– Abdul Bari Masoud
New Delhi, October 21: At a well-attended public meeting here, eminent journalists, academics, and activists called on the international community to take a proactive stance in halting Zionist aggression against the helpless and unfortunate people of Gaza, as the brutal Israeli aggression on the occupied, besieged Gaza Strip kept going after the Hamas attack. The meeting convened to condemn the war against besieged Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, expressed solidarity with Palestinian people, and passed a resolution criticizing the Modi government for siding with the Zionist regime and the UN for its failure to implement its resolution against Israel.
The meeting was addressed by Prof. Achin Vinayak, fellow Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, and formerly Prof. International Relations at Delhi University; noted journalist Saeed Naqvi, with extensive experience of reporting on Middle Eastern affairs; Nivedita Menon, Prof. at the School of International Studies, JNU; and Aditya Nigam, former professor at the Centre for Studies in Developing Societies (CSDS).
The meeting was organized by Janhastakshep, a campaign against fascism, at the Press Club of India on Thursday. Speakers said we are meeting to condemn the war against besieged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is being carried out by Israeli rulers with the active support of western imperialist powers under the tutelage of the United States.
All of the speakers expressed grief over the deaths of innocent civilians during the conflict. They also lambasted the Israeli war on Gaza as a genocide carried out with the direct approval of Western imperialist powers. They underlined that the US and its allies in West Europe, who encourage and support Israel’s Zionist government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, exposed once more the hypocrisy of these nations that profess to uphold democracy and human rights but are, in reality, nothing more than dealers in bloodshed and destruction, as seen time and time again in Korea, Vietnam, South and Central America, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Palestine.
Coming down heavily on the BJP-led Federal Government for its policy toward the Palestine issue, speakers pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself cast his weight behind the Zionist Israeli rulers, casting aside India’s traditional position of support for Palestinian rights to self-determination notwithstanding the belated course correction offered by the External Affairs Ministry. It was stated that it amounts to black humor that an occupying power claims the right to defend itself against an occupied people and uses it as an excuse to unleash brutal repression upon their struggle for an inalienable right to self-determination. This situation bears uncanny resemblance to the argument furthered by the Hindutva forces in India, wherein the Hindu majority, it is said, is threatened, in the main, by a besieged Muslim minority, they added.
In defending the Hamas’s surprise attack inside Israel, the eminent speakers emphasized that the widely accepted principle of international law is that the occupying power did not have the right to use any sort of force to continue their illegal occupation, even though the occupied people had the right to resist occupation with the military or with other methods. The Palestinian people’s fight is entirely justifiable in this regard.
Israel, according to Prof. Achin Vinayak, is nothing more than a state practicing “settler apartheid” and boasting the dubious distinction of being under occupation for the longest period of time throughout the 20th century. He welcomed the heroic struggle being fought by the Palestinian people despite their suffering from death and mayhem and stressed the need for the Indian people to show their support for the Palestinian people, as many other people in the Middle East and beyond are already doing.
Even though the current course of events is tragic, Saeed Naqvi examined the history of American imperialism in the Middle East and the region since the fall of the Soviet Union to highlight the significance of the rise and subsequent fall of American power and its unilateralism, of which Israel has been a regional contractor.
Saeed Naqvi emphasized the geopolitical backdrop of the war in Gaza, which may emphasize the ultimate realization of National Security Agenda goals. These factors included the rise of China, the defeat of the United States in Afghanistan, the waning of American objectives in the war in Ukraine, the waning influence of the Group of Seven, the expansion of BRICS, and the peace that China brokered between Russia and Saudi Arabia as constituting an interesting backdrop to the war in Gaza, which possibly underscores the ultimate realization of the national aspirations of the Palestinian people even as the US and Israel indulge in a last ditch attempt to once again shore up their dying unilateralism.
Drawing from their first-hand experiences in Palestine, Professors Nivedita Menon and Aditya Nigam offered insights into the Palestinian struggle that are seldom discussed outside of the Palestinian territories. They underlined the necessity to view the current events as merely a snapshot in the larger chain of events unfolding in the region since the founding of Israel and the folly of attempting to make sense of everything from the perspective of what has transpired since October 7, 2023. Despite the fact that Hamas is denounced by the international community as a terrorist group, in the eyes of the Palestinian people, cutting across religious beliefs, it is seen as an organization most sincerely committed to the cause of completion of the Palestinian right to self-determination, while Fatah, on the other hand, is perceived to have lent itself out as a puppet to the imperialist forces.
To sum up the position of Hamas in the eyes of the Palestinian people, Prof Nivedita quoted the Palestinian author Mariam Bargouti, who has described the attack by Hamas on Israel as a jail break by the Palestinians from the jail to which Gaza has been converted. Bargouti also says that it is perhaps the first time that a ‘weeping kid finally had his punch, which left the bully shaken’.
The meeting ended with a resolution that criticized the “RSS -BJP” government for turning into apologists of American-backed Israeli aggression on Palestine and called for Immediate cessation of the ongoing hostilities against the besieged people of Gaza, Immediate lifting of the siege of Gaza by Israel and that international relief be allowed into Gaza without further delay, and Implementation in letter and spirit of all UN resolutions calling for the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people and the formation of an independent Palestinian state.