Monday, July 21, 2014

Two views on Israelis v/s Palestinians - By Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai and Siraj Wahab.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

What if India wasn’t partitioned? - By Razi Azmi - http://www.raziazmi.com

http://www.raziazmi.com/?p=764#comment-2756


 

What if India wasn’t partitioned?


In an undivided India, about one out of three Indians would have been a Muslim. Muslims would have constituted large majorities in Kashmir, Punjab and Bengal, besides Sindh, Balochistan and the NWFP, and substantially larger minorities elsewhere than presently.  With a population and geographical distribution such as this, it is hard to see them getting the short shrift from the Hindu majority.

(Daily Times, 12 June 2014)


It is best to avoid getting into debates on hypothetical situations based on “what if” postulations, particularly on such a sensitive issue as partition. Nevertheless, I am tempted to make a few observations on the subject, prompted by Mr Yasser Hamdani’s recent article in this newspaper (26 May 2014), “What if there had been no partition of India?”

Whether one is for or against it, partition is now irreversible. No one anywhere in the three countries in question, namely, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh (except a few “Great India” idealists and some radical “Bharat Mata” devotees in India), envisage anything more than good neighbourly relations between them, including freedom of travel.

India’s now ascendant Hindu-nationalist forces view the country’s Muslim population of about 15% as a liability, an obstacle to their vision of a Bharat (India) imbued with Hindutva (literally, Hindu-ness). Better a smaller India fashioned as a Hindu state than a greater one forever “contaminated” with a larger Muslim population!

Indian Muslims lag behind in economic and social development not only vis-à-vis their Hindu fellow-citizens, but also in comparison with the Muslims in Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is the result of over five decades of state support of the Muslim majorities in these two countries and the official neglect of the Muslim minority in India. 
 
A comprehensive official survey, the Sachar Committee Report (2006), over 400 pages long, found that Muslims comprise only 2.5% of the state bureaucracy. Justice Rajinder Sachar’s attempt to obtain the number of Muslims in the Indian armed forces was stone-walled by the defence establishment, but they are believed to comprise less than 2% of the total.  In socio-economic terms, they now rank even below the backward Hindu castes, who are patronized by the state with affirmative action (quotas).

Indian Muslims have been penalized for partition in multiple ways.  They suffer in a way that Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh do not, namely, by being stigmatized as supporters of the partition of 1947. Many Hindus think that Indian Muslims have forfeited the right to live honourably in a post-partition India.

While millions of Indian Muslims either chose to or were compelled by circumstances to remain in India (they and their descendants now number about 160 million), the vast majority of the Muslim elite of India migrated to Pakistan at partition or subsequently. They left behind broken families, shattered homes and disjointed neighborhoods clinging to little else but hope and just biding their time.

Thus, India’s residual Muslims (about a third of the subcontinent’s total Muslim population) became trapped in a vicious cycle of governmental neglect and social discrimination, aggravated by suspicion, aspersion, unemployment, low education and a lack of leadership.

Mr Hamdani credits partition for the “accumulation of capital” in Karachi (and Dhaka) and the transformation of “the tract along the Grand Trunk Road from a poverty stricken rural agrarian society to the booming semi-urban middle class populated area that it is today”.
 
If we are to justify the sacrifice of up to a million lives and the uprooting of another 15 million by the economic uplift of certain backward areas, who can argue against the separation of Balochistan, southern Punjab and upper Sindh from Pakistan, and of the five northeastern Indian states, besides Bihar, Odisha and Kerala from India, for the sake of their economic development?
If we are to follow the logic of economic backwardness and ethnic, religious or communal disharmony to justify the breaking up of states, one may ask where this will end, for India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, China, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan and, indeed, most countries of the world.

In an undivided India, about one out of three Indians would have been a Muslim. Muslims would have constituted large majorities in Kashmir, Punjab and Bengal, besides Sindh, Balochistan and the NWFP.  The educated, business and land-owning Muslim elites of UP, Bihar, Central Provinces, Gujrat and Bombay would have retained their influential positions in their respective regions. With a population and geographical distribution such as this, it is hard to see Muslims getting the short shrift from the Hindu majority.

Then there is the question of Urdu, which is dying a slow but sure death in India, despite being the mother tongue of a large majority of Indian Muslims, notwithstanding its rich cultural heritage and the large number of its admirers amongst Hindi-speaking and Punjabi Hindus and Sikhs. Sadly, it is a consequence of partition that the best Indian songs in the finest Urdu, immortalized in films seen and heard around the world, are now labelled and known as Hindi songs.

But in a united India, Urdu would have held its own, not just thanks to Muslims but also its numerous Hindu and Sikh adherents. Even those Pakistanis who now regard Urdu as an imposition on them, would have defended and promoted Urdu as a counterweight to Hindi in their own interest.

Finally, let us not overlook the spillover of partition, its downstream effects, so to speak: three Indo-Pakistan wars, Bangladesh tragedy, Siachen, Kargil, the simmering Kashmir and water-sharing disputes between India and Pakistan, water-sharing, border and the cross-border enclaves issues between Bangladesh and India, trade barriers among all three countries and hundreds of thousands of divided families. Surely, these wars and disputes wouldn’t have occurred in a united India.

Even assuming that Hindu-Muslim riots would have been a regular occurrence in an undivided India, as Mr Hamdani does, it would still take many centuries of such violence to approach the total numbers killed and maimed at partition. Add to that the casualties of the three wars over Kashmir, the Bangladesh war and the Hindu-Muslim riots in all three countries, including the infamous Gujrat riots of 2002, in which two thousand Muslims are believed to have been killed.

To put it into perspective, and using the conservative estimate of half a million, rather than a million killed at the time of partition alone, it would take 2,500 Gujrat-style riots to equal that number. In other words, if a Gujrat were to occur somewhere in a united India once every month, it would still take over 200 years to equal the number killed in the violence that accompanied partition!.

By Razi Azmi

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12 Responses to What if India wasn’t partitioned?

  1. Razi, Your columns afford a Westerner some of the clearest and most provocative insights into various subjects little addressed in our stream of journalists, or at the least, with convincing awareness. I’m sending links to some of my colleagues with the eastern papers. In this piece you do well to warn against “What if?” history, as cause and effect is difficult enough to prove. 

    Nonetheless, your closing two paragraphs drive home your point. Although the comparison is not a good one, your article reminds me of the American Civil War, the gross loss of lives, but with an opposite ending–no partition. We’ve had our riots since then, especially during the 1960s, but they’ve been of quite another nature and certainly without the death tolls of your region’s uprisings. On a slightly different note, how does Samuel P. Huntington’s thesis measure up to your take on India’s partition?
     
