In the heart of the Middle East, on the shores of the Mediterranean bordered by Lebanon to the north, Syria and Jordan to the east, and Egypt to the south, lies the tiny nation of Israel, covering an area of just 8522 square miles.
Even as I write this piece, the Hamas terrorist group continues its murderous attacks on its citizens, in a brazen attempt to obliterate it from the earth. The intention, clearly, is to grind the only Jewish homeland in the world to dust.
Over 3000 rockets have already been indiscriminately fired into Israeli civilian homes, in the capital Tel Aviv and other residential areas nearby. It’s an action that can only be described as a co-ordinated attempt at genocide, unprecedented in scale.
An 85-year-old woman and a 6-year-old boy, unable to make it to the nearby bomb shelter on time, just two of the many innocents that have already fallen.
These rockets are fired according to a plan, hidden to none. It’s a decades-old strategy employed by Islamist terrorist groups like the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad and Hamas, to use civilians as cannon fodder for their political ends.
The strategy has even been documented in a Hamas manual, recovered from the rubble of a Hamas hideout during the 2014 Gaza war. With two distinct pillars, the strategy is as cunning as it is cruel. One, embed rockets and other artillery in heavily populated civilian areas, to ensure widespread death and destruction – among Palestinians – when the inevitable retaliation occurs.
Two, in collusion with a pliant international media, use images of the above to spread propaganda and lies to weaken the Jewish resistance. The ultimate goal – to sway world opinion against Israel’s defence of its citizens, and as always, fuel Muslim anger on the street.
Anybody who asks the obvious question – why does Hamas fire its rockets from civilian areas, instead of a separate military zone – is quickly labelled a Zionist sympathizer, or to spread the net wider, an Islamophobe.
It’s a strategy that plays out in other jihadi playbooks across the world, like closer home in Kashmir. The media is already inundated with tragic images of death and devastation, with little children being rushed to hospital by shrieking mobs being particularly common.
A tragic reminder of the success of Hamas’ strategy, for any sane observer they are the reason why the violence absolutely must be stopped. But Hamas, its Islamist backers, the Palestinian public and their cheerleaders in the international media remain in denial. Yet, deadly Hamas rockets are just one front Israel’s forces have to focus on. From the opposite end of the nation’s borders, a new front threatens to boil over.
In the border towns of West Bank, governed by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ strategy has already begun to work. The crazed young men pelting stones and Molotov cocktails at the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) with naked hatred in their eyes, only a portent of things to come.
Even as Israel unites and comes to grips with the impending danger unfolding across the country, in a few select towns and cities in the promised homeland of the Jews, a new threat has already reared its ugly head. Israeli Arabs, a community that enjoys all the freedoms that Israeli society offers, including positions of high office and representation in the Knesset, have taken to arms.
At a time when the idea of Israel itself is under unprecedented attack, it’s telling that the Israeli Arabs choose to allow their religious identity to override their national one. The Al Aqsa mosque violence being just the ruse they needed to set upon their Jewish neighbours, if they even needed one. The mayor of Lod, which faced wave after wave of Israeli Arab violence, has called it another Kristallnacht – the pogrom that started the Nazi holocaust. With these actions the Israeli Arabs shattered the myth, perhaps irrevocably, that they considered themselves Israeli at all.
Israel, a tiny nation surrounded by antagonistic states on all sides, has so far done a remarkable job of keeping its citizens safe. Citizens who, after facing persecution from time immemorial, have finally found a safe haven in the only Jewish nation state in the world. Israel, in many ways, is the bulwark of democracy in a part of the world that has scant respect for it.
It is a beacon of light, in an area where strife is a norm, and violence a way of life. Just as Israel cannot change its neighbours, only ward off terrorist attacks from their shores, closer home in India, neither can we. Just as Israel is a bulwark against the rapid spread of Islamist fanaticism in the Levant, in the dusty plains of South East Asia, so are we.
Israel has always extended a hand of friendship to India, coming to our aid over and over again, often when nobody else would. India has seldom returned the favour. In 1949, India voted against UN membership of Israel, preferring to cosy up to its Arab enemies instead.
In the rush for Arab oil, the only democracy in the Middle East has been repeatedly ignored by the most populous democracy in the world. Despite this, Israel’s support to India has seldom wavered.
In the Sino-India War of 1962, when Nehru was shaken out of his reverie by the Chinese betrayal, it was Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion who supplied India with desperately needed arms and ammunition.
In 1965 again, the Israeli M-58 160-mm mortar ammunition helped our forces keep the Pakistani army at bay. In 1998, despite India’s consistent support to the Palestinians, Israel was one of the few countries that did not condemn India’s nuclear tests, in Pokhran. Despite the US sanctions and international isolation that followed, Israel was one of the only countries that continued to give us much-needed arms.
In the Kargil war of 1999, the Indian Air Force used the Israeli supplied Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) ‘Searcher’ and surveillance systems for our Jaguar and Mirage squadrons with telling effect. In addition, Israel quickly upgraded the IAFs MiG-21 combat aircraft, and supplied the Indian Army 160-mm mortar ammunition and deadly Laser Guided Bombs (LGB).
Israeli arms continue to add teeth to India’s defence against its hostile neighbours. Their state-of-the-art missile defence systems helped keep Pakistan in check after the Balakot air strikes.
In return, Mr. Prime Minister, what have we given Israel in return?
It was only as recent as 2017, no less than 69 years after the birth of the Jewish state, that an Indian Prime Minister even made a stand-alone official visit to Israel.
That Prime Minister, Mr. Modi, was you.
By doing so, you communicated to the millions of Indians who had voted for you, that you had the courage of conviction to put the nation’s interests above the appeasement of those whose loyalties were divided. That you were ready to shed the chicanery that earlier political leaders had adopted while dealing with Israel, ignoring the groundswell of support for the Jewish state from the nationalistic Indian street.
Yet, the position India adopted at the UNSC meeting yesterday was disappointing, to say the least. Glossing over the continuing murderous attacks on Jewish civilians, your statement placed the blame on ‘both sides’. In doing so, you followed the same script as the leaders who have consistently let us down.
Leaders who, for this very reason, have been consigned to the dustbins of history, forever. Mr. Modi, time is running out to become the leader we know you are. As a country which has lost tens of thousands to terrorism, you need to stand by those who today face its deadly brunt. If you don’t, the nation and your loyal supporters will soon lose hope. Make no mistake about it.
If Israel falls, we fall. Because our dreams are similar, our challenges are the same. Israel has a brutal terror state next door – Hamas, in Gaza. India has a brutal terror state next door – Pakistan. Just as Israel suffers murderous attacks, and the retaliation is branded by the motivated media as ‘disproportionate’, India suffers terrorist attacks, and the retaliation, if ever, is similarly castigated and condemned.
Our enemies may be separated by geography, but are united by intolerance and faith. Efforts are being intensified, even as I write this, to frame a narrative that paints Israel as the aggressor, even as rockets continue to pound its people.
Mr. Modi, today our brothers and sisters in Israel face a civilizational threat like they never have before. With the entire Islamic world baying for their blood, the threat is existential, and very, very real. It’s a place we’ve been to as a nation, many times before.
The age-old Indic civilization, to which we belong, and this nation, which you command, is looking at you to shed your reticence, and give voice to the groundswell of support welling in our hearts. The time has come for India to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel. Because if we don’t, then after the dust has settled on this tragedy, history will ask questions of us as a nation, and of you as a leader.
Where were you when our friends needed us? Did you fulfill your dharma, or did you also stay quiet? It’s time for India to stand up and be counted. If not now when Israel’s under attack, then when?
If not you Mr. Modi, then who?