People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 47

November 25, 2012





‘Perfumes of Arabia’ Cannot ‘Sweeten’

Those Blood Stained Hands


Nilotpal Basu


GAZA is bleeding. The relentless bombs and missiles fired by the Israeli armed forces from the air, ground and the sea are taking a heavy toll of the besieged Palestinian population. After less than a week, more than 100 people have been killed, of which 12 are children and a substantial number of women. The numbers keep mounting each day. They call the bluff of the Israeli top brass. Notwithstanding this, the western media is working day-in and day-out to justify this barbarity in Gaza. They are using expletives like `surgical strikes’ against ‘terrorists’ to describe this campaign of wanton killing.


Samera Esmeir has explained the logic that the Zionist State espouses in a recent piece `Colonial Experiments in Gaza – “Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz explained, Israel will “hunt like beasts.” In this new round of war, shelling and bombardment, or hunting to use Katz’s colonial vocabulary, have been met with rudimentary rockets that attempt to retaliate for the siege and violence imposed on Gaza, to assert Palestinian resilience, and to resist in some fashion decades of occupation”.


Katz’s vocabulary spills the beans -- notwithstanding western media’s best attempts to whitewash this criminality. It is becoming increasingly clear that Palestinian resistance “has not been the sole, or real, target of this war. Instead, and similar to its earlier militaristic ventures in Gaza, Israel sought to demonstrate its complete mastery over the land, the air, the sea, and the people of Palestine, as well as to test its international alliances and enmities through their responses to its colonial aggression. Netanyahu and Barak also seek to score political points to enhance their respective prospects in the upcoming Israeli elections.”


Consequently Gaza, through Israeli actions, over the years has been transformed into the ‘largest open air prison in the world’.  Sinan Antoon writes in a recent piece `Mowing the Lawn in Gaza’ – “With a population density of 4500 humans per square kilometer, its 1.6 million inhabitants have been subjected to a brutal blockade by Israel and its military. One million of Gaza’s inhabitants are refugees from 1948 and 1967 wars living in refugee camps, and there are eight of them in Gaza. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian Territories, ninety percent of Gaza’s drinking water is unsafe , forty-four percent of Gazans are food insecure and about eighty percent are aid recipients. This is the result of sixty four years of military occupation and continued wars and a blockade.”




In this new age of single super power domination, the claim is that US as the most powerful democracy will move around the world to stamp out any signs of assault on “freedom” and “democracy” in order to ensure that “universal human values” are respected everywhere in the globe. 


Obviously, Gaza is not part of that US defined global map.  That is why the `peacenik’ Nobel laureate president Barrack Obama in the very first days of his second presidential tenure could be so brazen – “Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory”, he said adding, “If that can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable”.

This was after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said that Israel was ready to “significantly expand” its operation against militants in the Gaza Strip, sparking fears of a new invasion.

But president Obama has a heavy burden of history. Because Israel has proved to be the most consistent pillar of strength for the Empire’s grand designs in the oil rich  Middle-East, it cannot be dumped as a hot potato even if its actions could not pass any yardstick of international law, not to speak of `universal human values’ or ‘freedom’ or ‘democracy’.  That is precisely why the peace laureate has become a caricature of a Nobel peace awardee. 


The obnoxious record of the US in fostering this thuggery of Israel is there for all to see.  As Professor Vijay Prashad, the author of Arab Spring Libyan Winter and acclaimed Middle-East expert in his meticulous piece, `Putting Palestine on the Map’ points out that since 1972, the US has vetoed UN Security Council resolutions repeatedly which condemned Israeli air strikes on Lebanon and Syria (the vote was thirteen to one).


Therefore, this obnoxious dance of death continues. And Netanyahu continues to threaten that Israel is not ruling out the possibility of a ground invasion. Little do the Zionists realise, and even if they did -- dare admit, that Palestine question does not have a military solution.




Israel’s campaign for expanding territory by grabbing, dispossession, settlements, erecting checkpoints and the monstrous 800 km long segregation wall -- all add up to a strangulating occupation regime; it resembles an apartheid State. The entire justification of the West to these obnoxious activities of Israel is an endorsement of the Zionist State’s self proclaimed concern for ‘security’ and is based on this grotesque thesis of “Self Defense”.


But this is falsification of reality. Professor Noam Chomsky, in his inimitable argumentative way, has shred this thesis to pieces – “Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanised armor, no command and control, no army… and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder”.

He mocks the “claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population they are crushing. You can't defend yourself when you're militarily occupying someone else's land. That's not defense. Call it what you like, it's not defense.”


