US Imperialism

Peak Oil


WSF In India







Gujarat Pogrom






Join Mailing List

Contact Us


Sharing The Art Of Ethnic Cleansing

By Mani Shankar Aiyar

Indian Express
05 September, 2003

Ariel Sharon began his career in 1946-47 with one of the Zionist terrorist gangs who flung themselves against the British mandate. He was then involved in the war of 1948, when lakhs of innocent Palestinians, whose only fault was that they were not Jewish, were driven like cattle from their homes, massacred in the thousands, rendered refugees in their own land. While it was proximately the Germans under Hitler who created the “Jewish problem”, it was the civilisational tussle between European Christendom and the Jewish community — immortalised in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice — which found a solution to the Jewish diaspora by returning them to where they had emerged from 2000 years earlier. The one time the Jews suffered no discrimination in Europe was under Arab rule in the Empire of Andalus, stretching through much of the Iberian peninsula (present day Spain and Portugal) from the 7th to the 12th centuries. It is, therefore, bitter irony that it is the Arabs who have had to pay the price of absorbing the Jewish exodus from European and American Christendom.

For men like Ariel Sharon, the innocence of the Palestinian Arabs — Muslim, Christian and Jewish — is not germane to the issue. Their issue is summed up in the notorious Zionist slogan: “A Land without People for a People without Land”, thus rendering as non-people the million indigenous people of Palestine. This made it easy to provide the ethical justification, dressed up in revanchist myth and theological mumbo-jumbo (just as the sangh parivar does) for cleansing and killing the natives to make way for the chosen people of a new nation. The only parallel in history to the establishment of Israel is the genocide and rapine which robbed the American Indians of their country to set up the United States of America — which is, of course, why the US sees nothing much wrong in the slum clearance of Palestinian Arab settlements for the blooming of the garden state of Israel. The little Palestinian village of Deir Yassin has since April 1948 remained the symbol of the terrifying atrocities to which humble village folk were subjected so that men like Ariel Sharon could rule the land.

Sharon went on to military glory by burning down 45 houses and brutally killing 69 blameless villagers, half of them women and children, at Qibya in 1953. There followed in 1982 the horror and bestiality of the mass murders in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila masterminded by Ariel Sharon: God Cried is the title of the most moving account of that savagery. The latest abomination in the long line of inhuman viciousness which has traced Sharon’s rise to the top was the bloody scythe with which he harvested uncounted thousands of ordinary Palestinians, including wailing women and new-born babes, in the Occupied Palestinian town of Jenin in 2002, coinciding with last year’s state-sponsored mass murders in Gujarat under the gentle dispensation of Narendra Modi, the chief minister whom Sharon most closely resembles.

The mindset of Sharon and Modi is as two peas in a pod. For both, only their community is human. So stoking communal frenzy is par for the course. Orchestrating blood-baths is legitimate politics. Both are non-Muslim Don Quixotes fighting the Muslim hordes. Little wonder then that Ariel Sharon is the BJP’s favourite West Asian. He has actually done what they dream of doing. Moreover, as the Zionists who founded Israel were the original terrorists, they are pretty damn good at targeting other people’s terrorists. So, on the sound principle of setting a thief to catch a thief, Brajesh Mishra and Lal Krishna Advani are out to woo the Israelis.

It is the appeal of a common hate object which explains the BJP passion for a subsidiary alliance with the US via a deal with the Israelis which would put India and Israel on the same side as the Americans. Brajesh Mishra, followed in quick succession by L.K. Advani, have journeyed to America in the quest of becoming Israel’s top partner in West Asia and, thus, replacing Pervez Musharraf as Washington’s pet South Asian poodle. Thus is to be dumped 80 years of principled Indian support to the Palestinian cause. It was Gandhiji who said, “Palestine belongs to the Palestinians as France does to the French and England to the English”. Now we have had the obscene spectacle of Jaswant Singh, as external affairs minister, travelling to Jerusalem to deliver himself of the disgraceful statement that it was not Gandhian principle but “Muslim vote-bank politics” which stood in the way of full diplomatic relations with Israel. This only confirms that what really drives the BJP’s Israel-Palestine policy is Hindu vote-bank politics. Eighty years of standing by Right is being undone in favour of standing by Might.

The Might is wholly illusory. Since the British compounded the partition of India with the partition of Palestine the same year, not even the wholesale backing of Israel by the United States and the West generally has cowed down the Palestinians. A struggle of the kind going on in Palestine against the most impossible odds for a relentless half-century would not have been possible if the core issue had not been justice. There can be no peace without justice. Yet, it is the assurance of justice for the oppressed Palestinians that has been lacking in all previous Western initiatives (Madrid, Washington, Oslo, Wye river) and now in the Bush-Blair road map. For notwithstanding the Palestine National Authority’s acceptance of the road-map, the fact is that the Palestinian state envisaged at the end of the road is lacking in all the attributes of sovereignty. It is yet another version of Panchayati Raj in the Gaza Strip.

The only definitive answer to Palestine was given by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1947: a federal democratic state with autonomous Jewish and Arab units, citizens together of a common Semitic nation founded on the bedrock of secularism. That is what will happen when the Arab population of Israel reduces the Jews in Israel to a minority, well before the 21st century draws to a close. A sovereign, independent state of Palestine is written into the destiny of West Asia. Peace will come when that goal is realised. Not before, whatever the machinations of mice and men.