Vinod Mubayi

As the horrific, genocidal slaughter of the civilian population continues in Gaza, with almost 10,000 killed including thousands of small children at the time of writing, public demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of people have taken place in all major cities in the world in favor of a ceasefire and a stop to the wanton killing by aerial bombardment along with the total siege of Gaza imposed by Israel. These rallies have occurred in Washington, DC, New York and London in the heart of the US and UK, countries that are the main backers of the Israeli government and in the case of the US its major arms supplier and financial patron for many decades. In the UN General Assembly, a large majority, 120 countries, that included even members of NATO such as France and Belgium, voted in favor of a ceasefire. Only 14 countries, including the US and Israel and a few Pacific Island countries, voted no.

Shamefully, India, which had consistently supported Palestine for 65 years abstained among a group of 45 countries including several Western European countries. Modi’s shameful alliance with the war criminal Netanyahu is responsible for this act of cowardice that will go down in history as a black mark against India. Indeed, in stark contrast to the early leaders of independent India like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru who generally supported the oppressed and deprived countries and people in international politics, the Hindu right-wing, symbolized by the Rashtriya Svayamsevak Sangh or RSS and its electoral arm the BJP, have consistently supported the oppressors.

In the late 1930s when the idea of a Hindu Rashtra was gelling in the minds of the leaders of the RSS, its Supreme Leader Guru Golwalkar praised the Nazi regime and the way it was treating its Jewish minority. Golwalkar glorified the actions of Hitler and his cohorts in what later became known as the Holocaust in the following words:

“German Race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races — the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by.” 

(Golwalkar, MS, “We Or Our Nationhood Defined”, Nagpur, 1939, p. 45).

In this instance, Golwalkar and RSS stood firmly on the side of the oppressor.

Another prominent Hindutva leader, “Veer” Savarkar, also supported the Nazi anti-Jewish pogroms by stating “A Nation is formed by a majority living therein. What did the Jews do in Germany? They being in minority were driven out from Germany.”  In October 1938, he suggested that the same solution be applied to the Muslim minority in India.

Eighty plus years later, a former RSS pracharak (preacher) Narendra Modi, now the Prime Minister of India, fully and enthusiastically embraces another oppressor, Netanyahu and the Zionist state of Israel, the Oppressor of the Palestinians. When the news came of the brutal attack on Oct. 7 by the military wing of Hamas on soldiers and many civilians in the areas of Israel adjacent to Gaza that were conquered by the Israeli forces in 1948, Modi’s first response was to extend full support to Netanyahu without any mention of Palestinians apart from the familiar “terrorist” tag. This initial reaction of the Indian government without a shred of nuance stood in complete contrast to the remarks of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who commented that this attack by Hamas “did not occur in a vacuum.” The BJP’s troll armies expectedly went berserk with some “brave hearts” among them even offering to join the Israeli army probably so that they could have an opportunity to kill (Palestinian) Muslims.

Thus, the Hindutva moral logic is curious but consistent. In 1930s Germany, where the Jews were a weak and despised minority oppressed by the German Nazi state that committed genocide by literally exterminating six million Jews, the RSS and Savarkar stood firmly with the oppressor. In Israel-Palestine, where the Israeli Zionist state brutally oppresses the Palestinians to a degree where a point of potential genocide is now being reached in Gaza with the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, many of them small children, the RSS and BJP again firmly support the oppressor.

No doubt part of Hindutva’s anxiety to identify with Zionism is motivated by its domestic communal anti-Muslim politics. The BJP trolls see the world almost exclusively through an anti-Muslim lens; since they perceive the Palestinians to be wholly Muslim (perhaps 5% or more Palestinians are Christian, though this may be unknown to the Hindutva trolls as facts, history and accuracy are not their strong point) and since the Zionists are against the Palestinians, that is enough to call for a Zionist-Hindutva alliance. However, part of India’s alignment with Israel in the Modi era, as shown by its UN vote, is also caused by what retired Indian diplomat M.K. Bhadrakumar calls the current Indian government’s “muscular diplomacy” that has run into “heavy weather” because “our diplomacy has become entrapped in our solidarity with Israel.”

The widespread revulsion caused by the relentless killing of the civilian population of Gaza and the utter refusal of the Israel government to relinquish its occupation of Palestinian lands and population has led many liberal persons including those of Jewish ancestry to express their disgust at the actions of the Israeli regime. Thus, the group Jewish Voice for Peace in the US has been leading many of the demonstrations in the US calling for a ceasefire. On Oct. 27, Jewish Voice for Peace posted on X (formerly Twitter) a list of 2913 names of Palestinian children killed in Gaza until then and stated: “This is what genocide looks like. These are the 2913 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli military this month as of Oct. 26.” Hebrew University, Jerusalem’s Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit David Shulman writing in the New York Review of Books of Oct 19, 2023 about the situation in the West Bank described the Israeli occupation as “a regime of state terror who raison d’etre is the theft of Palestinian land and, whenever possible the expulsion of its Palestinian owners… Today’s ongoing violence in the Palestinian territories in general, was a predictable, even inevitable, outcome of the occupation system in its quotidian forms.”

