In my blog last fortnight (World Leaders and War Criminals) I had opined that what Israel and the USA were doing in tandem in Gaza was a war crime. Since then the criminality has only intensified and two thousand more innocent Palestinians have been murdered, with the world-global north, south and middle- either remaining silent or muttering inanities of the Blinken type that are specious and intended to give more time to Netanyahu to achieve his objective of depopulating the strip. A non binding UN resolution moved by Jordan for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds has been passed by the General Assembly, but to our eternal shame India has not voted in favour of a ceasefire. A reliable estimate states that Israel has already killed 1% of Gaza’s population; in Indian terms that would amount to about 14 million deaths.
Surely, both the irony of our posture and its perfidy cannot be lost on any serious observer of our foreign policy. Here is the self-proclaimed leader of the global south-the Vishwaguru- which has just spent 4000 crores at the G-20 conclave to burnish these delusive credentials, but has now become just a camp follower of the global north! It is a “leader” without any followers, a general without an army. That is the irony. The perfidy lies in an External Affairs Minister who has spent his entire career in the IFS supporting the Palestinian cause (our time tested and age-old policy), but now has no stirrings of conscience in joining the pro-Israeli ranks. Either he has changed his mind (which is difficult to do at an age when most of your mind is in furlough in any case) or he has sold his soul for the loaves of office. I am inclined to plump for the latter explanation, given his strident expressions of loyalty to the right wing ideology for quite some time now. Which diminishes him as a human being: he has abandoned his principles and values and has now become a full fledged member of a callous, opportunistic, amoral and transactional universe. I wonder if he can sleep at night; he probably can, what with the experience acquired in the Ukraine war, doing precisely the same.
India now languishes in a no man’s land- “terra nullius”. We have abdicated any moral right to lead the global south, and in the global north we are now just another parvenu seeking only to stay in the good books of the USA, putting all our eggs in the geo-political basket. Our time of reckoning will come sometime, but it will not save the Palestinians from further slaughter. No one with an IQ above 50 (which excludes most of the bhakts, naturally) will buy our canard that we are maintaining “neutrality” in the Gaza conflict. Neutrality in a dispute between the world’s fourth most powerful army, a nuclear power to boot, and a putative “nation” that comprises millions of displaced people with no government, economy or army and 80% of whom survive on humanitarian aid, is no neutrality; it is complicity with the former. As Martin Luther King had said: there can be no neutrality between right and wrong, or between good and evil. Neutrality in such a context means supporting the wrong and the evil. Which brings me to my next point.
In response to my earlier piece I have received quite a few responses on the blog as well as by email. I won’t bother with the bhakts and trolls since radical Hindutva, Nazism and Zionism all are poisonous fruits of the same genealogical tree and by definition can only exude venom. But there are a lot of otherwise well-read and reasonable people who appear to have succumbed to the “theory of nuances” in the ongoing pogrom and slaughter of Palestinians. This fake theory, and their argument, goes something like this: Israel’s disproportionate assault on Gaza is not a simple black and white issue, it has nuances which must be understood. It is defending itself from a terrorist organisation which has beheaded babies and raped grandmothers, launches rockets against Israel, has taken 250 hostages, the Gazans fully support Hamas and must now pay the price for it. Most important, Jews have a right to the lands of the Palestinians since they were the original settlers, 900,000 Jews were evicted from Palestine in the early 20th century by the Arabs; some apologists even go as far back as the Old Testament and Canaanite period to justify Israels’s claim to Palestinian lands. Most of this is misleading hogwash and an attempt to deflect the debate and to direct it to a road that leads away from the war crimes being committed in Gaza.
Today’s global outrage should not about who, the Jews or the Palestinians, are right about their respective claims to land- the anger should be about the slaughter of innocent non-combatants, women and children in Gaza in their thousands. There are no nuances here- not in the killing of 4500 children and 1500 women, not in the further 2000 buried under the blasted rubble, not in the bombing of hospitals, schools, refugee camps, not in the forced eviction of 800,000 Gazans from their homes in the north, not in the use of starvation as a weapon of war, not in the blockade of food, fuel and medicines to a people already horrendously deprived by 17 years of a blockade.
There are no nuances in killing tens of thousands of innocents in order to assert a legal right to land which was never yours in the first place. (At the beginning of the modern era, which in the case of the middle-east can be said to begin with the conquest of Arab lands by the Ottoman Turks in the 16th century, there were barely 5000 Jews left in Palestine: they started arriving in large numbers only after 1947, starting the continuing dispossession of the Palestinians- a claim borne out by the United Nations time after time, and by the Oslo Accord).
There are no nuances in determining the culpability of Israel in the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing. Even if Hamas is said to be a terrorist organisation, this does not entitle Israel to behave like a terrorist itself, as it has been doing since 1947. A sovereign , democratic state has to abide by international rules and covenants, during peace and war; it has to be held to a higher standard than a terrorist outfit. If it conducts itself like a terrorist entity, there is no subtlety needed to determine its guilt.
In any case, independent evidence is now emerging that Netanyahu himself covertly supported and funded Hamas as a counter balance to the Palestinian Authority, it is his creation. The news about beheading of babies has been debunked by independent journalists. Even more damning evidence is beginning to indicate that most of the Jewish settlers killed on the 7th and 8th of October were killed by the Israel’s IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) in retaliatory fire under its “Hannibal Directive” which requires the killing of the enemy at all costs, even the death of its own citizens. Some reports reveal that these Israelis were killed by tank shells and 5.7mm bullets which the Hamas does not possess. Nor does Hamas possess the kind of lethal missiles, one of which killed 500 people in a Gaza hospital in one midnight strike. Netanyahu is using the Hamas pretext and his subsequent savagery to stay on in power; someone in India seems to be doing the same with our bankrupt “neutrality”.
Looking for nuances in this conflict, or claiming neutrality, is sheer Islamophobia and complicity in the neo-colonial game playing out before our eyes. The western colonialism of the 16th and 17th centuries is back, this time riding on the back of a Biblical justification, oil, the Ben Gurion canal, racial hatred, and its Messiahs are a self-proclaimed Zionist in the White House who cannot climb three stairs without stumbling and a psychopath whose mind is “a black hole” which cannot be penetrated, according to his psychiatrist who has just committed suicide. Truly has it been said: Homo homini lupus est. Man is wolf to man.
|The author retired from the IAS in December 2010. A keen environmentalist and trekker he has published a book on high altitude trekking in the Himachal Himalayas: THE TRAILS LESS TRAVELLED.
His second book- SPECTRE OF CHOOR DHAR is a collection of short stories based in Himachal and was published in July 2019. His third book was released in August 2020: POLYTICKS, DEMOCKRAZY AND MUMBO JUMBO is a compilation of satirical and humorous articles on the state of our nation. His fourth book was published on 6th July 2021. Titled INDIA: THE WASTED YEARS , the book is a chronicle of missed opportunities in the last nine years. Shukla’s fifth book – THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER’S DOG AND OTHER COLLEAGUES- was released on 12th September 2023. It portrays the lighter side of life in the IAS and in Himachal.
He writes for various publications and websites on the environment, governance and social issues. He divides his time between Delhi and his cottage in a small village above Shimla.
He blogs at http://avayshukla.blogspot.in/