     
  2. Adnan khan says:

    Excellent article, certainly in United India, one third Muslims would have had a bigger say in all matters. India’s poverty levels would not have been that pathetic. I think the biggest losers after the partition are the Muslims of India who have to after 65 yrs still have to prove their loyalty to Hindu India.
     
  3. Tony says:
    Hi Razi,

    Sorry but this is pure fantasy. Muslims are incapable of living with their fellow Muslims let alone those ghastly infidels such as the Sikhs, Hindu. Christians etc. The vicious sectarian wars that have been a characteristic of Islamic societies for several centuries (on and off I do accept) are proof of an insurmountable barrier to the idea of a “greater India”. Of course it is not only the Muslims who would have been the downfall of a unified state incorporating Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. All of the aforementioned nations have shown a preference for demagoguery over statesmanship and genuine leadership.


    In recent times Greece, France and Russia have all shown in their various ways how hard it is to keep unity and peace in a democratic nation which allows freedom of speech. If people like Putin, Le Pen, Berlusconi can prosper in “advanced” western nations, then what chance would Greater India have ever had of keeping the fissiparous forces from taking control.

     Do you really believe that demagogues would not have stoked up the fires of religious intolerance to further their own political ends? Even today, Pakistan is in danger of becoming a failed state. Had Pakistan and Bangladesh been incorporated into a greater India, the result would have been a civil war 1000 times more bloody and intractable than the war in Northern Ireland.

    The decision of Mountbatten and the British Government may have been based on the wrong reasons, military weakness, lack of political will etc but it avoided the long and bloody struggle that would have inevitably ensued.

    Islam is to the body politic of any nation like a poison to a person’s body. The stronger the Islamic sentiment the weaker the state. Just as the stronger the poison in a body the weaker that body becomes.

    “Even assuming that Hindu-Muslim riots would have been a regular occurrence in an undivided India, as Mr Hamdani does, it would still take many centuries of such violence to approach the total numbers killed and maimed at partition.” If you really believe that then look at what is going on in the middle east at the moment and ask yourself if you really believe that Pakistani Moslems would peacefully coexist with their fellow Indians.
     
     
  4. Carl says:
    Interesting article Razi. I like counter-historical speculation. 

    But let me comment on one of the responses.

    I’ve noticed that we – most of us – often respond to conflict that we don’t understand by assuming that the people involved in those conflicts are incapable of cooperation, self-rule, whatever. There is usually a “they” to pin this incapacity on.


    I tend to think instead that ALL human communities divided by ethnic or religious identity have difficulty living side by side, and that virtually every such community generates demagogic leaders who will inflame the fears of their constituents. This has been true in the US, the UK, and countless other countries.


    Fortunately people in some countries have managed to moderate such difficulties and live peacefully together, even if uneasily. But unfortunately, some individuals in these fortunate countries blithely pronounce judgements on the capabilities and incapabilities of people in other countries from afar, with no more evidence than is selected for them by the news. This seems to serve no purpose so much as to further inflame the passions. Is that just inconsiderate?


    Those of us living in more fortunate countries, where ethnic and religious tensions are moderated to some degree, should think twice. Instead of congratulating ourselves, we might reflect that making inconsiderate pronouncements on the capabilities of people in other countries can only earn us the enmity of those people.

  5. Razi Azmi says:

    A reader has sent in the following comment directly to me:

    “Partition happened because the Hindu and Muslim majority parties failed to find a constitutional solution within the framework of a single country. A single sub-continental country had never existed before the British Raj which further complicated the problem already posed by two large religious communities/identities that had failed to find a modus vivendi especially since Aurangzeb’s divisive and disastrous adventures. 


    But Partition made matters worse by further deepening the Hindu-Muslim divide which in turn opened the door wider for fanatics on both sides. And it also artificially altered the demography and culture of its two most contentious regions – Punjab and Bengal. Partition also diverted staggering resources away from development into defence pursuits which also worsened the psyche on both sides.

    A more important question is what could have prevented Partition in the first place. Give and take for sure. Jinnah was more interested in that until he was rebuffed by Nehru et al for seeking safeguards against the feared tyranny of the majority community in an undiluted parliamentary system. 

    There was no simple solution to a complicated problem but Partition was hardly the best.”
     
     
  6. Khalid Pathan says:
    I think that the response sent directly to Mr. Razi is one which is much closer to reality in my opinion. The fact that religion mixed with politics creates the most destructive force that a human brain could ever have conceived.
     
    • Razi Azmi says:
      I agree that “religion mixed with politics creates the most destructive force that a human brain could ever have conceived”, but it has certainly not caused the most havoc or the largest number of casualties in the world, by far. 

      About 10 million were killed in the First World War, over 40 million in the Second World War, anywhere from half a million to a million were slaughtered over 100 days in the Rwandan ethnic genocide and over 5 million in Congo’s tribal conflicts between 1998 and 2008 (it isn’t over yet). The Bangladesh war was one of self-determination with no religious underpinning. Tony may not know, but most western and many Indian historians and writers now concede that, despite the religious façade, the Pakistan movement was one of self-determination too. Mr Jinnah was not the villain he is often portrayed to be, rather he was more flexible than some leaders of the Indian National Congress, including Mr Nehru. What led Jinnah, once called the “ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”, to argue for Pakistan is an interesting story. Even so, most believe that he was ready for a compromise to the very end, including his acceptance of the Cabinet Mission Plan, which would have preserved the unity of India for the foreseeable future at least. Just for those who are obsessed with the Suuni-Shia schism, the Iraqi Sunni Kurds are now allied with the Iraqi Arab Shias in opposing the Arab Sunni ISIS (or ISIL) now invading from the northwest. What superficially appears to be a sectarian divide in Iraq is, in fact, regional and tribal, with the Sunni Kurds in the north, Sunni Arabs in the center and the Shia Arabs in the south.
       
       
  7. Razi Azmi says:
    Another reader, Dr Mir Latif, has sent in this comment directly to me (which I publish with his permission):

    In the written as well as unwritten history, India has been under one rule for only 650 years. Mughals and the British shared 600 of those 650 years between them and the rest under Ashoka, who became a Budhist. Rest of the period India was split into hundreds, if not thousands of rajwaras, holdings etc. Hind and Sind always remained independent entities, both meeting at Sirhind or a SARHAD between the two. Partition of subcontinent is not something new, it was always there in history.

    Now something about the subcontinent or you may say the British India.

    All the leading Muslim Religious parties opposed the creation of Pakistan some calling Quaid e Azam, KAFIR-e-AZAM.


    Quaid-e-Azam himself was a staunch Indian nationalist, until at least January 1915, when Gandhi singled him out as a Mohammedan. He was labelled as a symbol of the Hindu Muslim unity by Moti Lal Nehru, Jinnah Hall in Bombay, a symbol of that recognition. He had a Parsi women as his wife and he had an English living style, no beard, no Maulana tagged with his name.

