Welcome Mr Netanyahu

Israeli PM Netanyahu has arrived in India today. A good occassion to discuss successive Indian governments’ knee-jerk policies against the state of Israel, which were meant more to curry favour with two-bit Arab states (repressive monarchies or dictatorships to a fault) than a result of genuine understanding of India’s long-term benefits and indeed values. Anand Ranganathan has a fantastic new thread in twitter that lists the litany of Indian diplomatic misjudgements regarding Israel. Worth a read!

Israel is a beacon of democracy in an atrophying West Asia. It is a Western state, based on Enlightenment values and institutions in place to correct error. The local culture is also very technology-focussed, as is expected of a population that wishes to survive (and thrive) in a region largely devoid of much mineral wealth, agricultural productivity and beset by neighbouring totalitarian states hell-bent on revanchism. In this Indians have a lot to learn from Israelis.

Israel too (as any human society) has its own serious social issues: how to be a culturally Jewish state and yet remain secular, how to control/mainstream an increasing ultra-Orthodox population (or the Arab minority) that are stuck in their rigid social mores, or how to rein in the Zionist extremists who believe in encroachment to fulfil vague Biblical promises etc. In that Israel is no different from any modern multi-ethnic democracy as the same shortcomings plague the US or, even more significantly, India.

My first interaction with Israelis was with some visiting academics at my college in India. I remember them as fantastic teachers – extremely interactive during class and very appreciative of questions during lectures – a quality Indian professors tend to lack. During my studies abroad, I interacted with many more, professors and students alike. I generally found them to be very hospitable, politically aware, forthright and yet non-intrusive. I now work with and even live amongst them in one of London’s oldest Jewish suburbs.

I hope Indo-Israeli interactions grow beyond the hackneyed group trips of military service weary Israelis to Indian Himalayas or Goa etc or joint defence deals and exercises. I think that because Indians can truly learn a lot from their culture. During my time in college in India, technical internships/education in Israel were often unheard of. Yet, the number of Indian students in Technion, Weizmann etc has grown manifold – now around a tenth of their foreign student population. And summer internships in Israel are becoming very popular among Indian STEM students. I expect this trend to strengthen further.

Some Indian commentators on Twitter e.g. Sudheendra Kulkarni have remarked that India’s close ties with Israel, when it cannot mend its relations with geographical neighbours, shows the failure of Indian diplomacy. While he may be right about Indian diplomacy being no great shakes, close ties between societies are not a function of geographical locus but shared values (which in turn inform interests). So, let me greet Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel on his first visit to India with this old chestnut from the Taittriya Upanishad:

sah naH avatu,
sah nauH bhunaktu,
sah vIryam karvAvahaiH,
tejasvi naH adhItam astu,
ma vidviSavahaiH,
om shAntiH shAntiH shAntiH.

May we both be protected together,
may we both be nourished together,
may we both work together with vigour,
may our knowledge be sharp and effective,
may we never dispute with each other,
peace peace peace (be to us).

Author: Slapstik

I was born in Kashmir and a strange turn of events spanning over 2 decades led me to London, where I now live and work. I have a deep interest in linguistics, geo-political history, Science and philosophy of Science and occassionally my writings reflect that interest. I am an ardent Popperian, a technophile, a trekkie and a below average cook. Twitter: @kaeshour

42 thoughts on “Welcome Mr Netanyahu”

  1. Great article. Loved the ending. Chant this quote all the time!

    I love Israelis and pray and hope that Indian Israeli friendship and alliance grows from strength to strength. I see many similarities between Judaism and Eastern philosophy.

    I would recommend that India do the following:
    1) Any Jew and any non Jewish Israeli citizen in the world can automatically (after deep vetting for criminal background) get permanent residency in India and a clear pathway to Indian citizenship. The global Jewry would deeply appreciate the protection and safety this would offer them from massive global oppression against Jews.
    2) Simplify tourist, religious, business, work visas to visit India for all Israeli nationals.
    3) Free trade, free investment and free cross border product development agreement between Israel and India.
    4) Increase joint military R&D and joint training between Indian and Israeli militaries and intelligence agencies.

    India has few or no better friend in the world than Israel.

    Simultaneously India should try to become close allies with Palestine. The conflict between Israel and Palestine is their business and has “NOTHING” to do with India.

  2. I am surprised to read all this praise of Israel without mentioning that it has been Occupying Palestinian land for over 50 years. Even if one grants that the Palestinians–not “Arabs” as the Zionists call them– erred in not accepting the UN Partition Plan of 1947 (though would you accept a Partition in which a small minority gets 50% of your territory?), the conquest of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank in 1967 has no excuse. It was meant to be “temporary” and the Geneva Conventions in any case forbid the transfer of one’s own population on to Occupied Territory, yet here we are in 2018 with ever more Zionists living in settlements on Palestinian land. As for Israel being a “Western style democracy”, those are based on the principle of one man, one vote, not differentiated rights for Jews and “Arabs”. (the correct term for the “Arab minority” by the way is Palestinian Citizen of Israel). “Western style democracies” do not control thousands of people that they do not let vote. Neither do they have apartheid walls.

    I’m fine with Israel continuing to exist but they must allow for the State of Palestine to exist in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in East Jerusalem. Only asking for 10% of their land back is already a huge concession from the Palestinians. If the two-state solution is killed off, the only good solution is one state between the river and the sea with equal rights for all. Of course, this would then no longer be a Jewish state, hence this is unacceptable to most Israelis.

    As for India’s diplomacy, no matter how friendly it may be with Israel, it doesn’t vote against the international consensus on Palestine. This can be seen in the recent vote against the US declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. India must carefully balance its ties with Israel with its relations with the Arab countries in the region.

    1. the conquest of East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank in 1967 has no excuse

      Jerusalem has been a Jewish majority city since the middle of the 19th century.

      Gaza was ruled by Egyptians before 1967 as a virtual prison, with no locals allowed to leave the settlement for employment. And then they fought Israel in 1967 because they wanted to impose an economic blockade, lost Gaza and the Sinai, decided on Sinai in the post-War settlement but didn’t give a rat’s about Gaza. Israel unilaterally transferred Gaza admin to Palestinians in 1994.

      The primary problem here is not Israel’s aggressiveness (though a word can be said about that too!) but the sheer unwillingness of Arab Muslim states on its periphery to recognize it. And yet they are not technologically advanced enough to impose their will on Israelis, and never will be so long as they stick to medieval manuals of statecraft.

      “Western style democracies” do not control thousands of people that they do not let vote. Neither do they have apartheid walls.

      Have you bothered to look at the Democracy index or HDI indicators of Israel and compare them to Western-style democracies like France, Italy, Finland etc? Apartheid states don’t score this high. One can argue that Israel has an overly-aggressive foreign policy (in many respects dictated by its military) and I have a lot of time for such a view, but calling it an Apartheid state is frankly taking the piss…

      it doesn’t vote against the international consensus on Palestine.

      India is a much larger and far more complicated country than Israel, and it has significant history of supporting Palestinians (for reasons that have more to do with Indian view of seeing Pakistan and Israel as analogous!). However, UN voting on frivolous matters as which city should be the capital etc is not of much genuine import to Israel. Indo-Israeli cooperation is evolving bipartisan support in India and that is a good thing.

