ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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This Business with Israel

There was no reason why Israel's foreign minister had to be in India at this time and at this conjuncture of history. No more inept step could have been taken by Indian foreign policy planners.

It was in early years of the 20th century that Lokamanya Tilak had thundered in his Kesari that the government of India had lost its head! A bold thing to say during the heyday of the British Empire. It would not take as much courage to say it today. But strangely not many seem to have said it. One always knew that Tilak had in his time an anti-imperialist polemic to make, while we now live in age and times when the category of anti-imperialism does not make much sense to most people who claim to speak for and in the name of the Indian people. They might even wonder why we have chosen to refer to, in their view, a deservedly near-forgotten Maharashtrian brahman and that too in terms of what he had to say about the British. Surely you cannot do that when the latter day Lord Clive or somebody like that makes such a worthwhile trip to New Delhi pledging near total support to the south Asian victims of terrorism, i e, us. The small B (we mean Blair, the big B being Bush) even was gracious to compare their parliament with ours. We do understand the recent enthusiasm for him but there is no gainsaying that our great expectations from the two Bs may yet prove to be one great trap. It was time we looked more closely at what our alleged allies are doing or what they would want to do. The fact of the matter is that the anti-terrorism war is not their only project. The Advanis and the Murali Manohar Joshis of our great land are much too excited to see the possibility that we might well be on a trip planned for us by some other people.

The Israeli foreign ministers trip here makes one suspect that we are being taken for a ride. We should have paused and thought for a while about what kind of anti-terrorist credentials the Israelis have and, indeed, if they have any at all. The fact of the matter is that a state based on a religious identity and which effectively stands for a two-nation theory within Palestine is not and cannot be your ally in your struggle against terrorism and for assertion of a modern, secular basis of nationalism. Who gave this brilliant idea to our policy-makers that Israel could be our ally in this undertaking is a mystery. Israel is not only not a secular state but, what is worse, it is no less fundamentalist in its approach to matters of religion and politics. We should have known that a fundamentalist state cannot be our ally against fundamentalist violence. There is a limit to simplemindedness. We were perfectly free to reiterate at this time, if we had to, that we respect Israels right to survival as a sovereign state; although this position is obvious and scarcely needed reiteration. But to go beyond this at this hour and indulge in bonhomie of sorts was unpardonable. In international politics anything can be justified but then such positions have to be justified it terms of solid old fashioned national interest. It is regrettably true that a shortsighted view of Indias interests has been taken. There was no reason why Israels foreign minister had to be here at this time and at this conjuncture of history. No more inept step could have been taken.

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