12. How India celebrated Israel's 'Independence Day'
Diplomacy on speed.
This week, Israel celebrated its so-called Independence day (an event Palestinians refer to as Al-Nakba, or the Catastrophe).
Given this year also marks 30 years of India-Israel diplomatic relations, both countries pulled out all the stops to underscore how close they have grown over the past decade.
Here is Modi delivering a special message to Israel:
Israeli PM Naftali Bennett replied: “Israel greatly cherishes its friendship with India — together we have the power to do a lot of good in this world!”
But it didn’t end there.
There were several parties across India marking the occasion.
The Israeli actor-musician Tsahi Halevi, who traveled to Delhi as a special guest for independence day celebrations, performed a cover of the Indian hit song “Tere jaisa yaar kahaan” from the 1981 film Yaarana.
Halevi, who is most famous for his role in Fauda, a TV show that demonises Palestinians, told Indian media that it is Mahatma Gandhi who shapes his compassionate and optimistic view of the world. He also revealed that he was currently involved in the first India-Israel cinematic co-production.
Halevi also met with former Indian cricket star Suresh Raina who wrote that “sports & cinema bring our people from Israel and India together into a great bond of friendship.”
Then, in Mumbai, the Israeli consulate launched an advertising campaign on a local bus service.
Over the next month, 10 BEST buses in Mumbai will showcase India-Israel cooperation in the fields of agriculture and water.
Launching the campaign that targets ordinary Indians (the slogan for the campaign is: “the love of the common people”), Kobbi Shoshani, Israel’s Consul General to Mid-West India (the only man in a suit above), was seen rubbing shoulders with commuters. His staff handed out hampers to bus drivers and commuters.
“It is important for us to reach out to people and get them involved in celebrating the 30th anniversary of Indo-Israel relations and Israel’s Independence Day.”
Moving on, but sticking with diplomacy, last month, around 18 agricultural officers from seven Indian states traveled to Israel to attend a course called: “Managing Centres of Excellence: Developing value for farmers”.
The course was organised by Mashav Agricultural Training Centre (MATC).
According to reports, the officials visited model Centres for excellence (CoEs) to learn more about irrigation, fertigation (the process of directly applying fertilizer to a crop through the irrigation system) and “advanced agricultural technologies”.
“Glad to see Indian officers in Israel learning about Israeli agro-technology. This course will serve as a sustainable platform for sharing Israel’s advanced agricultural knowledge. We hope to continue conducting many such courses in the future that will benefit the farmers of India,” Yair Eshel, Israel's Agricultural Attache in New Delhi, who led the delegation, said.
The exchange is just the latest in a string of agricultural exchanges between the two countries that began in 2006.
Worth a read:
“If the scenes from Jahangirpuri, Khargone, and Uttar Pradesh seem familiar, that’s because they are. We’ve seen these same images 2,500 miles away in Palestine, where the demolition of Palestinian homes and businesses by Israeli authorities—using, in many cases, the same make of bulldozers that tore down Muslim homes in Jahangirpuri—is an ever-present reality.
It is estimated that in 2021 alone, Israeli forces demolished 937 structures, displacing nearly 1,200 people. These demolitions are so prevalent that for many Palestinians, the bulldozer has become a symbol of the Israeli occupation.”
This comparison is important because it illustrates the ways in which these two governments are cooperating and borrowing tactics from each other.
It is worth noting however that these tactics have been ongoing in Kashmir for years.
In Kashmir, the Indian army have razed entire neighbourhoods and bulldozed the homes of nomadic tribes. They have have criminalised civil society and silenced journalists and placed them on no-fly lists. In 2019, India effectively annexed Indian occupied Kashmir when it abrogated Article 370 and Article 35A. Senior Indian diplomats have already spoken about importing “the Israeli model” (aka building settlements) into Kashmir. In addition, Kashmiris have been killed or arrested for protesting for Palestinian rights.
In other words, when it comes to India and Israel relations, Indian occupied Kashmir is ground zero.
Moreover, though India and Israel are closer than ever, Israel’s colonial project in historic Palestine and India’s occupation in Kashmir (and persecution of minorities in India) pre-date the rise of right wing governments in either country.
Indian liberals and western leftists tend to forget that.
In other news:
Earlier this week, Richard Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, considered a far-right anti-Muslim conspiracy blog, called on India to revive Sanskrit in the same way Israel revived Hebrew:
“India has a rich cultural, civilizational, & linguistic heritage spanning thousands of years. Reviving Sanskrit will strengthen India in unimaginable ways & will challenge the anti-Hindu Leftist/Islamic cabal. If Israel can revive Hebrew, then India can revive Sanskrit. It must.”
Spencer has also lent his support to the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) in their continued attacks on the Kashmiri journalist Raqib Naik. Spencer has also condemned the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for providing Naik with free legal advice and counsel.
The attacks on Naik are part and parcel of a larger campaign to silence critics of the Hindu right wing by accusing them of Hinduphobia. This, of course, is a tried and tested method used by Zionists who routinely weaponise anti-semitism to silence those who criticize Zionism.
Just this week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group that describes itself as an anti-hate organisation, accused CAIR (along with Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace) of being purveyors of antisemitism.
In response, an op-ed in The Nation described the ADL as a bully, adding that its accusations were a “clear sign that it lacks the credibility to lead on civil rights issues.” I am sure we will see more about the ADL in the coming weeks.
Other stories I have worked on recently:
Last week, I wrote about how Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter could have a devastating impact on already marginalised members of the digital community. Palestinians and Kashmiris are already bullied on social media; Musk is only likely to make things worse.
The previous week, I worked on a video with my colleague Aaya Al-Shamahi in which we put together an interview with the the brilliant Nerdeen Kiswani, the Palestinian activist from Within Our Lifetime.
In the video op-ed, Kiswani argues that while it’s great that mainstream human rights organisations have finally come round to labeling Israel an apartheid state, it was also time to move beyond the apartheid framework.
In other words, Israel is a settler-colonial state and apartheid was just one pillar of oppression. Here is the video:
Thanks for coming this far.
Until next time,
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