      1. 1) Gaza is an open-air prison (some have called it a concentration camp, but I think that is going too far and is provocative). Israel controls the borders, the airspace, imports etc. Israel literally makes sure Gazans get the minimum amount of calories they need to stay alive. There were Israeli settlers in Gaza until August 2005 when Israel “unilaterally disengaged”.
        2) Many people have called Israel an apartheid state–some of those have experienced apartheid in South Africa. The fact that there are roads in the West Bank which only Jews can travel on, that Palestinian water sources are taken to service the settlements, that Palestinians experience horrific treatment at checkpoints– this doesn’t qualify as apartheid for you? “Israel proper” may not be an apartheid state. After all, the Palestinian Citizens of Israel do have the right to vote. But beyond the Green Line, apartheid is definitely being practiced.

        As for India’s relations with Israel, here is an article by Talmiz Ahmad, a former Indian diplomat:

        He concludes:
        “These developments affirm that there are serious limitations to India-Israel relations: they will remain transactional in character and never attain the level of a strategic partnership, despite the robust rhetoric of rightwing zealots in India and Israel.”

        1. Israel controls the borders, the airspace, imports etc.

          Perhaps it is time to look at a map of Gaza to see that the place has a border with Egypt.

          Their Hamas government is more concerned with the annihilation of the “Zionist entity” than betterment of Gazans. They have (and continue to) carry out unprovoked violent attacks against Israel to reach that claim, brainwash their own kids in a cult of martyrdom and unlike a rational government refuse essential supplies into Gaza which come via Israel – even when Egypt is the source of that supply.

          experience horrific treatment at checkpoints– this doesn’t qualify as apartheid for you?

          No. It is a punitive defence policy. As I said one can argue whether Israel is aggressive/heavy-handed in its implementation.

          However, morally a state that extends rights and freedoms better than many leading European democracies to its Arab/Palestinian/Druze etc minority citizens is just as well capable of treating Palestinians outside of its borders in an equivalent manner provided they don’t wish for its death. That was not the case with Apartheid South Africa or US before civil rights to African-Americans etc.

          Hamas has a declared policy of annihilation of Israel. So does Iran-backed Hezbollah. Yet despite these grave provocations, Arab-Israelis live pretty idyllic lives compared to citizens of Egypt or Iran. Ask yourself how the Pakistani state would react under such provocation and it tells you how morally superior Israel indeed is.

          robust rhetoric of rightwing zealots in India and Israel

          I think Mr Ahmed overshoots a little if he actually thinks that ever closer Indo-Israeli relations are wished for by zealots alone. Indeed hard-right in India is pro-Zionist (because they see Israel as a non-Muslim power in West Asia) and Islam is a major bugbear of this lot. However, it would be quite naive to think pro-Israel lobby in India consists of hard-right alone.

          Israelis have earned a lot of goodwill in India over time, purely via people-to-people contact (e.g. the academic example in my piece) or massive investments in agriculture technology. Drip-and-sprinkler irrigation systems used across large tracts of Indian farmland from Punjab to Tamil Nadu have had Israeli know-how behind their design. All of India’s olive production is due to them too.

          1. The Palestinian Authority has accepted the existence of Israel. That’s why the international consensus is that the State of Palestine will be formed in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They are morally justified in asking for all their land back. The British had no business making any part of Palestine a “Jewish national home”. The European Jews belong in Europe not on Palestinian land–especially when they intended to displace the natives. The Zionist slogan was “A land without a people for a people without a land”. The Jews may have been a people without a land, but Palestine was never a land without a people. Be that as it may, it is a political concession for the Palestinians to restrict their demand to “two states for two peoples”. But since Israel has effectively killed the Two-state solution, many Palestinians are now thinking of one state between the river and the sea. Given the demographic reality and if there is one man one vote, this state would soon be Palestinian majority. Which is why the Zionists won’t have it. (If you now repeat the Zionist talking point that “Jordan is Palestine”, I will completely lose respect for you).

            The fact that you choose to use the term “Arab-Israeli” shows which side you are on. The accepted term these days, as I have pointed out earlier, is Palestinian Citizen of Israel. It is Israel’s project to de-link so-called “Israeli Arabs” from their Palestinian brothers and sisters in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The words we use are important.

            It seems we will just have to agree to disagree. India’s diplomatic decisions are neither made by you nor by me, so we will just have to see how things evolve.

          2. By the way, I said “Arab/Palestinian/Druze minority citizens” of Israel. By Arab-Israelis, I simply mean Arabic-speaking Israelis, i.e. those whose mother tongue is Arabic. It is not politically loaded.

            Secondly, it is amazing for me to see the animus a pro-Israeli position evokes. I will not lose respect for you no matter what talking-point you argue, so long as you don’t argue for wantonly killing people or something similarly egregious. I am on BP to trigger debate and learn, not to be ensconced in an echo chamber.

            The problem with Palestine is that their statehood has grown into an honour issue for neighbouring Arab states and what they see as Western imposition in their zone of influence. And states further away like Iran see it as a proxy for their own Ummah leadership designs. Palestinian Authority itself is not in complete control, and control by Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in bordering Lebanon make things far more complicated. So PA’s recognition of Israel does not amount to much.

            As far as Indian diplomacy goes, I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Slapstik,

    If “pro-Israeli” means excusing the fact that there is an ongoing Occupation of what every country except Israel has always considered Palestinian land (no one but right-wing Zionists uses the terms “Judea and Samaria” for the West Bank), than yes, I have animus against that. The status quo is not sustainable. Either Israel allows for Palestine to be formed outside the 1967 lines or there is one secular state for all.

    Frankly, the very demand for a “Jewish” state is problematic. In the modern world, there should not be states based on religion. States should belong to all their citizens. 20% of Israel’s citizens are of Palestinian origin–“Arab-Israeli”. Since they are not Jewish, are they to be considered second-class citizens? You may point out that the Pakistan movement was based on Islam and that Pakistan grants Muslims certain rights not granted to others (only a Muslim can be President or Prime Minister). That is also not defensible in the modern world. If Israel wants to be in the same league as Pakistan, Iran or Saudi Arabia then it can hardly be called a “Western democracy”.

    Pakistan was formed through an agreement between the British, the representatives of Muslims, and the representatives of Hindus (the Congress party). The Palestinians flatly rejected the Partition plan and the Zionists went to war to found “Israel”. Pakistan also has internationally recognized borders. Israel to this day refuses to say where its border is.

    Total disclosure: I used to work for a Palestinian rights organization, so I have fairly strong views on this particular subject.

    1. Kabir, thanks for your support for Palestinians. I have found that the large majority of nominally “pro Palestinian” activists are not pro Palestinians; but are using the “cause” to pursue a different agenda.

      At the same time it is very difficult to talk to Israelis about feeling deep love and respect for Palestinians. Manners are not enough. It has to come from the heart. If Israelis genuinely loved and respected Palestinians (and not just use polite linguistics), it wouldn’t “solve” the conflict overnight . . . but it would be the right thing to do. Right for Israelis, Israel’s character and values. It would enhance the glory and greatness of Israel . . . an amazing people filled with spiritual masters who talked to God.

      I have asked Israelis what is wrong with Israel being a “Jewish state” and simultaneously a Christian, Sunni, Sufi, Atheist, Shia, Arab state. Israel can be many things at once. Israel should demand entry into the Arab League and OIC as her right. About 45% or more Israelis are either Arab Jews or Christian/Muslim/Atheist “Arab” Israeli citizens.

      There is a difference between “property rights” and where said property is domiciled. Palestinian often conflate these issues. There is nothing wrong with Palestinians owning a lot of land and property in jurisdictions governed by Israeli law and taxation. And there is nothing wrong with Israelis owning a lot of land and property in jurisdictions governed by Palestinian law and taxation. The question of property rights has nothing to do with where said property is domiciled. The sad truth is that many Palestinians secretly want their land and property be domiciled in Israel and subject to Israeli regulation, courts and taxation. But they don’t say this out load. Rather they publicly complain about Israeli “occupation” and exploitation. This type of insincere virtue signaling makes peace much harder, since the Palestinian elites, middle class and business class quietly sabotage the peace process. It is bad for Palestine as well since Palestinians own far more assets and business interests inside Israel than they own inside Palestine.

