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Don’t Treat us Like “Them”!

June 3, 2010

How inconsiderate of the Israeli spokesperson to club us, the self proclaimed largest democracy in the world and an atomic super power to boot, with the likes of failed states like Pakistan and with two others (Afghanistan and Iraq) that are currently being taught  the basics of democracy by  the marines of the most powerful  democracy in the world.

How  ungrateful of him,  considering the fact we are buying so many weapons from his country, have signed so many MOUs with her,   befriended her after betraying an entire people, who looked up to us because they thought that being founders and leaders of the Non Aligned movement we will stand with them .

We have done all this and more, in the weak -kneed statement protesting the attack on the freedom flotilla we did not even name the country that had perpetrated the crime

Despite all our most sincere efforts to accommodate them, this is how they treat us

Did the Israeli spokesperson think that we will not complain?

Did he really think that we will not seek to draw the attention of the comity of Nations and of Obama?

We will not be denied our democratic right to raise our voice of protest,

We will, with all the power at our command, appeal to world opinion and to the conscience of Benjamin Netanyahu and the entire Israeli cabinet not to club us with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

We seek to inform Mr Yahu that we have no idea about the nature of his country’s relations with these three, what we do know is that we are friends of Israel. We have tried so hard to prove it to her and to her close ally the US, why does she not trust us. What more does she want from us? Why won’t she tell us?

Someone please help!

41 Comments leave one →
  1. somnath permalink
    June 3, 2010 6:13 PM

    Not required..Israel has already apologised for the gaffe..And has deleted the reference to India in the official records of the UN (where the statement was made)…

    • Sohail Hashmi permalink
      June 3, 2010 10:01 PM

      extremely generous of them for taking us off the list, and for saying “sorry mate”. now since they have given us a good conduct certificate, we can once again join the list of aspiring super powers and sing hossanas to israeli democracy and open mindedness.

  2. Anant M permalink
    June 3, 2010 7:30 PM

    BBC’s Jon Snow doing the Israeli Spokesman in and cutting him off:

  3. suresh permalink
    June 3, 2010 7:55 PM

    Dear Sohail:

    We have never been shy with weak-kneed statements or even silence. We refused to condemn the Soviet Union in the cases of Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968) or Afghanistan (1980). In the case of Myanmar, we did issue an initial statement condemning the military junta for arresting Aung Sang Suu Kyi but after the junta got back at us by moving closer to China, we stopped doing so. Talking of China, have we said anything about it in the cases of the Uighurs and the Tibetans? It would be nice if we could conduct foreign policy purely on the basis of morality, but we have never done so and neither does any other country. Notice that Pakistan remains quiet on the Uighur issue despite the muslim connection? All this is not to argue that morality should play no role; just that there are complicating factors. That’s the way it is, unfortunately.

    However, you are absolutely right in that while “we” regard Israel as a friend, Israel, for the most part regards us with a curious mixture of contempt and indifference. For the most part, India does not figure much in the Israeli consciousness. The statement of the Israeli spokesperson is not exactly a “mistake” as its ambassador claims – it is exactly in line with the following “promotional” of its defence firm, Rafael:

    At any rate, one can only hope that our government will not conduct our foreign policy solely on the basis of some vague “friendship” — with the Israelis or the Palestinians or whoever. We got burned once through “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai”; I think that is quite enough.

  4. Prashant permalink
    June 3, 2010 8:05 PM

    “befriended her after betraying an entire people, who looked up to us because they thought that being founders and leaders of the Non Aligned movement we will stand with them”

    Hashmi… all these people we have betrayed, how many of them consider Kashmir to be a part of India? How many of them admonish our enemy Pakistan for eyeing Indian territory, condemn it for spreading terror in India ?

    Answer : None.

    I am glad that they look upto us, if we believe what you say… but what have they really done for us ?

    • Sohail Hashmi permalink
      June 4, 2010 3:15 PM

      @ Prashant i am sorry i have lost you totally,

      we supported vietnaam, South Africa, Laos, cambodia, Palestine and every nation that was fighting for its freedom and against colonisation and imperialism,

      we supported them because they were fighting the same struggle that we had fought.

      our support was not on a quid pro quo basis.

      we supported palestine because an entire people had been dispossed of their mother land.

      and we opposed israel because it was an aggressor.

      and now israel is our friend, more than a friend, it is now soneone who has the temerity to issue certificates and to brand us.

      and we are supposed to lump it

      I find this a little difficult to accept.

      if you do not find this unacceptable
      it is your choice.
      that’s all

  5. small blue dot permalink
    June 3, 2010 9:56 PM

    Yes they were sorrier to name India than they were for killing ten peace activists

