World leaders and war criminals
Historically, Muslims have never persecuted Jews — it has always been white Christians who have disenfranchised and murdered Jews, culminating in Hitler's final solution, writes Avay Shukla
As modern day war criminals go, you could be forgiven for thinking that it would be difficult to beat the Netanyahu-Biden duo. The former has initiated a genocide in Gaza and the latter has been giving him all diplomatic and military covering fire to get the job over quickly. Nearly 7,000 civilians dead in Gaza as I write this (including 2,500 children and 1,500 women), with more to come as the ground offensive of this doomed enclave unfolds.
Ukraine is being repeated in Gaza, with the logic of justice being up-ended as per their fascist convenience — Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine for invading another sovereign nation and killing civilians, while in Palestine, a rampaging Israel is the victim for doing the same. Sheer moral bankruptcy and criminality under international covenants is now rephrased as geopolitics.
Israel has even called for the resignation of the UN secretary-general for having had the temerity to say that the Hamas attacks did not happen in a vacuum. And it has now taken to taunting the UNRWA, the relief agency of the UN in Gaza, on the latter's pleas for allowing fuel into Gaza, this rogue state has suggested that it ask Hamas for fuel! This is not just over-arching arrogance, it's the confidence of a criminal who has bought both the judge and the jury.
How can a terrorist organisation be equated or conflated with an entire nation, as the global North has done with Hamas and Palestine? And then obliterate that nation for the sins of those terrorists, as Israel has been doing for the last three weeks? This is like the RAF carpet bombing Ireland because of the activities of the IRA, or India bombing Lahore for the actions of Pakistan's cross border terrorists.
Netanyahu, Biden or their pet poodles in France and the UK may not comprehend this logic, but surely India should be able to see it, and at the very least, demand that Israel respect this distinction. Previous Indian governments, from the time of Nehru to Vajpayee, had the humanism and vision to realise this; they had also learned from our own history the abject consequences of Partition, and could therefore empathise with the Palestinians whose own ancestral lands had been partitioned in 1947.
Not so with Naya Bharat, where the benefits of Pegasus, hi-tech weapons and training by Mossad matter more than shared history, humanitarianism and justice. Islamophobia has now entered our foreign policy, it would appear; it was inevitable after the nine years of the present regime, for, as Hubert Humphrey remarked: "Diplomacy is nothing but domestic policy with its hat on." Which is why Mr Jaishankar has gone silent for now on this "war", with even his usual waffling missing.
The Netanyahu-Biden strategy is clear: it's time for the "final solution" in Palestine: occupy the Gaza strip, if not annex it. Readers would recollect that at the last General Assembly meeting in New York in September, Netanyahu had displayed the future map of Palestine as he saw it: it showed almost the entire region from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean (the present West Bank and Gaza Strip included) as part of Israel.
The attack on Gaza is the first phase of converting this map to reality on the ground. Israel will occupy north Gaza after expelling all Palestinians living there (almost a million-and-a-half) and either occupy it militarily, or convert it into a buffer zone with a proxy government. Over time, it will push more Israeli settlers in, dispossessing the few Palestinians who remain there, as it does in the West Bank.
It will change not only the geography but also the demography of the area forever, with the blessings of the North and the silence of countries like India. This is what Netanyahu had meant when he stated, at the beginning of this "war", that the Middle East would be changed forever.
By any definition of terrorism, and under international law, Israel is a terrorist state. It has forcibly occupied 85 per cent of Palestine and allowed, under military protection, 700,000 Jewish settlers to encroach on Palestinian land in the West Bank. It distributes arms to these settlers and has killed thousands of Palestinians without any judicial process: it is an occupation force and behaves as such, in the teeth of opposition by the UN and in flagrant violation of all international laws.
It has converted the blockaded Gaza Strip into what one commentator has described as the largest concentration camp in the world, and all this with the full support of the USA, which runs its own concentration camp in Guantanamo Bay. Between 200 and 250 Palestinian civilians are routinely killed by Israel every year (more than 120 have been killed in the West Bank in just the last two weeks) and has imprisoned about 5,000 of them, mostly without any judicial process.
As of today, the UN has announced that it shall cease its relief operations in Gaza: Israel's two-week blockade has ensured that no food, fuel, medicines or even water can enter this enclave where 2.5 million have been trapped like rats ("human animals", according to an Israeli minister). 35 hospitals will be shut down, and the 140 babies in incubators and 130 patients in ICUs will almost certainly die.
This is deliberate genocide, far more barbaric than taking hostages, even though the comparison is odious. And this is even before the ground offensive has begun! What more does it take to be a terrorist, pray?
What India, which has ditched all moral and ethical values for rank opportunism and, in the apt words of (retired) ambassador Talmiz Ahmed has "corporatised" its foreign policy for the benefit of a few cronies, does not smell is the faecal stench of racism emanating from the Israel-Palestine issue. When "white" Ukrainian civilians are killed by Russia, the West is outraged, but when "brown" Palestinians are massacred by Jews, it sees this as just retribution. Even an Uncle Tom like Rishi Sunak is blind to this.
Historically, Muslims have never persecuted Jews — it has always been white Christians who have persecuted, disenfranchised and murdered Jews, culminating, of course, in Hitler's final solution. There were hardly any Jews in Palestine in 1947, the vast majority were in Europe and should have been given their sovereign state there.
But the Christians didn't want them as neighbours, apparently, and packed them off to an enclave in the Middle East under the Balfour declaration, one that belonged to Muslims. So who is the racist and aggressor here? Self proclaimed Zionists like Biden and Uncle Toms like Sunak should think about this. So should the Hindu samrats. History has a way of coming back to haunt one. It may not repeat itself, as someone said, but it rhymes.
In these sorry times, we could do worse than recollect the words of the poet, Mahmoud Darwish:
"The wars will end and the leaders will shake hands, and that old woman will remain waiting for her martyred son, and that girl will wait for her beloved husband, and the children will wait for their heroic father, I do not know who sold the homeland but I know who paid the price."
Avay Shukla is a retired IAS officer and author of The Deputy Commissioner’s Dog and Other Colleagues. He blogs at avayshukla.blogspot.com