Scripting a new foreign policy for old friends

Balbir Punj 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Israel, the first by an Indian Prime Minister to the Jewish nation, breaks the Congress legacy of subordinating national interest to ideological commitments and vote-bank politics. It also ends the Congress’s deliberate attempts to ignore a nation that has stood by us through an hour of crisis and finally, brings to a close India’s history of subservience to Islamist hate-mongering against everything Israeli and everything Jewish.
Those years when India irrationally treated Israel like a pariah needs to be recalled, if only to highlight how self-defeating it was. After Israel’s establishment in 1948, Nehruvian subservience to the international Islamic lobby was so strong that that the Jewish state was not even allowed an embassy in New Delhi. In the 1960s and 1970s, successive Congress Governments failed to condemn the terror acts of Palestinian organisations when they latter hijacked airliners or bombed Israeli embassies around the world. Instead, they hailed Palestine Liberation Organisation chief, Yasser Arafat, who was feted in India even as he and his colleagues perpetrated one act of terror after another.
The Nehru-Gandhis adulation of Yasser Arafat and its tolerance of Palestinian terror mongering allowed for violence to become an acceptable part of vote-bank politics. Also, India’s rivals used these same tactics against it. From the shoe-bomber of New York to the dozen jihadis from Pakistan who sought to take over Mumbai on November 26, 2008, the inspirational link can be traced to the acts of terrorism by Arafat’s men. In India, Congress Governments routinely genuflected before Palestinian guerrillas who were blowing themselves off in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
Terrorism is bad and has no religion, later Congress Governments would say. This should have been said in the1960s and 1970s but wasn’t. At that time, the perpetrators were the ‘holy warriors’ and their victims were Israelis in particular and the Jews in general. Today, we have an Islamic State, in the latest version of the ‘holy war’, and its open massacre of non-Muslims in West Asia, Closer home, in Pakistan, even Muslims are not safe, as the ongoing reign of terror against Shias and Ahmaddiyas shows. Those who thought that terror, disguised as a holy war, could be a good thing in some ways, so long as the target was their favourite hobgoblin, are now having to chew their words.
It took the unusual Congress leader, Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, to wrench Indian foreign policy out of the anti-Israel mould and establish full diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. Today, Israel is the only real democracy in West Asia, where it is surrounded by dictatorships, using religion to justify their heavy-handed rule. It is only apt that it has a strong relationship with the world’s largest democracy, India.
In this context, it is worth recalling how Israel has stood by India through all these years when India was ignoring the Israel. Despite the cultivated hostility of Indian Governments, Israel quietly, from behind the scenes, supplied weapons and information to withstand the Chinese attack in 1962. During the wars of 1965 and 1971, Israel again helped India militarily.
In 1999, during the Kargil conflict, it was Israeli technology that helped India zero in on Pakistani Army locations. The year before India had proudly displayed its nuclear weapons to the world which had, as expected, reacted with anger and slammed sanctions upon this country. Israel, however, stood by India. A decade later, when the Mumbai attacks took place, vital inputs from Israeli intelligence establishment helped India fight back and defeat the Pakistani conspiracy.
Now compare this to what India has received from the Arab world. For all the mindless support that the Congress Governments gave to the Arabs which included toeing their line on the Palestinian issue, there has not been one word of sympathy from any of the Arab nations when India needed international support. For example, in 1962, when China attacked India, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s dear friend, Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, did not even send a supportive message.
When Modi lands on Israeli soil sometime soon, it is hoped that there will also be a look-back to a time when the Indians and the Jewish people were at the forefront of cultural and spiritual thought. A large portion of the Bible actually describes the history of the Jewish nation from the third millennium BC to the first AD when Moses freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt. Moses is the law-giver for the Jews as Manu is for the Hindus. The Great Flood and the almost complete destruction of the human race from the face of the earth is referred to both in the Bible and in ancient Hindu scriptures.
The story of the Jews is a saga of survival of one group of people with strong spiritual bonds. It is Jewish peoples intense belief in their destiny which helps them hold together and nurture a dream for 2,000 years, after they are driven out of Palestine by the command of the Roman emperor Hadrian in the year 70AD.
Since then, the Jews have wandered across Europe and elsewhere, finding themselves to be the objects of hatred and pogroms which culminated in Hitler’s large-scale extermination attempts through gas chambers and concentration camps. That they now have been able to return to their original homeland shows the spirit of man triumphing over thousands of years of oppression and tragedy.

BALBIR PUNJeditorial articleScripting a new
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