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Foreign Policy a la Modi
India Refuses to Censure Israel

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.

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  • Avi_in_Jerusalem

    Even Gandhi got it wrong sometimes.

    • Breif2

      From the same 1938 piece: “If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment.”

      Poor European Jews, faced with the impossible quandary of walking proud into the gas chambers, or going to Palestine/Israel and disappointing Bapu!

  • Andrew Allison

    The antisemitism on display in the criticism of Israel’s self-defense is despicable. Where’s the censure of Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields? Hamas’s placement of rocket and missile batteries is the direct cause of the Palestinian civilian casualties.

    • irregularexpression

      Do not worry, and do not pay attention to shrill voices in the media. Most Indians stand with Israel and recognize their right to protecting their country. India is one of the biggest victims of Islam (I would not call it Islamic terror because there is no difference in the religious and militant aspects).

      • Andrew Allison

        I wasn’t picking on India — the Western media has been and is being disgustingly anti-Israel.

        • Breif2

          And don’t you dare try to claim a causal connection between this literally obsessive reporting and the Muslim lynch mobs in Paris.

          • Andrew Allison

            I think that the lynch mobs in Paris have much more to do with institutionalised French antisemitism (why is it that almost none of the reports get acted upon and the perps convicted of the few that do get quietly release ASAP?) than the virulent antisemitism currently on display in the Western media. Let’s stop pretending that France is enlightened, or even civilized. Disclosure: I’m a lapsed Anglican and former Francophile who is disgusted by anti-(your religion here)ism.

          • Breif2

            You are right inasmuch as we did not see such lynch mobs in London. I am right in the specific sense that the 24/7 “Look at what those Jewish monsters are doing in Palestine!” served as a trigger in this particular case.

            Disclosure: I find full-blown antisemitism to be a useful diagnostic tool. Those who are afflicted by this condition are not merely mistaken or morally wrong (as in the case of garden variety racism or anti-(your religion here)ism), but actually suffer from a disconnection from reality. No matter how outwardly civilized they may be, I know to keep my distance.

  • Fat_Man

    Gandhi also wanted the Jews to adopt non-violence towards the Nazis.

    • f1b0nacc1

      There is a delightful short story (“The Last Article”) in which Gandhi gets to give that suggestion a try (it is set in a 1948 India where the Germans have conquered the British Empire). Well worth a read

  • Vadim Pashkov

    ” My Dear friend , Hitler:
    …… ”

    Mahatma Gandhi

  • Anthony

    The enemy of my enemy….

  • qet

    The vehement, violent, unreflecting hatred of Israel calling itself support for “the Palestinian people” (irony quotes fully merited) throughout the West is the great moral inversion of our time. I find it wholly inexplicable even according to my own cynical standards.

  • Zamzam

    Relations are warming between *Jerusalem* and New Delhi. The only aspect of Israeli government in Tel Aviv is the Defense Ministry.

  • Allen Z. Hertz

    Let us consider Mahatma Ghandi’s words against Zionism.

    In the interwar period (1918-1939), British India had an enormous Muslim population. Apart from anything else, Ghandi was also an Indian politician who needed to craft positions consistent with the prejudice of the many millions of Muslim Indians, whose support Ghandi was then seeking for his goal of ending British rule on the Indian subcontinent. At that time, British India probably had the largest Muslim population of any country anywhere.

    In then comparing the Arabs of Palestine to the English in England or the French in France, Ghandi was forgetting that, of all extant Peoples, the Jewish People has the strongest claim to be considered “the” aboriginal People there, just as the Inuit, Metis and First Nations are now constitutionally recognized as the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. In Ghandi’s day, Jews were certainly the minority of the population of Palestine, but Jews were nonetheless still “the” aboriginal People there.


    A specifically “Jewish” People was born there some time around the 6th century BCE. From that time until today, there has never been a single year, when then self-identified “Jews” were absent from their aboriginal homeland. Though logically aboriginal rights are not necessarily minority rights, Jews there were a minority until recently.

    During the interwar period, Ghandi was morally deficient in ignoring the aboriginal rights of the Jewish People. Ghandi’s rejection of Jewish aboriginal rights was all the more peculiar because British India was then a member of the League of Nations which had already explicitly recognized the Jewish People’s historic connection to Palestine and specifically established “a national home for the Jewish People” there. Between 1917 and 1924 a series of declarations, resolutions and treaties recognized the historic connection of the Jewish People to Palestine and created a national home for the Jewish People there.

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