Even a senior official of the US State Department, Josh Paul, who served eleven years in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, resigned on October 18 in disagreement with the Biden Administration policy of unconditional support to Israel. His letter of resignation stated: “We cannot be both against occupation, and for it. We cannot be both for freedom, and against it. And we cannot be for a better world, while contributing to one that is materially worse.” Paul emphasized that “we need a radical re-envisioning of what the Middle East peace process looks like…. I think the policy approach from the US has been security for peace, that if Israel feels secure, it will feel comfortable making the concessions necessary to allow peace. But what we have seen instead is the more secure Israel feels, the more it has pushed the envelope, the more settlements have expanded, the more civil rights have been taken away from Palestinians in the West Bank, the more the siege of Gaza has continued. And so I think we need to step away from that way of thinking and ask if maybe instead of security for peace there’s some way of peace for security.

A high UN official Craig Mokhiber, the director in the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, resigned from his position on Oct. 28. In his resignation letter he claimed: “This is a text-book case of genocide, the European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine.”

Famous Israeli historian Ilan Pappé, a leading critic of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and currently director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, was recently interviewed on the Democracy Now! program and what he said on this program is worth quoting at length:

“I think what we are seeing now, what unfolds in front of our eyes, is a genocidal situation, by which people are targeted, whether they are children, babies, in hospital or in schools. And this is a massive operation of killing, of ethnic cleansing, of depopulation. The pretext for that kind of savagery is revenge for what the Hamas did on the 7th of October, but I think the real intention here is not just revenge but trying to exploit what happened on the 7th of October to create new realities in historical Palestine. You called it a new Nakba. I think that this is — the Nakba has never really ended for the Palestinians, so it’s a new horrific chapter in the ongoing Nakba that the Palestinians are suffering here. So, this is a really horrific situation that can only be stopped from the outside, because there is no motivation inside Israel to stop the operations, nor to care more about the lives of innocent people, despite what the Israeli army claims to do in the field itself. And I still believe that what I cherish as human rights, as human morality, is the only basis for better life for everyone concerned, Jews and Palestinians alike, in a state in the future that would be based on equality, that would not discriminate against people because of their nationality, religion or culture, and one which will rectify past evils and would allow refugees to return, and hopefully build a state that would radiate and influence the Middle East as a whole.”

Ilan Pappé also emphasized that the only way to secure the release of the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas is to agree to an all-for-all swap for the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held by Israel, including many women, children and elderly people.

Meanwhile, as Israel is forcing the population of Gaza to evacuate North Gaza and Gaza City, fears are growing of a new Nakba (or catastrophe, in Arabic) akin to the one perpetrated in 1948. As revealed in an internal Israeli government document, the Ministry of Intelligence recommends the forcible deportation of the entire population of 2.3 million Palestinians Gaza to the Sinai desert in Egypt and the adoption of measures to prevent their return to their homes in Gaza or anywhere “near the border” with Israel. In addition, the document calls for setting up a “sterile” zone several kilometers wide between Egypt and Israel and appeals to the US and other “friendly” countries to provide financial aid to incentivize acceptance of this “plan” by Egypt and some other Arab countries where the expelled Palestinians would be forced to go.

While Israel plans to perpetrate a Nakba in Gaza, a mini-Nakba or Naksa (setback) that has already been occurring over the last several months, if not years, in the West Bank has greatly intensified in the last few weeks. As David Shulman writes, there has been a rapid proliferation of new settler outposts in the West Bank:

“inhabited by young men and women imbued with a messianic ideology, burning racist hatred of Palestinians, and a proclivity for extreme violence…The outposts, theoretically illegal under Israeli law, have proved to be an effective mechanism for taking over large stretches of Palestinian land; the settlers and their representatives in government have made no attempt to conceal this explicit goal. The army and police invariably side with the settlers, sometimes by passive acquiescence in their attacks, sometimes by actively taking part in them…The aim – openly espoused by government officials such as the minister of finance, Bezalel Smotrich – is to pave the way for a second Nakba…If life for Palestinians in the territories becomes unbearable, they will, the settlers think, just go away – maybe to Jordan, Saudi Arabia or some other Arab country. This sick fantasy turns up regularly on the settler websites.”

While these war crimes are being contemplated or perpetrated, world “leaders” like Biden in the US, Sunak in the UK, and, increasingly, Modi in India are either actively supporting them or passively letting them happen. Other countries, however, such as Bolivia, Colombia, and Chile in South America. and, more and more, the public worldwide, are turning against the Israeli attempt to dispossess and drive out the Palestinians from their remaining homeland. This is where the hope of the future lies.

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