  6. somnath permalink
    June 4, 2010 7:24 AM

    Sohail, there is a lot that Israel is goofing up on in the global perception battle..And surely you can criticise her for a variety of reasons..But bringing in the Indian equation is so disengenuous that it simply digresses from the issue that you are presumably agitated about (the plight of Palestinians)…

    the problem of bringing in the Indian equation is that there isnt a scintilla of realpolitik that should dictate anything other than our current state of affairs with Israel…Purely on strategic self interest, Israel is one of the strategically “closest” nations to India…And NAM? No one took it seriously, barring India probably for a period of time…It used to be hilarious to see a bunch of guys congregating in HAvana (or Belrade, or Delhi), bash US imperialism and then take the next flight out to NY or Washington to beg for the next tranche of loan/aid…About our Paletinian/Arab NAM allies, well less said the better…Despite being the “trenches” with them against Israel for decades, their votes and voice (in OIC – another useless forum, or the UN – a third useless body, or during political conflicts – extremely critical) on issues concerning India steadfastly remained contrarian to ours..They had their own reasons for doing that, realpolitik again -we understand…Therefore there should not be any apologies for our ties with Israel either – realpolitik again!

    So criticise Israel, there are sufficient grounds for that – but dont ask the Indian nation-state to join in the flotilla looking to break the blockade in Gaza..

    • Sohail Hashmi permalink
      June 4, 2010 3:30 PM

      @ Somnath

      118 nations as members, 17 with observer status, 2/3rds of all the UN member nations, collectively representing 55% of the world population and no one ever took them seriously.

      that is what you are proposing

      and you expect me to take you seriously

  7. suresh permalink
    June 4, 2010 5:16 PM

    we supported palestine because an entire people had been dispossed of their mother land.

    and we opposed israel because it was an aggressor.

    Sohail, surely matters are more complicated. It is true that we opposed the partition of British Palestine and also opposed Israel’s entry into the UN in 1949. However, we recognized Israel as far back as 1950. Since then Israel has always had a diplomatic presence in India though we refused to reciprocate. See

    http://www.indembassy.co.il/India-Israel%20Bilateral%20relations.htm

    The point is that the change in 1992 was not dramatic as we think. Why we did not move to full diplomatic status until 1992 is complicated but I don’t think it can be reduced to the simple equation “because Israel was an aggressor.” You mean to say that the Indian establishment suddenly decided that Israel was not an aggressor?

    It may be news to you but India’s foreign policy has never been totally based on “morality.” If that were the case, why did we say almost nothing in 1956, 1968 and 1980, all involving the Soviet Union? Even worse, I remember reading that we sold our outdated World War II vintage Centurion Tanks to the apartheid regime in South Africa!

    It is not my claim that morality is or has been absent as a factor in India’s foreign policy. There is no doubt that our own struggles against colonialism has shaped our foreign policy. I am making a weaker claim that it has not been the only factor. We have always chosen to ignore issues when it suits us. We have never said anything against, say, Saudi Arabia for its treatment of foreign workers (large numbers Indian) even when the authorities have prevented Hindus/Christians from practicing their religion in private. The muttawa, for instance, are known to have destroyed makeshift shrines in private apartments.

    At any rate, in this specific instance, what would you have? Just break off all diplomatic relations? No matter how reprehensible Israel’s behaviour, would that be in our interest? If yes, then why not break off relations with Egypt as well? Note that the Rafah checkpoint between Egypt and Gaza has also been closed since 2007 and has only been opened now following the recent uproar. I’d venture to say that the Egyptian decision has little to do with genuine concern for the Palestinians and more to do with containing internal dissent.

  8. somnath permalink
    June 4, 2010 5:58 PM

    Sohail, realpolitik is seldom, in fact almost never, a prisoner of ideology..None of the major events shaking the world in the last 60 years have had any decisive intervention from NAM (or for that matter UN!)…The reason is very simple – a congregation of disparate nations with no common agenda (besides venting of anti american slogans for domestic audiences), and having a rhetoric far outweighing their collective economic and military muscle – the venture was doomed from the begining…

    In any case, NAM is a digression here..My point is simple – you can criticise Israel for a number of ideological and non-ideological things…But bringing in the India equation only queers your pitch – its completely untenable….There is nothing in it for us to even get involved in the dispute…..

  9. FacePalm permalink
    June 4, 2010 7:41 PM

    @comments declaring strategic support for Israel

    India must support Israel and become a super power in global political circles like Micronesia (the only country that votes along with Israel and US on the UN Resolution for Palestine)???

    If our government turns around and starts practising apartheid, I would want the entire global community to condemn and pressurize the government. I would not want some country saying – you know what … apartheid is good for the arms trade – either we can get a discount or sell some more.

    This whole approach to rationalizing violence and apartheid in the name of “policy” is shallow and misguided.

