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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 42 October 14, 2023

Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, Oct 14, 2023

Saturday 14 October 2023


Letter to the Readers, Mainstream, October 14, 2023

Following horrific assaults last week by Islamist militias of Hamas from Gaza in unprecedented raids across the border in Southern Israel that killed over a thousand civilians, Israel is now retaliating with a counter-offensive and has declared war, and the Israeli Defence Forces have been bombing and flattening Gaza. The Israeli military has issued an ultimatum to over 1.2 million inhabitants of Northern Gaza to move out of their habitations in 24 hours to the South of Gaza. The UN bodies and prominent human rights groups including from Israel see this as nothing short of forced displacement (which is a war crime under international law) with a terrible humanitarian impact. Not all of the 2.1 million people living in Gaza are Hamas supporters and they should not have to pay the price for the cult of martyrdom that is represented by Hamas. This new war and cycle of revenge between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip could expand involving other countries and have a long-term impact in the Middle East, it has immediately sparked a spike in crude oil prices and will eventually impact economies all over and could also trigger a decline in remittances from migrant workers from the global south who work in economies of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region. If the conflict lasts long it could totally derail the proposed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) recently proposed at the G20 summit in Delhi. Prime Minister Modi’s expression of unequivocal support to Israel gave wind to members of his right-wing party the BJP & far-right circles to come out and condemn the opposition Congress party for its long-standing support for the Palestinian cause. The irony here is that Hindutva right-wing formations whose ideologues celebrated Hitler’s final solution against the Jews market themselves as the most ardent supporters of Israel. It is good that India’s Ministry of External Affairs did a balancing act reiterating India’s posture in favour of the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Major world powers that have expressed solidarity with Israel should do all to push for restraint and de-escalation. There have been solidarity demonstrations with Palestinians in many parts of the world including in India with calls for decolonisation and Palestinian right to self-determination. Expressions of solidarity by progressive forces with the oppressed people of Palestine are important but they must not under any circumstances condone acts of terrorism against civilians or anti-semitism as acts of resistance. We would do well to recall that the reactionary Islamists of Hamas (an emanation of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt) that hold power in Gaza were consciously cultivated by the Israeli state to undermine the secular nationalism of the PLO. We should honour and celebrate the long efforts of Israeli Communists to promote Jewish-Palestinian equality and cooperation between Israeli peace activists and forces of the Palestinian left to promote peace and stand against extremist forces on both sides despite huge odds. In the past days in the Israeli cities of Haifa and Jaffa, joint Jewish and Arab teams have acted to prevent violence on both sides. In the backdrop of war, Arab-Jewish solidarity initiatives should be supported by all for long-term peace in the region.

October 14, 2023 —HK

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