Israel and Indian Muslims: Where we stand
Israel evokes varying degrees of hostility in the Muslim world because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, a sea change in India’s relations with Israel has taken place, as we become Israel’s closest ally in Asia. What Indian Muslims should make of this, I thought, as I saw fenced-off Palestinian homes just outside Jerusalem?
The first important thing for us to remember is that India’s historic stand on Palestine has not changed, but our growing ties with Israel are presaged on pragmatism and supreme national interests.
India voted against the partition of Palestine at the UN and we were the first country to recognize Palestine. We were the first non-Arab state to recognize Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
India’s closeness to Israel has not come at the expense of the Palestinian cause and neither has our official line on Palestine changed. According to India’s Palestine policy stated on the ministry of external affairs website: “India supports the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to a State and the imperative need for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region based on UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, principle of “land for peace”, and more recently the Road Map of the Quartet.” Click here http://meaindia.nic.in/
From being indifferent in the 80s, if not frosty, India and Israel are now more than allies. They are in a love-fest. India helps put an Israeli spy satellite into orbit to mount vigil on Iran in January 2008. Israel promises to share intelligence relevant to India from the satellite’s data. As Isreali daily points out, “The launch is also an expression of the growing cooperation between India and Israel in the security sphere as a whole, and in particular in the field of missiles, radar and satellites.”
India’s about-face comes from legitimate post-Cold War concerns. Do not forget: we need to be strong. Our security environment has undergone a dramatic transformation. Soviet Union is gone and, with it, our dependable crutch in matters of diplomacy and security. For all our unstinted support to Palestine, the Organization of Islamic Conference — a coalition of Arab states — has only responded with sympathy for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.
Post-Cold War, China and Pakistan have drifted closer, with deep-seated missile collaborations, posing joint threats from both Islamabad and Beijing. Russia is proving to be an unreliable military supplier.
This has resulted in a natural gravitation by India toward Israel, following the goodwill generated by the 1993 Oslo Accord. Click here.
India soon became one of Israel’s largest strategic allies. Israel is our second largest supplier of arms and the largest supplier of several high-tech surveillance weaponry and electronic warfare systems, a ground-based Green Pine ABM radar and Phalcon airborne warning and control systems.
This defence exchange was part of a declared NDA policy for a deeper alliance between India, the United States, and Israel. The UPA government, when it came to power in 2004, promised to review India’s Middle-east policy. Its review found that in our urgent need for superior military powers, agricultural advancement and leaps in science and technology, Israeli help was indispensable.
“It’s based on a lot of common mutual interests,” says David Goldfarb, who is soon going to be spokesperson at Israeli’s embassy in Delhi, as we ate a delicious dinner at Shmil, a restaurant built in the precincts of Jerusalem’s old, defunct railway station built by the Turks.
It’s natural for countries to review and revamp its foreign policy in light of national interests. Take Turkey – a Muslim country — for example. There are increasing indications of a new flexibility in Turkey’s approach towards India. Ankara traditionally had a staunch pro-Pakistan stance on Kashmir — advocating a UN-mandated resolution. Now, it has begun calling for a bilateral settlement of the Kashmir dispute, much to our comfort. Turkey remains highly concerned about the challenge posed by Islamist terrorism to the country’s democratic government, as do many other Muslim countries, like Yemen, Jordan and Egypt.
India’s relations with Israel are neither anti-Muslim nor anti-Palestine. Indian Muslims will always support the just cause of Palestine.
We as Indian Muslims will continue to view the blockade of Gaza as illegal, insane and unacceptable. Whenever Israeli planes pound innocent civilians in Gaza, we will demonstrate here in New Delhi. Our country believes in a permanent settlement based on Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), regardless of whether Israel’s stand on them.
How do we, as Indian Muslims, at once reconcile our bilateral ties with Israel and our support for Palestinians? The answer lies in Islam’s very approach towards Judaism. Remember, we are the very People of the Book. Remember, anti-Semitism is anti-Islamic.