      Another large issue is that Israelis have to make large payments to individual Palestinians regarding the market value of property confiscated from Palestinian property owners at below market rates or no price at all. To calculate this, Israel needs cooperation from Turkey and the UK with respect to property and legal records. Neither Turkey nor the UK want to help.

      Kabir, would you like to write a lengthy detailed article regarding your thoughts on Palestine and Israel?

  4. Kabir, do you think India should expend Indian blood and treasure to facilitate a successful peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis? If so, isn’t the best way to do this to become close allies and friends of both Israelis and Palestinians?

    I have read many books on Palestine/Israel and read a ton about it. I am not convinced that a majority of either Israelis or Palestinians are serious about the peace process. Once that changes, then I favor the $1 trillion dollar solution.

    The world pays Palestine $1 Trillion. Palestinians then take a blood oath to protect all Israelis from Islamists or die trying. The Palestinians then build a world class security service and prepare to fight and die in huge numbers to protect Israelis from Islamists (not just Takfiri, there are many non Takfiri Islamists). As soon as a peace agreement is signed, the world’s Islamists will likely declare war on Palestine. The Palestinians will be locked in a long term war (with a civil war component) that might last generations. Palestine will likely suffer from a lot of terrorism. In other words “peace” will in the short run result in far more terrorism and war. This is the price for “peace”.

    Sadly we are far from a real peace process in Palestine, and this won’t happen. 🙁

    Many Israelis want Palestinians to formally apologize about Palestinian complicity with the holocaust:


    I see no evidence that Fatah/PA, Hamas or Mustafa Barghouti are willing to comply.

    Similarly Palestinians want the right to student visas, work visas, business visas, tourist visas to freely visit Israel proper. Palestinians also want the right to freely own assets and conduct business inside Israel. These are reasonable demands that are deeply unpopular among the Israeli electorate.

    1. AnAn,

      1) It is NOT the job of Palestinians to protect Israelis from “Islamists” (we have discussed on another thread why I feel you are misusing this word). Israel is quite capable of protecting itself. That is what the IDF is for. What Israel needs to do is get the hell out of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza do NOT and have never belonged to Israel. Israel’s internationally recognized border is the Green Line. That is the international consensus and until recently, even the United States (Israel’s best friend) paid lip service to this.

      2) I do not think India needs to expend its “blood and treasure” to ensure peace between Israel and the Palestinian people (whom Israel is Occupying). But India should stick to the international consensus of two states for two peoples. This is the only principled position.

      Since you are interested in my thoughts on this issue, the bottom line is that Israel is a settler-colonial state that was founded on the ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people (the Nakba of 1948). I have written a detailed review of a book written by an American Jewish author, where she states this case:


      I don’t have the time or energy to write another article covering the same very basic ground. Thanks for the offer though.

      1. Kabir, I read your review in the Dawn with great interest. The issues brought up in your review have been widely discussed for decades by scholars. It reinforces the point that the issue is complex and can’t be solely resolved by the PA assuming regulation and taxing authority over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. The civil rights of Israeli citizens inside Israel proper also matters. As does the civil rights of Israeli citizens who might choose to live inside a Palestinian state.

        I have many ideas on resolving the crisis. One of which is a Marshall Plan, free trade/investment/cross border product development agreement for Palestine. I also think the PA should get fresh water royalties; and be allowed to tax and regulate economic agents in areas the IDF provides security in the short term. Palestine needs large scale economic aid for Israel over the long term as well as specific Israeli free labor/trade/investment policies. Palestine needs good relations with Israel and for the IDF to help the PA National Security Forces. I also support large scale dual citizenship, mutual taxation agreements, allowing Israeli citizens to marry Arab spouses with a long term pathway to citizenship with said spouses.

        Palestine is a natural desert. Water is extremely expensive because much of it is sea water desalinized. Palestine can’t economically grow her food and needs to import her food. To pay for this Palestine needs to create amazing products that change and improve the world and sell these to the rest of the international community. Without this; Palestine will indefinitely remain deeply dependent on international aid to avoid mass starvation and dehydration. It is critically important that Israeli citizens and Israeli headquartered businesses be warmly welcomed by Palestinians to do business with Palestine. Without that, Asian, African, Arab, European, American, Latin American businesses will be too scared to conduct large scale business with Palestine.

        As I mentioned before, many Palestinians are secretly afraid of a peace agreement. What if the international aid drops? What if they lose their ability to conduct business and own assets in Israel? What if the Islamists (Ikhwan, AQ, ISIS) gain power and murder them? What if Islamists gain power and they lose their freedoms (woman’s rights, LBGTQ rights, the right to music/dance/art/movies)? Unless these secret fears are addressed; the Palestinian middle class, elites and business class will continue to quietly sabotage any peace agreement.

        1. “civil rights of Israeli citizens who choose to live inside a Palestinian state”– They can live there as immigrants to Palestine, if the Palestinians consent. They must then follow Palestinian law. They cannot live in Palestine as colonial settlers, with Jewish-only roads. Think of it like this: You are Indian. You cannot move to the United States unless you follow US immigration law and get a visa. You must then respect the native people of that country and follow their laws. Otherwise, you go back to your own country. Look at pictures of the Jewish settlements sometime. It looks like California on the West Bank. Contrast that with how the natives of the land are living. Then you will see my point.

          European Jews have no business inside Palestine. Their border ends at the Green Line. This is not my opinion. This is the international consensus.

          1. I have asked Israelis about the “Jewish-only road[s]”. Are there really roads that Israeli citizens (of Arab descent) can’t use? I have been told that Israeli citizens of Arab ancestry can use these roads. If this is wrong, please let me know.

            “European Jews have no business inside Palestine. Their border ends at the Green Line. This is not my opinion. This is the international consensus.” Do you really mean this? Why should Palestinians starve and dehydrate or remain perpetually dependent on international aid? For what?

            For Palestinians to attract international business, Palestine needs to warmly welcome Israeli business; otherwise other businesses will not be willing to do business with Palestine. Palestinians and Israelis need to be treated equally, with equal love and respect. Do you believe Palestinians should be able to freely conduct business and own assets inside Israel? I do. And similarly Israelis need to be able to freely conduct business and own assets inside Palestine. Palestinians deserve a chance.

            Israelis need to stop their big government, socialist, heavy regulation, eminent domain intensive policies in the West Bank and Gaza. Ditto with the PA and Hamas. There needs to be simple predictable regulation and taxation in the West Bank and Gaza. Current Israeli policies are suppressing the Palestinian private sector, business development, product development and process innovation.

            The IDF in my opinion doesn’t do nearly enough to protect Palestinians from Islamists. Rather the IDF excessively focuses on the security of Israeli nationals; versus risk their lives equally for the security of both Israelis and Palestinians. Thousands of Palestinians have been killed by Islamists; more at the Islamists than at the hands of Israelis post 1967. It is a shame that the Israelis and international community are silent about it. It is also a shame that Israelis release Palestinian Islamists from jail in Israeli hostage exchanges. The released Islamists go on to murder Palestinians. In addition to this the IDF killed thousands of Gazan civilians in 2008/2009, 2012 and 2014.

            Both Israelis and Palestinians have royally messed up.