  10. Afthab Ellath permalink
    June 4, 2010 8:26 PM

    In the global context of “clash of civilizations” and “war-on-terror”, be prepared to see such rationalizations in the name of realpolitic…may god save us from the rational debates over upcoming concentration camps…

  11. Aarti Sethi permalink*
    June 4, 2010 8:31 PM

    @ somanth,

    Perhaps you have heard of George Orwell? Yes, indeed the man who wrote “Animal Farm”. You may not be as familiar however with another work by him “Homage to Catalonia”, his account of the Spanish Civil war, where he fought alongside the anarchists against Franco’s forces. So did Ernest Hemmingway.

    “Realpolitik” may indeed determine the behaviour of nations towards other nations. But surely it cannot determine our responses. How impoverished must be our imaginations and affections when the only prism of our response is “realpolitik” determined by accidental membership in the nation-state. Is there no other axis along which you map your political or even human solidarities?

  12. Prashant permalink
    June 4, 2010 9:25 PM

    The problem with the good folks at kafila is that you think the world is JNU/AMU and JNU/AMU is the world. You are wrong.

    People of India look upto Israel and wish their government was like that. They wish their government would treat the enemies of their nation the way Israelis deal with their’s. People want action against the enemies of their country.

    Of course, the Islamic masses will always hate Israel for obvious reasons. (One only wishes they felt the same way about a certain nation that makes it its business to kill Indian soldiers and even civilians). So will those of leftist persuasion as the good folks who frequent this website. But they are a minority, thankfully.

    People of India love Israel.

  13. john elia permalink
    June 4, 2010 10:21 PM

    Why we have been clubbed with Pakistan,Iraq and Afghanistan?the answer to this question is very simple.We like the three are boot lickers of US imperialists.

  14. Afthab Ellath permalink
    June 5, 2010 1:22 AM

    @Prasanth…

    “People of India love Israel.”

    Now I am relieved… You came out naked, abandoning the crypic language of rationality and Realpolitik…

  15. somnath permalink
    June 5, 2010 8:11 AM

    Aarti, there is no problem in individuals criticizing Israel – as I said in the my first post, there would be enough reasons to do so…But Sohail (and people of the same persuasion) ask the Indian nation-state to join in the chorus…The point is therefore simply that the ideological motivations of individuals and the compulsions of the nation state are very different…So condemn Israel as much as you want, but dont ask India to join in that flotilla to Gaza…

    Afthab, its mighty hypocritical to be invoking things like concentration camps etc in the context of Israel…In that region, there is only one country that is a democracy, and gives all its citizens (including muslim citizens) the right to vote, and a right to juridical recourse…And that is Israel…A lot lot less has to be said about every single country in the middle east….Of course Israel, due to its very nature, needs to be assessed at a different datum level from the islamic despots of Egypt, Saudi, Iran or the terrorists of Hamas…So again, criticise Israel, but dont bring in non-sequitors…

  16. Afthab Ellath permalink
    June 5, 2010 12:49 PM

    I wonder how terribly ignorant one can become due to bigotry…. Israel with equal citezenship to Arabs? What a wild imagination?

  17. small blue dot permalink
    June 6, 2010 1:59 AM

    “People of India love Israel.”
    You mean “people in India who delight in the suffering of Muslims love Israel and wish they could act in a similar way” – luckily not all Indians, yet

  18. somnath permalink
    June 6, 2010 10:48 AM

    Afthab, “equal citizenship” is your paraphrase..But the fact remains, despite the propaganda, that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that gives all its citizens (muslims included) a right to vote, a right to form political parties, a a full right of juridican recourse in accordance with republican constitutinalism…A lot lot more than what can said of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and the rest of the “land of the pure”!!!!

    Seriously, I wonder whether the concerned human rights groups would consider a flotilla (or Kafila :)) to Saudi Arabia asking for the release of so many foreigners arrested (and condemned to death) on frivolous charges…Or one to Egypt, asking for an end to Hosni Mubarak’s oppressive regime…

  19. Bhochka permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:35 AM

    @ Somnath: you make two interesting assumptions. First, that human rights activists who stand in solidarity with Palestinians have nothing to say about Egypt or Saudi Arabia or Iran – where do you get this from? There have been campaigns in many countries – to take random examples, in support of the June days in Iran, and in support of the massive strikes by Egyptian workers. Those campaigns were generally filled with the same people who expressed solidarity, verbally or practically, with people on the West Bank and Gaza. Where on earth do you get the idea that Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc are ‘the land of the pure’ for those who write critically about Israel?
    The second assumption, which you’ve made again and again and which I think is more revealing, is that Israel’s status as a ‘democracy’ is some kind of exoneration. By those standards, then, to take a historical example, should the American carpet-bombing of Vietnam be exempt from the same criticisms levelled at, say, atrocities in Maoist and post-Maoist China, because of the unquestionably greater respect for ‘human rights’ within US borders? This is an important question because – along with the cynical manipulation of the Holocaust – this kneejerk recourse to an argument from democracy is the prime justification offered for Israel’s policy. I notice you say nothing about the security fence that separates Palestinians from most of their agricultural land, about the differential access to water, land, and other resources that characterizes the ‘rights’ that Israel distributes its first and second-class citizens…all because Israel practices some version of democracy. As though some kind of parliamentary representation and some degree of tolerance for internal criticism are guarantees against brutal, inexcusable and racist behaviour. And as though democracy at home were any kind of guarantee against vicious despotism elsewhere. By these standards, none of us would have any right to pass critical judgments about the British Empire – Britain was after all an infinitely more democratic society and state in the run-up to decolonization than Israel is today. So the massacres in the Congo, in Jallianwala Bagh, should by this logic be retrospectively justified.