    Quaid-e-Azam did not want partition of the British India until May 1946. 

    He accepted the Cabinet mission proposals, division of the British India into three autonomous regions within India: (1) northwest, (2) East and (3) the rest of India. Congress rejected the proposals. It is the Congress, the Hindu mindset, which is responsible for the partition of British India.

    After the June 2, 1947 partition announcement by Mountbatten, Congress once again forced the division of Punjab and Bengal on religious basis, thus leading to massacres and migration of populations unmatched in the history of mankind.

    I have seen Pakistan in making and had crossed over to Pakistan in 1947, with my shoes littered with the blood of my dear ones.

    So my dear Azmi, you may like it or not, the Hindu mindset is responsible for the partition of British India, the bloodshed and the migration of populations. They take counsel from Chanakya, who recommended ENMITY WITH THE NEIGHBOUR AND FRIENDSHIP WITH HIS NEIGHBOUR.
     
  8. Nadeem says:
    As usual a great article from Razi Azmi, but had the British left without Partition, Hindu-Muslim antagonism would have escalated into civil war, leading ultimately to an even bloodier partition. India’s partition avoided civil war. But it’s hard to believe when Pakistan was created as a homeland for Muslims, why far more were left behind in India than were incorporated into the new state of Pakistan, a state created in two halves, one in the east and the other 1,700 kilometers away on the western side of the subcontinent. To avoid killing of more than million people, the least that the British, Congress and Muslim League could have done was to do it in a planned manner. This was the most disorderly migration in a most miserable manner.

    It is a possibility that Jinnah Saheb, simply wished to use the demand for a separate state for Muslims as a bargaining tool to win greater power for Muslims within India. Certainly, the idea of ‘Pakistan’ was not thought of until the late 1930s after Allama Iqbal’s address in Allahabad during the muslim league convention in 1930.
     
  9. Jehanzeb says:
    I would like to take Tony’s point a bit further. While this article tries to visualise the potential benefits of a united India, these speculations purely see Muslim viewpoint.

    The united India would have its two major borders, entire western border and entire eastern border, lying in the areas where Muslims held an absolute majority. With Islam known to create supranational loyalties and identities among its followers, the domination of India’s two geopolitical borders by Muslims would have left it insecure. In fact, the control of these two regions would have afforded the Indian Muslims political weight over and above their numerical strength of about one-third in the united India. The over-representation of Muslims (from Punjab and the Frontier) in the British Indian Army would have also carried through. Such situation would have parallels in the politics of pre-1971 Pakistan, when the numerical majority of East Pakistanis was held hostage to the intransigent opposition to democracy of the Western wing.

    Hindus of India would have had to either accept a non-democratic power-sharing system where Muslims enjoyed political power at par, if not above, other religious communities combined or a constant civil war-like situation.

    If Pakistan, one-seventh in population and size, and one-tenth in economy as compared to India, could launch the Kargil War for political ends, one-third in strength, strategically-placed, Muslims in the united India would have even less hesitation in using force to settle domestic issues and, thus, undermine Indian democracy. 

    We should not discount and underestimate the abilities of Muslims to enter in religion-based political alliances with Afghanistan and beyond to further undermine Hindus, if needed. Abdalis and the Taliban have historically been readily available to conquer Delhi and provide an external counter-balance to Hindu majority in the subcontinent. A purer but smaller India, with troublesome areas separated, is comparatively more stable and secure. My thoughts are, again, “what if” rambling. My scenario might not have happened in the united India but why take a chance.
     
     
    • Razi Azmi says:
      Below is a comment, in its entirety, posted by a former academic of Pakistani background, who does not wish to be named:

      “Would the Subcontinent have fared better if Partition had not occurred?

      That would have required a constitutional compromise, some form of a federal system with safeguards for religious minorities. Assuming that, my short answer would be yes, especially in light of all the disasters that followed Partition, starting with a humanitarian catastrophe.

      Briefly, Kashmir would not have been the big issue it became; costly inter-state wars would not have occurred; an undivided Subcontinent would have been in a much better position to limit the impact of the Cold War as well as deal with aspiring regional powers like Communist China. The non-aligned movement would have carried more weight and cohesion, giving the Subcontinent a bigger voice on global issues.

      Internally, the Subcontinent would have been able to focus more sharply and with more resources on meeting its social and economic challenges. Muslims in India would have fared better. Punjab and Bengal, which suffered the most from Partition, would have been more important politically and they would also done a lot better economically. Sharing the Himalayan waters would have been much easier to manage in an undivided situation than the big headache it has been since Partition.

      At least for the first one or two decades, the Subcontinent would have had a better post-colonial start than it did as a result of Partition. What would have happened further down the road is more speculative. But a better start is good enough for me.”
       
  10. Javed Agha says:
    Interesting debate…..But I think United India would have been better for the Muslims.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Fascism of the Sangh Parivar - By Sumit Sarkar - South Asia Citizens Web - www.sacw.net

The Fascism of the Sangh Parivar

by Sumit Sarkar
 
(This article was written in early 1993, in the aftermath of the Demolition of Babri Masjid at ayodhya on December 6, 1992)

Fascism in contemporary Indian as distinct from the European historical context had appeared till the other day a mere epithet, worn out by overmuch, indiscriminate use, signifying little more than particular blatant acts of authoritarian repression or reactionary violence. With the 6th of December and its aftermath, elements frighteningly evocative of its totality of horror stalk our streets, obtain connivance and implicit sustenance from within the highest corridors of power, emerge from everyday conversations with relatives, colleagues, friends of yesterday. Not that exact parallels can be found, in most part India 1992-93 remains very different from the Germany of 60 years back. Yet a closer look at the pattern of affinities and differences may help to highlight certain crucial features - most notably, the ways in which the implications of the current all-out offensive of the Sangh Parivar go far beyond even the obvious and terrifying fact that the subcontinent has just witnessed the most widespread round of communal violence since the Partition years. The drive for Hindu Rashtra has put in jeopardy the entire secular and democratic foundations of our republic. An old warning of Nehru sounds particularly appropriate today. Muslim communalism is in its nature as bad as Hindu communalism, and may even be stronger among Muslims than its counterpart within the majority community. "But Muslim communalism cannot dominate Indian society and introduce fascism. That only Hindu communalism can" (quoted in Frontline, January 1, 1993). Probing the fascist analogy, then, many contribute towards a greater understanding of the dangers that confront us today. Just occasionally, it may provide us also with what is most needed, and is in woefully short supply: resources of hope.

