Saumya Santosh, a 32 year old nurse from Kerala, was killed by a Hamas rocket. The Chief Minister and other senior figures condoled with her family- which includes a 9 year old son. Hers is a death we grieve for.
Meanwhile the always ridiculous Pratap Bhanu Mehta wrote in the Indian Express-
The deadly riots in Israel and the war in Gaza,
Saumya was killed in Ashkelon. Clearly war is being waged against Israel. Hamas gave a deadline by which Israel had to withdraw its forces from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. After the deadline passed, Hamas started firing rockets even though those rockets might kill innocent civilians in Israel.
triggered by yet another chapter in the Israeli drive to dispossess and oppress the Palestinians,
or yet another chapter in the Muslim and Christian drive to kill Jews or Muslims trying to kill anybody within range of their bombs or rockets.
is likely to evoke three kinds of responses: The indifferent, the imperial, the humanitarian. And alas, it looks like the imperial response, which has brought the region to this impasse, will triumph.
Which Indian's response will be imperial? None. We have no power in that part of the world. A nurse of ours may be killed by a Hamas rocket but the C.M of her state will have to back down from condemning that action otherwise local Muslims may run amok.
The dominant response is going to be a moral indifference.
Actually our dominant response is to wonder why Hamas is trying to keep Netanyahu in power. The moment they fired their rockets, Knesset member Mansour Abbas, head of the Islamist Ra’am party which is affiliated with Hamas, had to pull out of the coalition cobbled together by Bennett & Lapid which would have allowed them to take power from Bibi.This is like Imran Khan & the Pakistani Army helping Modi increase his majority in our last election. Doing evil shit may be habit forming, but surely it doesn't have to involve utter stupidity?
The Palestinian cause has been forgotten or more or less abandoned. Instead of becoming the symbol of the unfinished tasks of decolonisation,
Israel is not a colonial power. It is similar to Pakistan- an ex colony founded upon religion. Hamas is not a 'post-colonial' society- it is a failed quasi-state busy exporting terrorism in between being bombed back to the stone age.
and a human rights catastrophe,
Israel is the best state in the region when it comes to human rights and the rule of law
the Palestinian question is now mostly an occasion to vent cynicism.
What Mehta is venting is very smelly.
We all avoid the moral questions the oppression of Palestinians
because their worst oppressors are Muslim or even Palestinian
poses by comforting ourselves that in this conflict we can distribute rights and wrongs equally.
No we don't. We avoid the moral question by admitting that we have no power to alter the outcome. Israel, like Pakistan, was set up on the basis of religion. In Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs got short shrift. In Israel it was Muslims and Christians. But in Iraq and elsewhere in the MENA, Jews were chased away.
There is Israeli terrorism,
No. Israel is under the rule of law. Its military actions may sow terror but they are not 'terroristic'.
and there is Hamas terrorism.
which kills not just Jews but also Muslim gays and some Christians as well as PLO supporters
There is the spectacle of civilians on both sides living in terror. Missiles raining down on Israeli cities on the one hand, and the sheer brutality of Israeli defence forces operations on the other.
by contrast, those killing Jews aren't brutal at all. Good to know.
There is the fanaticism of the Israeli right wing
which is compatible with running a knowledge economy in a democratic manner under the rule of law
and there is the fanaticism of Hamas and Fatah
which isn't compatible with doing anything helpful for Palestinians. Did Netanyahu bribe Hamas to sink Bennett's power bid? Maybe he didn't have to. He could just rely on Hamas's instinct to fuck up the Palestinian cause.
, with bumbling politicians on both sides.
either Bibi is very very lucky or he isn't bumbling at all
There is the sheer geo-political opportunism about the Palestine issue.
Mehta is taking this opportunity to virtue signals because he has nothing better to do.
Both the Arab states and the United States have used the Palestinians as a pretext;
as Mehta is using them as a pretext
the Palestinians themselves have been marginalised.
So what? Plenty of Hindus and Sikhs got 'marginalized' in Pakistan. There wasn't a lot we could do about it.
This attitude, that one must look beyond simple oppositions, or a black-and-white world, could have been the source of a morally productive conversation.
But morally productive conversations aren't productive of any thing morally worthwhile. Why indulge in them?
Instead, it produces an aestheticised indifference:
Then why bother with it? If we are indifferent to a thing, putting lipstick on it is pointless
This is all simply grist for more exciting television like Fauda.
or boring shite like this article
It gets worse. In country after country, even a modest sympathy for the Palestinian cause is immediately seized on as a sign of some kind of obdurate Leftism, out of touch with the stern demands of our time.
No. Sympathy for Palestinians is considered to be hollow virtue signaling. Lapid has 3 weeks to cobble together a coalition. This 'conflict' may last exactly that long. Those are the 'stern demands' of the time Bibi has left to stay in power.