    Israel IS unique in one respect – and your comments perfectly demonstrate how and why. No other country in the world with a comparable history of racism, state-sponsored dispossession and terror, gets away in the mainstream media and the deliberations of ‘realpolitik’ (which you admire so much) with this kind of ease. No other country can practise these levels of apartheid (and I’m using the term literally, not rhetorically, for there is no other word to describe the security fence) and still end up smelling of roses. The most the BBC and other highly respected and respectable sources of news will say about events like the recent assault on peace activists, or the daily humiliations of the Palestinians, is that these are ‘tragic mistakes’. Does anyone refer to China’s writ in Tibet as a ‘mistake’? Or Egypt’s one-party system, or Iran’s treatment of political prisoners? Or, indeed, Hamas strategy and ideology?
    The question is not whether a flotilla should be sent to Saudi Arabia – though I think it’s an excellent idea. The question is, the flotilla was sent, people were killed and beaten and tortured, Israel refuses to allow independent inquiries of any sort – so where do we stand on THIS issue? Which is a question your framework of reasoning disallows, because of the tiny fig-leaf of ‘Israeli democracy’. You seem entirely insensitive to the histories that have brought about this awful situation. History and politics, in your account, seem to be a sort of awards ceremony where you can hand out prizes for ‘best democracy’ and ‘best constitution’. Even if I were to accept your postulates about the nature of the Israeli state – which I don’t for a moment – where does that leave its victims? And don’t you think, to raise one last quibble, that your warm endorsement of Israeli ‘democracy’ and ‘tolerance’ is just a little muddied by its practices of conscription, and its jailing of refuseniks? If you can be – quite literally – imprisoned for refusing to shoot people in the Occupied Territories, is that democratic?

    @ Prashant: ‘The people of India look up to Israel…..People of India love Israel.’
    I’m glad to hear that, as are they, no doubt. When did they last fax you?

  20. Afthab Ellath permalink
    June 7, 2010 10:34 AM

    @Somnath

    You know that you are deceiving…. continue doing it.. But that will not make the apartheid state acceptable for people who have sense of human dignity…

    As for Saudi Arabia and Egypt… The regimes are there to serve the US and Israel interest in the middle east… Military states imposed on the people by US to protect the interest of Israel… You know which is the regime that get the highest US aid after Israel.. It is Mubarak’s Egypt, who will block the borders to starve the Gaza whenever his boss in Washington and the Apartheid state ask… Your hero Bush senior is partner of the Saudi Kings that run business with the Oil money of the country… In the expense of the freedom and dignity of Saudi people…

    Do you know about Jordan .. It is one of the countries where U.S is running its most notorious illegal detention centers to torture people…

    And for Iran… The Islamic regime that you have invested dearly will not last long… The Iranian people are in the heroic struggle to overthrow this regime… Enough blood and lives has been already given away…

  21. somnath permalink
    June 7, 2010 12:03 PM

    Bhochka, I have no quibble (and I have made that point repeatedly) about people criticising and taking the Israeli state to task for its various foibles..But to invoke the “India” connection, and to demand action from the Indian nation-state is being naive…

    About the moral datum level of Israel, my point is not that democracy is a fig leaf for justifying atrocities..Of course Jallianwala was reprehensible, the treatment of Indians by Australian settlers was equally reprehensible, ditto for the treatment of Indians by the American settlers…The relevant data point about Israel is only that being a democracy, it lends itself to far shriller critiques than any of its neighbours for similar actions…

    But compare the coverage of Israeli atrocities to the same of Chinese occupation of Tibet (we dont even know the exact casulaty figures out of that place)….How many times has any human rights group organised a “march to Tibet”? The point is that Israel has chosen to be a democracy, and will be therefore subject to a higher moral datum level..But also reciognise the hypocrisy of those who spend their lives berating Israel while not spending a word against Hamas suicide bombers, or Chinese “imperialism”, or Iranian repressions…Thats all…

