Realpolitik with Balbir K. Punj
On Friday 8 March, 2005, CPI (M) demanded that the UPA government should cut of all military ties with Israel. A resolution was moved a day earlier by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya at its 18th party Congress condemning Israel's?brutal occupation? of Palestine territory. The Chief Minister of West Bengal probably forgot that West Bengal is also house to several Israeli projects in India. His predecessor Jyoti Basu had paid an official visit to Tel Aviv. But ironically, the Communist demand found few buyers amongst those very people whose case our comrades were trying to advocate viz. Palestinians. The Communist Party of India, where the appellation ?Communist? comes first and ?India? comes last has Palestinian interests in mind but not Indian. It can seemingly barter the Indian interest away for the interest of those Arabs who never cared for India'sinterests. It is in the interest of India to have military ties with Israel and not the other way round.
The Palestinian delegates invited as observers at CPI(M)'sParty Congress knew it better than the Red nuts. So Dr. Ahmed Soboh, Deputy Minister of Information, Palestinian Authority had branded this demand as unwarranted. According to him Israel receives its major support for military activities from the United States. Israel'smilitary relationship with any other country is hardly consequential to Palestinians. So, CPI(M)'sdemand has more fervour than facts, perhaps with an eye on the Muslim vote bank of West Bengal in the next assembly elections.
Presently a legal controversy is raging over the release of Anurag Kashyap'sfilm Black Friday based on the Bombay bomb blast of March 12, 1993. The film is based on a book by some name by S. Hussain Zaidi. Interestingly, some PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) people were also involved in blast conspiracy. Sunday Pioneer dated March 13, 2005 has an interesting front page story on the subject?How ?kill Advani, Bal? plan fell through Dawood'sden.
?The book'sauthor S. Hussain Zaidi talks about how, at a top secret meeting held just before the blasts at Dawood'smansion in Dubai, the head honchos of Islamic terrorism, including Dawood, his brother Anis, Tiger Memon and certain PLO leaders, ironed out the nitty gritties of terror attack on Mumbai?Zaidi writes that a man who seemed to be Palestinian, said his operatives could easily breach Thackeray'ssecurity, ?whenever we want to snuff his life out?.
?We have ways and means of doing it, and you people don'tdeserve to know them. But if worse comes to worst, we can always buy out one of the policemen around him and pay him fantastic sums to have the job done,?
He added: ?Thackeray and Advani can be killed by just one handshake or one garland. That will be sufficient to dispatch them to the pit of hell?. Warned of the tight security cordon around the two leaders and the impossibility of reaching even within a kilometer of them, the man thundered that PLO had means to achieve impossible. ?We have ways and means of doing it, and you people don'tdeserve to know them. But if worse comes to worst, we can always buy out one of the policemen around him and pay him fantastic sums to have the job done,? he told the audience. He also took a cue from Amal militia in Lebanon, that stormed into the houses of Christians with truck loads of explosives to suggest that Advani'send could be brought about by storming an RDX-laden truck into his residence. Zaidi also mentions that the plan had to be dropped after much debate and fears of an uncontrollable backlash on Indian Muslims. (The Pioneer March 13, 2005)
The PLO has been pampered by Indian establishment for decades. Its now dead chief Yaser Arafat, a demagogue who precipitated civil wars in Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan (1970) and Lebanon (1976-1990) was given hero'sreception in India. Is this how PLO reciprocated our friendship? Then CPI (M)'sFriday demand will invite another ?Black Friday??
West Bank and Gaza that Arabs called ?occupied territory? and Israelis ?disputed territory? has been under Israeli control since 1967. It was after the six-day war in June, 1967 that Israel conquered those territories. Israel has retained these volatile territories for 25 years already when it solemnized full diplomatic ties with India. So it can be no body'scase that Israel'spolicy on Palestine is dependent on military ties with India. In the four wars between Jews and Arab esp. Egypt (1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973) as well as Siege of Beirut (1983) where PLO headquarters were located, Israel has fully demonstrated its military superiority over its adversaries. What was the secret of its military might is of course another question. The secret, definitely, could not be nor was India.
