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Sunday, July 27, 2014

India’s ties with Israel remain parde ke peechey

By Swapan Dasgupta

 

Opposition MPs were right to point out the apparent inconsistency in the government opposing a parliamentary resolution on the Gaza conflict and then voting against Israel at the UN Human Rights Commission last Thursday. If, as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj maintained, India should maintain equidistance between two friends who have got embroiled in a conflict, it follows that neutrality should have been maintained in a multilateral forum as well.

 

Logically, India should have abstained from the UNHRC vote in Geneva. Yet, its representative joined other ‘non-aligned’ countries in censuring Israel for its allegedly disproportionate retaliation against the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip. Worse, India’s Permanent Representative in the UN used strong language in the Security Council attacking Israel.

 

Those diplomats, both retired and serving, who have maintained that India’s position in the UN (and, for that matter, at the BRICS summit) was consistent with its earlier stand on the issue cannot be faulted. If foreign policy is judged by adherence to continuity, India’s position was consistent. Despite the change of government, India has stuck to the principle that the ever-deepening ties with Israel must exist behind a purdah; in public and for ‘secular’ domestic consumption Delhi must be seen to be endorsing the Palestinian cause.

 

If the Narendra Modi government has indeed taken the view that the fundamentals of Indian foreign policy must remain unchanged and that the priorities determined by Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi must be preserved as a national treasure, there is nothing more to say. In that case, the only job of the Ministry of External Affairs is to safeguard the spirit of the Nehrus and Gandhis in a fast-changing world—a task better suited to theologians than diplomats.  

 

In the 19th century Lord Palmerston suggested there are no permanent friends and enemies, only permanent interests. In the India of 2014, there appears to be a section that believes friends and enemies are constant and that only the national interest is negotiable.

 

The position is untenable even if the principle of Congress-decides-BJP-upholds is accepted as the gospel. In recent times it was P.V. Narasimha Rao, a Congress Prime Minister, who took bold steps to extricate Indian diplomacy from an ossified Nehruvian vision. In 1992 India and Israel entered into full diplomatic relations, overruling the objections of those who felt that this would have devastating consequences for Indian interests in West Asia. Rao signalled to the world that India has its own national priorities that go beyond friendship with Yasser Arafat. If there were misgivings in the Arab world over India cosying up to Israel, they must have been communicated in invisible ink.

 

In the past two decades, the relationship between India and Israel has developed exponentially. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Israel occupies a special place in India’s strategic ecosystem. Much of the relationship is wilfully kept below the radar but it is based on discretion and absolute trust.

 

At an individual level some Indians may not like Tel Aviv’s over-robust response to Hamas’ provocation. Others may feel that Israel needs to walk the extra mile to make the two-state solution a meaningful reality. These concerns are reflected in the debates within Israel as well. However, it is important to demarcate doubts over Israel’s no-nonsense national security policy from the visceral anti-Semitism that is the hallmark of Hamas and its backers. The former explores routes to a durable peace while the latter proceeds from the assumption that the state of Israel is illegitimate.

 

It is sad that Indian diplomacy is unable to make this crucial separation because ‘secular’ politics has deemed that Palestine affects the entire ‘ummah’.

 

As the new government gains in self-confidence and prioritises national security and economic growth, its foreign policy has to be fit for purpose. The vacuous preachiness of the past must be replaced by a focussed perusal of national interests. Last week’s UN vote was an opportunity to signal a small shift. It was muffed for two reasons. First, because a conservative bureaucracy prefers continuity over breaking new ground; and second, because there was insufficient political application of mind.

 

The lessons are obvious: foreign policy demands a political direction. This has not been in evidence so far. 

Sunday Times of India, July 27, 2014

blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/right-and-wrong/indias-ties-with-israel-remain-parde-ke-peechey/?utm_source=Popup&utm_medium=Old&utm_campaign=TOIHP

 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Already Modi's BJP is turning out to be NOT a party with difference.

It was CHO Ramaswamy who always said
" I have no trust in politicians..."
and that while in opposition bjp making lot of anti congress noises
would start behaving like congress party once in power.

Modi raised hopes when he scrapped Aadhar card. Now after Nandan Nilakeni meeting him has made the same Modi approve of Aadhar card.

The holier than thou bjp stridently opposed Jairam Ramesh on bt.brinjal but now has allowed lots more of GMO crops to be introduced into India.

The budget has been called Chidambaram's budget with a "saffron lipstick"( Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar).

When bjp with its provincial Rajnath Singhs resurrected hindi ghost as the language to be adopted by all with the usual anti British claptrap calling all non hindi mother tongued English preferring Indians "Angreziyat" "slave of the West" blah blah
I started praying for Congress to bounce back to power sooner than later cleansed & wiser.

So Rahul Gandhi can be forgiven for allegedly dozing in Parliament. What is special about bjp save its jingoistic bluster.

Anonymous said...