          2. AnAN,

            Yes, there are Jewish-only roads. Not in “Israel proper” (1948 Palestine) but in the West Bank. These are roads that only settlers can use and that Palestinians cannot use.

            Yes, the Zionist border ends at the Green Line. That is what a Two-State Solution means. If Palestine and Israel are independent states, then Palestinians would not own assets inside Israel, unless permitted by Israeli law. Similarly, Israelis would not own anything in Palestine, unless Palestinian law permitted it. The IDF (like other national armies) is responsible for the security of their own nationals.

            Think of the India-Pakistan situation: Indians do not own businesses in Pakistan. Pakistanis do not own businesses in India. The Indian Army is not concerned about the security of Pakistanis and the Pak Army does not care about the security of Indians. Each army and government is supposed to care about its own people. Indians can come to Pakistan, but only after getting permission and vice versa. These are two hostile countries that used to be one country. India never colonized Pakistan (or vice versa).

            Israel is a colonial state and Palestinians are fighting a battle for national liberation. This is the bottom line. If and when they become independent, they will probably need some disengagement from their colonizer before they can get to normal relations.

            I don’t have time right now to go over these fundamentals. Please read some Palestinian viewpoints or talk to some Palestinians. “Product development” and “process innovation” is really secondary to getting the Zionist jackboot off of the Palestinian chest.

            And what is with your obsession with “Islamists”? Not everything is about that.

      2. Kabir, you are right that Israel is not perfect. What country in your opinion is? Some Israelis feel that they are help to standards of perfection that no other country can meet. This is a valid point.

        For example Lebanese, Syrians, Algerians, Moroccans, Libya, Gulf States, Iraqis terribly mistreat their Palestinian immigrants. In many cases Palestinians continue to be denied citizenship. And in some cases Palestinians have some responsibility for why the locals are so afraid of them. For example many Palestinians cheered terrorist attacks against Iraqis by the “Iraqi resistance” 2003-2006. As a result the Iraqi people attacked Palestinians living in Iraq and deported or killed the large majority of Palestinian Iraqis. The Iraqi people were deeply wrong to do this. But the Palestinians living in Iraq were also wrong to support the “Iraqi resistance” or Al Qaeda against Iraqis. The same story has partly played out in Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Libya. Some Palestinian activists to their credit strongly condemn Arab countries the same way they condemn Israel. This is a long way of saying that most of what Israelis are accused of doing to Palestinians matches what other countries are doing to Palestinians.

        ” But India should stick to the international consensus of two states for two peoples. This is the only principled position.” Agree completely. Ditto for America and every other country. And to be fair this is the declared public position of India, America and almost every other nonmuslim majority country. I think this can be done while forging a close alliance with both Israel and Palestine.

        “It is NOT the job of Palestinians to protect Israelis from “Islamists” (we have discussed on another thread why I feel you are misusing this word)” . . . I think Palestinians have a responsibility to protect their Israeli brothers and sisters. [Israelis have a responsibility to protect their Palestinian brothers and sisters]. Many tens of thousands of Palestinians have joined Takfiri (AQ and ISIS) and engaged in terrorist and violent attacks all over the world. As a result Palestinians have a special responsibility to all human beings to solve the Takfiri challenge.

        Separate from this over a million Palestinians have joined the soft Islamist Salafi Ikhwan. This is a separate challenge since the Ikhwan want to slowly take over global society through mostly nonviolent legal means; and I think classical liberalism requires that the world allow the Ikhwan to try. But you must recognize that people are flawed; and because of this many Israelis, Turks, Arabs and foreigners inappropriately lash out at Palestinians . Palestinians inappropriately have difficulties getting visas to visit or move to most countries around the world. Palestinians need to talk openly about these issues if Palestinians want acceptance in our deeply imperfect world.

        “Israel is quite capable of protecting itself” . . . I don’t agree. Israel needs help. Islamists pose an existential threat against Israelis. And in trying to harm Israelis Islamists are perfectly willing to kill millions of Palestinians.

        1. Israel is a settler-colonial state. None of the surrounding countries are settler-colonial states. None of the surrounding countries are holding on to territory that does not belong to them. Lebanon has a recognized international border. Israel does not. Israel has stolen Palestinian land since 1948 and continues to move more and more Jews onto land that has been Arab land for centuries.

          “Israeli brothers and sisters”–the Israelis are oppressing the Palestinians. They are colonizers, NOT “brothers and sisters”. It is not the responsibility of Palestinians to protect Zionists. Zionists need to get the hell out of Palestine. Israelis can worry about what happens in Israel proper. Palestinians can worry about what happens in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In the event that Israel faces a threat from Palestine (not likely considering the difference between Palestinian defense forces and the IDF), the IDF is perfectly capable of dealing with it–as any professional army should be.

          I don’t know why you expect Palestinians to care so much about a country that has done nothing but harm to them since 1948. India and Pakistan hate each other and we used to be one country. Palestinians have had European Jews imposed on them through no fault of their own. It would be hard to expect them to be happy with that and live in great friendship with their (hopefully one day former) colonizer.

          What is needed is disengagement. The Israelis need to move their over 500,000 Jewish settlers out of the West Bank and back into Israel’s internationally recognized borders. They need to allow a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. They need to compensate the Palestine refugees that they have created since the Nakba (if not allow them the right of return). Palestine and the surrounding Arab countries need to then recognize that this is the end of the conflict and pledge to let Israel live within its borders in peace and security.

          1. “Israel is a settler-colonial state. None of the surrounding countries are settler-colonial states. None of the surrounding countries are holding on to territory that does not belong to them.”

            Prefer to stay on topic. However, Hezbollah represents a type of Khamenei occupation of Lebanon. Hezbollah and Iran occupy parts of Syria now. Of course there are extenuating circumstances; and I support the current Turkish, Jordanian and Arab occupation of parts of Syria. The middle east is a type of big ugly joint family where everyone is in everyone else’s business and feels entitled to continue being in everyone else’s business.

            “Lebanon has a recognized international border.” Yes and no. The UN considers the Sheba Farms to be part of Israel. Israel doesn’t want it and is trying to offload it. Israel considers it to be part of Syria, but Syria refuses to take it from Israel. Israel has asked Syria to provide Israel a document renouncing Syria’s claim to Sheba Farms so that Israel can give it to Lebanon. Syria refuses to comply. Hezbollah and Iran yell and scream about the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. This is a long way of saying that the whole region is a cluster mess and the Israelis and Palestinians are part of the cluster mess.

            “Israel has stolen Palestinian land since 1948” Israel has used eminent domain powers to confiscate Palestinian private property at less than market prices. I could share a lot more of the case law and legal framework surrounding this. This issue is not related to defining where specific land and assets are domiciled (who taxes and regulates it). Rather Palestinians can own property domiciled in Israel and Israelis can own property domiciled in Palestine. This issue needs to be settled independently of international borders and should not be conflated with it.

            “and continues to move more and more Jews onto land that has been Arab land for centuries.” We share common concerns regarding this. However Israeli settler immigrants are a very different matter than who owns what property. The Israeli government can settle property claims with a market value settlement. Most new settlements are on lands that use to be unsettled undeveloped desert waste land. To be clear, Israelis allowing more settlers to settle in the West Bank in the absence of an agreement with the PA is madness and I oppose it.