Fascism had come to power in Italy and Germany through a combination of street violence (carefully orchestrated from above but still undeniable with great mass support), deep infiltration into the police, bureaucracy and army, and the connivance of 'centrist' political leaders. Crude violations of laws and constitutional norms and consequently had alternated in Fascist and Nazi behaviours with loud protestations of respect for legality. It is not always remembered, for instance, that Hitler had become chancellor on January 30, 1933 in an entirely constitutional manner, as leader of the largest party in the Reichstag, at the invitation of President Hindenburg. He repeatedly asserted his party's respect for legality throughout the next month - but meanwhile Goering Nazified the Berlin police, organised street encounters in which more than 50 anti-fascists were murdered, and set the scene for the notorious Reichstag fire, after which first the communists, and then all opposition political panics and trade unions were quickly destroyed.

There is much, surely that is ominously reminiscent here. A mosque is systematically reduced to rubble over five long hours, in total violation of a direct Supreme Court order and repeated assurances given by the leading opposition party and its allies, and the central government does not lift its little finger. Countrywide riots follow; marked by blatant police partiality, with the guardians of the law not unoften turning rioters themselves. And then come strange political and judicial manoeuvres that in effect have allowed the land-grabbing vandals to build a temporary 'temple' complete with darshan, where curfew exists for Muslim and not for Hindus, and which suddenly is not a 'disputed structure' unlike the 462-year-old monument it has displaced, but something worthy of protection. Meanwhile the BJP alternates between an occasional apology and much more frequent aggressive justification, and VHP leaders add the Delhi Jumma Masjid to Varanasi and Mathura, and openly denounce the Indian Constitution as anti-Hindu.

Expanding Target Area

It is this wider dimension, in which the obvious, classically communal Muslim target area steadily expands, and efforts intensify to terrorise wider and wider circles of potential dissent that perhaps requires a little additional emphasis. The Hitler analogy is once again, appropriate: Jew and communist had quickly expanded to cover social-democrats, liberals, Catholics, everyone who dared to think with any independence - even, by June 1934, a number of Nazis, massacred in the 'night of the long knives'. The BJP turn towards open terror had begun with two incidents in Madhya Pradesh unconnected with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement -the murder of Shankar Guha Niyogi, labour leader of unusual initiative and originality, in autumn 1991, and the public humiliation recently of B D Sharma, distinguished progressive retired civil servant. (The Shiv Sena of Maharashtra had shown the way even earlier, of course, smashing through street terror the once formidable Red Flat Unions of Bombay in the 1970s). The beating-up of journalists on December 6 is thus not an aberration, but part of a broader emerging pattern. The forces of Hindutva have assiduously cultivated the press, with great success till recently, but fascists always like to combine persuasion with the occasional big stick.

Certain like-reported developments in Delhi acquire relevance here, indicating once again the typical combination of street violence with administrative collusion even in a city where the December riots were relatively localised and minor(1), right next to a central government which is said to have banned the RSS, the VHP, and the Bajrang Dal. Peace activists trying to do things as innocuous as singing songs, distributing leaflets calling for harmony: and staging street plays have been repeatedly attacked: the police come a little later, ignore the RSS-Bajrang Dal elements supposedly under a ban, but arrest and harass anti-communal groups. Even a peace march led by men as distinguished as P N Haksar and Habib Tanvir was obstructed by the police, while a Delhi University student in an anti-communal group whose name begins with Ram was slapped by a Policeman who had arrested him: a man with such a name, he was told, should not be doing such things.

The Bajrang Dal thugs often openly declare that anyone who criticises the destruction of Babri Masjid will have to go to Pakistan, while in the selectively curfew-bound Muslim Pockets of Seelampur in east Delhi, the police had rounded up all Muslim men in some areas, beaten them up unless they agreed to say Jai Shri Ram, and even pulled out the beard of a Muslim gentleman.

Myths As Common Sense

What is making all this possible is evidently a wide, though very far from universal, degree of consent, where large numbers may keep away from communal riots, maybe, even sincerely condemn them, and yet be participants in a kind of communal consensus in which a whole series of assumptions and myths have turned into common sense. Far from being a spontaneous or ' natural' product of popular will expressing a legitimate 'Hindu hurt', however, as the organised forces of Hindutva sedulously propagate, this consent is something constructed and carefully nurtured, a product of more than 60 years of strenuous and patient effort. The RSS, founded way back in 1925, and spawning from 1950s a whole series of affiliates manned at crucial levels by its cadres (among which the Jan Sangh/BJP and the VHP have been the most important), concentrated for many years on unostentatious, slow, 'cultural' work. Shakhas combined physical training of young men with indoctrination through bauddhik sessions, a chain of schools was built up, ideas were disseminated through personal contact and conversation, and even a very popular Hindu comic series was brought out (the Amar Chitra Katha extolling Hindu mythical or historical figures). It was for long, almost, a Gramscian process of building up hegemony through molecular permeation. Then, in the early and middle 1980s, came the efforts of Indira and Rajiv to play the ' Hindu card', communalising the state apparatus on an unprecedented scale through the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 and the subsequent cover-up of the guilty, and further eroding the rule of law through rampant corruption. All this directly prepared the ground for the Ram Janmabhoomi blitzkrieg of the Sangh Parivar, now spearheaded by the VHP. It must not be forgotten that it was the Congress government that updated the Ramayana epic into a pseudo-nationalist TV serial, and allowed access in 1986 to the idols installed inside the Babri Masjid by stealth and administrative collusion in December 1949, under an earlier Congress regime. The Sangh Parivar's war of position now gave place to a spectacular war of movement, pressing into service the latest in advertising and audio-visual techniques on a scale and with resources never before seen on the subcontinent. Hitler, by the way, had also been a bit of a pioneer in these matters, fully realising the importance of spoken propaganda through the then relatively new techniques of the loudspeaker and the radio.(2)

Unlike Fascism, then, which came to power in Italy and Germany within a decade or less of its emergence as a political movement, Hindutva has had a long gestation period. This, no doubt, has given it added strength and stability, time to get internalised into common sense. But there is an element of hope here, too, for despite the tremendous effort spread across decades the conquest of hearts and minds remains far from complete. It needs to be recalled that around four out of five Indians voted against the BJP even in 1991 (its all-India percentage was 21.9) - and if that had been a vote about Ram, the UP victory was at best some kind of a mandate for a Ram temple, not for the destruction of the Masjid. The real base of the Sangh Parivar remains the predominantly upper-caste trader-professional petite bourgeoisie of the cities and small towns in the Hindi heartland, with developing connections perhaps with upwardly-mobile landholding groups in the countryside. Extensions beyond this remain unstable, as the panic evoked by Mandal and the Bihar example seem to indicate - and the whole bloated structure of today's Hindutva requires for sustenance constant excitement, a high pitch of hysteria, the stimulus of communal violence. Hence perhaps the gamble of sacrificing the BJP ministries, which could have got discredited and shown up as little different, if not worse, from Congress regimes by any long period of normal governance.