We have been duped by Narendra Modi who came to power on our strong popular Hindu votes although all Muslims Christians voted against him and his party with vengeance, But a consolidated polarised united Hindu votes rescued him and his party.Hindus are friends of Israel and Muslims have betrayed us several times. They have one aim to occupy India and convert all Hindu to Muslims. In past they had attacked India several times ruled India for 1200 long years converted a large populace to Islam. Now whole undivided India is 165 crore population in which 75 crores are Muslims and Hindus Christian Sikhs and Buddhists are only 90 crores.Narendra Modi ought know that by sticking to Nehruvian policy he had strengthened Congress and Dynasty.He came on his assurance that he will finish the dynastic rule and Congress for all times.But after coming to power he systematically nehlected Hindu sentiments emotions.In UP Muslims are highly aggressive offensive belligerent.They had attacked Hindus as a revenge against voting MODI to power.Israel is our permanent friend and all Islamic nations are enemies.They want Ghazva-e-Hind in India.We want Modi should come out in open in support of Hindus and save Hindus else he will go down like ABV went out of power in 2004 by consistently followed Nehruvian Policy of left ideology and Muslim appeasement.

Anonymous said...

Israel is our permanent fried and India betrayed him by voting in favour of Hamas

Anonymous said...

Already Modi's BJP is turning out to be NOT a party with difference.

It was CHO Ramaswamy who always said
" I have no trust in politicians..."
and that while in opposition bjp making lot of anti congress noises
would start behaving like congress party once in power.

Modi raised hopes when he scrapped Aadhar card. Now after Nandan Nilakeni meeting him has made the same Modi approve of Aadhar card.

The holier than thou bjp stridently opposed Jairam Ramesh on bt.brinjal but now has allowed lots more of GMO crops to be introduced into India.

The budget has been called Chidambaram's budget with a "saffron lipstick"( Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar).

When bjp with its provincial Rajnath Singhs resurrected hindi ghost as the language to be adopted by all with the usual anti British claptrap calling all non hindi mother tongued English preferring Indians "Angreziyat" "slave of the West" blah blah
I started praying for Congress to bounce back to power sooner than later cleansed & wiser.

So Rahul Gandhi can be forgiven for allegedly dozing in Parliament. What is special about bjp save its jingoistic bluster.

BS SHIVAMURTHY said...

All the above 3 comments are one sided,apparently communal.It seems rather reasonable assuming DasGupta's views more saner than the comments.Had the present dispensation kept itself equidistant from both Israelis and Palestinians it would have been more wiser!

Anonymous said...

@BS.SHIVAMURTHY,

Agree with you. My disappointment with BJP made me write so. I did have very high expectations from Narendra Modi.

The issue is not exactly Israel versus Palestine. Whatever Swapan Dasgupta has written in this regard
over a period of time is the undeniable truth. And we all including Narendra Modi know that.

However too many Indian expats sending petro dollars to India & its dependence on oil , natural gas cannot but make any party in India to posture outraged at Israel. We are forgetting Palestinians , Arabs are not idiots to get swayed by such posturings. Also bolly & kolly movies track 2 diplomacy , Amitabhs & Shah Rukh Khans are not going to influence them at all.

My disenchantment with Modi's bjp started for the other reasons cited. Not that I would want ongress to come back to power. That was just an angry statement made.

Anonymous said...

Sushma Swaraj & Modi's team did manage to rescue lots of Keralite nurses from Iraq recently.

Once the bouquets are exchanged followed by tearful hugs reality bites you as it happened earlier with Libya. The same nurses started telling " we were better off in Libya...we want to go back".

Already this batch of nurses who have taken lots of loans for education & procurement of jobs in Middle East are feeling restive. One's own family members do not like to take care of the
golden egg laying goose once it turns sterile.

Long term planning is required.

The very concept of easy loans available & insurance policies for hitherto unborn offsprings' education are making Indians more rash & thoughtlessly spawning forth children.

I include car loans also. Which make us go for decimation of greenery calling it roads expansion , then more demand for fuel etc.

Anonymous said...

