Make Up With Israel

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Decades of snubbing by Islamic countries that refuse to support India on Kashmir and by Muslims who refuse to vote BJP fail to teach romantics a lesson

In a democracy, the buck stops at the desk of the minister, not at the doorsteps of his bureaucrats. The National Democratic Alliance government in general and Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj in particular cannot, therefore, look for excuses like a status quo-oriented Indian Foreign Service for the fiasco of voting against Israel’s wish of moving its capital to Jerusalem at the United Nations. Nationalists will not pull up India’s permanent representative at the United Nations for the blunder; they will ask Prime Minister why the Indian staff at the UN was not instructed to correct its course in time. India is not in the league of the 127 other countries that voted for the Egypt-drafted resolution against Israel. Several members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation have, every now and then, voted against the United States because they could afford to — either for being insignificant players in the global game or for being economies where the American input is not necessary. India must, in contrast, rise fast from its developing to developed status both economically and militarily. Politically and sociologically, the Americans have shown that they are less prejudiced than their European counterparts in judging the treatment Indian governments mete out to its citizens. While the Arabs and other Islamic nations had a religious reason to infringe upon the sovereignty of the country of Jews, India betrayed utter lack of sense of geopolitics when it abandoned ideal allies Israel and the United States to seek the elusive support of Muslim countries on issues such as the status of Kashmir.

Israel must be ruing the fact that it had gone out of its way in extending to our prime minister a red carpet welcome in July this year, wherein even its went ecstatic over their newfound friend in India. Since the time India realised that the Nehruvian, communist tilt in its foreign policy only ended up making the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics dump on it outdated technology for infrastructure development and warfare at exorbitant prices — with a horrible after-sales service record — it diversified the sources of procurement of arms away from while turning near-self-sufficient in building its own industry. In the changed scenario, while the prices of weapons from the US were as prohibitive, Israel emerged as a solution, offering almost the same technology at a fraction of the price. In the international arena, Israel has never been hostile to Indian interests even as that country is itself surrounded by oppugnant countries baying for Jewish blood. Further, as the US seeks to build an axis with India and Japan to counter the influence of China in the Asia-Pacific region, which is in the Indian interest too, India’s vote at the General Assembly was indeed “preposterous”, the word Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used to describe the decision while not naming India as a collaborator. When he visits this country in January 2018, the Modi dispensation will have to brace for some embarrassing moments.

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Swaraj aggravated the situation on micro-blogging site Twitter by beseeching an Islamist for Muslim votes in domestic elections. The communal leader seized the opportunity to snub her, which belittled the stature of India’s foreign minister. Ever since, the supporters of the government have been after the lady who had risen to eminence under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, the mistakes of which a few of her colleagues and she are bent on repeating. Does the clique, pejoratively referred to as Club 160, want a repeat of 2004? When Modi was foisted as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate in late-2013, some political observers had sought to address the misgivings of the ‘secular’ brigade by saying that the Indian system was such that it moulded whoever came to power rather than letting the newbie modify the system. To the utter chagrin of Modi’s fans, such foreboding appears coming true as ministers in this government fall over one another to woo a community that has long made up its mind to oppose it en masse. Even seven decades of bitter experience with Islamic countries that flatly refused to support India’s stand on Kashmir have not served the purpose of an eye-opener to the starry-eyed section of the supposed right-wing party of the country. The benefits of Modi’s act of “breaking the Indian diplomatic convention and siding with Israel in the West Asia conflict — the first by an Indian prime minister”, as we had described his last meeting with Netanyahu, have been reversed by the unfounded romanticism of Swaraj. Before the Israeli premier comes visiting next month, Modi must keep ready a compensatory package. Even as the Donald Trump administration threatens to squeeze funds to the UN as a retaliatory measure, the essential lesson India must draw from the years lost to Nehruvianism is that foreign policy must be pragmatic, not moralistic. More so when the very Muslim countries we seek to humour have questionable morals, accommodating the demands of even the US for money or out of fear!

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