By Karmanye Thadani:
I believe that the creation of Israel in 1948 was wrong. What did you call me? A left-liberal loony, a terrorist-sympathizer and what not. Call me what you like, but till you give me a strong enough argument to accept that communities can assert territorial rights cutting across geographical barriers and infringing state sovereignty, I will not accept it, and yes, the Zionist movement predates the Holocaust, and even if the Holocaust became a valid ground to confer upon the Jews the right of self-determination, Germany and not Palestine should have been partitioned to give the Jews a homeland. Nor will I accept, without a convincing counter-argument, that religion can be an effective basis of nationalism (oops, do I still sound like someone sympathetic to radical Muslims?). I am strongly against atrocities, fake encounters and forced evictions, and though the policy of being “aggressive” in one’s stand on terrorism may be appealing to some, flouting all legal regulations pertaining to warfare, engaging in indiscriminate attacks (no, that’s not what you call collateral damage) is not only inhuman but only creates more terrorists, thus defeating the purpose.
Next, the very same me says that I condemn those calling Israel an enemy of Islam (the rationale for which has been explained by me in the second paragraph of this article) or wanting to undo its creation. I salute Israel for fostering a pluralistic democracy with religion not having much of a bearing on the legal system except in the realm of family law (though even in that sphere, I support a uniform civil code, as I have explained in this article in the context of India), where all citizens within its borders, Muslims included, enjoy all civil liberties, in spite of basing the premise of its existence on being a homeland for the Jews. I denounce the Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations (just as I denounce Zionist terrorist groups like the Kahane Chai) and I find it very shameful as an Indian when I learn that Mr. Owaisi, an Indian MP, went to Lebanon to shake hands with Hezbollah operatives, expressing solidarity with them, and openly made remarks stereotyping Jews in a negative fashion and even calling for jihad, and even if it does not imply killing innocents, I see no reason for an Indian MP to be provoking our citizens to engage in or support anti armed struggle elsewhere in the world (see this video – and this video is not pertaining to the recent strikes in Gaza but earlier ones), and particularly considering that India has a local Jewish community, however small it may be, I see absolutely no reason why this man should not be booked for hate speech the way Varun Gandhi was. I find it disgraceful that the President of Egypt openly extends moral support to the Hamas. I hate the tendency of many to condemn the violations of international humanitarian law by Israel but not by the Hamas and other Palestinian Islamist terrorist organizations (Islamism is not to be equated with Islam, just as Hindutva and Zionism are not to be equated with Hinduism and Judaism respectively). I don’t agree that Israel as a nation-state should be seen with contempt, when it comprises so many people who have taken up the cause of the Palestinian victims of human rights violations by the military and paramilitary forces of their own country. Now, for my left-liberal and Islamist friends, I am a Hindutvavadi, right? How many people, whether they demonize the Israelis or the Palestinians, care about the fact that the Hamas killed so many innocent Muslims in Gaza, even those on hospital beds, in 2007, when the moderate Fatah dared to differ with it? And only recently, it violated the ceasefire brokered in Cairo and launched as many as twelve rockets in Israeli territory after that.
I am not someone extending purblind sympathy to either side. I support peace, and for this conflict, indeed both sides need to understand its value. The problem is that Islamist, left-liberal and Zionist (and pro-Zionist, such as Hindutvavadi and contemporary right-wing Christian) agendas have, to a great extent, obscured all objectivity! This is not to say that there are no objective commentators on this subject (here’s an objective piece – though the title makes it appear as though it’s biased to one side), but far too many people see it from a prejudiced eye-lens, which is a disservice to peace.
A narrative partial to either side is detrimental to both sides, and peaceful coexistence by way of the two state solution is certainly the only way forward, for which the moderates on both sides would have to win the tough battle they are fighting, particularly the moderates on the Palestinian side who believe that Israel’s right to exist should not be made an issue in the contemporary context. And yes, all the peace-mongering jokers who do not wish to understand the causes and complexities of the conflict but keep mindlessly chanting their mantra of peace without addressing the concerns of both, or in fact, either of the two sides, would do better if they just shut up.
Israel is a reality that can’t be wished away. All those born and brought up in that country are not criminals that they should be left with nowhere to go, and no, all Jews or even Zionists (yes, there have been and still are Jews against Zionism), are not anti-Muslim hate-mongers, as mentioned earlier in this article, and many of those who are can be won over by abandoning terrorism in the holy name of jihad, which is a gross misinterpretation of the Islamic texts. On the other hand, blocking baby-food and medicines to Gaza, to the extent of attacking peace activists from diverse countries, as was the case in the Flotilla incident in 2010, certainly does not solve problems either, nor does creating Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, leave alone ghastly human rights violations by many of the Israeli soldiers.[box bg="#fdf78c" color="#000"]About the author: The author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi and has co-authored two short books, namely ‘Onslaughts on Free Speech in India by Means of Unwarranted Film Bans’ and ‘Women and Sport in India and the World’.To read his other posts, click here.[/box]