India’s parliament rejected a resolution today that condemned the Israeli military campaign in Gaza—a conspicuous change for the country, which has historically been supportive of Palestinian claims.The vote against censuring Israel comes only a few days after Indian troops fired on pro-Palestinian demonstrators in Kashmir, killing one boy. This protest was not the only one of its kind, as a recent article in The Diplomat notes:
For the last few days, there have been some protests across India against the current Israeli operation in Palestine. The capital, New Delhi, witnessed a solidarity march, which included students and civil rights activists. Police, however, prevented the demonstrators from reaching the Israeli Embassy, leading to complaints of heavy-handedness as some of the protestors were injured.
But there have been far fewer protests in India, and less outcry in general, than history suggests there would be. According to the Diplomat article, “the current crisis in the Middle East has failed to generate any debate in a majority of television channels and major newspapers in India.” Traditionally, Indians have identified with the Palestinians, seeing them as fellow resisters against colonial powers. Gandhi once wrote that:
Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home.
However, after finally establishing relations in 1992, India and Israel have grown closer and closer, to the point that Israel is now India’s second biggest weapons supplier. With the rise of Modi’s government, the trend of warming relations between Tel Aviv and New Delhi has accelerated. Parliament’s unwillingness to denounce the Gaza campaign is a further sign that India’s political class wants to keep the country’s relationship with Israel friendly, profitable, and enduring.