have never persecuted the Jews”. Here is one example of many – infamously, the Hebron massacre of 1929 killed nearly 10 percent of the Jewish population of that city, while the survivors were forcibly relocated to Jerusalem.

  3. says: E Taub

    The allegation in this article that Israel’s actions to defend itself from murderous attacks constitutes collective punishment and “genocide” of the people of Gaza is wrong in law and dangerous in practice.

    Collective punishment, as defined in international law, is backward-looking. It relates to past events and prohibits punishing a population for crimes they did not personally commit. Israel’s actions, however, are forward-looking. It seeks to prevent the Oct. 7 massacre from ever happening again. Israel isn’t losing soldiers every day in Gaza to punish the people there, but to hunt down Hamas terrorists in their tunnels and command centres, cynically built underneath civilian infrastructure.

    Weighing the likelihood of civilian harm against the imperative of defeating a terrorist machine is an agonising process, one that Israel (and like India in Indian administered Kashmir) grapples with every day, both internally and in discussions with its closest allies. How should a nation rise to the challenge of meeting such a critical defensive goal?

    For Israel his goal includes the need to confront the 100,000 fighters that Hamas’ leaders proudly claim, the hundreds of miles of underground terror tunnels, and the thousands of rockets and missiles continue to send Israelis to bomb shelters each day.

    The scale of this threat, deliberately entrenched within civilian centres, suggests that even extensive damage to ostensibly civilian structures may be legitimate. There is an important debate to be had about the right balance to be struck, but the writer simply chose to evade it and reward Hamas’ cynical strategy of civilian shielding.

    The allegation of collective punishment has also been used to object to Israel’s calls to the civilian population to leave the areas of terrorist entrenchment and move to safer areas in southern Gaza. Hamas, eager to use civilians as human shields, has tried to stop the evacuation by blockading exit routes and confiscating car keys. It has found an ally in gullible international officials, like the head of UNRWA, the UN Palestinian refugee agency, who has claimed that the call to civilians to get out of harm’s way is in fact a form of prohibited collective punishment.

    The absurdity of the argument becomes apparent when one considers the alternatives it offers Israel: either to attack the terrorist occupied structures without regard to civilian casualties, or to leave them untouched and so to broadcast a message to every terrorist group in the world that if they set up shop among civilians they can act with impunity.

    The dangerous misnomer of collective punishment is being applied too to Israel’s reluctance to allow supplies into Gaza without effective arrangements to guarantee that they will not continue to be diverted to Hamas’s terrorist activity.

    Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, has insisted that if Israel does not ensure the needs of Gazans are met, this amounts to the crime of collective punishment. She failed to note that, as UN officials have now admitted, Hamas has regularly stolen supplies intended for the people of Gaza both to hoard for its underground terror empire and to actively perpetuate humanitarian suffering above ground. Indeed, one of its first attacks in this conflict was to destroy the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossing points, critical channels of aid for Gazan citizens. Israel has rightly insisted on ensuring that aid to reaches its proper recipients, with new arrangements permitting the entry of a hundred truckloads of supplies a day.

    Callamard’s insistence that Israel immediately restore Gaza’s electricity supply would also have merited a reality check. Of the 50 per cent of Gaza’s electricity that has been provided by Israel, nine out of ten of the electricity lines from Israel to Gaza have been put out of action by Hamas’ own missile attacks.

    Hamas has also stolen and stockpiled as much as a million liters of fuel to ventilate its terror tunnels and operate its rocket launchers. The charge from some in the international community that a failure by Israel to provide additional fuel to meet civilian needs is a form of collective punishment beggars belief. It effectively demands that Israel fund and support the war of terror being waged against it. International law is not a suicide pact. It provides no basis for such a claim.

    There is indeed collective punishment of the people of Gaza, but it is perpetrated by Hamas. Laying the blame for Hamas’ abuse of civilians at Israel’s door only rewards these inhuman tactics and ensures that they will be copycatted by terrorist groups in other places. Genuine humanitarian concern must look this reality in the face and place the blame for the suffering of Gaza squarely where it belongs.

  4. says: Promita Thakur

    Credit to the Editors at Hillpost that they have posted such opposing views on this difficult and sad topic. I have learned much because of it. Credit also to those who oppose name calling.

    Would we want to bring the same international focus to the problems in J&K? As with Israel we had had to face a difficult situation in prosecuting terrorism while protecting innocents. The unresolved problems of Partition in 1947, alongside the UN creation of Israel in 1948 has left a legacy of problems that has not gone away.

    The end of WW2 led to ethnic cleansing of 14 million German Nationals from countries in Europe outside Germany. Since then they have rebuilt their lives and nation within new borders to be a beacon of wealth, stability and democracy and make no claims to return.

    The failure to resolve both the border dispites of 1947 and 1948 has had fatal consequences. Wars have been fought over Kashmir in 1947-48 and 1965, and nearly again in 2002. According to Indian government data, around 41,000 people— consisting of 14,000 civilians, 5,000 security personnel and 22,000 militants—have died because of the insurgency in J&K up to March 2017, a figure that can only have risen still further. The 1980s insurgency led to even more ethnic cleansing. Of a total Pandit population of 120,000–140,000 some 90,000–100,000 left the Kashmir valley (or felt compelled to leave) by the middle of 1990,

    Eventually name calling has to stop and real peace be declared so that rebuilding can begin. Perhaps that explains why India’s experience has led it to wisely abstain in UN vote on Israel-Hamas conflict.

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