    Afthab, there is no need to attribute personal motives, given that you dont know me at all..But recognise this – for all its foibles, Israel is the most advanced state in the middle east – in terms of freedoms it grants it people, in terms of academics, economy, cultyure, trade – what Israel has built wihtout parallel in the region….So criticise it for its misdemeanours, but dont forget the perspective…

    • Bhochka permalink
      June 7, 2010 4:48 PM

      Somnath: I’m yet to meet a single Palestinian activist, Israeli anti-occupation campaigner or even a solidarity activist who doesn’t condemn, publicly and in the strongest possible terms, suicide bombings and terrorist attacks. To recognize the sheer desperation that leads to such murderous tactics does not serve as a justification – a point that people in solidarity with the Palestinian cause recognize and say again and again – though their voices are muffled by the media for obvious reasons. Aarti has already answered your claims about Tibet and Iran. So the notion that activists involved with the Palestinian cause are silent about other issues is simply wrong.
      If activists focus on Israel, it’s because of the incredible levels of fact-fudging, hypocrisy, and silence that characterize the responses of the ‘international community’ to the horror of the Israeli occupation. At extreme moments – Lebanon 2006, Gaza 2009, flotilla 2010 – yes, we see some critical coverage in the global media, some half-hearted condemnations, more than balanced by eager reports demonstrating that Israeli society is divided and complex, that there are different points of view within it (a recognition of complexity that the media never grant to ‘Islamic’ societies). The mendacity of this manouevre consists in the pretence that there’s anything at all out of the ordinary in events like the Gaza bombings or the murders on the flotilla – as though these incidents represented a deviation from mainstream Israeli policy, rather than the mainstream itself, red in tooth and claw. Israel runs a racist regime within its own borders (laced with selective democracy), superintends situations of absolute apartheid and daily humiliation for Palestinians, and yet ends up, for the most part, in the victim’s robes – either through manipulations of the Holocaust or through myths about being ‘a democracy in a sea of despotisms’. Every report about Israeli atrocities that comes out today is the result of decades of patient, sustained labour by activists – if it wasn’t for them, the world would still subscribe to Golda Meir’s ‘There are no such people as Palestinians’ standpoint. So naturally activists have to work overtime on the Palestine/Israel question. The other regimes you mention are of course obscenities as well, but they don’t enjoy anything like the kind of public support and ‘realpolitik’ support that Israel does. It takes thousands of activists to even begin to outdo the kinds of cynical lies about Israeli virtue that powerful individuals like, say, Alan Dershowitz have made a career out of disseminating. Trace the history of the Dershowitz-Finkelstein controversy, and that gives you a very clear picture of the incredibly unequal power relations that define the conflict between supporters and critics of Israel.

      About Israel as an island of democracy in a sea of bestial dictatorships…One could so easily reverse this – fine, Yemen and Syria and Egypt may not practise democracy within their borders, but none of them sustains a colonial occupation like Israel does, so therefore they’re seas of ‘independence and sovereignty’ besieged by a rampaging white-settler-racist state. Therefore, the argument would run, we should refrain from critiquing them, since they face the threat of an expanding settler state, one that recognizes no formal national borders as stipulated by international law, and is funded and armed by the world’s most powerful country. Of course such an argument would be self-serving and specious and obscene – but if the argument about ‘democracy’ is one that flows from your postulation of different ‘moral data’, so is this.

      What does a ‘different moral datum level’ really mean? In the first place, it follows the hand-out-prizes-for-democracy-at-award-ceremony logic that I wrote of in my last comment. Entire societies, including Israel, are drained of their internal complexities and historically constituted tensions, and are defined exclusively by the formal constitutional premises of their statehood. In the second place, it acts as a guarantee – internal ‘democracy’ becomes the legitimation, the bank deposit, against which you can draw licenses to kill, occupy and dispossess with impunity, knowing that your actions will rarely be held up to genuine public scrutiny.
      This ‘different moral datum’ argument is also inconsistent because it isn’t clear whether you mean Israel should be held to a higher or a lower moral standard on the basis of its partially democratic constitution. While you make the first supposition, the very form of your argument itself inexorably produces the second – since Israel is a democracy, we should keep that in mind while considering even its blatantly anti-democratic public actions. Which also misses the point of democratic institutions and practices – if they are to be justified, it can only be as ends-in-themselves, not as exonerations or palliations of anything else. If Israel affords space for internal criticism – and this space is rapidly shrinking – that’s good in itself, but it says absolutely nothing about the nature of the occupation, which, as I’m sure you’d accept, is deeply anti-democratic in its nature. Consider this – if American democracy, with its extremely high levels of protection for free speech, or Israeli democracy, with its reluctant tolerance of internal criticism, can nonetheless coexist with colonial occupations, bombings, decimations of entire countries, then shouldn’t that lead you to disturbing reflections about the limits of what democracy actually guarantees, especially when it comes to action outside one’s stipulated borders?
      Finally, empirically your arguments about the uniqueness of Israeli democracy in the Middle East are plain wrong. If Israel is constitutionally a republic with universal suffrage, so too is Lebanon, whatever one may think of the peculiarities of the latter state’s ‘confessionalism’ as a basis for statehood. And the Palestinian territories, through decades of colonial occupation, land seizures and near-civil war, have also, quite remarkably, sustained structures of democracy within their constantly threatened and diminished borders. Which is a far more remarkable achievement than Israel’s ‘democracy’, but one that, of course, is never acknowledged.