An early perceptive analysis of Fascism had defined it as "not only an instrument at the service of big business, but at the same time a mystical upheaval of the ...petite bourgeoisie"(3). That a 'mystical upheaval' has happened around the slogan of Ram is undeniable, and its lavish orchestration indicates an evident abundance of funds. But the specific linkages of Fascism with capitalist interests have remained a controversial issue even for Europe, and most historians have found it necessary to make distinctions between various kinds of capital as well as across countries. Relatively underdeveloped Italy, for instance, differed quite fundamentally from highly industrialised Germany. Controversies exist also as to whether capitalist interests were linked to Fascism by positive intention, as the term 'instrument' suggests, or more through accommodation to circumstances."(4) The Indian situation is significantly different above all because of the absence of any major threat to propertied interests from organised labour or apparently impending socialist revolution. The scale and nature of the economic crisis is also not quite comparable. In post-Depression Germany, Nazism arguably could have appeared to many business groups "as the last available means of preserving the capitalist system" (5), while Fascism in Italy had had a developmental, if anti-popular, 'passive revolution' aspect that Gramsci realistically recognised even from within a Fascist prison. Neither feature is particularly noticeable so far in India, where Narasimha Rao has been carrying through wide-ranging changes in economic policy with a degree of determination and skill conspicuously absent in his handling of Ayodhya. The Jan Sangh and the BJP have been advocating such a repudiation of the Nehruvian legacy of self-reliance and planning for many years, but the forces of Hindutva, in whose propaganda and activity matters economic so far have occupied only a minor place, can claim little 'credit' for actually bringing about the shift. The Indian business groups that support Manmohan Singh's New Economic Policy (not necessarily the entire class) might still prefer a tougher anti-labour line under a Hindu Right regime no longer dependent even marginally on Left votes in parliament. Conversely, however, if the fascistic thrust of Hindutva, even now, encounters determined resistance, the traditional centrist option might appear more reliable and attractive for bourgeoisie groups, precisely because there is much less 'need' for Fascism in the interests of capitalist survival and profit than in inter-War Italy and Germany.

Suicidal Wobbling

It is in this context that the wobbling - and worse - of the Congress, and particularly of the Prime Minister, before and after December 6 appears so disastrous, indeed suicidal, even from the point of view of narrow party interests. There did exist a possibility of retrieval just after the sixth. The much-quoted Vajpayee interview was an indication that the BJP for a few days had been forced into the defensive. But Narasimha Rao, to quote a rather apt comment by a journalist, then proceeded "to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory". Sporadic, largely unimplemented, obviously halfhearted measurers of repression, not backed up by any political campaign by the Congress, have by now been succeeded by what appears to be yet another attempt to compete with the BJP for the 'Hindu card'. Principles apart, elementary real politick suggests that the more determined and consistent always win that kind of game. The shift in the attitude of the major Delhi-based dailies from virtually total condemnation of the BJP just after December 6 to much more ambiguous alignments in recent days might in this context be a straw in the wind of a most dangerous kind.

That leaders who subjectively no doubt demarcate themselves from the BJP, their principle political rival, can still stoop to such levels of opportunism indicates the degree of spread of what I have tried to argue lies at the heart of our present tragedy: a communalised common sense produced through sustained effort. Analysis-cum-critique of the varied components of this common sense is clearly vital for any effective resistance to what, with many qualifications, may still be called the Indian variety of fascism.

Fascist ideology in Europe had combined already quite widespread crudely nationalist, racist, and in Germany anti-Semitic, prejudices with fragments from much more sophisticated philosophies. That it had owed something to a general tun-of-the century move away from what were to be the sterile rigidities of Enlightenment rationalism is not a fact without some relevance today, for not similar ideas have become current intellectual coin in the west, and by extension they have started to influence Indian academic life. The ideologists of the Sangh Parivar (a Girilal Jain or a Swapan Dasgupta apart) may themselves be still largely unaware of the varied possibilities of post-modernism: that certain current academic fashions can reduce the resistance of intellectuals to the ideas of Hindutva has already become evident. The "critique of colonial discourse" inspired by Said's Orientalism, for instance, has stimulated forms of indigenism not too easy to distinguish from the standard Sangh Parivar argument, going back to Savarkar, that Hindutva is superior to Islam and Christianity (and, by extension, to creations of the modern west like science, democracy or Marxism) because of its allegedly unique indigenous roots. An uncritical cult of the 'popular' or 'subaltern', particularly when combined with the rejection of Enlightenment rationalism as irremediably tainted in all its forms by colonial power-knowledge, can lead even radical historians down strange paths (6). It is not unimportant, therefore, to recall that Giovanni Gentile had defined Fascism as a "revolt against positivism", or that Mussolini in 1933 had condemned the "movement of the 18th century visionaries and Encyclopaedists" along with "technological" conceptions of progress. Ominously relevant, too, is another peroration of the Italian dictator, in July 1934, where he called for an end to "intellectualising and of those sterile intellectuals who are a threat to the nation". Hitler at the Nuremberg Nazi Congress next year similarly exalted the "heart", the "faith" the "inner voice" of the German volk over "hair-splitting intelligence." (7)

'Enemy' Image

This, however, has been a bit of an aside: far more central to Hindutva as a mass phenomenon (or for that matter to Fascism) is the development of a powerful and extendable enemy image through appropriating stray elements from past prejudices, combining them with new ones skillfully dressed up as old verities, and broadcasting the resultant compound through the most up-to-date media techniques. The Muslim here becomes the near-exact equivalent of the Jew - or the Black (more generally, immigrants felt to be inferior for one or another reason) in contemporary White racism. The Muslim in India, like the Jew in Nazi propaganda, is unduly privileged - a charge even more absurd here than it was in Germany, where the Jews had been fairly prominent in intellectual, professional and business circles. In post-Independence India, Muslims in contrast are grossly underrepresented at elite levels, however defined. The alleged privileges, in the second place, are the product of ' appeasement' of Muslims by 'pseudo-secularist', and so very quickly the communal target starts broadening itself, and Mulayam Singh Yadav, to take one example among many, becomes a ' mulla'. The stock examples of ' appeasement' in recent days have been the destruction of temples in Kashmir, allegedly never condemned by the 'pseudo-secularists', and Muslim personal law permitting polygamy. Desecration must be condemned, whether by Muslims or by Hindus, but it is a strange condemnation that sues it to justify or condone the wanton desecration of December 6. The destruction of numerous Muslim religious places in riots (at Bhagalpur, for instance) is of course never mentioned. The Kashmir temples issue, incidentally, became very prominent in conversation just after the destruction of the Babri Masjid, indicating a concerted whisper campaign as well as, possibly, an element of guilt suppressed through verbal excess. The oft-repeated argument that Muslims must repent or atone for their acts of past or present aggression has meanwhile acquired a strange flavour in the context of some current reports from Bombay. Muslims offering to rebuild destroyed temples have been spurned by Shiv Sena, and in Dharavi a group of them who were actually rebuilding one have just been stabbed (Pioneer, January 9).

