(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 22 , 2008
60 YEARS OF NAKBA REMEMBERED
Struggle To Disentangle India From US-Israel-India Matrix
N S Arjun
ALL patriotic, progressive and democratic forces of our country must wage a determined, powerful battle to get India disentangled from the matrix of US-Israel-India strategic relationship. Although much more difficult a battle this is, it must be taken up in earnest to change India's shift in independent foreign policy and undo the injustice done to Palestinian cause.
This was the stirring call emanating from the meeting held in New Delhi to remember 60 years of Nakba (Catastrophe), Occupation and Resistance in Palestine. The meeting held jointly by the Committee for Independent Foreign Policy (CIFP) and the All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation (AIPSO) on June 15, 2008 was addressed by Issam Makhoul, Polit Bureau member, Israeli Communist Party, former member of Knesset and an important voice on the national rights of the Palestinian people, Prakash Karat, general secretary, CPI(M) A B Bardhan, general secretary, CPI, D P Tripathi, secretary, Nationalist Congress Party and journalist-activist Sema Mustafa.
Issam Makhoul in his speech explained why Israel was giving great importance to its growing relationship with India. India with a record procurement of US$1.6 billion worth arms from Israel has boosted Israel's defense industries to a record all-time sales figure of $4.4 billion in 2006. In the last five years India has purchased arms worth nearly $5 billion from Israel, and has been its largest client for military hardware. The Israeli defense trade with India has been one of the main reasons for Israel's emergence as one of the top five exporters of military equipment in the world, and the second largest weapons supplier to India.
Makhoul underlined that this is not solely a bilateral issue. This trade affects particularly the main victims of Israeli occupations and wars - the Palestinians and also other nations in the region. He appealed for strategic ties between the people of India and Israel to stop the growing strategic alliance between the two governments based on weapons of terror. Terming these ties between the governments as 'suspicious', he called for waging struggles to stop these and in its place establish strong ties of solidarity, support and justice.
Referring to justification of these ties by terming them 'moral' and 'ethical' relations between two democracies, Makhoul questioned whether the words democracy and human rights can still be used to characterise Israel after 60 years of ruthless occupation of Palestine. He cited Israel's record of strong support to the most anti-democratic, immoral regimes of the world - apartheid regime of South Africa, General Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile, similar dictatorships in Argentina, Nicaragua etc.
After 60 years of occupation and blatant attempts to obliterate Palestinian people, it is clear that Israel's legitimacy cannot be ensured unless the rights of Palestinians are ensured. Therefore a just solution is not only in the interests of Palestinian people but also of Israeli people. Makhoul blamed the international community for not doing enough to achieve a just solution. “It is failing to get Israel implement UN resolutions and also respect basic international law. It has been repeatedly shown that US is not part of any solution but a major part of the problem by giving unconditional support to Israel for its occupation” he said. Makhoul was categorical that the positions being taken by the US, EU and Indian governments were not serving the interests of Israeli people.
Prakash Karat at the outset congratulated CIFP and AIPSO for organising the one week long trip of Issam Makhoul to India on the occasion of 60th anniversary of Nakba, giving an opportunity to the Arab-Palestinian leader living in Israel to experience directly how large sections of Indian people feel about the happenings in Palestine and Israel - which was in direct contrast to that of the Indian ruling establishment.
The historic injustice that took place with creation of Israel 60 years ago and the implementation of the systematic policy of ethnic cleansing by Israel has been well documented. Karat attacked the United Nations for being a helpless spectator to the atrocities being committed by Israel in Gaza today. The US under Bush administration is desperately trying in its last year in office to impose a solution in favour of Israel, he said.
As for India, Karat noted that there has been a serious departure from our policy of support to Palestinian cause since 1990s, particularly after the BJP-led NDA came to power. Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar had exhorted that we should emulate what Israel does to Muslims. That was the ideological basis on which the NDA government developed ties with Israel. The then national security advisor in the NDA government went to Washington and advocated formation of an US-Israel-India axis.
When the UPA government came to power in 2004, it was consciously decided to avoid any reference in the common minimum programme about the strategic relationship with Israel and US. Congress party had promised that its government would break from the NDA regime's record in this regard. However in the four years since then it has failed to fulfill its promise. It continued developing the US-Israel-India axis. Karat felt that the strategic relationship being developed by the Indian government with US cannot be delinked from that being pursued with Israel. Both are inter-connected. The relationship with Israel is being pursued under the overarching US influence. Therefore breaking the government's efforts to bind our nation to US interests will help in breaking the growing relationship with Israel. For this struggle, he called for mobilisation of all patriotic and anti-imperialist forces in the country. He asserted that there would be no compromise by the Left on this issue of independent foreign policy.
Karat also highlighted another danger from the growing military trade with Israel - the subversion of our own security. He cited how the Barak deal is under investigation by CBI. The then defence minister and naval chief are under investigation for allegedly receiving huge payoffs. Karat said the Israeli defence companies are known to pay heavy bribes to get their deals through and this would subvert our security apparatus, he warned.
Karat concluded with a call to rededicate ourselves to the 60 year long Palestinian struggle for justice. “We should not forget Nakba”.
A B Bardhan in his speech also lambasted the UPA government for continuing to develop military relations with Israel. “By becoming the biggest purchaser of Israeli military hardware, whom are we helping? Our money is being used to suppress Palestinian people”, he said. Referring to the recent launch of Israeli spy satellite by ISRO, Bardhan rubbished the government's justification of it being just a “commercial deal”. The Israeli media has put out that the satellite would be used by Israeli defence forces to spy on Syria and Iran 24 hours a day, even in thick cloud cover. He questioned whether facilitating such missions would help the cause of peace in the region. It is time the Indian government returns to the path of peace and defending the Palestinian people.
D P Tripathi in his address recounted the catastrophy which overtook the Palestinian people with the creation of Israel 60 years ago. They became refugees in their own land. Despite so many years of struggle, the Palestinians are not nearer to getting justice because of international community's apathy. Tripathi sought implementation of various UN resolutions on this issue.