Some political commentators hold the view that Palestinians should have followed the Gandhian path and also implicitly accuse them that they never followed the Gandhian path. However, their suggestion also applies to the Israel. The Israeli rulers should have followed the Gandhian path, and boy how they haven’t. This is most pertinent in the case of Israel, as its political and cultural ethos has several similarities with the current Hindu-nationalist Indian tenet and the RSS, the ardent admirer of Israel, almost wholesale.
The refusal of the mandarins of the Modi government to follow Gandhian philosophy of sticking to the truth remains consistent. No doubt Hamas may be accused of firing the first salvo on Israel triggering the almost month-long vicious carpet-bombing on the Gazans by the Israeli forces, egged on by the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia and Britain. Narendra Modi, who claims in international forums that India is the land of Gandhi, cannot be absolved of dumping the basic ideology and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. It is atrocious that Modi government abstained from voting on UN resolution over Israel-Hamas war at the UN General Assembly that called for a humanitarian truce in the Gaza conflict and the protection of civilians.
The abstention implicitly implied that massacre of over 8000 Palestinians, half of whom are children, by the Israel military has been justified. Any condemnation of Hamas and its October 7 attack on Israel is not enough. But at the same time hiding behind the logic of tit for tat, a government of Gandhi’s country certainly cannot accord sanctity to the gory massacre being perpetrated on Palestinians by Israel.
A government source said: “Our vote on the resolution was guided by our steadfast and consistent position on the issue… there can be no equivocation on terror.” He too betrayed Mahatma Gandhi. What he said makes it explicit that Gandhi has lost his relevance for India and Indians. Even in worst situation, Gandhi was opposed to killings.
From what India’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Yojana Patel said in the explanation of vote (EOV): “Casualties in the ongoing conflict in Gaza are a telling, serious and continuing concern. Civilians, especially women and children, are paying with their lives,” does not justify Modi government’s decision to abstain. Her clarification on abstaining makes interesting reading: “The terror attacks in Israel on 7th October were shocking and deserve condemnation. Our thoughts are also with those taken hostages. We call for their immediate and unconditional release.”
The EOV further underlined: “This humanitarian crisis needs to be addressed. We welcome the international community’s de-escalation efforts and delivery of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.” Patel said that escalation of hostilities in the region would exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
It is sad to witness that the rulers of India contemptuously betrayed Gandhi’s trust and reliance on truth. Mandarins of Modi government talking about humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and expressing sorrow at the brutal killing of Palestinian women and children by the Israeli mercenaries, is purely aimed at fashioning confusion amongst the global fraternity and also creating an impression that India has not abandoned its fundamental principle of identifying with the oppressed.
India is not the only country that is fighting terrorism. The entire world is concerned of this menace and every country has been contributing its might and resources in the fight. Obviously Patel’s remark that “The world should not buy into any justification of terror acts. Let us keep aside differences, unite and adopt a zero-tolerance approach to terrorism”, has all together different dynamics.
By abstaining India wanted to send a message to Israel, especially Netanyahu, that Modi stands by his side. Modi’s humanitarian gesture towards Palestinians by sending relief materials has simply been a façade. If he has been genuinely concerned of the miseries and plights of the Palestinians, he must have directed his representative to vote for stopping the Israel aggression and should have refrained from justifying it citing the threat of terrorism. It is shocking indeed that India, the land of Gandhi and the world’s conscience-keeper, didn’t back a call for truce.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi was not far from the truth in saying that the government lacked moral courage to take a stand against the annihilation being carried out in Gaza. Modi opposing Israel would have hurt the sentiments of his saffron colleagues and denied him the opportunity to use Israel as the fellow traveller of Hindutva for enticing Hindu voters. It is beyond comprehension that RSS and BJP leadership should stoop so low for promoting their political agenda of Hindutva, much influenced by Israel’s Zionism, for electoral gains.
There was a time when India used to be the voice of the voiceless, an ally of the oppressed. But Modi turned his back this time. For him the interest of RSS and BJP reigned supreme than the prestige and dignity of India. In a joint statement, the CPM and the CPI said: “India’s abstention on a resolution that was overwhelmingly adopted shows the extent to which Indian foreign policy is being shaped by being a subordinate ally of US imperialism and the Modi government’s actions for consolidating the US-Israel-India nexus. This negates India’s longstanding support to the Palestinian cause.”
But this is simply not confined to what both the communist parties say. By abstaining, Modi has simply taken a step forward to strengthen the rightist forces which are across the globe to emerge in a fierce manner. The rightist forces across the globe are making concerted efforts to wipe out the centrist, leftist and democratic forces. In some of the countries they have come to rule.
India abstaining has yet another serious political dimension. This negates the whole ideological edifice of Gandhiji. Modi supported the rightist philosophy of an eye for an eye, which was outright rejected by Gandhiji. He held that “An eye for an eye would make the whole world blind”. Israel has been continuing with the bloodbath in Gaza. However, for Modi and his ilk, Netanyahu must be eulogised for crushing all the international laws meant to protect the human beings during war.
The South African anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu had said: “If you are neutral in situation of war, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Muslim countries must also listen to the famed Urdu poet Raahat Indori, who wrote: “लगेगी आगतो आएंगे घर कई जद में, यहां पे सिर्फ हमारा मकान थोड़ी है” [If the fire spreads, it will burn many houses, it’s not just my home on this street.]
The main concern of Western governments is to create a narrative that will buy Israel time to do the punitive killing that it feels is necessary before the civilian death toll becomes unseemly. Israel’s ‘incursions’ into Gaza follow a pattern. Today they are targeting Palestine, tomorrow other countries of the Middle East would be at their target.
Rightist design to completely finish the Muslim world is manifest in the observation of US president Joe Biden who bluntly denied “he had no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed.” Gaza’s health ministry responded by publishing a list of nearly 7,000 people killed in the Israeli bombardment, complete with names and identity card numbers. But even this failed to move Biden.
Israel isn’t just indiscriminately dropping bombs and missiles to kill innocent Palestinians. They have been using the warfare of starvation, denying food, water, medical aid to the Palestinians, essentially carrying out a genocide. This is nothing but war against humanity. Israel has allowed only a trickle of aid to enter. After visiting the Rafah crossing, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court called the suffering of civilians “profound” and said he had not been able to enter Gaza. “These are the most tragic of days,” said Karim Khan, whose court has been investigating the actions of Israeli and Palestinian authorities since 2014. (IPA Service)