It would be quite relevant to ask the Opposition in Parliament why it was so insistent on shedding tears on the so-called Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip but completely indifferent to both the origin of the events that led to the Israel counter-attack as well as our own national interest. The Opposition was “united” in demanding that the government condemn Israel. Why was it silent on what the ruling Hamas in Gaza was doing to the security of Israel and global peace?
The background to the violence in Gaza is well-known. Even though the Israel, Egypt and Palestine administrations have signed a peace treaty that recognises the Palestinian right to have a separate state of its own, the Hamas (as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon) are opposed to this peace. From its base in Gaza, the Hamas aided by some Gulf countries has been opposing even Palestinian president Abbas, besides periodically unleashing violence against Israel. When the Hamas kidnapped three Israeli teenagers and killed them, Israel had to react.
As if this incident was not enough to provoke Israel, the Hamas targeted Israel with several rockets but the militants were so immature with the technology that not one of the rockets managed a hit. Israel, which constantly faces provocation from one or the other Arab regimes that are determined to destroy it despite the Palestine authority and Egypt among others having recognised its right to stay where it is, may have overreacted by sending armed contingents and planes to attack Gaza.
But India’s so-called secular parties failed to consider that it was the Hamas that provoked Israel, rejected the ceasefire proposal brokered by Egypt and has done everything to keep the pot boiling. Is it not a fact that Israel had accepted Egypt’s call for a ceasefire and suspended attacks on Gaza? But the Hamas refused to fall in line. The result was the ceasefire ended in less than six hours, with the Israeli forces stepping up aggression and entering Gaza.
Why is it that the combined Opposition turns a blind eye to the constant efforts of the Hamas to frustrate any Palestinian-Israel peace and provoke Israel? The Opposition has to answer the people why it is ignoring that from Gaza the Hamas has dug up tunnels into the nearest point of Israeli territory through which it sends militant infiltrators to pour violence.
The fact is that the present conflict is not so much between Israel and Palestine, but between Israel and the terror machine Hamas which claims to be inspired by Islam and working for a “model Islamic state”.
After suffering such infiltration for years Israel finally decided to destroy the tunnels particularly following the kidnapping of Israeli citizens using these tunnels. What would India have done if PoK militants had dug up tunnels across the LoC and poured in terrorists through them? Certainly destroy the tunnels even if it meant some bold action across the LoC.
Nor is our combined Opposition wanting to condemn the marauding ISIS that is seeking to establish an Islamic Sunni Caliphate that according to its map stretched to India. Not only is this militant group opposed to non-Muslims but it is also equally violent against Shia Muslims—as is seen from the treatment it has meted out to the captured Shias in Iraq, some of who it has claimed to have crucified.
There has not been a word of condemnation from our combined Opposition of the so-called caliphate that has published cartographic claims to Indian subcontinent. On the contrary senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury argued in Rajya Sabha that “a distinction should be made between Hamas and other terrorists” because it rules Gaza. But so does the ISIS in parts of Iraq. The communal approach of the Opposition in raising the Gaza issue is self-evident. The government has done well not to deviate from the well-entrenched policy of the country of evenhandedness on the Palestinian issue. More so after the Congress government of P V Narasimha Rao took the courageous step of giving full-scale recognition to Israel.
Before that the communal angle was so evident that a small courtesy shown by the Janata party government (1977-80) of providing some protocol support to the Israeli president in the transit lounge of the Delhi airport created lot of rumpus in Parliament then. And the Congress itself under its policy of communal appeasement was keeping Israeli diplomats in India as untouchables for a long time, being blind to the various events of civilian aircraft being hijacked by Palestinian terrorists, instead of condemning terrorism in any form.
At that time, newspaper reports had revealed that even in 1962, despite the Indian government officially treating Israel as an untouchable, Tel Aviv had helped India with sufficient intelligence inputs and supply of technology to counter the Chinese offensive in India. Similar support came from Israel quietly in 1965 when Pakistan launched a well-planned attack during the Lal Bahadur Shastri regime. The Modi government did well now to acknowledge publicly how national interest demanded that we should not condemn Israel over a situation with a one-sided communal approach.
Two years ago our intelligence apparatus unearthed a trail of Kerala Muslim youth getting drawn into Kashmiri militancy and even visiting Pakistan clandestinely when among a group of militants shot down in Kashmir, four Kerala youth were found. So when the ISIS sets up a caliphate and publishes a map stretching to India, it is not a thing to be ignored. Perhaps our so-called combined Opposition must pretend to be blind to these threats to the nation to keep their communal constituency alive. Fortunately, this constituency itself is getting wiser to the deception being practised. In the recent election the development agenda of the BJP under Modi did not fail to impress a large enough section of Muslim youth to burst the communal voting pattern that the Congress and other so-called secular parties were relying on to see them through.
In UP and Bihar the voting pattern revealed that even in constituencies where Muslim voters were substantial, those who were nurturing vote banks had failed to make the grade, reducing the Congress, the BSP, SP, JD(U), RJD etc. to the margins. Despite this setback, these parties continue to cling to appeasement and ignore the threat from international jihadi developments, calling into question their commitment to the national interest.
The author is national vice president, BJP.