  22. Aarti Sethi permalink*
    June 7, 2010 1:34 PM

    But compare the coverage of Israeli atrocities to the same of Chinese occupation of Tibet (we dont even know the exact casulaty figures out of that place)….How many times has any human rights group organised a “march to Tibet”? The point is that Israel has chosen to be a democracy, and will be therefore subject to a higher moral datum level..But also reciognise the hypocrisy of those who spend their lives berating Israel while not spending a word against Hamas suicide bombers, or Chinese “imperialism”, or Iranian repressions…Thats all…

    Are you serious? Honestly Somnath, where have you been the last ten years? You don’t need to be especially radical or political or anything to have witnessed first-hand actions across the political spectrum for freedom for Tibet. I am truly amazed at your ignorance.

    China’s occupation of Tibet has been the subject of continous discussion for decades. Likewise the atrocties in Iran, a quick google on the web will show you thousands of sites where people carried news out of Iran, expressed solidarity with political activists in Iran, often at great personal risk. When the Iranian scholars Ramin Jehanbegloo and Khian Tajabaksh were arrested, scholars from across the world wrote in protest and demanded their release, including people who write on this blog. So please lets be done with this rubbish. The actual issue is not that people don’t protest, but that you are utterly ignorant of democratic struggles! Why that is so is something you need to ask yourself…

    But all this is just a flimsy excuse, and pathetic attempt at point-scoring. Your real point though of course is this:

    But recognise this – for all its foibles, Israel is the most advanced state in the middle east – in terms of freedoms it grants it people, in terms of academics, economy, cultyure, trade – what Israel has built wihtout parallel in the region….So criticise it for its misdemeanours, but dont forget the perspective…

    Isreal should really hire you as its publicist. Exactly what “perspective” should we not forget? We should be singing paens to its “academics” when its universities throw their lot in with the militaristic agendas of the Isreali state. We should laud its “culture” when Palestinians are denied the right to own property or return to ancestral property or the freedom of movement. We must sing hosannas to its “economy” when the barricade of Gaza makes everyday life a cruel torment for millions.

    This is what Isreal has built without paralell.

  23. somnath permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:09 PM

    Aarti, my last two cents on this (else there will only be repetition of points already made)…

    As I said, enough grounds to criticise Israel..But there is absolutely no equivalence of the global vehemence against Israel versus the same against China, Iran, Saudi, Venezuela and a host of other tinpot (and sophisiticated) dictatorships..Its not about protest letters and internet blogs – they are “relatively” cheap…Has anyone tried taking a procession out in support of Tibet in Beijing? Or a “kafila” through the himalayan mountains to Tibet? No – because people know that they will be confronted with tanks and shot down without remorse…Does anyone file habeus corpus petitions against the Chinese government in a court in Lhasa? No, because it wont be allowed…But all of this and more happens with Israel…

    Its not to justify all Israeli actions (as I said, they are doing their best to lose the war of perceptions)…But the need to maintain perspective….The tenor of the critique, epithets of apartheid, racist, murderers, criminals etc used so liberally (pun unintended) – strangely absent in any critique of Hamas – its suicide bombings are decried in perfunctory terms while dwelling on Israeli injustice! thats all…

    But as always, we can agree to disagree :)

  24. Afthab Ellath permalink
    June 7, 2010 9:40 PM

    //strangely absent in any critique of Hamas – its //suicide bombings are decried in perfunctory terms //while dwelling on Israeli injustice! thats all…

    One can only laugh, if cannot cry at these equations… What a pitiful, but accurate imitaion of Israeli propoganda machine?

    • Bhochka permalink
      June 9, 2010 3:43 AM

      Thanks for this link. Really, really sick.

      Here’s the link to the video referred to in the Guardian report – where senior staff of the Jerusalem Post, along with other worthies, mock the victims on the flotilla in a spoof set to ‘We are the world’. Memorable lines: ‘There’s no people dying / So the best that we can do / Is create / The greatest bluff of all….We must go on / Pretending day by day / That in Gaza / There’s crisis, hunger and plague’.

      The video – for those who haven’t yet read the article – was circulated by the Israeli government to foreign journalists, and endorsed warmly by both government spokesperson Mark Regev and government press office director Danny Seaman.
      Oh, and please do check out the oh-so-amusing imitations of Arab accents on the video!
      Sick, repulsive, disgusting – but hardly a surprise.

