Some Indian journalists have dared to speak out on the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh
The letter is important because it comes at a time when criticism of Israel in India is a rarity.
On May 11, Israeli forces killed Shireen Abu Akleh, the veteran Palestinian journalist who worked for Al Jazeera Arabic.
Despite international law protecting journalists in conflict zones, Israel has already made it clear they have no interest in even pretending to investigate the circumstances around her killing.
And despite Israel's PR attempts to feign that Israel was not responsible for Shireen's death, even mainstream outlets like CNN have finally come around to concluding her murder was the result of a "targeted attack" by Israel.
Abu Akleh was a Christian Palestinian who held an American passport but no one is expecting her citizenship to be of any consequence in this case.
As has been documented now by several outlets, American and western media sources relied on Israeli talking points in narrating the incident, undermining both Al Jazeera’s narration as well as those of Palestinian eye witnesses.
The Israelis have already moved on to new targets. Several Palestinians, including a 15-year-old, have been killed since May 11. Meanwhile, Israel continues to push for the displacement of some 1,000 Palestinians from Masafer Yatta in the occupied West Bank.
“Earlier this month, Israel announced plans to build 4,000 new settlement units in the West Bank and demolish at least 12 villages in Hebron's Masafer Yatta district,” my colleagues at Middle East Eye wrote. In response to the events in Masafer Yatta, India called for “the status quo” to remain, in keeping with its long-held policy against settlement expansions.
Though it has become clear that there will be no justice for Abu Akleh, pockets of protests continue to take place across the world. In the US, students have held posters calling for justice during their graduation ceremonies. One Palestinian American student refused to shake hands with Anthony Blinken, US secretary of state, in a story that has since gone viral.
In India, around 140 journalists signed a letter addressed to the Israeli government condemning the murder and calling for accountability.
“We are also amazed that despite the worldwide condemnation, Israeli police were again directed to stop her funeral procession,” the letter read.
“This attack comes from a deliberately created environment of impunity, where the Palestinians are targeted by Israeli military at will, and the journalists pay the price for independent reportage,” the journalists added.
There are close to 19,000 newspaper titles and 400 news channels in India.
That only 140 journalists signed a letter about the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh, tells everything we need to know about the media environment as well as the place of Palestinians in the Indian media’s imagination.
Hindutva and Zionism
Last week, the Institute of Palestine studies held the first in a series of dialogues about the relationship between India and Israel.
The first lecture, delivered by Amrit Wilson, a founding member of South Asia Solidarity based in the UK, focused on similarities between Hindutva and Zionism. Organisers said there will be at least two more lectures in the coming months. You can watch the first conversation here.
Parallel to the webinar, a new report on Hindutva industry in the United States, titled: “A Report on the Infrastructure of Hindutva Influence Peddling, Mobilizing and Fund Raising in the US, 2014-2021”, was published on the South Asia Citizens Web.
“Using data mining of tax records and government filings, public statements, websites, and news reporting, this report seeks to map portions of the Hindu nationalist ecosystem in the United States. It presents evidence of the Sangh affiliation of selected groups and individuals, funding flows between different groups, and possible strategies and areas of influence in U.S. social, educational, and political institutions from 2014 to 2021, including Hindu nationalist efforts to a) cast Sangh groups as cultural gatekeepers and representatives of Hindus, b) fund Sangh groups in India, c) insert support for Hindutva histories into U.S. academic institutions and textbooks, d) shift U.S. domestic and foreign policy pertaining to South Asia, e) finance Sangh-friendly politicians, and f) target their critics,” the executive summary reads.
The comprehensive report can be accessed here.
The comprehensive report can be accessed here.
More and more efforts are being made to connect Israel with the Indian Jews who played major roles in the Hindi film industry in the 1930s/1940s. In this event in New Delhi some says back, a local artist painted murals of three Jewish actresses, Sulochana, Nadira and Pramila.
“This a reminder of the strong people to people linkages between India and Israel, Sidhant Sibal, WION’s correspondent says in his report.
It’s not clear what he means. All three actresses were Baghdadi Jews. Sulochana was born in 1907 in Pune, Nadira was born in Baghdad in 1932. Pramila was born in Kolkata in 1916. All three are buried in Mumbai.
N.B. Note the colour scheme of the murals.
Finally, Israeli defence minister to visit Delhi
This week, Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister, will travel to India for three days to commemorate 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. He is expected to sign “special security declaration” with Delhi. India is currently the biggest purchaser of Israeli weapons with both countries increasingly working to increase co-production.
Recent work over the past few weeks:
Last week, I spoke to Cornel West about what he calls the “complicity of the American media” in the murder of Shireen Abu Akleh.
You can read the story here or watch the video below:
I also wrote about the horrific mass shooting at an elementary school in Texas in which 18 children and 3 adults were killed by a lone gunman. The shooting has resurrected debate about gun laws in the US.
In my article, I argue that solving the epidemic of mass shootings in America will require more than implementing gun controls. It will require a reckoning with the American project, the one that institutionalised violence in the name of building a homeland and later, an empire. In other words, Americans can’t expect to talk about solving gun violence in the US, without addressing the violence it takes abroad.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
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