And it is not just Chomsky’s disarmingly reasoned interpretation, but facts speak for themselves. They are highlighted by Yosef Munayyer in his article Bodies for Ballots published in the Daily Beast – “It is from this besieged territory that militants have fired mostly rudimentary projectiles at Israel. While Israeli officials are quick to rattle off the numbers of projectiles fired from Gaza, rarely do they tell you what they fire into Gaza, what the effects of this fire is and what the fallout from it is.


Through September 2012, Israeli weaponry caused 55 Palestinian deaths and 257 injuries. Among these 312 casualties, 61, or roughly 20 per cent, were children and 28 were female. 209 of these casualties came as a result of Israeli Air Force missiles, 69 from live ammunition fire, and 18 from tank shells.


Israel has tried assassinating Palestinian leaders for decades but the resistance persists. Israel launched a devastating and brutal war on Gaza in 2009 killing 1400 people, mostly civilians. And today, the pattern continues on a much more amplified scale.




But even then, for Israel -- this course appears to be suicidal. This is taking them nowhere. And despite Obama’s spirited defense, the US and the West are also on a spot of bother. This is largely due to the changed regional reality.


First and foremost, the emergence of post Mubarak Egypt as a key player in the conflict; not only did the Egyptian president Morsi visit Gaza to express solidarity with Hamas administration, but his country’s role as key interlocutor in negotiating a ceasefire is being accepted by the West in the midst of growing clamour for stopping this destruction in Gaza. 


The Emir of Qatar and Turkish prime minister Erdogan have also visited Gaza in the recent past and expressed their solidarity against Israel. Given the respective domestic constituencies they represent, they have no room to keep silent on the atrocities in Gaza.


The ramifications are serious. The NATO-Islamist alliance that was slowly emerging in West Asia, bolstered by the convergence of opportunistic conveniences in Syria, now stands undermined.


Israel’s obsession with the wiping out of Iran had converged with US interests; for this involved regional hegemony. In the process, as an interim target Syria came at the receiving end of this emerging axis. But now, with this intransigence in Gaza, Israel has brought that process also under a serious cloud.


Another positive development is the coming together of the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas over the Gaza crisis as they pledge to end infighting. In a show of solidarity with Gazans, thousands of Palestinians held a demonstration in Ramallah, West Bank. With the possibility of a military solution untenable; the current context is actually hurting Israel.




India happens to be the current chairman of the Security Council. India’s UN ambassador in fact chaired the meeting of the Security Council after the Gaza attack started. But in spite of the near consensus, the Council could not condemn Israel for precipitating the Gaza crisis. And it took almost a week for the Indian government to come out with a benign official statement which did not even condemn Israel.


India has been a frontline State in opposing Israel on the Palestinian question. India has always been a consistent advocate of the just Palestinian cause. Yasser Arafat had been a close ally of the Indian national leadership and a major player in the Non Aligned Movement. Actually, Mahatma Gandhi himself took an unambiguous position. He observed that he fully sympathised with the Jews for suffering the holocaust. But added emphatically, that he was opposed to foisting them on the “proud Arab people” and their territory.


But all that is past. The statement by the official spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs is virtually an apology of ambiguity - “We are deeply concerned at the steep escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine, focused around Gaza that threatens the peace and security of that region”. The statement even fails to underline the fact that it is not a conflict between two nations but a unilateral military campaign of the cruelest nature by the occupier against the occupied.

This is hardly surprising. India has brought itself to such a shameful position that it is wary of rubbing the US the wrong way. More importantly, India’s cooperation with Israel on defense equipments have reached a level where India is the second largest buyer of Israeli armaments, buying even more than what the Israeli armed forces buy from its industry.




Given the gravity of the situation and the growing opposition to the current crisis in Gaza, the Indian government has to come out clearly opposing the atrocities that Israel is perpetrating against the besieged Palestinian people in Gaza.


It is imperative that this ongoing atrocity and wanton killings of helpless children and women in Gaza is brought to a halt in the soonest possible time. And it is equally important that it is done after addressing the concerns of the Palestinian Authority and the elected representatives of the people in Gaza.


But, the need for finding an enduring solution to the Palestinian question is paramount. Israel cannot continue these activities in the name of its `security concerns’ and need for ‘self defense’. The bluff must be called. As Chomsky has made it plain that this is no war but plain murder, cold-blooded murder; and such a campaign of murder cannot go on.


But with the objective of exercising hegemony in the region, there is hardly any evidence that US and its NATO allies will reverse their policy and reprimand Israel for its obnoxious acts. Therefore, building public opinion through solidarity campaigns is the only way forward. Here in India, we will have to step up our campaign of solidarity with Palestinians and against Israel. Here, the campaign has to be directed against the current Indian policy of military cooperation with Israel and make it stop buying their arms.