The year 1992 will be remembered for many important world events. The demolition of the Berlin Wall was completed that year. It was also the year when India and China established full diplomatic relations with Israel. Since then, they have vied for technological collaboration with the Jewish state, not only in military but also, more importantly, in agriculture. Prakash Nanda, in his recent article in First Post, has shown in detail how China has so far defeated India in the race for techno-economic collaboration with Israel. Here is the operational part of the article:
“As of today, with an annual trade volume of over US $11 billion, China is Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and third largest in the world. China has surpassed even the United States as the top funder of joint ventures in Israel involving foreign companies, including Israel's famed hi-tech startup companies. Chinese investment into Israel jumped more than tenfold to a record $16.5 billion last year, with money flooding into the country's buzzing internet, cyber-security and medical device start-ups. In contrast, India's annual trade with Israel is still around $5 billion ($ 4.5 billion in 2016), though this figure excludes the defence sector. … In other words, China is way ahead of India in utilising the Israeli-connection in trade and investment.”
The advantageous strides that China has made over India with respect to relations with Israel owes much to the left wing Nehruvian political ecosystem in India.
Every time the issue of India-Israel relations comes up, the left wing, particularly the Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPI-M) raises a hysterical pro-Palestinian protest voice and threatens to tar any overt Indian gesture as anti-Muslim. Even Maoist China, the supposedly true fatherland of Marxists, has silently watered down the Palestinian issue for a better cooperation with Israel, particularly in arms trade.
As China and Israel started normalising relations, Israel's arms sale to China in nineties and 2000s started having an effect on Chinese policy makers. In the words of academician Zhiqun Zhu, “The burgeoning relations between China and Israel have already had some effect on other policies. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, China has taken a more balanced position now than its pro-Palestine stand in the past." (China's New Diplomacy: Rationale, Strategies and Significance, 2013, p.59)
Even the support of the Arab cause by China was more for pragmatic reasons than for any real ideological concerns. A 2009 RAND report on China's international behaviour points out that in the eighties and nineties, the main feature of China's Middle East diplomacy was “arms sales to the region, aside from rhetorically touting Arab causes” which was “largely for profit”. (Evan S Medeiros, 'China's International Behavior: Activism, Opportunism, and Diversification', p.161)
In all these, China has put pragmatism and national geo-interests in the forefront. For it, the so-called Palestinian cause, as well as the relations with Israel, is both tools for furthering its own self-interest and power. In this competition for beneficiary relations with Israel, India could have emerged as a strong competitor and also a favoured civilisational partner with Israel. After all, India and Israel are old civilisations and young nation-states. They are home to ancient people who have faced persecution from common expansionist enemies. Further, India has been the historical home to the Jews who came here, where perhaps in the entire world, it was the only place where Jews knew no anti-Semitic persecutions.
So naturally, the Jewish state repeatedly sought the friendship of India. Unfortunately, the Nehruvian myopic vision coupled with the left-Islamist hatred for Israel led to India behaving in a schizophrenic way more than once. Indian leaders had, now it has come out, sought Israeli help during crises. However, they refused to acknowledge this help, leave alone establishing full diplomatic ties.
In hindsight, one feels that the left wing forces could have had a role in this, at least after the Cold War, to facilitate China taking over the natural advantage India had in establishing good relations with Israel.
The CPI (M) has consistently been the voice of China’s geo-strategic concerns in India. Criticising the Malabar joint India-US joint naval exercises, CPI (M) leader Prakash Karat writing in People’s Democracy, the official voice of the party pointed out that the aim of the exercise was “to contain China”. Then he declared: “Such a strategic military tie up with the United States is harmful for India’s strategic independence and autonomy. India should not become a cog in the US military strategy in Asia. All patriotic and anti-imperialist forces should oppose the staging of the Malabar exercises.” (30 September 2015)
Again, Karat took the Narendra Modi government to task in People's Democracy for not being part of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project of China. That China, by building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through Gilgit, a part of PoK, has clearly violated the sovereignty of India, does not matter to CPI (M). In a cold, neutral way, ‘comrade’ Karat states that Gilgit “is a part of Kashmir claimed by India which has been under Pakistan’s control since 1947”. But China has clarified that it is a bilateral issue, he says. Then the ‘true fatherland’ cat is out of the box. “It is a fact that the execution of the infrastructure and connectivity projects under the BRI will be advantageous for China”, he writes, and yet he laments that “it is a pity that India is being kept out of this historic venture due to its blinkered government.” (2 July 2017)
Target: India-Israel Strategic Ties
In other words, the CPI (M) and its media associates are the forces in India which have accepted Chinese colonisation of India in principle. And they await their masters’ arrival perhaps through economic domination or perhaps through other means. It is in this context that we should see the sustained and targeted attack of the party on India-Israel relations.