            ““Israeli brothers and sisters”–the Israelis are oppressing the Palestinians. They are colonizers, NOT “brothers and sisters”.” I honestly don’t understand what you are talking about chief. Yes the Israelis are oppressing Palestinians. We completely agree on this. Yes they are colonizers since their status has not been settled with the PA. But post agreement with the PA, they will not be colonizers anymore. What I don’t get is what any of this has to do with Palestinians and Israelis being brothers and sisters. They are brothers and sisters whether they like it or not. Yes they are fighting each other and don’t like each other. Yes the later is oppressing the former. That is what family is. This is a big dysfunctional family. And neither Palestinians nor Israelis should be allowed to get away with saying that they are not family.

            Pakistanis and Indians are family too, whether they like it or not. Pakistanis and Indians are eerily similar to each other. Someone can say that some days they hate each other. Someone can say that some days they want to kill each other. But they are family none the less. Remember the way Swami Vivekananda started his 1893 speech at the Parliament of the World’s Religions with “Brothers and Sisters of America”?

            “It is not the responsibility of Palestinians to protect Zionists.” Are we not our brother’s keeper? If Palestinians don’t protect Israelis, then who will?

            How do you define “Zionist”? Most people I ask seems to define it differently.

            Israelis and Palestinians share a common heart, common soul, common values and common interests. They are stuck in the hip together. They can’t separate. Islamists present an existential threat to both Israel and Palestine. Disunited they fall. Together they stand. Islamists hate both Israelis and Palestinians–who they see as fake muslims. Islamists will do everything in their power to prevent a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians from being implemented; which means Israelis and Palestinians need to make peace work, hard as that is.

            “I don’t know why you expect Palestinians to care so much about a country that has done nothing but harm to them since 1948.” Because Palestinians are good people. I have faith in them.

            “Palestinians have had European Jews imposed on them through no fault of their own.” This is not completely true; but Palestinians and Israelis need to put their painful past behind them. Most Israelis have Arab ancestry (Many have Iraqi ancestry . . . Baghdad use to have more Jews than any city on earth in the early 1940s). Israel is their home. They have no other place to go.

            “The Israelis need to move their over 500,000 Jewish settlers out of the West Bank and back into Israel’s internationally recognized borders.” If this happens, the West Bank economy will crater. Shouldn’t Israeli citizens in the West Bank be required to fill out Palestinian Tax returns to fund the PA?

            Palestinians need to clearly explain what they mean. Do Palestinians want reunification (a blended Israeli Palestinian state), or do they want a two state solution along 1967 borders? If it is the later, then Palestinians need to stop calling Israelis “Zionists”. Palestinians also need to stop conflating the occupation with Israel proper, stop talking about right of return, and commit to a final end to all Palestinian demands on Israel. If Palestinians really want to restore the union, then they need to be honest about it. They had a very messy divorce in 1948 with many hurt feelings. Restoring their former marriage will be very challenging. Palestinians need to romance their fellow Israelis by publicly expressing their heart felt deep love and respect for Israelis. Personally I don’t see Fatah, Hamas, or Barghouti willing to coo Israelis and regard the one state solution as impractical in the short run.

            “Justice” is an empty dry concept. Starving children can’t eat “justice”. Poor people can’t
            drink “justice”. “Justice” is a luxury for young western affluent spoiled condescending pretentious snow flake post modernist yuppies.

          2. Please look up the definition of a settler-colonial state.

            Israelis and Palestinians are not “family”. Israel is a colonizer, an occupier and an ethnic cleanser. They have stolen Arab land and destroyed Arab lives. They need to leave Palestine.

            Indians and Pakistanis are not “family”. We are two independent nations. We have a common history but that common history ended in 1947. Pakistan is a home for the Muslims of British India. Pakistan and India have a territorial dispute over a piece of land, Kashmir, that both sides believe belongs to them. This dispute is the cause of all the wars since 1947. Plus, India helped break Pakistan into two entities. Not really “family” like behavior. Maybe some day we can get to normal relations between neighboring countries, but we will not be “family”.

            “If Palestinians don’t protect Israelis, who will”? Israelis will protect Israelis. The people of Palestine owe nothing to their Occupier.

            Zionism is a racist ideology which allowed European Jews by virtue of their religion to steal land from the natives of that land. This ideology justifies colonialism and ethnic cleansing. The Zionist slogan was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Palestine was never a land without a people. The Palestinians–Muslim and Christian– were always there. The land belongs to them, not to Europeans and Americans who live in West Bank settlements because they happened to be born Jewish and so have a right to immigrate to the “Jewish” state (not that the West Bank is even part of the Jewish state, but it is colonized).

            Describing the formation of “Israel” on Arab land as a marriage shows a very strange idea of marriage. It was more like rape really. I’m sorry. I have zero sympathy for Zionists. Yes, the Holocaust happened in Europe and that was a tragedy of vast proportions. But it was not caused by the Palestinians. It doesn’t justify the theft of Arab land. Nothing will ever justify the theft of Arab land. You expect Palestinians to be nice to their rapists because they are “good people”? I find that to be a very unrealistic expectation.

            The best thing for both parties is total disengagement. Zionists need to stay on their side of the border, inside “Israel” and the Palestinians need to stay in Palestine. Palestinian citizens of Israel should have all the rights of Israeli citizenship and no longer be treated as second-class citizens in a “Jewish state”.

            I’m done with commenting on this. You and I have totally different assumptions about all this. Maybe I’m just too “post modernist” for you.

          3. “Israel is a colonizer, an occupier and an ethnic cleanser. They have stolen Arab land and destroyed Arab lives.” Agreed.

            “The people of Palestine owe nothing to their Occupier.” Agreed. But I think Palestinians will protect Israelis out of love. Love conquers all. Love heals all. Love transcends all.

            “Zionism is a racist ideology which allowed European Jews by virtue of their religion to steal land from the natives of that land. This ideology justifies colonialism and ethnic cleansing. The Zionist slogan was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Palestine was never a land without a people. The Palestinians–Muslim and Christian– were always there. The land belongs to them, not to Europeans and Americans who live in West Bank settlements because they happened to be born Jewish and so have a right to immigrate to the “Jewish” state (not that the West Bank is even part of the Jewish state, but it is colonized).”

            Obviously you make excellent points. But I have interacted with enough pro Palestinian Jews and Israelis (as in the Peter Beinart kind that I think you would love as much as I do 🙂 ) to understand part of their reaction. Does supporting the right of Israel to exist inside 1967 borders = “zionist”? Or does supporting Israeli occupation/colonization of the West Bank and Gaza = “zionist.” The former is a good thing. The later is wrong.

            “It was more like rape really.” Many Palestinians talk like this (including those who secretly oppose a peace agreement because they fear Israel leaving). I very respectfully disagree. This is a dispute about property and land. Who the heck cares about grains of sand and rock? It pales into insignificance compared the infinitude of creation and the the transcendent. I love the Kabir Gaan about how his pot has broken and how he is happy about it because he doesn’t have to worry about it any more:


            Before 1948 all Palestinians were married. In 1948 Palestine went through a messy divorce with Israel, Jordan’s West Bank, and Egypt’s Gaza Strip. In 1967 a war broke out and Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza. Israel tried to return the Gaza strip to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan. Both refused. Egypt renounced her claims to the Gaza strip in 1979. Jordan renounced her claims to the West Bank on 31 July 1988. And so the concept of a state of Palestine was born. A state which didn’t exist before 1967 (since both Egypt and Jordan opposed the concept.) The state of Palestine now exists, is sovereign and real; much the way Pakistan and Bangladesh are. I fully support Palestine.

            “Yes, the Holocaust happened in Europe and that was a tragedy of vast proportions. But it was not caused by the Palestinians.” The Israelis have been asking Palestinians to apologize for their complicity and role in holocaust since 1945. Israelis need to let this go and forgive their Palestinian brothers and sisters. Israelis need to stop bringing this up.