On the Muslim Personal Law issue, the Sangh Parivar once again takes full advantage of Rajiv Gandhi's misdeeds, when he tried to counterbalance the opening of the locks of Ayodhya by the Muslim Women's Bill. The Muslim fundamentalist side of the appeasement (from which the only real and direct sufferers were Muslim women) is always mentioned, never the simultaneous appeasement of Hindu communalism. The real importance of the question, however, is in the light it can throw on the presuppositions, reminiscent of racism, of the Hindutva ideology. The continuation of the legal right of polygamy among Muslims is constantly linked up to assertions that Muslims consequently breed faster: "hum panch hamare pachis", as the Delhi VHP leader (currently BJP MP) B L Sharma elegantly described it in an interview he gave to a group of us in April 1991. The Report on the Status of Women in India (1975), however, had found the rate of polygamy actually higher among Hindus than Muslims (5.06 per cent as against 4.31 per cent). The Muslims, then, become dangerous simply by going through the basic biological processes of birth, procreation - and even death, for we were told during an investigation of the 1991 Nizamuddin riots in New Delhi that a dead Muslim always grabs a bit of land by burial, unlike the self-effacing cremated Hindu. Racist attitudes, finally, are neatly encapsulated in the very recent coinage of the formula ' Babar Ki Auladí. Alleged descent from Babar is sufficient to damn, no overt misdeed is really required...just as once in fanatical Christian circles all Jews stood condemned because of what their ancestors had supposedly done at the time of the crucification of Christ.

Such is Hindutva ideology at its crudest, engaged in the direct justification of communal violence. The slightly 'softer' or more insidious levels should also be considered, for these can indicate almost as clearly the fascistic implications of Hindu Rashtra. Fascism has often tried to appropriate elements, or at least terms, from ideals considered laudable and progressive in the society it sought to conquer: thus the Nazis claimed to be not only nationalist- in post-Versailles Germany, but also, keeping in mind the very strong working class political presence in the Weimar Republic, ësocialist' and representative of 'labour'. The Sangh Parivar, similarly, tries to establish its claim to be truly and uniquely 'national' by a ëdemocratic' argument: Hindu interests should prevail always in India, and maybe, it should at some stage be declared a Hindu Rashtra, for Hindus after all are the majority, by Census reckoning 85 per cent of the population. But democracy logically must connote two other features in addition to rule of majority: protection of rights of minority ways of life and opinions, and, even more crucially, the legal possibility that the political minority of today can win electoral majority in the future and thus peacefully change the government. Otherwise it becomes difficult to deny the status of democracy to the one-party regimes of Hitler, Mussolini (or Stalin), for all of them did go in for occasional elections of a single-list, plebiscitary type, and won majorities which may not have been entirely rigged. Democratic theory, in other words, stands in total contradiction of any notion of permanent majorities-but such, by Sangh Parivar definition, would be the position of the party that claims to speak uniquely for all Hindus; the BJP. Inherent in that claim is a second assertion, equally reminiscent of Fascism: only s/he is a true Hindu who accepts the leadership of RSS-BJP-VHP combine. Any dissent runs the risk of being branded as pseudo-secular appeasement. So had Hitler and the Nazis arrogated to themselves the right to speak for all ' pure' Germans, along with the power to decide who are racially pure.

What the triumph of Hindutva, 'hard' or 'soft', implies for Muslims and other minority groups is already obvious enough: a second-class citizenship at best, constant fear of riots amounting to genocide, a consequent strengthening of the most conservative and fundamentalist groups within such communities. The near-coincidence in time between the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the barbarous assault of Professor Mushirul Hasan does not appear accidental-and the police, interestingly, were strangely absent or inactive in both cases. The fallout of December 6 has already strengthened Muslim fundamentalist forces in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The Muslims in India, it needs to be added, are not an insignificant minority, but 120 million-the biggest in the world next to Indonesia. The sheer size and diversity of the Indian people make secularism, democracy and the preservation of national unity more closely inter-dependent than perhaps anywhere else in the world. The permanent and total alienation the BJP seems working for can lead to a Lebanon or Yugoslavia on vastly enhanced scale. The Sangh Parivar certainly has peculiar ways of living up to its much-touted claim to be more ' national;' than anyone else.

Scope For Common Action

One major distinction between the Hindutva of today and European Fascism, particularly the Nazi variety lies in a very different relationship with established religious traditions. Nazis sought to ground identity on race, not religion, and called on youth to build a new civilisation, which could at times sound openly anti-Christian. The Sangh Parivar, by very definition, has to preach total adherence and deference towards Hindu traditions even while fundamentally transforming them. That this has been a source of tremendous strength hardly needs to be stated; just possibly, it could also be transformed into a weakness given effective counter-strategies. For Hindutva is really homogenising and changing Hindu beliefs and practices on a truly colossal scale. The statement of a VHP leader, exulting over the destruction of Muslim houses near what had been the Babri Masjid, epitomises this transformation: this was necessary, he said, to make of that area a Vatican. But the vast and enormously variegated Hindu world has never had what the VHP is trying to make out of Ram and Ayodhya - a single supreme deity and pilgrimage centre, steam-rolling out of existence differences of region, sect, caste, gender, class. Even more basic is the effort to transform what millions of Hindus sincerely believe - with what degree of historical accuracy does not matter very much in this context - to be a supremely tolerant and Catholic religion into a terrifying instrument of vandalism, murder, and usurpation of political power. The traditions of catholicity in our country are deep and themselves extremely diverse. They range from syncretic, at time radically iconoclastic Bhakti-Sufi 'sants' and 'pirs', for some of whom, in the words of a Baul song, the path seemed blocked by mandir and masjid, purohit and mulla - to the conservative, yet profoundly Catholic, Ramakrishna, in whose vision Hindu, Muslim and Christian differed as little as jal from pani and water. And our thoughts today inevitably go back, time and again, to another dark January 45 years ago, when a man died, a devout Hindu whose last words had also evoked Ram, murdered by a youth reared in the culture of the Sangh Parivar. An ocean separates the Ram of Mahatma Gandhi, conceived of as both Iswara and Allah, from the Ram in whose name the Babri Masjid has been destroyed.