This “a plague on all your houses” also whitewashes the fact that there is a monumental injustice to the Palestinians at the heart of the problem.
So what? Who cared about 'monumental injustices' to Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan?
We simply look for excuses to skirt around the core issue.
We are completely unconnected to the core issue- which has to do with military power.
This is the continuation of what Rashid Khalidi of Columbia University has described as the “Hundred Year War on Palestine.”
Or the over two thousand year old war on Jews.
Khalidi rightly points out that the Israel-Palestine conflict has both aspects: It is a conflict of two peoples who recognise themselves as peoples.
as opposed to what- cats? potted plants? Khalidi's dad was a Mayor of Jerusalem and, briefly, Prime Minister of Jordan. He has locus standi in this matter. Mehta doesn't.
But it is also part of a long history of settler colonialism in which “indigenous” populations are displaced.
Why the scare quotes? Were Palestinians not indigenous? Did they come from Norway?
Israel, like Pakistan, gained freedom from Britain. In both countries, indigenous people were displaced by settlers belonging to the State religion. If we don't get excited by the plight of Hindus and Sikhs and Christians in Pakistan, why should be bother with the fate of Palestinians?
This is why Israel’s actions have the characteristic of imperial modes of governance:
Imperial modes of governance involve a Viceroy or Governor answering to a Cabinet Minister back home. Israel's actions are like those of Pakistan's. There is no distant Cabinet to which the Governor has to report back to.
Dispossession of property, creation of second-class citizens, maintenance of oppressively governed enclaves and licence for state impunity.
So Israel is like Pakistan. It is not like the country which ruled over both Palestine and India.
The events leading up to the recent clashes at the Al-Aqsa Mosque can be seen as part of a long pattern of pushing out Palestinians from territory Israel wants to claim.
So what? Why bother with the thing? Worse things happened and are happening closer to home.
A few courageous voices like Peter Beinart
who was raped and beaten by Israelis yet who continued to raise his voice because those Israelis were completely imaginary
have seen the recent events as part of a long chain that began with the Nakba in 1947 (the catastrophe, as Palestinians called it), when more than half a million Palestinians were evicted. While a 19th century-style total ethnic expulsion may not be possible,
why not? It happened in Pakistan in living memory.
Israel has been using a thousand cuts to dispossess Palestinians of their homes. It is also important to remember that this project could not have been sustained without the support of imperial powers, Britain in the early 20th century and the US now.
Why is it important to remember this? How does it change anything? The fact is the current crisis helps Israel- or if not Israel, then Bibi. Biden has had to pick a side. It would have been better for Iran and Hamas if the conflict had been postponed till when Israel's leader was weaker and Biden was ready to revive the Obama approach.
Donald Trump may have had the virtue of making the nature of this project explicit.
and now this senseless violence may force Biden to back Trumpian policies while Netanyahu may get a reprieve or even emerge stronger than before.
But in substance, no American administration has been able to significantly roll back this project of pushing the Palestinians out.
Nor could they roll back the Jordanian or Kuwaiti or now Saudi project of pushing the Palestinians out of their countries
Reducing Palestinian presence in East Jerusalem is likely to be the next objective. Palestine will once again be the site where the Biden administration’s liberal internationalism will die a quiet death.
So far there has been no 'liberal internationalism'. Biden's strategy is to focus on domestic issues so as to get a bigger majority in the Legislature. Then he can afford to revive Obama type diplomacy.
The third response will be to take a humanitarian tack.
Coz India is very rich and can send lots of money to the region.
This is to dig beneath the politics and find bridges in shared humanity and suffering. This can be expressed powerfully in literature, as most recently in Colum McCann’s Apeirogon, centred around two characters who have both lost children in the conflict.
So, some guy got to make a little money out of this shit-show. Good for him.
This is also the tack of the peace movements that use culture and a history of shared suffering to build bridges.
Shared? Reciprocally inflicted, more like. True a couple of mourning dads may bond but plenty of others will want revenge.
They emphasise that dispossession and exile is something both communities share;
with Hindus and Sikhs expelled from Pakistan
they, of all the people, should be able to understand each other.
and kill each other
These are important interventions at a human and cultural level.
but only important in the sense that they don't matter at all.
But relocating the conversation to culture and humanity, without serious political solutions on the table, has always yielded very modest dividends in protracted conflict.
Then why mention the matter?
Humanity and culture, even when deeply internalised, collapse quickly when subject to fear.
because they weren't deeply internalized at all.
And they always fall short of acknowledging the core issue at stake: Political equality between two peoples.