For CPI (M) the attacks on Israel serve two interlinked purposes.
As pointed out by a 2009 report by India Today, it helps the party to consolidate its position with the radicalised Islamist forces in Kerala, where the Marxists are yet a strong political entity. While aligning itself with radical Islamists like Abdul Nasser Madhani, the party specifically targeted Israel becoming India’s second largest strategic partner. (‘CPI(M) invokes Israel factor to consolidate among the Muslims’, India Today, 1 April 2009)
The 2012 resolution CPI (M) passed on ‘Palestine’ specifically targeted India-Israeli joint space ventures and rhetorically associated it with alleged targeted elimination of terrorist leaders by Israeli services. The resolution points out that “first under the BJP-led NDA Government and subsequently the two UPA Governments, India has built close security and military ties with Israel. India is now the largest buyer of arms from Israel and buys more than even the Israeli armed forces. India's launching Israeli spy satellites and joint research with Israel on missiles and drones must be seen against the background of the targeted assassinations that Israel routinely carries out using such drones and spy satellites. All this makes India complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine, in contradiction to its avowed policy of support to the Palestinian cause.”
In July 2014 the CPI (M) wanted Parliament to pass a resolution condemning Israel to which the Modi government did not oblige. People’s Democracy launched a scathing attack on the Indian government in its editorial, pointing out that India is the “largest buyer of Israeli armaments”, and asking people to “pressurise this BJP-led NDA government to immediately stop India’s purchase of Israeli defence equipment”. Once again the stand of CPI (M) was well tuned to benefit China.
It does not need a scholar in strategic studies to see that the common thread in all these is the targeting of India-Israeli collaboration in arms and space technologies, which China considers as an advantage that has been taken away from it.
Advice Only To Motherland And Never To The Only Fatherland
The CPI (M) and Communist Party of China regularly exchange delegations and praise each other. CPI (M) leader Sitaram Yechuri regularly visits China and hold talks with the highest authorities of power. In 2015, when he visited, none other than the Chinese President briefed him about the OBOR project. Without raising any question about the road passing through Gilgit which is part of PoK, Yechuri wanted China to include India’s spice route into its own ambitious Maritine Silk Route project (‘Communist Party of China values ties with CPI(M)’, The Hindu, 21 October 2015).
So CPI (M) will create hurdles in India-Israel relations by creating a bad public perception and inciting Islamists by insinuating India as being complicit in the alleged atrocities of Israel. At the same time, it will remain perfectly silent on China, about its own relations with Israel, though the party enjoys with China ideological relations and frequent visits.
Now, with Modi’s visit to Israel, CPI (M) and related media have started the attack on the budding India-Israel relations. It is not only the overtly party-affiliated People’s Democracy that is attacking India-Israel relations. In an interestingly strategic move Al Jazeera got Vijay Prasad of LeftWord publishing house to write blistering attacks on Modi. He is introduced as one who “edited ‘Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation.” And as the “Chief Editor of LeftWord Books, which published From India to Palestine: Letters in Solidarity, edited by Githa Hariharan, he has an essay.” What it did not tell the readers is that LeftWord is a commercial publishing venture owned by none other than CPI (M) (The Hindu, 15 May 2000). Githa Hariharan also is one of the convenors of the Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. The web of breaking India forces and anti-Israel forces operating in India, have many common names. Formed in 2010, the organisers say that “in response to the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel” they “have come together to form the India Chapter of this international movement.”
All these movements overtly look like they are supporting a humanitarian cause (which in itself is to be questioned). However, most of the signatories can also be found in petitions supporting Maoists and mercy petitions for jihadists like Yakub Memon. Again, the agenda is very clear. Through manufactured dissent and by inciting Islamist vote bank politics, they create a schizophrenic uncertainty in the budding India-Israeli relations. This ultimately helps China to move forward. The very fact that most of these ‘humanitarians’ never care to launch a boycott of China’s over its cultural genocide of Tibetans and its measures in occupied Tibetan territories is proof enough for this – if at all proof is needed.
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