EDITORIAL: How ironic it is that a party and its spiritual, cultural and political fountainhead that traditionally idolize Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini have been supporting the Zionist state ardently and unabashedly. Yes, we are talking about the ruling party of India, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
The incumbent government of India, which jettisoned country’s policy articulated by its founding fathers in relation to the Middle East conflict minutes after the Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7 by declaring unequivocal support to Israel, is found to have been lending a helping hand to the Zionist state through social media as right-wing Hindu nationalist accounts have suddenly surfaced in a very large number, amplifying anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic disinformation day in, day out.
In the past two weeks, according to media reports, Indian right-wing accounts - many of which depict the Indian flag side by side with the Israeli one-have voiced some of the most staunch support for Israel online, and are the leading producers and amplifiers of anti-Palestine disinformation.
These Indian accounts are seen to be significantly boosting the Israeli narrative for consumption of South Asian audiences in particular.
In addition to assailing Palestinians and valorizing Zionists, the Indian government’s two-pronged strategy is also aimed at further demonizing the members of Muslim minority in India, who have faced discrimination for decades, which has worsened since Narendra Modi-led BJP came to power in 2014, with a view to brightening its prospects ahead of the 2024 general elections.
Moreover, India’s ultra-right broadcast media led by rabid Hindu fundamentalist Arnab Goswami has been found to be expressing unwavering support to Israel even in the face of hospital bombings in Gaza. The BJP-RSS activists representing various walks of life have been freely holding rallies in support of Israel.
How Ironic, however, it is that India, the first non-Arab country to recognise Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the 1970s, is witnessing in 2023 something which is not only shockingly unexpected; it’s also outrageous and preposterous, to say the least: countrywide arrests of those who have been protesting against the Israeli atrocities on Palestinians.
In UP, India’s largest state, for example, a number of Muslims were arrested even for expressing their support for Palestine through WhatsApp status. That the BJP government’s pro-Israel policy is in consonance with its anti-Muslim, anti-minority politics is a fact.
Be that as it may, one of India’s opposition parties, CPI (M), and its leaders, in particular, deserve commendation for strongly condemning the BJP-led coalition government for abstaining from voting in the UN General Assembly on a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who belongs to CPI (M), is spot on insofar as his criticism of India’s approach to the conflict is concerned.
According to him, “by not condemning the massacre of Palestinian people, India is being complicit in this [mass killings by Israel].” It is important to note that India’s founder Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi had famously said that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France to the French.”
The question is whether or not India’s present-day pro-Israel tilt or strategy reflects only a policy shift or it constitutes an outright censure of what Gandhi had said in favour of Arabs or Palestinians decades ago.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023