India Must Stand United With Israel

There is not a single person of Indian origin in Palestine but there are 80,000 Israelis with roots in India. Yet for some strange reasons, there are people in this country whose sympathy lay with Palestinians.

As the war between Israel and Gaza continues, US and European airlines has suspended flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport after a rocket landed one mile (1.6km) away from it.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered three US carriers that fly to Israel – Delta, United and US Airways – to halt flights for 24 hours. Europe’s aviation regulator is also urging airlines not to fly to Tel Aviv.

The suspension prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ask the US to renew flights to Israel. He asked US Secretary of State John Kerry for help lifting the FAA ban, which comes amidst heightened scrutiny over flights near conflict zones.

Earlier in the day, Israel’s transportation ministry had said: “Ben Gurion Airport is safe and completely guarded and there is no reason whatsoever that American companies would stop their flights and hand terror a prize.”

In the times when people are ruing over the lost lives in Gaza, Kerry, had reiterated Israel’s right to self-defense.

“You have people who’ve come out of tunnels. You have a right to go in and take out those tunnels. We completely support that. And we support Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets that are continuing to come in,” he had told a news channel.

Meanwhile in India, the combined opposition, which used to be in power only two months ago, is singing a different tune. From being pro-Israel, they have started shedding crocodile tears for the Palestinian loss and demanding a resolution on the war by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government.

Thankfully, rejecting the opposition’s demand for a resolution, deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha P.J. Kurien said Rule 176, under which the discussion took place does not provide for a resolution or motion of any kind. Besides, he pointed out that the government was not agreeable to a resolution or motion of any kind and there was no consensus, because of which he could do nothing.

Almost the entire opposition, which had stalled the House last week by pressing for a discussion on the issue, was unhappy as none of the demands was met and staged a walkout. The Congress party said that “India lost an opportunity to become the first voice to oppose the violence because of government’s failed stand.”

One can understand the shock and outrage at the civilian casualties in Palestine. But what people don’t seem to realise is that when you are fighting a guerilla terrorist organisation like Hamas, such casualties are sadly inevitable.

Hamas is an organization which has been elected by Palestinians for running the administration. But one can do what one knows well. The Hamas does not know at all how to run the administration. As a result it resorts to terrorism.

Also, the Hamas militants take cover in their bunkers after attacking Israel from the civilian territories of Palestine. They hide behind women and children of Gaza using their bodies as a sympathy generator in front of the world.

When Israel retaliates, people start crying over “disproportionate retaliation”. But one must understand that proportionality has rarely been a defining feature of wars. War doesn’t work that way. Any demand for proportionate response is aimed at keeping Israel at the mercy of terrorists.

War is not a dead body exchange program in which three Palestianians would be kidnapped and murdered by Israelis in exchange of three Israeli teenagers kidnapped and murdered by Palestinians. It is errorneous to suggest that if the enemy attacks, a nation can only return what was received and no more. That is, if Hamas shot one rocket, Israel too should shoot only one rocket back.

Proportionality is about legitimate military goals. To put it simply, Israel would not be restricted to shooting only one rocket back at Hamas. Proportionality, for Israel, is doing what is necessary to ensure that Hamas does not shoot any more rockets in the years to come, sorry, in the decades to come. This, is a legitimate military goal.

The external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj must be applauded for she refused to take sides by asserting that India’s policy on the Palestine issue remains unchanged. Swaraj said the House should not be divided but send out a joint message that wherever there is violence, it is condemnable and both Israel and Palestine should accept Egypt’s offer of peace talks.

There is not a single person of Indian origin in Palestine but there are 80,000 Israelis with roots in India. Yet for some strange reasons, there are people in this country whose sympathy lay with Palestinians. They are least bothered about Indian-Israelis.

Israel takes tremendous precautions to protect its own citizens and its guests.

India, a nation troubled for long by terrorists in her neighbourhood needs to learn lessons from them. Israel is India’s friend. They have always stood by India.

Let’s understand this – Terrorists can never be India’s friends.

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