India, a good friend of Egypt and other NAM countries many of whom were Muslims, was then an ardent Israeli baiter at every forum. Israeli military capability is largely a result of its indigenous genius. Otherwise, this small Zionist state would have been finished by the Arabs till now. France was the largest weapon supplier for Israel in its formative days, which was later supplanted by the USA. But in certain things avionics, Phalcon AWAC system, Shinbet commandos, Appache helicopters bearing cobra missiles Israel is even way ahead of America. In fact during the recent Iraq war American forces used some technologies developed in Israel viz. – US? Army'shunter drones, targeting systems of US? marines Harrier jets, on board computers on army'sBradley vehicles, fuel tanks on F-15 fighter jets.
Israel is world'sthird largest weapon exporter behind America and Britain. Its leading clients are Turkey, India, Brazil, Canada and Germany. It perhaps misses the attention of CPI (M) that Communist China used to be a top customer of Israeli arms until recently. Now Israel by itself has backed off after the USA expressed deep concern about arming China.
The Defence Ministry recently made it know that despite growing military ties with the USA and Israel, Russia will continue to be India'sbiggest arms supplier. Were we to snap military ties with Israel we should have long discontinued the same relationship with Russia over Chechen issue. In fact we should not have forged the same in the first place because the USSR was forcibly holding the Baltic states viz. Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldavia. It had disbanded their national language, flag, and anthem; and implemented a demographic aggression aimed at turning their indigenous population a minority in their own land. The USSR was fundamentally the Czarist Empire reborn.
India'sbreaking military ties will hardly affect Israel in any manner. At most it might cause some financial loss to Israel that it will be easily able to offset. But India has lot to lose to real terms by breaking off its buyer-client relationship.
Tide of Kargil War turned decisively in favour of India when Israel supplied weapons and surveillance systems. Israeli Green pine radar system, unmanned aerial vehicles, and arrow anti-ballistic missile defence system is being used by India to counter terrorist activities. Israel had helped India during 1962 and 1965 wars long before full diplomatic relations had been established. During 1962 War, Nehru government accepted Israeli help with a rider that ship carrying weapons to India could carry no Israeli flag. When Israelis did not agree to this hypocritical condition, they were allowed to enter Mumbai port with ship fluttering Israeli flag.
In every OIC summit Muslim countries passed resolution in favour of Pakistan and opposing India on Kashmir. We cherish friendship with Israel not for political reasons as some might like to believe. It is owing to technological and scientific excellence of Israel.
The Communists were on the forefront of demonstration against Ariel Sharon, when the Israeli Prime Minister visited New Delhi on September 8-10, 2003. They need to brush up their memory that their role model Stalin was one of the first international leaders to establish ties with Israel. Ms. Golda Meir, who later became the first Prime Minister of Israel, was the first ambassador to Soviet Union. Stalin wanted that Israel would become a pawn of the USSR in the West Asia and help it spread its Communist ideology in the region. But Israel'srefusal to act accordingly angered Stalin greatly. Soviet Union turned to help the progressive Arab countries like Egypt and Syria against Israel. This Soviet policy on West Asia survived Stalin. Somewhere one can read this humiliation of Stalin responsible in this behaviour of Indian Communists, who pride themselves as Stalinist.
Palestine is more important to Communists of India than Kashmir. It least bothered them that India is fighting its own war on terror where Israeli support is highly valuable. But this anti-national character of the Communists is hardly something new. Who can forget that they a section of them had supported China'sinvasion of India in 1962. They said that Chinese army had come to liberate Indians from a bourgeoisie government. But the same communists have never spoken on occupation of Tibet by China. Tibet was twice as populous in 1949 as Palestine is today. But Communists of China never bothered about Palestine or any other problem to have military relations with Israel.
India can'tafford to run its foreign and defence policy as an instrument of exorbitant charity. Its forty year long friendship with Arab countries, and accompanying neglect of Israel, did not bring it oil barrel for even one dollar less. Rather in every OIC summit Muslim countries passed resolution in favour of Pakistan and opposing India on Kashmir. We cherish friendship with Israel not for political reasons as some might like to believe. It is owing to technological and scientific excellence of Israel. It can be field of life saving medicines (remember the yeomen service Israeli medical mission rendered in Bhuj after the earthquake; and Israeli softwares used in medical diagnostics) as field of weapons and surveillance equipments.
(The writer is a Rajya Sabha MP and Convener of BJP'sThink Tank and can be contacted at [email protected])