The core issue is that Israel is a successful knowledge economy. The Palestinians are divided and have failed at state formation or even rising above the level of a Mafia gang. The world needs stuff Israel produces. There was a time when the Palestinians would train you to be a successful terrorist. But Pakistan took that market from them. Sad.
This is a dangerous impasse.
No it isn't. Crazy ISIS types may be dangerous. The Palestinians aren't a threat to anybody but themselves.
The indifferent and the humanitarian response will not be sufficient to stop the imperial Israeli response in its tracks.
by 'imperial' Mehta just means 'sophisticated military response'.
The imperial violence of Israel will beget more terrorist violence of Hamas and Fatah, with every world power from Russia to Iran fishing in the chaos.
Which helps Israel. They get to sell more and more sophisticated anti missile defenses and anti-terrorist tech so as to advance yet further in military power. The Palestinians waste money getting uneducated folk to kill Jews and then subsidizing the families of these 'martyrs'. In contrast, the Israelis have turned their Army into a tech incubator.
Israeli politics is dominated by a right wing will to power immune to the slightest considerations of justice and human rights, when it comes to the Palestinians.
A 'will to power' is always immune to such considerations. Mehta doesn't seem to know that. His expensive education was wasted on him.
Palestinian politics has been broken for a while, with no political vehicle that can credibly craft an imaginative political movement.
Imagination is not their problem. It is how to stop acting like a bunch of Mafia dons who might as easily murder each other as extort money from all and sundry.
The sense of political hopelessness is profound.
because their politicians are hopelessly corrupt or incompetent or both corrupt and incompetent and criminalized.
Why did Britain not create a Palestinian State alongside Israel? The answer is because by the end of the Thirties, they realized a Palestinian State would not be economically viable. So in 1948, the Palestinians were divided between the Jordanians and the Egyptians. But both countries later turned against them as did every other Arab country which let them in. There's a pattern here which it is difficult to ignore. Grand Mufti Husseini & Arafat both achieved international prominence. Husseini screwed up by backing Hitler. Arafat screwed up by being Arafat- i.e. a cartoonish goon. What the Palestinians haven't done is what the Israelis did- viz. learn to get along with each other rather than bump off their rivals.
Israel discovered that the British system of Justice it inherited was superior to gangs assassinating each other and competing in perpetrating terroristic outrages. Though the Israeli economy was a shambles till the Eighties, it was a country under the rule of law. That's where the Palestinians failed.
The Zionist project has, it has to be acknowledged, become a project for the occupation of three million people.
Why should this be acknowledged? There must be Zionists who would rather kill or expel those unfortunates.
It has no space for either acknowledging equal rights for all citizens, or a workable two-state solution, or for recognising the most basic truth that Israel cannot be safe unless the Palestinians are safe.
But Israel keeps getting safer even if Palestinians run amok. Why? Israel is a knowledge economy. It finds smarter and cheaper ways to defend itself. There was a time when Israelis were worse off than Jordanians. Diplomats cursed their fate if they were posted to Tel Aviv rather than Beirut. Now, the situation is reversed. The vast wealth of the Gulf wants to invest in Israel while Lebanese savers have taken a massive hair-cut and are staring at complete Civic collapse.
It is important for those of us who are true friends of Israel
if this man was a 'true friend of Israel' some nice local jihadi would have cut off his hands long ago
to not confuse the interests of Israel with the designs of the Netanyahu government to continue with Israel’s imperial project.
Very true! It is in the interests of Israel to quietly evacuate all the Jews from the area while giving suitcases full of cash, as well as blowjobs, to all the Palestinians.
We will have to remind Israel of the blowback of imperial politics: The ultimate consequence of trying to dominate a people is that you end up destroying the moral legitimacy of your own claims.
Sadly, the reverse is the case. The Americans and the Australians and so forth got up on their moral high horse after they had wiped out indigenous rivals to their hegemony.
No amount of military capacity can compensate for the images of lynching, rioting, and provocations that we have seen this week.
Netanyahu has been more than compensated by Biden's hand having been forced by these images. If Hezbollah unleashes more rockets, Biden will have to sanction Israeli strikes on Iran.
And it is important for the world to remember that we continually risk conflict if the Palestinian question is simply treated as an object of geo-political opportunism, not as a question of basic dignity and justice.
We don't risk shit when we recognize reality and tell virtue signaling cretins to go fuck themselves. Basic dignity and justice are basically bullshit. Getting rich endows you with dignity in plenty. Fucking over anybody who tries to fuck with you ensures that you suffer no injustice. Alternatively you could just keep resigning from Ashoka University. That way people will think you are real smart. Netanyahu will hang on your every word. Biden will ask Camela to read out Mehta's latest column in an appropriately comic accent. What? That's not cultural appropriation. Camela is half-Indian though, obviously, it was the other half which got her on Biden's ticket.