    • Aditya Nigam permalink*
      June 13, 2010 7:14 PM

      This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner/ Chappell Music, Inc. How do you like that!

  25. hellboy permalink
    June 11, 2010 10:34 AM

    see anyway you go i believe Israel has the right to exist.At the same time arabs have a right to exist.Maybe a feasible solution would be a country consisting of arabs and jews which I believe none of the two communities wants.Israelis have worked really hard to make Israel what it is today.Similarly instead of supporting groups like PLF PIJ hamas and suicide bombing arab people should work in constructive manner Also many arab countries would be ready to help them with that I believe.But for now all I can see is Arab countries are more concerned about continuing the conflict instead of going to negotiation table and find a solution.I mean a part of palestine is still with arab.Maybe they help can help develop it instead of helping PLF,Hamas with rocket launchers and AK 47s.I believe Yasar Arafat was heading in right direction.He was not extremist in real sense atleast during the last years of his life.I have even heard 3/4 of palestinis support suicide bombing thats real strange and I am not saying it on my own.I have heard it fox history channel now you cannot question on its truth

    I have my relatives in Kashmiri Pandits only some of them.When I hear their plight its real touching.I am secular as secular as I can be.But their are times when my faith in pillars of secularism gets deviated.Why the hell on earth no one opposed when kasmiris were dislocated in their own country.Or for instance why doesn’t no one hears their plight even today.That really makes mockery of our secular constitution.I mean you go and see it yourself kasmiri pandits are full of hatred now and I can’t really blame them for that.Once I heard of a conversation between Pervez musharraf and an Indian journalist.That journalist was a kasmiri pandit.That Kasmiri pandit asked something about militancy and subsequent dislocation of Kasmiri Pandits to which Mr.musharraf replied that he will take her back to her home.People loved his reply but that was a ridiculous reply for me.I mean stop propagating terrorism at first instance.The separatist in Kashmir are mostly controlled by pakistanis.An assurance to stop them even if an empty one would have been more convincing for me than making an obsolete statement.Also why the hell no one opposes people like Zakir Naik instead of making him a sort of hero.I mean people like him should have no place in country like India.In the name of comparative religion he makes a mockery of other religion.He is genius we know that,he knows good english,he can mug up stuffs like a parrot but that doesn’t qualify him of making a mockery of other religions.At the same time he wants to throw muslim community in a fuedal age.Take for instance his comments on burqa.If a person wants to wear it on her own its good.But you can’t really force it on people.Atleast in India he has not place I believe that.

  26. hellboy permalink
    June 11, 2010 10:39 AM

    see I am not as enlightened like the activists or human right workers but I can really see a contrast in treatment of the above case.Thats really gets on my nerves sometimes.

  27. hellboy permalink
    June 11, 2010 1:32 PM

    @Afthab Ellath
    wo dude atleast there is one guy here who is less rational than me.I thought this was the place only for intellectuals.Now I don’t really feel out of place.atleast there is one guy who believes that everything that is wrong in the world is because of the world’s most powerful country.True to an extent there are things in the world that are wrong due to US but don’t just go on blaming US for everything saudi,egypt,Jordan give me a break

    regarding Saudi its a monarchy not military regime Also its not because of interest of bush senior but its strategic placement that US is interested in it.And you what US is not against Islamic states as it may be proclaimed.Saudis are the biggest donors of funds for building mosques and spreading Islam around the the world.Also even Al Qaida is against Saudi regime so according to you they may be saviors of the people of Saudi Arabia.freedom of expression hasn’t been curtailed by US as you may proclaim its just like US supports a repressive government and even if it doesn’t monarchy in Saudi Arabia will stay.Same is the case with India at times you know India supports Myanmar junta government in terms of logistics training of their officers so is India responsible for everything that is wrong in Myanmar????
    Regarding Jordan its a developing country really progressive one even their religious officers are not allowed to interfere in the matter of state thats real big achievement for a middle eastern country and so it finds an ally in US not because US needs a place to run its concentration camp.I mean US can run a concentration camp anywhere in the world why will it go to middle east for that???

    That really in no way diminishes the wrongdoings of Israel but as I said earlier Israel has right to exist just like any other country in the world.Arabs should also accept it and work for a constructive solution rather than just going on a blame game(read US and zionist).

    See US is wrong at times and if you insist a few many times but don’t just go on blaming US for everything that is wrong in the world Change your perspective a bit think from a wider point of view .I may be plain with my language but not I do have wider spectrum of thinking for sure

    cheers fifa world cup starts today atleast I will find people talking of something else other than cricket and EPL

  28. Abhishek Taneja permalink
    June 16, 2010 5:35 PM

    People defending Israel, accept it, they screwed up, and they have been screwing up things for last 62 years.