Secularism Has Many Meanings

What is necessary today is the recognition that secularism can and indeed does have many meanings, that its wide and varied spectrum can extend from the devoutly religious to the freethinker-atheist, on a common minimum ground of total rejection of communal hatred and a theocratic state. This does not mean that non-religious secularists should engage in a breast-beating exercise for having been ' alienatedí from the ë mainstream' and suddenly claim to be more 'truly' Hindu or Muslim than the VHP or the Muslim fundamentalist (8). It involves, rather, an awareness that even profound differences need not rule out common action in defense of basic human values, that, as Trotsky had once said while pleading for a united front against Fascism, it is possible to "march separately, but strike together". (9)

That the Hindutva forces are afraid of such unity is indicated by their persistent efforts to brand secularism and indeed all anti-communal attitudes as necessarily somehow anti-Hindu. Simultaneously they try to conflate secularism uniquely with the policies of the 'Nehruvian' state, thus making it bear the burden of the many sins of opportunism, excessive and bureaucratic centralisation and repression of which that state has been often guilty. Here, once again, current intellectual tendencies have provided respectability to such critiques, for it is often assumed nowadays that secularism was a creation of the now much-abused Enlightenment rationalism and scepticism, brought into India in the baggage of colonial discourse, and subsequently embodied in the repressive nation-states that have emerged on the western pattern. Actually, even in Europe, the roots of secularism go back at least another 200 years, to the times of the religious wars ('communal riots', we might legitimately call them) sparked off by the Reformation. The first advocates of toleration based on separation of church from state were not rationalist freethinkers, but Anabaptists passionately devoted to their own brand of Christianity, who still believed that coercion, persecution and any kind of compulsory state religion was contrary to true faith.

In India, as in other countries with multiple religious traditions, the need and therefore the bases of co-existence are broader and deeper than the teachings of the vast majority of holy men of all creeds or the policies of many kings, among whom Akbar is only the best remembered. They have been grounded in the necessities of daily existence itself, which might occasionally produce conflict, but also tend towards the restoration of interdependence - if allowed to do so by organised communal forces, which means less and less often nowadays (10). And if communalism shatters everyday existence, it simultaneously halts and turns back all efforts to improve the condition of living through striving to reduce exploitation and want. It does so in two fundamental ways: by shattering the unity and struggle of toilers and all the subordinate groups, and fostering, within the rigid community boundaries it erects, tendencies towards ruthless homogenisation. Such homogenisation invariably helps the groups and interests occupying positions of power - in the context of Hindu communalism, most obviously, the high caste elite. It is noteworthy how every move towards implementing even the fairly limited measures towards social justice promised by the Mandal recommendations are being, met by a Hindutva offensive. The noticeable silences so far about specific socio-economic issues in the programmes and activities of Hindutva (no effort has been made to spell out the ' roti' concomitant of Ram, and that slogan itself seems forgotten) can be made into a space for effective secular intervention - provided, however, the habit of segregating the 'economic' and 'political' from the 'cultural' or 'ideological', fairly deep-rooted in Indian Left traditions, is abandoned. Anti-communal campaigns cannot be left to seminars or middle-class cultural programmes alone, important though these are, nor can everyday economic struggles afford to skirt questions of religion, communalism and ideology in the facile hope that material issues and 'real' class identities will automatically assert themselves.

Thinking back about the Fascist era in Europe may seem a grim and depressing exercise, now that chauvinist forces are rearing their heads virtually everywhere. But the memories of the 1930s and early 40s are not just of Storm Troopers, Holocaust, concentration camps, and the nor unrelated deformations that have culminated today in the shattering of the world's first socialist experiment. They include the experiences of united, and in their time victorious, anti-fascist struggle, popular fronts, a Barcelona very different from the one seen on TV last year, the heroism of Stalingrad and not just Stalinist terror. The time may have come to draw sustenance once again from the slogan of the defenders of Republican Spain: Fascism shall not pass.


Notes

1. In terms, of course, of the high standards set in Kanpur, Bhopal, Surat, Bombay and a host of other towns in a country where 213 places were under curfew at one point after December 6, affecting 97 million people. Cry The Beloved Country (People's Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi, December 1992).

2. For a more detailed account of the evolution of the Sangh Parivar, see Tapan Basu, Pradip Dutta, Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, and Sambuddha Sen, Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags: The Politics of the Hindu Right (Orient Longman, Delhi 1993).

3. Daniel Guerin, Fascism and Big Business (1936; New York, 1974), p. 10.

4. Guerin, op cit.; Alan S Milward, 'Fascism and the Economy' in Walter Laqueur (ed. Fascism: A Reader's Guide (1976: Penguin, 1979).

5. Milward, op.cit, p.414.

6. Thus Gautam Bhadra, in an interview given to a Bengali journal in early 1991, managed to find elements of laudable subaltern assertion of identity in the first kar seva movement and even in the speeches of Sadhvi Rithambara. Dipesh Chakrabarti, another member of the Subaltern Studies editorial team, in a more recent article has argued that we need to search for creative elements in everything condemned by the "His Master's Voice" of the post-Enlightenment West. This, for him, explicitly includes Marx just as much as Macaulay (Naiya, February 1991:Baromas, October 1992.

7. Zeev Sternhell, 'Fascist Ideology' in Laqueur, op cit., p 334 (the quotation from Gentile); Guerin, op cit., pp 65, 168-69, 171.

8. They are less alienated, surely, from Indian culture or elementary human values than those young men of Surat who, in the name of Hindutva, videotaped their gang-rape of Muslim women. The tape, I have been told, is being avidly watched at evening parties in some affluent Bombay homes.

9. Leon Trotsky, 'For a Workers' United Front against Fascism' (December 1931) in The Struggle against Fascism in Germany (Penguin, 1975, p. 106)

10. The Frontline of January 15, 1993, pp 60-81, carries some moving reports of the striving of ordinary people to restore the torn fabrics of inter-community mutual dependence even after the post-December 6 riots.




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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DAVID V/S GOLIATH - By Ghulam Muhammed

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

DAVID V/S GOLIATH

The third round of intifada being fought on the bloodied soil of Palestine and Occupied Palestine has classic contours of historical confrontation between right and wrong. Palestinians are brave people. Even so much pounding they are receiving over half of a century, their resolve to claim their land from the usurpers does not seem to waver. In fact, they are not just fighting the small enclave of Jewish occupied Palestine that had been snatched from them, by the colonial powers and handed over to their own Jewish proxies; Palestinians are fighting the great super power of United State of America that is in the iron-grip of Jews and Zionists.

Without the iron domes, the tanks, the air force, the chemical stock pile, the unmentioned nuclear arsenal --- all provided by the USA, with continuous goading and prodding by America’s Jewish Neo-cons, the Jewish enclave will not survive a single day’s comparable attack by Palestinians or their supporters. Jews will run like scared rabbits, once their homes and hearths are under attack.

