Sunday, May 04, 2008

Israel, at 60, shows admirable grit

Israel, at 60, shows admirable grit
Our newspapers and 24x7 news channels went gaga over Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stopover in New Delhi last Tuesday. Given the exuberant, almost fawning, media coverage accorded to Mr Ahmadinejad, it would seem as if a great friend of India had come visiting although we didn't quite deserve this honour, having stabbed Iran in the back, so to say, at the behest of the 'Great Satan', otherwise known as the United States of America.
Such is the Left's influence on the media and the awesome disregard of our intellectuals -- or what passes for intellectuals -- who straddle newspapers and television channels, for India's strategic interests, that nobody has bothered to point out that a nuclear armed Iran is something we can do without. If Mr Ahmadinejad, with more than a little help from Russia and China, not to mention Pakistan's rogue nuclear establishment, is able to enrich sufficient uranium to produce an arsenal of nuclear warheads, Israel alone won't have reason to worry.
We have also elected to ignore the fact that Iran has been consistent in voting against India at the OIC even while pretending to be a 'friendly' nation. At the UN, rare is the occasion when Iran has made common cause with India, although the reverse is not true. It does not require evidence collated by the US to assert that Iran is currently forging a Shia brand of radical Islamism, much more insidious and potent than the pernicious ideology bequeathed by Sayyid Qutb to the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen, with the purpose of becoming the dominant Islamic state by displacing traditional Sunni powers. In the short term this may not affect India, but in the long term it is bound to scorch us.
Nor has anybody bothered to point out that while India needs Iranian oil (and perhaps also Iranian gas), an increasingly isolated and cash-strapped Iran needs an emerging market to mobilise resources. At a time when Western democracies are loath to do business with Mr Ahmadinejad's regime, selling oil and gas to India makes eminent sense for Iran. Yes, it also makes eminent sense for India to leverage Iran's troubles to its advantage, but that would require a certain craftiness which is absent in those who preside over India's destiny. If this is true of the Congress, it is equally true of the BJP. The Left, of course, craftily conspires against India's national interests. The others really do not matter.
Meanwhile, Amit Baruah, writing in the Hindustan Times about Mr Ahmadinejad's visit, mentions something that does not figure in the other glowing reports that appeared in last Wednesday's newspapers. "In his opening remarks, Mr Ahmadinejad once again questioned the extent of the Holocaust against the Jews in World War II and felt this was used as a pretext to occupy Palestine," Amit Baruah says in his report, adding, "He also raised questions about the 9/11 terrorist attacks and felt these acted as an excuse to occupy both Iraq and Afghanistan."
Amit Baruah is a senior journalist and there is no reason to doubt the veracity of his report. Indeed, the fact that others chose not to incorporate Mr Ahmadinejad's odious anti-Semitic rant in their reports tells a story by itself -- of how our media is careful to excise those comments that may reflect poorly on individuals it places on a high pedestal. Not surprisingly, Amit Baruah's report has been picked up by Islamist Websites.
The man who now leads and inspires born-again Nazis and would like to see the remaining Jews exterminated and Israel "wiped off the face of the world" is not as daft as some people make him out to be. He used his stopover in New Delhi to repeat his outrageous lies -- that the Holocaust is Jewish fiction, Jews masterminded 9/11, and Israel is an illegitimate entity -- steeped in anti-Semitism on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. He needed a platform and we, to our abiding shame, provided him with one.
Will we now onward allow any and every visitor to berate another nation from our soil? What if someone were to use his or her interaction with the media to denounce China and question the legitimacy of its occupation of Tibet? Have we become so soft a state that nothing matters any more? Is our foreign policy now bereft of all morals, scruples and ethics that were once considered central to our civilisational identity as a nation, as a people?
In sharp contrast to our inability to stand up and be counted, and thus be courted for our inherent strength and power, Israel remains firm as a rock in its determination to succeed against all odds. Unlike India, it is just a dot on the map, a small country that can be traversed between sunrise and sunset. Yet it is a giant among nations, ferocious in war and magnanimous in peace. In the last 15 years, ever since we established diplomatic relations, it has done nothing that can be even remotely considered to be against India's interests. Yet we are reluctant to acknowledge this friendship and stand by it.
On May 8, Israel will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its independence. During these six decades, indeed, from the time David Ben-Gurion declared Israel's independence, it has been at war with its implacable Arab foes, fighting for its survival. But that has not stopped it from emerging as a power to contend with, a David among Goliaths who won't rest till the last drop of Jewish blood has been shed. It has been the victim of unceasing calumny and perversion of history by those who blindly support the tribe of Mr Ahmadinejad and endorse their anti-Semitism.
British journalist and author Melanie Phillips, in a scintillating essay published in the latest issue of the Spectator, pithily sums up Israel's heroic struggle: "On the day after Ben-Gurion declared (Israel's) independence, six Arab armies invaded and tried to wipe it out. With the current exception of Egypt and Jordan, the Arab and Muslim world has been trying ever since... At present, the situation looks particularly ominous. Israel is menaced on several fronts...".
It is Iran which has taken over from the Arabs. In Lebanon, it is funding and arming Hizbullah whose leader Hassan Nasrallah is sworn to Israel's destruction. In Gaza, it is nursing Hamas whose army of fanatics has declared it won't rest till the last Jew is dead. In Syria, Iran is working over time to keep anti-Israeli sentiments alive. All this while building a Bomb to "wipe Israel off the face of the world" and achieve what Nasser failed in achieving 60 years ago.
Such is the 'friend' of India our media fetes.

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