    And lets stop with the moral equivalence and drawing parallels, yes, China, Saudi Arabia, Myanmar, North Korea, Egypt etc. are equally screwed up, but we cannot rationally claim that since these nations are not criticized to the degree ‘apparently’ reserved for Israel, so Israel can just say “hey, shit happens” and move on.

    Actions should have consequences, and in this case specifically, because it was so blatant, flouted all the rules of engagement and was purely murderous, that Israel has to be criticized and there are no two ways about it.

    And for people who are of the opinion that Indian state should have a more diplomatic opinion on it, my question is what if Indians were on that flotilla, and what if some Indians were dead or injured in this “tragic mistake”.

    All moral positions are taken based on universality of conduct, if we are a nation of moral people then we should condemn this action. It would have been the right thing to do.

    And for people worried about Indian-Israeli relationship, that would have survived this criticism, there is too much economic benefit in this relationship for both the countries.

  29. hellboy permalink
    June 17, 2010 2:27 AM

    @Abhishek Taneja
    nobody is supporting Israel for whatever happened on that flotilla.Yes it was murderous, unexpected and Israel can’t really get out that shit so easily.Of all those who seem to be protecting Israel to u at least I oppose it.Although I would say I never tried to protect Israel.It was hell set loose on Earth by them.I also know nothing is gonna get affected in terms of political relationship.Its much more complex comprising military setup,economic gains and so on.

    I just want to say that have a single yardstick for every case.I mean why the hell on Earth no one vocally supports Kashmiri pandits even today or do people believe its a dead case.Or is it because of political sensitivity attached to it.You can’t get out by saying “stuffs happen.Pay no attention to it or its our internal mess let it remain in box or its too old a case dude”Because the thing is it has affected tens of thousands and thousands of people.Or for instance why there is no page related to it on kafila.Maybe people believe its a junk case not related to current affairs.U never know

  30. somnath permalink
    June 17, 2010 7:31 AM

    “And for people who are of the opinion that Indian state should have a more diplomatic opinion on it, my question is what if Indians were on that flotilla, and what if some Indians were dead or injured in this “tragic mistake”.”

    I agree, if Indian nationals were in that boat and was killed by Israeli actions, the Indian state’s reaction would have (importantly should have) been very different…But the fact is there were no Indian nationals on that boat, so the Indian state is not obliged to jump in the chorus…Individuals, by all means do!

  31. Sonam permalink
    July 24, 2010 9:11 PM

    This is longest set of posts that I have seen to a rather dross original posting. Mr. Hashmi’s disingenuous post reads something like this “Mama, I was always nice to him, shared my lunch with him, but he called me names!”. The response in the vernacular is ‘So?’. What’s the big deal? Is it a big deal because it is Israel?

    I read with interest Mr. Hashmi’s views on ‘The Custodian of Enemy Properties’ (I agree it is rather poorly named given our facility with euphemisms). However, from this unfortunate event, Mr. Hashmi draws the rather frightening conclusion that Muslims in India are actively discriminated against and that above-named agency is in some way reflective of this larger malaise. I am reminded of George Orwell’s famous review of James Hadley Chase’s ‘No Orchids for Ms. Blandish’. Wrote Orwell, ‘Contrary to my expectations, this is not the work of a literary hack, but a highly accomplished piece of writing with hardly a word out of place….’. I wish I could say that these are not maladroit attempts at cloaking prejudice in an acceptable garb and give it legitimacy. Grow up!

  32. Manash permalink
    July 25, 2010 2:21 PM

    Sonam,

    Your language is held together by a few good adjectives you learnt in school. But beyond that facile charm, your writing sounds as hollow and pretentious as your politics. And you know what, smart head – growing up is not always an enviable thing. Look at you!

    The reminder of how nations refuse to grow up is more valuable than your kind of snooty refusal to accept the obvious. It doesn’t always matter to have read a few good reviews. It is about reviewing your own prejudices which matter.

  33. Sonam permalink
    July 27, 2010 5:22 AM

    Manash,

    Let me respond to you in-seriatim. My language is not held together only by adjectives alone, but by the complex interplay of verbs, adverbs, nouns, adjectives etc. that make up the English language. I did go to school and learn a bit too – not just adjectives. Something that seems to be lacking in your case. Deprivation in early childhood leads to warping of the mind that causes you to confuse the cause with the effect, the ‘is’ with the ‘ought’ etc.

    Given that you were able to understand my politics from two paragraphs, let me return the compliment. Your politics seems to be fashioned by that bastion of socialism – The Pol Pot regime – in which going to school was a reason for not being allowed to grow up.

    Go back to school and learn put, at the very least, a veneer of logic to your rants.

  34. Aditya Nigam permalink*
    July 27, 2010 8:50 AM

    This exchange has now become a personal slanging match and please note, any further comments in this vein will not be approved.

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