In a fair world, the contemporary leadership of India and Israel would understand the mistakes of the past and try to rectify the occupation of Kashmir and the occupation of Palestine. But back in the real world, both India and Israel thrive on perpetuating a cycle of violence against the occupied while spinning a narrative to the outside world that the victims are the aggressors and that somehow those armed with sticks and stones are a “threat” to states with nuclear arms and a modern airforce.
These unfortunate characteristics have come to the fore in ever more prominent ways in recent years. This is largely due to the fact that far from just carrying on old traditions of war and occupation, Indian Premier Narendra Modi and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu have become grossly hyperbolic representatives of the most militant, extremist and sectarianism tendencies within their own political cultures. Whilst Modi and Netanyahu did not invent Hindutva extremism nor Zionist extremism, respectively, they have both come to be the most effective representatives of the most extreme tendencies of both ideologies.
This year was not the first time that Modi and Netanyahu have used military violence against an occupied peoples in order to secure the ultra-jingoistic vote during an election season. That being said, this year has seen both Netanyahu and Modi become ever more brazen in their violent electoral tactics. India’s full scale mobilisation against occupied Kashmir in the aftermath of the Pulwama incident saw ever more soldiers and heavy artillery enter the most militarised zone in the world. It was this same aggressive attitude which saw Israel conduct large scale airstrikes against occupied Gaza over the last 12 hours.
Furthermore, whilst Netanyahu scapegoats all of Israel’s internal problems on the existence of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Modi does the same in respect of the existence of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Modi’s “surgical tree strike 2.0” against Pakistan was little different than Netanyahu’s frequent air raids against alleged Iranian personnel in neighbouring Syria.
But the similarities do not end there. For Netanyahu and his supporters, occupied Palestinians are not humans but terrorists. When one realises that women, children, the elderly and the limbless are also scoffed at as “terrorists” by Netanyahu’s ultra-Zionist base, one can begin to understand how for Modi’s ultra-Hindutva base, the same applies to the civilians of Indian occupied Kashmir.
When it comes to Indian Muslims and so-called “Arab Israelis”, things are not much better. Modi’s government has continued to either turn a blind eye or even encourage violent and sexual assaults against Indian Muslims whilst working to culturally cleanse India’s rich Muslim heritage from the streets and monuments of the country. Recent legislation has even made it clear that while undocumented Hindu migrants can become Indian citizens, the same does not apply to Muslims in the same position. This is the case in spite of India’s technically secular constitution.
As if taking cues from Modi, in 2018, Netanyahu passed the Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People law which defines Israel not just as a “Jewish State” but as a state of and for Jewish people. This has effectively ended the long held myth that the minority of Arab citizens of Israel have a truly equal footing in society.
But it is not just Arab Muslims and Indian Muslims who are discriminated against in their respective countries. The ever growing Hindtuva movement is also suppressible of the right of Sikhs to hold a peaceful referendum for self-determination in Indian Punjab. Meanwhile, in Israel, the many black African Jewish migrants to Israel are in many ways treated even worse than indigenous Arabs.
Of course in both instances, due to the large global powers seeking strategic partnerships with both India and Israel, little is said and virtually nothing is done about these worrying trends.
But there is one important difference. Whilst recent years have seen western celebrities join the BDS movement to oppose Israeli occupation and discrimination against Palestinians, India’s black propaganda continues to convince many self-described “peace activists” of the wider world and in western states in particular, that occupied Kashmiris and Pakistan are to blame for regional strife. While Netanyahu’s mask has slipped among influential artist-activists like Roger Waters, Kashmir and Pakistan have yet to receive support from those who dare to speak out against India’s culture of extremist Hindutva violence.
Thus, while Israel’s Hasbara propaganda is beginning to show its limitations, India is far ahead of the game when it comes down to portraying itself as a victim abroad whilst the international community gives it a blank cheque in respect of aggression against occupied Kashmir and even against its own Muslim citizens.