What author has written is very true, israel truely understands value of each citizen unlike other soft nations. When they got independence on 14th of may 1948, they were happy to get a single democratic and country having jews as majority. just after 12 days, all arabian countries (including pakistan) attacked israel from all corners, their determination and unity made them win the war..
Jews have suffered badly since 250 AD, they have been expelled or killed more than 109 times (From 250 AD to 1948 AD). Suffering of jews can be known from anti-Semitic behaviour of Nazis towards them, they were not accepted by many religion, when they were looking for better avenue, various anti-semitic people of european world started brainwashing arabians this led to their unacceptability in middle east. Jews says india is the very few country in the world which have never harmed them (i.e. no anti-semitic exist in india) and hence relationship is not only trade but also about culture and values.
Why not everyone understanding the fact that Jews knows the value of each human beings, that’s why there is very less casuality of israely in the current conflict (fact that most of the great german scientist who have discovered marvellous achiement in science are all jews take Einstein as example) CV raman was also looking to bring them to india for research after nazi holocaust in 1930s (but was rejected by British)....
Because they value human beings, resulting in discovery and usage of IRON DOME, which saves lakhs of isrealy today...The cost of each missile intercept is around 20000 dollar, and hamas (a terrorist organisation similiar to terrorist who has killed more than 90,000 civilians of indians since 1984s), if more than 2400 rockets are thrown then you can calculate the cost incurred. Also a big headache for the country defence, when israel identified that hamas is making tunnel to kill israel...(coz of motive of hamas millitant is to kill israeli civilians specially jews), I dont think they are doing any wrong, and if hamas is using Gaza people as human shield for preparing tunnel and rocket launch specially from civilian places then God knows what best can be done. All of us must know whenever there was attack israel has always helped us through intelligence like mosssad with raw (since 1971 war)..to kargil or to 26/11..till date...I guess if we are supporting terrorist organisation like hamas for launching more than 2500 rockets in 2 weeks, then we must be ready for the future and how we reacted (two days back in UN) when Israel was in need, and what happen when we are in need of specialised defence equipments (we all know how Israel helped us during 1999 when india was attacked by Pakistan, Israel provided unmanned reconnaissance aircraft or drones in the battle zone to assist India direct its war effort and guess what it helps us to win KARGIL war..
After this major help Israel ambassador to India quoted 'I think we proved to the Indian government that you can rely on us, that we have the wherewithal. A friend in need is a friend indeed,'
Very few country has such strong emotional and selfless friendship with us.
The million dollar question, is there value of safety of human in India(more than 90,000 civilian died in terror attack after 1984) and still we don’t have full proof mechanism to safeguard 120 crore indian nationals. Is our nation soft towards terrorism.
I understand it is not true as govt is trying its best as max. budget goes to our defence, but it’s the attitude that should be strong we want a India which is united like akhand bharat of chandragupta maurya days i.e. culture, values, decision are independent/non-influencial for the long term benefit of the nation where all religion live for the betterment of nation.

Anonymous said...

What author has written is very true, israel truely understands value of each citizen unlike other soft nations. When they got independence on 14th of may 1948, they were happy to get a single democratic and country having jews as majority. just after 12 days, all arabian countries (including pakistan) attacked israel from all corners, their determination and unity made them win the war..
Jews have suffered badly since 250 AD, they have been expelled or killed more than 109 times (From 250 AD to 1948 AD). Suffering of jews can be known from anti-Semitic behaviour of Nazis towards them, they were not accepted by many religion, when they were looking for better avenue, various anti-semitic people of european world started brainwashing arabians this led to their unacceptability in middle east. Jews says india is the very few country in the world which have never harmed them (i.e. no anti-semitic exist in india) and hence relationship is not only trade but also about culture and values.
Why not everyone understanding the fact that Jews knows the value of each human beings, that’s why there is very less casuality of israely in the current conflict (fact that most of the great german scientist who have discovered marvellous achiement in science are all jews take Einstein as example) CV raman was also looking to bring them to india for research after nazi holocaust in 1930s (but was rejected by British)....
Because they value human beings, resulting in discovery and usage of IRON DOME, which saves lakhs of isrealy today...The cost of each missile intercept is around 20000 dollar, and hamas (a terrorist organisation similiar to terrorist who has killed more than 90,000 civilians of indians since 1984s), if more than 2400 rockets are thrown then you can calculate the cost incurred. Also a big headache for the country defence, when israel identified that hamas is making tunnel to kill israel...(coz of motive of hamas millitant is to kill israeli civilians specially jews), I dont think they are doing any wrong, and if hamas is using Gaza people as human shield for preparing tunnel and rocket launch specially from civilian places then God knows what best can be done. All of us must know whenever there was attack israel has always helped us through intelligence like mosssad with raw (since 1971 war)..to kargil or to 26/11..till date...I guess if we are supporting terrorist organisation like hamas for launching more than 2500 rockets in 2 weeks, then we must be ready for the future and how we reacted (two days back in UN) when Israel was in need, and what happen when we are in need of specialised defence equipments (we all know how Israel helped us during 1999 when india was attacked by Pakistan, Israel provided unmanned reconnaissance aircraft or drones in the battle zone to assist India direct its war effort and guess what it helps us to win KARGIL war..
After this major help Israel ambassador to India quoted 'I think we proved to the Indian government that you can rely on us, that we have the wherewithal. A friend in need is a friend indeed,'
Very few country has such strong emotional and selfless friendship with us.
The million dollar question, is there value of safety of human in India(more than 90,000 civilian died in terror attack after 1984) and still we don’t have full proof mechanism to safeguard 120 crore indian nationals.
I dont' think it is true as govt is trying its best as max. budget goes to our defence, but it’s the attitude that should be strong we want a India which is united like akhand bharat of chandragupta maurya days i.e. culture, values, decision are independent/non-influencial for the long term benefit of the nation where all religion live for the betterement of nation.
I am a big fan of you since i saw you in tv since 3-4 years...

Regards,
Vishal Sinha