In fact, the rockets that American supplied IRON-DOME anti-missiles neutralize in the current confrontation do nevertheless create panic in Jewish neighborhoods.

Though media is biased in not showing the true impact of the run for shelters that common civilians have to resort to, once early warning siren go on, there is sufficient proof that Jewish people are not unaffected, even if they are not dying at the same rate that the Israeli shootings caused massacre in undefended Gaza.

However much triumphalist Jews may feel in Occupied Palestine, they do have a deep foreboding that a day of reckoning will eventually come to their so-called self-declared ‘Jewish State’ and its brutal people.

If Hamas can get crude rockets to fire on Jewish areas, it is only a matter of time that they can get their hands on more sophisticated armory and whatever the power and capacity of Jews to inflict pain and suffering on Palestinians, the Jews have no comparable capacity to endure pain and suffering, at least at the present state of their overblown delusional confidence, at the hands of Palestinians.

Their outburst at the death of 3 Jews at the hands of criminals that has resulted in a war situation in Occupied Palestine and Palestine is enough to prove that Jews cannot suffer pain and humiliation the way beleaguered Palestinians are and can. The world is aghast as to how the poor, emaciated, ill-equipped Palestinians get the steel to stand up to a paper Goliath. The day a trigger will engulf this paper Goliath; it will go into flames without any trace on the face of earth. Even its staunch supporter, the current world super power will be humbled.

It is written.

Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai

Monday, July 14, 2014

Gassing Gaza: Is Israel ‘defending’ itself once again? - By Yamin Zakaria - http://yaminzakaria.blogspot.com

http://yaminzakaria.blogspot.in/

A Moderate View in a Radical World

My views on current affairs, Islam and Muslims.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Gassing Gaza: Is Israel ‘defending’ itself once again?

“When Israelis in the occupied territories now 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 defence. Call it what you like, it's not defence.”

Professor Noam Chomsky



President Obama wants to broker a ceasefire, but what is the credential of the US to play the role of an impartial broker? This is the country that has armed Israel to the teeth, it continues to finance their existence and turn a blind eye to the creeping colonisation of the remaining territories of Palestine; with unrestrained access to the US media, the Zionist narrative is fed to the American masses, who above all, stand by Israel, no matter how many Palestinian civilians are killed and maimed, whilst the Israeli casualty figures barely reach double figures.
  
Let us put aside the point of US neutrality to act as a peace maker. The issue is - brokering a ceasefire could only take place, if both sides had something to negotiate. This conflict is not a fight between two armies; it’s a one-sided massacre of civilians and the destruction of their livelihood and properties, accomplished efficiently with US made weapons. Therefore, the brokering process is essentially about getting the Israelis to halt their war machine, even if Hamas were to continue to fire the rockets, the Israeli casualties will remain close to zero.
 
As usual, the Zionist apologists will point out the home-made Hamas ‘rockets’ as the cause. If you want to identify the cause, then examine the sequence of events, and the long-term Israeli strategy to suffocate the Palestinians, in the concentration camp of Gaza. Not to mention the Zionisation of the West Bank, where the illegal settlements (theft of land) continues to grow, in flagrant breach of International Law. This process is to facilitate the right of return for the Jews, whose ancestors may have lived there, and concurrently the dispossessed Palestinians within the last 100 years are still seeking their right of return. Many still have the keys to their houses, now occupied by thieves, known as ‘settlers’. In addition, the impact of these so-called rockets have been magnified beyond all proportions, and then recycled continuously through the Zionist dominated media, to justify the carnage.

As we entered the 5th day of the conflict in the month of Ramadan, the UN managed to issue the most ridiculous statement with no provisions for any action; the statements suggests the conflict is a two-way battle, both parties should share the responsibility equally, but the facts on the grounds show otherwise.
   
“The Security Council members expressed serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides.”

Well so far only the Palestinians have suffered 140 casualties and no deaths of Israelis reported, therefore, the statement should have reflected that, placing much greater burden on Israel to ensure protection and welfare of civilians in Gaza.

It then goes on to say the following:

“The Security Council members further called for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.”

This can only apply to Israel, whose army and the civilians are beyond the reach of the Palestinians in Gaza; the IDF has been busy destroying houses, killing civilians, cutting off power supplies to essential services like hospitals. During the previous incursion into Gaza in 2006, Israel prevented medical aid getting through and firing at ambulances, by the end of the operation, 1500 Palestinians had been killed, whilst Israel suffered only 17 casualties.
  
The Zionist dominated media narrative, along with the voices of western leaders, tells us the following about the Israeli incursion:

It’s not a war crime despite the deliberate killing of defenceless civilians, and the wanton destruction of their properties; it is not terrorism despite the killing of non-combatants; it is not a collective punishment of a population, even though it is acting in retaliation for the actions of a few, and it is not a one-sided massacre, even though over 99% of the victims are the Palestinian - Israel the victim, is simply defending itself.

Acting in self-defence means, it is a preventative measure and not a full scale offensive like that taken in a war situation. Given the failure of these Hamas rockets to inflict any casualties or real damage, and many of the missiles are intercepted by the Israeli Iron Dome system, the ‘defensive’ measures taken by Israel by bombing Gaza, are well beyond what is required, because Israel’s  intention is to wage a war, and subdue the Palestinian will for existence.  As the Palestinians are suffocating in the Gaza concentration camp under siege, they will naturally retaliate with crude weapons, and this in turn has become a basis for the Israeli slaughter, in the name of self-defence.

Since when did the Israeli Defence Force ever carry out a defensive operation after the end of the 1973 war? Lebanon to Gaza has been a one-sided carnage of cities and the civilian population. 
So why has Israel attacked Gaza? Professor Noam Chomsky answered this question during the previous incursion into Gaza, and I think the answer is still applicable now.

“The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel, it is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battlefield on a largely defenceless civilian population, is the final phase in a decades-long campaign to ethnically-cleanse Palestinians.”

Finally, the Arab clowns sitting as heads of state, collectively the impotent Arab league, which has never managed to erect anything. The Arab ‘leaders’ are paralysed and speechless; they could not even muster a protest. It’s uncomfortable to confront the Israelis through the US and over the last 30 years, the Arabs have become accustomed to fighting each other, so much so, it kind of evokes the pre-Islamic stories of tribes fighting for 40-years, just over a camel.

So what does the future hold? The Arab Spring has come and gone, the new Caliphate (ISIS) has mysteriously emerged from nowhere, and I suspect that too will vanish or prove to be just as hollow with the passage of time.

Yamin Zakaria (yamin@radicalviews.org)

Published 13/07/2014
London, UK