We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

India’s deepening love affair with Israel

26 93 324
10.09.2021

The revelation that Pegasus – spyware developed by the Israeli cyber-arms company NSO – was used to surveil opposition politicians, activists, public officials and journalists in India, has once again confirmed that the right to privacy, freedom of speech and expression and freedom of the press are threatened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

Dismissing the controversy, a member of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Basavaraj Somappa Bommai, declared, “It is a conspiracy involving foreign press where these kinds of misinformation campaigns have been done against India … Using digital platforms, they try to destabilise different countries. Now, the eyes are set on India.”

However, opposition politicians have accused Prime Minister Modi of “treason”. And, the Press Club of India (PCI) described this as an unprecedented attack on the Indian democracy. The PCI tweeted, “This is the first time in the history of this country that all pillars of our democracy – judiciary, parliamentarians, media, executives and ministers – have been spied upon.”

But it is not mere happenstance that technology developed by an Israeli company was used by the Hindu nationalist leadership in India. Over the years, the two countries have developed a robust strategic, military and technology partnership. Furthermore, there has long been an ideological alliance between the BJP and Israel that helps further the ambitions of both parties.

Relations between Israel and India have not always been as friendly as they are today. In 1938, Mahatma Gandhi had famously said, “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French.”

Jawaharlal Nehru – who eventually became the first prime minister of independent India – expressed his sympathies for the Jewish population facing persecution in Europe. However, Nehru also insisted that “fundamentally the problem of Palestine is a nationalist one. The Arabs are struggling against imperialist control and domination. It is a pity, therefore, that the Jews of Palestine instead of aligning themselves with this struggle have thought it fit to take the side of British imperialism and to seek its protection against the inhabitants of the country.”

India remained invested in the idea of Arab freedom in Palestine in the lead up to its independence in August 1947 and thereafter. It was an elected member of the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). And, in September 1947, it was one of only 13 countries that voted against the United Nations’ Partition Plan for Palestine.

In a statement against the partition plan, the Indian representative and member of UNSCOP, Sir Abdur Rahman, said, “The people of Palestine have now admittedly reached a stage of development where their recognition as an independent nation can no longer be delayed. They are in no way less advanced than the people of the other free and independent Asiatic countries.” Rahman added that the failure to grant independence to Palestinians would lead to continued violence in the region.

As Israel secured UN membership, signed armistice agreements with its neighbours and was recognised as a sovereign state by the leading powers, India also eventually felt compelled to recognise Israel in 1950. However, India’s leanings towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and status as a key architect of the Non-Alignment Movement meant that its allegiance was with its Arab allies and it had very limited, if any, diplomatic relations with the Western bloc-allied Israel at the time.

In 1956, during the Suez Crisis, India extended its........

© Al Jazeera


Get it on Google Play