            Kabirji, we agree on over 95% of the facts. We don’t completely agree on how best to solve the problems created by those facts. And that is okay.

            Love you Kabirji!

  5. It is in India’s best interest to stay out of the Arab- Israeli quarrel. Too many hindutva nitwits allow sentimental nonsense about Israel to cloud their judgment about the Arab- Israel dispute.

    1. Raj, how to “hindutva nitwits allow sentimental nonsense about Israel to cloud their judgment about the Arab- Israel dispute”?

      What does “hindutva” mean to you?

      I think the phrase means Hindu + Tattva.

      1. The Hindu Right likes Israel because Zionists and Hindu extremists hate Muslims equally. It’s really that simple. India likes Israel because what Israel does to Palestinians, India does to Kashmiri Muslims. Ever wonder why Kashmiri Muslims are so passionate about Palestine? Could it be because they also feel colonized? Or is it because they are all “Islamist”?

        1. India likes Israel because what Israel does to Palestinians, India does to Kashmiri Muslims.

          Damn! Are things really this simple? Who knew .. it was the Hinjew kuffar all along 😉

          On a more serious note, the comments here resemble an educated exchange less and a slanging match more. Please use discretion.

          1. Yes, on one level, things are that simple. Granted, Kashmir is technically not Occupied/colonized. By India’s laws, it is a state of India. In contrast, even Israel doesn’t claim the West Bank is part of Israel. But when it comes to subjective feelings, many Kashmiri Muslims feel that Kashmir is a colony of Delhi and that they are being held against their will by a largely Hindu country. Things like the pellet blinding of children/protestors do bear a resemblance to Israel’s way of dealing with Palestinians.

            Many right-wing Indians do frame the Kashmiri resistance as an example of “Islamist” terror (not that some Kashmiris are not Islamist). They see Israel’s policy with respect to Palestinians as a successful example of fighting “terror”. Some of the love for Israel can certainly be attributed to anti-Muslim animus.

            I’m sorry about my tone. Zionist rhetoric and the minimizing of Palestinian suffering tends to make me angry. I’ll work on that.

          2. People can have all kinds of reasons to be angry. Getting angry doesn’t help.

            Zionists have their own POV, just as Pak Nationalists have theirs or Palestinian Nationalists or Hindu Nationalists etc. It is well-nigh impossible to rationally evaluate these POVs themselves. What we can evaluate are systems in place in all these societies to correct error (or improve their lot).

            How do these societies react to bad leaders? What are the limits/checks on power held by decision makers? How well do these societies penalize illegal activities? Do they discriminate (by law) between citizens? Do they employ technology for social benefit? etc

            Answers to these questions can help us evaluate societies, irrespective of what we feel about them in our gut. Anyway, that’s my way of thinking about it, which is why I think of Israel as a society which Indians can and should learn a lot from. I may be wrong of course…

  6. Kabirji, what do you regard as Zionist rhetoric? My thoughts come from far too much dialogue with Palestinians and Israelis. Truth be told, neither of them are really serious about the peace process. Israeli and Palestinian elites are sabotaging the peace process for their own reasons. Which is why I don’t think the time has arrived for the international community (Quartet . . . US, Russia, UN, EU; plus other powers such as India, China, Japan, OIC) to strong arm all parties into a peace agreement. Right now I am not sure even the combined might of the international community can force peace.

    Kabirji, a small percentage of humans drive most activity and innovation. Palestine is run by Palestinian elites, the Palestinian business class, and the Palestinian upper middle class. They won’t allow the peace agreement you propose. If you really love the Palestinian people and want their welfare-which I believe you do–then please try to understand the perspective of the Palestinian upper middle class and find solutions they can live with. Palestinians own more business interests and property domiciled inside of Israel than they own domiciled within Palestine. It is unrealistic for anyone to expect Palestinians to risk losing a majority of their wealth. Additionally the Palestinian economy is extremely dependent on trade with Israel. Palestinians will not agree to a peace deal without Israeli guarantees of access to Israeli export markets.

    Before the first Intifada, a large percentage of Gazans worked in Israel proper with day work visas. Today 42% of Gazans are unemployed. Palestinians will not agree to a peace deal that does not involve Israelis providing large numbers of:
    -day work visas
    -longer term work visas
    -business visas
    -tourist visas
    Palestinians are right to demand these things.

    23% of all patriotic Israeli citizens happen to have Palestinian heritage. There are deep family and people to people links between Israelis and Palestinians. These links will grow with “right of return” to Israel proper. Palestinians and Israelis need to be able to marry each other and freely interact with each other.

    Disengagement would be a catastrophe for Palestinians and they won’t agree to it.

    What do you want Palestine to do about water? Palestinians need to buy ocean desalinated water, which is very expensive. How can Palestinians afford this? Because water is so expensive, Palestinians can’t economically grow food and need to import food. How will Palestinians pay for this food? These issues are central for Fatah and Hamas peace negotiators.

    I have also heard Palestinians talk about how much they fear Islamists. Islamists who kill LBGTQ. Engage in honor crimes. Engage in FGM. Who prevent any freedom of speech inside Palestine. Who don’t want usury (global capital markets) or international business inside Palestine. Several Palestinian emigres say that secretly a lot of Palestinians don’t want a peace agreement if it risks strengthening the Islamists. Islamists economically harm the Palestinian upper middle class.

    No peace is possible if the Palestinian upper middle class sabotage it. Period.

    One thing that I and many others find deeply frustrating about Palestinians is that they say one thing in public (politically correct virtue signaling) and something very different in private. This is a major cause for their problems. This is why I think Palestinians need freedom of speech for economic development, or peace with Israel, or justice. Palestinians have zero freedom of speech now. And it is a shame that the rest of the world (Israelis included) don’t care.

    All muslims in the world deserve freedom of speech. Which is the point of the Tarek Fatah interview. This is the way that the world’s 6 billion nonmuslims mistreat the world’s muslims. Most nonmuslims could care less about the freedom of speech and rights of muslims. In fact, muslims who live in many nonmuslim majority countries also have little freedom of speech and few rights. Including muslims who live in the UK. Often the police and courts refuse to protect muslims. This is a shame and black mark on the world’s nonmuslims. Unless muslims have free speech and rights; Islamism and terrorism will continue to metastatic all over the world.

    One reason Modi might become the best PM in Indian history is because he has done more to protect Indian muslims, their rights and their freedom of speech from Islamists than any previous Indian. PM Modi has provided security protection to Indian Sufi, Sixer Ishmaeli, Twelver, Ahmedi, Sunni, reformer, liberal, atheist, secular leaders. May God bless PM Modi for this.

    1. Kabirji to quote what a young female Palestinian said to me:

      “We need to live life”

      It is extremely hard for privileged people like me to understand just how hard it is for a female to live simultaneously in fear of Islamists, of organized crime, and of the IDF at the same time. Woman and girls in Gaza have no freedom. Woman and girls in the West Bank have more freedom but not nearly enough.

    2. 42% of Gazans are unemployed because Gaza is an open-air prison. This is all on the Israelis. They are the ones controlling the borders, the airspace, etc. They are the ones deciding that Gazans can get the minimum of calories that they need to survive. They bomb Gaza to the ground every few years. In Zionist speak it’s called “mowing the lawn”.

      If you think PM Modi is the best PM in Indian history, I really can’t help you. He has no problem with vigilante gau rakshaks who kill Muslims on suspicion of eating beef. This is just one example. The BJP wants to destroy Nehruvian secularism. If that’s what you want for India, it’s your right. Since I’m not an Indian, it’s not really my issue. But looking from the outside, it is a total disaster for Muslims.

  7. Kabir what do you think about my proposal to facilitate the economic empowerment of Palestinians. Like you I am deeply concerned about discrimination against patriotic Israeli citizens who happen to be of Palestinian descent.

    My idea would be to schedule 40% of all university seats in Israel for people with Palestinian heritage (Palestinian Israeli citizens, ex-patriot Palestinians who live outside historic Palestine, Gazans, West Banker residents) in affirmative action where Israeli taxpayers provide scholarships. I would similarly schedule high level quotas of Palestinians as lecturers, professors, civil servants, IDF officers, basketball leagues, business contractors; and in Israeli private companies. These affirmative action quota schedules would apply gradually over decades (since it will take time for Palestinians to qualify for said admissions and positions) and then gradually phase out; ending completely a century from now. This would be done in combination with bringing old Palestinians born before 1949 to live their remaining golden years in Israeli convalescence homes. This is my solution to “right of return”.

    What do you think Kabirji?

    Many Israelis react to my ideas with horror. Palestinians like my ideas a lot better.

    I don’t see how the PA/Fatah/Hamas/Barghouti can politically accept a peace deal without a large number of education visas and scholarships for Palestinians to study inside Israel. This is an important Palestinian demand as it should be. Many Palestinians have Israeli citizen relatives and would love to go to the same schools and universities as their relatives; and work in the same venture capitalist backed technology start ups. Many Israeli citizens would love to bring their Palestinian spouses to Israel (as students, workers, businesswoman or stay at home dads).

    Palestinians will not accept a full disengagement with Israel, nor should they be forced to. Disengagement would be a catastrophe for the Palestinian people.

    Palestinians and Israelis have come extremely close to signing final peace agreements many times. If not for “right of return” they would be at peace.

    Kabirji, your ideas of complete disengagement might be more popular with the Israeli right than with Palestinians. 😉 wink. A-RR-AY, having fun with you Saab.

    1. “If not for ‘right of return’ they would be at peace”– Not really. Israel has no intention of peace with Palestine. They want to grab all the land. Netanyahu has admitted on record that he will never “allow” a Palestinian state on his watch. The Israeli right believes that they have a God-given right to “Judea and Samaria” as they call the West Bank, because Jews are the “chosen people”. Every decent human being can scream until they are blue in the face that God is not a real estate agent but Zionists don’t care. Israel has no intention of allowing the Palestinian state to have its capital in East Jerusalem (or Al Quds Al Sharif for Muslims). Now even the US has said that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital, despite Jerusalem being one of the contentious final status issues and no other country recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in East Jerusalem. There is a reason that the entire world treats Tel Aviv as Israel’s capital, no matter what Israel says.

      Economic empowerment is a good thing but it comes after ending the Occupation. Right now Palestinians are fighting a battle for national liberation. That must be won first before we talk about economics. When Indians were trying to get the British to leave, they didn’t worry about economics. They wanted self-determination.

      Disengagement is not my preferred option. But I think that in the journey to living as two normal neighboring states, a period of disengagement from one’s former colonial power is going to be necessary. “Israel” for many (if not most) Palestinians means IDF soldiers and their associated brutalities. 16 year old Ahed Tamimi is in jail now for slapping a soldier. What the Israelis don’t tell you is that their soldiers put her teenage cousin in a coma. Sorry, I have zero sympathies for the Zionists. The only people I care about in this situation are Palestinians– Christians and Muslims–who have spent too long under the Zionist jackboot.

      1. Economic empowerment is a good thing but it comes after ending the Occupation. Right now Palestinians are fighting a battle for national liberation. That must be won first before we talk about economics. When Indians were trying to get the British to leave, they didn’t worry about economics.

        This is rather naive. Perhaps some people only learn the hard way. Best of luck with ending the “Occupation” of Palestine.

        By the way, your comparison to India really had me in splits 🙂 Ambedkar, Gandhi, Nehru thought deeply and wrote a lot about economics – on Indian feudalism, size of land holdings, importance of industrialization, capitalism – the works. Perhaps you are confusing Indian leaders with those of the Pakistan movement 😉

        1. 1) Why is Occupation in quotes? The international consensus since 1967 is that the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem is Occupied Palestinian Territory. This is not my opinion (or even the opinion only of Muslims), this has been the position of the United Nations since the end of the “Six Day War” (as it is called in Israel). Some Muslim and/or Palestinian extremists may consider “Israel Proper” to be Occupied Territory as well, but that is not the international consensus. The Golan Heights are also Occupied Territory as they still legally belong to Syria.

          2) What was the “Quit India” movement about? Gandhi ji wanted the British out. He didn’t say “Wait let us sort out economic empowerment. If this means the Brits are here for a few more decades, that’s cool”. Why expect Palestinians to put up with their colonizer for longer in the hopes of some vague “economic empowerment”?

          I’m really done with this thread. But here is something to think about (It was written by a Jew so it’s not a “Muslim” or “Islamist” view):

          “And just as Abbas’s comments hurt the chances of negotiations, the Jewish narrative is also hurting both Israelis and Palestinians alike.

          For it’s not as simple as saying that Jews lived in Israel in ancient times, therefore the land belongs to the modern Jewish state. Zionism successfully activated anticipatory claims embedded in Jewish tradition, yet it is nevertheless very much a modern nationalist movement.

          This move is hardly unique to Zionism. Nationalist movements often stake their legitimacy on claims to antiquity; it’s a trope academic historians call “primordialism”. The primordialist piece of a nationalist ideology posits modern nation states as a means to realize the rights of ancient peoples, which they creatively imagine and project into the past. Think, for example, of the French Revolution, a pivotal event in the emergence of modern nationalism. At the time of the Revolution, only about half of the subjects of the French monarchy spoke French, which surely calls into question the antiquity of a unified French identity. Nevertheless, this was central to revolutionary rhetoric.”


  8. Kabir, what are your thoughts on this debate regarding Palestine:


    The very fine pro Palestinian debater (Cornel West) concedes that Israel has a better human rights record than 160 countries. What are your thoughts about this? [I don’t agree with 160 countries; but Israel certainly has a better human rights record than many muslim majority countries even taking into account Israel’s terrible mistreatment of her Palestinian brothers and sisters.]

    Israel needs to do right by the Palestinians; needs to treat Palestinians with the deepest love and respect. On this I think we agree completely.

    This said do the Palestinian people deserve universal human rights? Does Hamas (Palestinian branch of the Ikhwan or Muslim Brotherhood) have the right to throw LBGTQ, Fatah supporters, Barghouti supporters from rooftops? Does Hamas have the right to kill and engage in other honor violence against female Palestinians? Does Hamas have the right to remove all freedom of speech from Gazans? This question needs to be asked of the entire international community. Gaza has lived on international welfare for generations, collecting more in international grants than from tax revenue. Therefore the international community is completely complicit and accountable for all of Hamas’ crimes against humanity against the Gazan people. What should the world do about this?

    It is also interesting that so many blame Israel without examining who set off the conflict as part of a colonial imperialist divide and conquer strategy . . . the English. Isn’t England more guilty than either Israeli or Palestine? Doesn’t England owe Palestine a Marshall plan?

    1. Hamas and Israel are not at the same level. Hamas is considered by the West to be a “terrorist group” (others would say it’ s the Palestinian resistance, but that’s an argument for another day). Israel is an internationally recognized state. The internationally recognized state must be held to a higher standard than the “terrorist group”. I have no brief for Hamas. It has done some terrible things and its policy of non-recognition of “Israel Proper” (inside the Green Line) is not productive.

      England should not have issued the Balfour Declaration. They had no right to make any part of Arab-majority Palestine into a “Jewish national home”. But the “most guilty” party is still the Zionists. They are the ones who ethnically cleansed “Israel Proper” in 1948. The Nakba displaced 700,000 Palestinians. The Zionists are the ones still holding on to Palestinian land, despite the entire world saying to them that their border is the Green Line.

      I feel like I’m just restating fundamentals at this point. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

      1. Kabir, you are a well intentioned person. If you were a popular dictator of the Palestinian people, I think the Palestinians would have their own state now and be vastly more successful than they currently are.

        The large majority of the Israeli injustices against the Palestinians you cite are accurate. My point is context matters a little; and finding a solutions that help Palestinians matter vastly more than injustice, justice and context combined.

        Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Ikhwan–muslim brotherhood. This is an extremely powerful global organization with influential large branches all over the world. They are extremely influential in the UK and Europe. They are a soft Salafi, soft Islamist organization that was partly led by Sayyid Qutb in the 1950s. Their goal is to gradually take over global society over the long term through mostly legal, nonviolent and legitimate means; albeit they are more willing to use violence than anyone should be comfortable with. I don’t think that they are best described as terrorist (which I think you agree with since you say the West describes them as terrorist). Ikhwan should be allowed to operate around the world. At the same time perhaps almost all nonmuslims would benefit if liberal muslims and non islamist conservative muslims succeed in their dialogue with soft Islamists.

        What do you think muslims and nonmuslims should do about the Ikhwan (and its Hamas chapter)?

        One of the reasons this question matters is because Ikhwan craters the economy whenever they gain influence. For example Gaza has a 42% unemployment rate (Ikhwan governed) versus the West Bank’s 18% unemployment rate.
        (note how large a priority day work visas, longer term work visas, business visas, student visas, tourist visas, marraige visas, and export permits are for Fatah and Hamas.)

        Fatah/PA hasn’t governed the West Bank well by any stretch of the imagination. Yet see the difference between the Gazan and West Bank economy. Israel has equally messed with and disrupted both economies.

        As someone who cares deeply about the welfare of your fellow human; Kabir this must matter a lot to you.

        We are agreed on England’s negative role; although I would assign more of the blame to England than Israel.

        To change the topic a little, there is immense hatred against Jewish people all over the world. In the words of Fidel Castro, there is no group of people who have been more oppressed and slandered in the history of the world than the Jewish people:

        It hurts me that Fidel Castro is 100% right because I deeply love Judaism (similar to Eastern spirituality in many ways) for many reasons. This is why all of us have to be extremely careful how we use speak about Israelis, Israel and Jews. This is why I would advise everyone to stop using the word “zionist.” Most who use the phrase (not you Kabir), use it from a very dark place. The vast majority of supposed “friends” of Palestine are nothing of the sort but come from a very dark place. [Peter Beinart, Finkelstein are true friends of Palestine.] Sadly I have come to this conclusion through dialogue with supposed “friends” of Palestine. Many Palestinians are deeply anti Jewish; it is very scary. Including many Palestinians who demand day work visas, longer term work visas, business visas, and student visas so that they can visit, work or study in Israel.
        [Mustafa Barghouti, Abu Mazen and many Palestinian leaders are not anti Jewish but love their people, I think. Many Palestinians are very spiritual people who love the Israeli people too, but they can’t say it out load without risking death.]

        I would also always emphasize that the Israelis are a good, just, loving a spiritual people who are making tragic mistakes in misbehaving with Palestinians; precisely because of these anti Jewish bigots. At the same time, I care vastly more about the welfare of Palestinians and speaking the harsh truths to Israelis. So goes the eastern Sanskrit dictum:
        “Speak sweetly
        Speak the truth
        Do not speak the truth in a way that is not sweet”

        “The Nakba displaced 700,000 Palestinians” Very sad 🙁

        1. 1) Democracy means that a people have the right to elect the kind of government they choose. I am not personally a fan of “Islamists” (soft or otherwise). But if the Palestinian people want a soft Islamist government, that is their right. Hamas was legitimately elected. Israel and the West framed them as a “terrorist group”. The Muslim brotherhood was democratically elected in Egypt before Sisi and his US-backed coup removed them. Just because we don’t like the leaders a people choose for themselves doesn’t make colonialism (which is what Israel is doing in Palestine) OK.

          2) I am always very careful to separate Zionism from Judaism. Zionism is a racist and colonialist ideology. Judaism is a religion, just like Christianity and Islam. There are quite a few anti-Zionist Jews, many of them are the biggest supporters of Palestine. Not all Jews are Israeli and not all Israelis are in favor of the Occupation. The only people I have zero sympathy for are those who hurt the Palestinians. This includes most Zionists (liberal Zionism is a contradiction in terms) and certainly it includes the Likud Party of Bibi Netanyahu.

          1. Kabir, Gazans are free to make their own choices and vote as they please. But isn’t the rest of the world also free to make their own choices based on the choices of Gazans? Is the rest of the world free to cut foreign aid to Gaza, resulting in much higher unemployment, much lower real wages, mass starvation and mass dehydration? Gaza gets more foreign aid than Gaza pays in taxes. Hamas is extremely dependent on foreign aid.

            If Gaza were not receiving so much foreign aid as a percentage of GDP, your argument would be stronger. The international community is facilitating and enabling Hamas’ mistreatment of Gazans.

            There is another issue. Gazans have few civil rights, no freedom of speech or freedom of assembly. Gazan supporters of Fatah and Mustafa Barghouti have been thrown off roof tops. So have homosexuals. No open discussion of the Koran, Bukhari Sahi, Islam Sahi and Sira are allowed. Hamas engages in violence and intimidation against Sufis, twelvers, sixer Ishmaelis, liberal muslims, reform muslims. Seriously doubt Kurds, Ahmedis or Bahais would be allowed to operate openly in Gaza. How many Jewish synagogues are allowed to operate freely in Gaza?

            Gaza last voted in 2006 and it is hard to see how Gaza can have free and fair elections under present circumstances.

            I don’t know what the world should do in Gaza. It is also hard to pressure Egypt and Israel to be nicer to Gaza under present circumstances. Most Egyptians hate the Ikhwan and Hamas.

            “The Muslim brotherhood was democratically elected in Egypt before Sisi and his US-backed coup removed them”. The US backed Morsi and the Ikhwan in Egypt and opposed the coups against them. This has significantly increased anti Americanism among Egyptians. Morsi and the Ikhwan were viscerally hated by most Egyptians during and after the coups. I think you know some of the reasons for this.

            Morsi wanted to ban criticizing the companions of the prophet . . . which was directly aimed at removing freedom of religion from twelvers, sixer Ishaelis, fiver Zaidis, Sufis, Ahmedis, liberal muslims, reform muslims, atheist muslims. Let alone nonmuslims. Most Egyptians strongly opposed this. Morsi also gave a war speech on Syria laced with Islamist rhetoric (against Assad) which was unpopular with the Egyptian military.

            I respect and support many liberal Zionists, including the very pro Palestinian Peter Beinart. Many liberal Zionist support a two state solution. My understanding is that Zionist means supporting a two state solution versus a one state solution. But different people define it very differently.

          2. “Liberal Zionists” to me are those who are liberal on everything except Palestine. When it comes to the Israeli Occupation of Arab land, their tribal Jewish thinking takes over. It’s not about the two state solution, it’s about recognizing that Israel was imposed on the Palestinians–the real natives of the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel cannot be undone but there is zero excuse for the continued theft of Arab land.

            We can agree to disagree on this.

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