Sunday, May 31, 2009
India's Israel Envy
Many well-meaning but misguided Pakistanis, such as Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy, continue to question the wisdom of Pakistani nuclear tests and subsequent ballistic missiles development in response to India going nuclear in May 1998. As we listen to their arguments, some of which appear quite reasonable and valid, let's try and put them in perspective by reviewing what has become known as India's "Israel envy".
Prior to Mumbai terror attacks last year, Indian author Pankaj Mishra wrote as follows:
"Gung-ho members of India's middle class clamor for Israeli-style retaliation against jihadi training camps in Pakistan. But India can "do a Lebanon" only by risking nuclear war with its neighbor; and Indian intelligence agencies are too inept to imitate Mossad's policy of targeted killings, which have reaped for Israel an endless supply of dedicated and resourceful enemies."
The growing admiration of the Jewish state and the urge to emulate Israel often find expression in the Indian media. Those who argue for "doing a Lebanon" in Pakistan have once again found growing support in India with the government and the media joining the chorus of accusations of Pakistan's complicity in Mumbai attacks last year. Saber rattling also started with India's Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee not ruling out military strikes in Pakistan. President Obama came out in support of India's right "to protect themselves". Asked if India had the right to “take out” high-value targets inside Pakistan with or without the permission of Islamabad, as he is espousing, he said: “I think that sovereign nations, obviously, have a right to protect themselves". This is the same kind of language that former President Bush often used in support of Israel's attacks on Palestinians and Lebanese.
Last year, as the Israeli jets ruthlessly pounded Palestinian civilians' homes, schools, hospitals, clinics and refugee camps, and then the Israeli tanks rolled into Gaza as part of Israel's criminal assault on an unarmed Palestinian civilian population, who do not have their own military to protect them, many Indians openly wished they could do the same in Pakistan.
It is strange to see the growing admiration of Israel among the Hindu right-wing, in sharp contrast to RSS founder Madhav Golwalkar's support for Hitler and his genocide of Jews. This is how British Historian William Dalrypmle describes it:
Golwalkar looked for inspiration to the Nazi thinkers of 1930’s Germany. He believed an independent India should emulate Hitler's treatment of religious minorities, which he thoroughly approved of: "To keep up the purity of the Race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging of its Semitic Race, the Jews," he wrote admiringly in We soon after Kristallnacht. "Race pride at its highest has been manifested there. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for Races and cultures having differences going to the root to be assimilated into one united whole, a good lesson for us in Hindusthan to learn and profit by... The foreign races in Hindusthan [ie the Muslims] must adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no ideas but those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture[… and] may [only] stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing -- not even citizen’s rights."
During Partition in 1947, the RSS was responsible for many horrifying atrocities against India's Muslims, and it was a former RSS swayamsevak, Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi for (in RSS eyes) “pandering” to the Muslims. In the aftermath of this, Nehru decided to deal with the threat he believed the Hindu Nationalists posed to the nation and denounced the RSS as a “private army which is proceeding on Nazi lines.”
Former UN diplomat and current Indian MP Sashi Tharoor described India's "Israel envy" and warned Indians against it in the following words:
Hamas is in no position to repay Israel's air and ground attacks in kind, whereas an Indian attack on Pakistani territory, even one targeting terrorist bases and training camps, would invite swift retaliation from the Pakistani army. And, at the end of the day, one chilling fact would prevent India from thinking that it could use Israel's playbook: The country that condones, if not foments, the terror attacks on India is a nuclear power.
Yet, when Indians watch Israel take the fight to the enemy, killing those who launched rockets against it and dismantling many of the sites from which the rockets flew, some cannot resist wishing that they could do something similar in Pakistan. India understands, though, that the collateral damage would be too high, the price in civilian lives unacceptable, and the risks of the conflict spiraling out of control too acute to contemplate such an option. So Indians place their trust in international diplomacy and watch, with ill-disguised wistfulness, as Israel does what they could never permit themselves to do.
Unfortunately, it is not just the average middle class urban Indian that suffers from "Israel envy". Indian strategists and military brass are also afflicted by it. Respected American South Asia expert Stephen Cohen of Washington's Brookings Institution recently told his audience: "Not a few Indian generals and strategists have told me that if only America would strip Pakistan of its nuclear weapons then the Indian army could destroy the Pakistan army and the whole thing would be over."
As we all know, no one came to the rescue of Gazans, or the Lebanese before them, and Israelis have, at least for now, essentially gotten away with mass murder and war crimes well documented by many international human rights advocacy groups. Many Israeli soldiers have also admitted to wanton disregard for civilian life and limb and the use of deadly force against unarmed Arab civilians as a matter of Israeli policy. Recently, Jewish-American Professor William I. Robinson of University of California Santa Barbara described Gaza as follows: "Gaza is Israel's Warsaw -- a vast concentration camp that confined and blockaded Palestinians. We are witness to a slow-motion process of genocide,"
Do the critics of Pakistani nukes such as Hoodbhoy want to see India do to Pakistan what Israel has been doing to its neighbors? I certainly hope not!
Another Nuclear Anniversary
Can India "Do a Lebanon" in Pakistan?
India's Israel Envy
Gaza Compared With Nazi Concentration Camps
Gaza Bombing Witnesses Describe Horror