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Israel And Palestine: Partisan Ideologies Obscuring Objectivity

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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]


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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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