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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 31, July 26, 2014

Swaraj Should Visit Jallianwala Bagh

Saturday 26 July 2014, by M K Bhadrakumar

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s reported statement on July 21 in Parliament regarding the Israeli aggression on Gaza is not only illogical but also morally bankrupt and cowardly.

It was one thing to have said that the Israel-friendly Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] can never bring itself to criticise Israel on any issue under the sun. The ideological affinity between the two protagonists is all too apparent. But to play with words on such a tragic issue as Gaza is a cowardly act; it shows moral ambivalence, crass insensitivity and is reprehensible. When the government enjoys such a brute majority in Parliament, why should it play hide-and-seek? Swaraj is indulging in sophistry to say that the Narendra Modi Government is following the footsteps of I.K. Gujral as regards the Palestine cause. It is a ludicrous claim and is laughable.

Put simply, when over 500 civilians have been butchered—and the carnage is still going on—India should raise its voice instead of burying its head in the sand. Even US Secretary of State John Kerry has shown the courage to voice his frustration.

The point is, a ‘neutral’ stance on this subject is never really tenable. And that is more so now that Israel launched a ground assault on Gaza. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, said the violence unleashed by Israel is “atrocious”.

Resistance to occupation and a state unlea-shing beastly violence on a hapless people are two different things. How can Swaraj sit in judgment and equate them? Where is the question of “taking sides” here? The thought of “taking sides” arises only because there is no moral clarity here on the part of the government.

What is taking place in Gaza is as horren-dous as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre during India’s freedom struggle. The israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is being as cold-blooded as General Dyer when he says, without a trace of remorse, that the brutality and aggression will continue for “as long as needed”. Alas, Swaraj needs to be reminded today that she is the Foreign Minister of a country that has experienced colonialism and the horrors of slavery.          

Ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.