(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 15, 2009
Convention For Solidarity With Palestine Calls For Mass Campaign
A convention for solidarity with Palestine was held on February 7, 2009 in New Delhi. Eminent personalities from all walks of life participated in the convention. Seema Mustafa, presided over the convention and conducted the proceedings.
Prabir Purkayastha explained the reasons for organising the convention and reminded the audience of the recent brutal war of aggression launched on Gaza by Israel. He stated that the real purpose of this convention was not just to condemn the attack on Gaza but also to plan for concerted actions for solidarity with the Palestinian people who are suffering from the Israeli occupation.
Zikrur Rahman, former Consul of India to Palestine, explained the situation in Palestine and recalled many incidents of horror perpetuated by the Israeli armed forces. He appealed that the problem of Palestine should be looked at as a political problem and not just a humanitarian problem. He criticised the inactivity of the government of India in taking up the issue of the plight of the Palestinian people and urged the people to immediately address this important issue.
N Ram stated that steps should be taken to mobilise the Indians in solidarity with Palestinians. Here, he recalled the shipment of aid collected and sent to Cuba in the early 1990s and said that something of similar magnitude has to be done once again.
Professors Prabhat Patnaik, Aijaz Ahmed, Kamal Mitra Chenoy, Achin Vanaik, S P Shukla, former secretary, ministry of Finance, Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali, the prince of Arcot, Saeed Mirza, film maker, Saeed Naqvi eminent journalist and Sehba Farooqi of AIDWA spoke against the Israeli aggression and criticised the government of India for its pro-Israeli tilt. Uma Reddy Venkateswarulu, former minister representing Telugu Desam party, Danish Ali, representing Janata Dal (S), Debabrata Biswas, Forward Bloc, also reiterated their support to the Palestinian cause and criticised the UPA government for diluting the independent foreign policy of our country. Others who have already agreed to be in the organising committee include Justice PB Sawant, (retired Supreme Court judge), Khushwant Singh (writer and journalist), Gautam Ghosh, (film maker), Tushar Gandhi, (Mahatma Gandhi Institute), Anand Patwardhan, (film maker), Habib Tanvir, (theatre person), Zahed Ali Khan, (editor, Siasat,) and many others.
The convention also resolved to start a mass campaign on the issue of Palestine and India's independent foreign policy. As a part of the campaign it was announced that a signature campaign by members of parliament on India-Israel military ties and the Rs 10,000 crore missile deal with Israel Aircraft industries would be started once the parliament session begins. Other measures include organising boycotts including academic boycott, creating exhibitions and film screenings on Palestine, organising medical and other relief material for Gaza. The committee would soon be formed and would meet to chalk out a concrete program on these and other possible measures.
A B Bardhan, CPI general secretary, criticised the Indian government for its defence deals with Israel and stated that this money is being used to attack the Palestinians. He even cited the involvement of Israel in providing security to our parliament. He stated that the stand taken by the UPA government on the Palestinian question and its close proximity with Israel is in open violation with the NCMP. He also criticised the media for failing to present the real sufferings of the Palestinian people before the Indian public. He called upon all the people to unite and stand together for the cause of the Palestinians.
Prakash Karat, CPI(M) general secretary, stated that due to the policies pursued by the successive governments of NDA and UPA, India has become the largest buyer of arms and ammunition from Israel. This, he said is part of the understanding to build an India-US-Israel axis. He explained the extent of Israeli penetration in our country and mentioned the visits of our heads of the army, navy and air force to that country. He also criticised the attitude of the UPA government towards Israel and mentioned that whenever the Left had tried to raise the issue of defence deals with Israel, the government tried to avoid any sort of discussion under the pretext of 'security concerns'. He said that these sorts of bullying tactics should not be allowed as they seriously compromise the interests of our country. Here, he mentioned the Rs 10,000 crore deal concluded with the Israeli Air force industry for the development of air defence missile systems which are in fact sub-standard to those already developed by our DRDO. This, he stated, shows the influence of the Israeli arms manufactures on our government, even when their role is being investigated by the CBI on the charges of corruption.
Prakash Karat urged the committee that is going to be formed in this convention to take the message of solidarity throughout the length and breadth of the country and also prepare the people to protest the visits of Israeli defence heads and representatives to our country. He also called upon the people to demonstrate against government of India's strategic partnership with Israel.
The savage military aggression by Israel on the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza is genocide. More than 1300 Palestinians - including hundreds of women and children - have been killed and over 5000 wounded. More than 26,000 homes have been destroyed with targeted bombing of schools, hospitals and basic infrastructure. The Palestinians are today without electricity, drinking water, medicines and food. The hospitals are not being able to take care of the injured with an acute scarcity of not just medicines, but doctors and medical staff.
The Israeli military has pulled out but the siege continues. The Israelis remain in command and have been blocking the supply of food and medicines for the Palestinians. The US, European Union are accountable for Israel's repeated invasions of Gaza and the continued occupation of Palestinian land. The Indian government, while paying lip service to the Palestinian cause, is the biggest buyer of Israeli arms and is helping subsidise the Israeli armed forces.
We cannot remain mute spectators to this genocide and need to come together to express our solidarity with the Palestinian people and pressure the international community and the government of India to act against Israel. The role of the media is also questionable, as the attack on Gaza was barely covered by Indian newspapers and television channels. And except for a couple of days, most of the national newspapers did not even report the death and destruction on the front pages.
Going beyond the humanitarian crisis of Gaza, this convention expresses its firm solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people to form their independent state on the whole territory that is theirs by right and to pursue their path of development, overcoming the machinations of Israel and its western patrons.
This convention calls upon the government of India to:
Reverse its pro-Israel foreign and security policies
snap military ties with Israel;
cancel the 10,000 crore missile deal with Israel Aircraft Industries
boycott all goods from illegal Israeli settlements
take an initiative on Palestine along with other non-aligned countries