Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi
A new wave of political syncretism-cum-bilateralism between Tel Aviv and New Delhi is being electrified via Israeli Premier’s Netanyahu’s six-day visit to India thereby marking new revitalisation in their ties in the areas of trade, defence, agriculture, aviation and cyber security. The deals were announced after Israeli PM Netanyahu held talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Delhi on Monday. Israeli Premier visit to India follows that of Ariel Sharon in 2003. Yet, apart from these deals, the two sides need to realise that their military status quo/occupation of Kashmir and Palestine is no more acceptable. They are highly mistaken that their neoliberal agenda could ever succeed to deflect the global attention on the core issues of Kashmir and Palestine.
India and Israel signed nine agreements on Monday including ones on cooperation in the oil and gas sector and film co-production. In the intervening years the India-Israel relationship has expanded remarkably, but without exchange of visits at the highest political level as would normally happen between countries drawing closer rapidly. “ ….I think this visit is a testament to the fact that our relationship is moving forward on so many fronts,” Netanyahu told the India Today website.
Former Indian ambassador KC Singh said Netanyahu’s India trip is “basically a continuation of India’s calibrated relations with Israel since 1992″, when New Delhi established diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. The ruling BJP, of course, has an ideological affinity towards Israel. Prime Minister Modi doesn’t have the inhibitions of his predecessors while dealing with Israel and thus a theatrical edge has been added, KC Singh added. New Delhi-based political analyst Manoj Joshi says Netanyahu’s visit, “will see greater state-to-state interaction and collaboration in the military-technical area”. Modi has taken calibrated steps to mark the burgeoning relationship by first meeting Netanyahu two times on the margins of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and then visiting Israel in July 2017, the first Indian Prime Minister to do so. Now, Netanyahu is in India at Modi’s invitation. Netanyahu in July hailed the relationship as a “marriage made in heaven.” There have been several high-level visits in the recent years. President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit to Israel in October 2015 and visits by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and home minister Rajnath Singh. Among them, the visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to India in November 2016, then grappling with the consequences of Partition and deference to Muslim sentiments trumped the fact that the UN Commission on Palestine had voted to partition the old League of Nations Palestine Mandate territory. India, a member of the UN Commission, had voted against the partition of Palestine into two independent nations of Israel and Palestine.
After PM Modi’s government took office, India-Israel ties have expanded steadily, encompassing sensitive areas like high technology products, defence equipment, security, intelligence, agriculture, water management, pharmaceuticals, information technology etc. Joint production and development of key defence items has emerged as an important domain of cooperation. Israel is today the third-largest source of key defence equipment for India. India has agreed to buy $100 million worth of Barak missiles. The Barak has been used by the Indian Navy for over two decades. “In defence, I have invited Israeli companies to take advantage of the liberalised FDI regime to make more in India with our companies…..” , Modi said. But the joint statement meekly gives emphasis on defense cooperation. The expected decision on acquiring the Spike anti-tank missiles has not materialised. The reference in it to a 25-year horizon of the strategic relationship is too diffuse. It mentions a five-year joint work plan in agriculture and water, deepening cooperation in innovation, space, homeland security, cyber, etc.
Put historically, even the great scientist Albert Einstein failed to persuade Jawaharlal Nehru to recognize Israel in 1948. Nehru demurred and diverted the argument to realpolitik. Economically, both India and Israel are the ardent advocates of ‘neoliberal totalitarianism’. Politically, both states habour policies of ‘realpolitik-cum-occupation’. And yet for the international community, the real myth behind these growing ties between India and Israel cannot be divorced from their clandestine understanding on the policies to militarily occupy Kashmir and Palestine and showing no concern for human rights and the right of self-determination guaranteed to the people of Kashmir and Palestine under the very Charter of the United Nations.
Both sides seem to have unjustifiably applied syncretic practices of suppression/ regression, hedonism and brinkmanship against the people of Kashmir and Palestine. The meeting between Israeli National security advisor Meir Bin Shabbat and India’s NSA Ajit Doval indicates some hidden designs. The aggressive religious nationalisms of Zionism and Hindutva are defacto shared security interests. Indian police forces have been receiving training in Israel for “anti-terror” operations, which Israeli conducts against Palestinians. Ironically, joining the ultra vires dots between the unwarranted occupations of Kashmir and Palestine shows the need for a malicious policy syncretism between two hegemonic states, India and Israel.
Should not the two sides, India and Israel be cognizant of their continuous culpable transgressions via their respectively and unjustly held designs of Hindutva indoctrinated Kashmir and through Zionist engineered Greater Israel? Unfortunately, both Modi and Netanyahu fail to realise that their anarchist and devil’s advocacy stand is waning and they can no longer escape from an inescapable truth that the real solutions of the these disputes lie in political settlement as the Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat has admitted this truth by saying, “The armed forces operating in the state cannot be status quoist, and must evolve new strategies and tactics to deal with the situation.”
— The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-analyst based in Karachi, is a member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies.