EDITORIAL: By Saeed Naqvi, Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO: When the dust settles on the Israel-Gaza war, Israel will be confronted with an existential question: should it redesign itself to harmonize with the region and beyond? Or continue in old, exceptional ways?
The exclusive Israeli-style vengeance witnessed in the 51 days of bombardment, a jaw for a tooth, was possible only with the US hegemon standing four square behind all of Israel’s actions.
The situation today is this: BRICS are standing firm while G7 are falling apart even the issue of the Israel-Gaza conflict. A target must quickly swim into their ken to keep the G7 in anxious huddle.
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What might this target be? Who knows Islamic terror may well spiral upwards from the ashes of Gaza. This is a plausible line of speculation. An initiative to resurrect Islamic menace has already been taken by Noor Gilon, the Israeli Ambassador to New Delhi. With considerable alacrity, he has sought to enlist India’s support for the project by fulfilling his end of the bargain: Israel has recognized Lashkar-e-Taiba as a terrorist organization. It has thereby poked two fingers in Pakistan’s eye. This, the Israelis assume will please New Delhi so much that it may be moved, by way of reciprocation, to proscribe HAMAS as a terrorist organization.
In other words, Israel proscribes Pakistan based LET as terrorist but India shirks from casting HAMAS in similar terms. Some may not spot the non sequitur. The media, particularly in the West, in its current form must not be expected to insert the umpteen arguments New Delhi may have for its equivocation. Israeli ambassador’s initiative falls far short of the florid imagery employed by the Ukraine ambassador to describe Russian troops in Ukraine: “Like Moghul massacre of Rajputs.”
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The Israeli initiative came at a time when HAMAS was more in the news than ever before but so was Gaza, with optics so horrible as to make the Israeli sales pitch unbelievably insensitive. Across the globe, television viewers in countless millions, see HAMAS and Palestinian resistance as one. It must all be extremely embarrassing for Mahmoud Abbas, the notional leader of the Palestinian authority whom US and Israel hope to foist as leader, quite incongruously, of men holding wounded babies in their arm, women carrying their meagre belongings to few know where, bombed hospitals and scenes of horror like Dresden in the movies. Those bearing the pain don’t know Abbas.
The idea to resurrect Islamic terror as the last ditch effort to patch up a crumbing world order has many takers but credit for its earliest authorship goes to former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He was fiercely opposed to picking quarrels with Russia because that would divide Europe, he argued. Islamic extremism attracts a wider coalition which, according to him would include Russia and China. After all, the last two countries had their own “Muslim” problems in the Caucasus and Xinxiang.
In disgrace for having fudged an official document to go to war in Iraq, Blair persisted nevertheless: the West will pay a heavy price for not entering the war in Syria, he warned.
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Blair was a holdover from the George W. Bush era, the Sole Superpower moment. In fact the Anglo-saxon trio of Bush, Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard were in the vanguard promoting post 9/11 Islamic terror as a suitable substitute for the vanished Soviet Union cast as the enemy to sustain Western cohesion. AUKUS has the same three in concert. The concept seemed valid until the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Francis Fukuyama’s End of History proved wrong.
Antecedents to the post 9/11 Islamophobia could be traced to 1973 Yom Kippur war when the Arabs did so well as to give the Gulf States the self confidence to quadruple the price of oil. Pockets bulging with petro-dollars, the Shaikhs of Araby turned up in London to see the rain. Savoy and Dorchester hotels had “full occupancy” notices hanging in the lobby, all booked by the Shaikhs. Marks and Spencer had signs in Arabic. Savile Row oversold. Anti Christ had entered the citadel. To get even, publishers gave hefty advances to V.S. Naipaul and Salman Rushdie for Among the Believers and Satanic Verses.
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The booming economies of the Gulf States attracted Indian labour primarily from Kerala. The State’s neat, austere skyline began to be dotted with garish “Dubai houses”. Resentment at Muslims (mostly) acquiring new prosperity spilt over into communalism. This coincided with Gen. Zia ul Haq beaming Nizam e Mustafa from Pakistan, tremors from the Meenakshipuram conversions – all boosting communalism locally which was, in due course, to tie up with global Islamophobia, one reinforcing the other.
It was thick saffron on which Narendra Modi climbed to power in Gujarat in October 2001. On October 18 that year began US fireworks over Afghanistan. The media space was saturated with rocket attacks on Kabul, boosting Islamophobia sky high. Under this canopy, the Gujarat pogrom of February 2002 appeared to have international endorsement. Hindutva basked in the thought that the war on terror would help it prosper. But it was soon noticed that war on terror created more terror.
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Egged on by the neo-cons seeking comprehensive global dominance, Washington’s lightening war on terrorism began with Afghanistan. It ended ignominiously with the messiest departure from a country the US had occupied for 20 years.
By now the decline of the US, rise of China, emergence of a multipolar world, weakening G7 and an expanding BRICS were all causing anxiety. After the Afghan debacle, westward expansion of NATO upto the Ukraine-Russia border became the provocation for another war. Russia would be brought down on its knees, Putin’s nose would be rubbed in the dust and, willy nilly, a victory would be manufactured to resurrect the hegemon. Alas, victory eluded the US once again.
All of this imbues the current round between Israel and Gaza with consequences way beyond the immediate. Either a beginning towards a two-state solution softens the Arab view of Israel. Or Israel continues looking for support for all its tantrums by a hegemon which is in retreat.
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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwa
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