By Oren Rawls

Published September 12, 2003, issue of September 12, 2003.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Subcontinental Philosophy: While Indian Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was being diplomatically correct ahead of Prime Minister Sharon’s watershed visit to New Delhi this week, the country’s paper of record was offering up nothing less than a mea culpa for India’s long-standing pro-Palestinian position.

“As far as India is concerned, our ‘traditional’ support to the Palestinian cause and to the Arab world at large has fetched a most perfunctory quid pro quo,” columnist Dileep Padgaonkar confesses in the September 9 issue of the The Times of India. “We have received no worthwhile backing from them in the resolution of problems we face in our neighborhood, especially on Kashmir. Israel, on the other hand, has not only given us such backing but it has also extended to us its full cooperation to shore up our security and participated actively in our economic resurgence.”

Under the patronage of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, India benefited from warm relations with Arab countries. Remittances from Indian workers in the Persian Gulf helped keep New Delhi’s foreign currency reserves afloat, and Arab oil fueled India’s infamously clogged and smoggy streets.

As Kashmiri separatists have found common cause with Middle East militants during the last decade, however, Delhi has seen more eye to eye with Washington and Jerusalem. But with India’s roughly 125 million Muslims agitating for a less conciliatory stance toward America’s war in Iraq and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, Sharon’s visit has Vajpayee weighing domestic electoral concerns against strategic foreign alliances.

To hear The Times of India columnist tell it, the choice is a no-brainer.

“We were willing to back to the hilt tin-pot dictators and sundry sheiks but not a vibrant democracy,” Padgaonkar writes, pulling no punches. “We chose to forego trade opportunities with a country whose annual per capita GNP was higher than that of many of its neighbors. We deprived ourselves of sophisticated technology, including in the field of armaments, and instead played footsie with regimes which could not manufacture a safety pin.

“Regardless of our reservations about… the Israeli PM’s policies and methods, we must summon the grace to say to him loudly and clearly: Shalom! Ariel Sharon.”

* * *

Subcontinental Philosophy II: While Indian journalists were all agog over the Israeli prime minister’s visit, a series of seven successive bombings on Monday in India’s northern neighbor Nepal had the largest English-language Arab daily condemning terrorists — without qualification.

“Terrorists who say that they are sorry for killing innocent bystanders should choke on their words,” the Arab News editorializes in its September 9 issue. “Were that sorrow genuine, they would seek to avoid such slaughter. But of course they will do no such thing.… Plastic explosives and the timed detonator combine to produce the perfect weapon for the moral dwarf.”

The moral dwarfs in this case are Maoist rebels who have been fighting to overthrow the Himalayan kingdom’s constitutional monarchy and install a communist republic since 1996.

“As has become clear from the behavior of terrorists worldwide, from Colombia to Northern Ireland, from Riyadh to Nepal, there comes a point where the cause, whatever it may be, becomes insignificant compared to the day-to-day bloodshed,” Arab News writes of the 7,800 lives lost in the Maoist insurgency. “A terrorist who is clever enough to build a bomb is also bright enough to realize that if it is placed to explode in a public space, it is going to be indiscriminate in the destruction it causes. If the killers feel bad about causing an innocent death, they still have some basic humane instincts which tell them that the misery and death that they are causing is wrong.”

One cannot but ask, though, whether this Arab voice of reason applies equally to the Palestinian terrorists who suicide-bombed Rishon Letzion and Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Find us on Facebook!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  •'s Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.