The cat is out of the bag – the Modi government will not condemn the US President Donald Trump’s announcement recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The European Union, Russia, China and the entire Muslim world are aghast. But India ducks by claiming it has “independent and consistent… views and interests” that are “not determined by any third country.” (here)
Why such cowardly prevarication? Either Modi government should show the courage to acknowledge that India has a pro-Zionist West Asian policy or join the vehement international opinion. There’s nothing to hide, really. PM Modi after all went and paid homage at the tomb of the founder of Zionism in broad daylight when he visited Israel, accompanied by PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
Zionism and India’s freedom struggle are antithetical to each other. Period. There is no other way to frame the moral dilemma. But, inevitably, for the Modi government, political expediency trumps morality. It simply cannot bring itself to annoy Trump. Also, Netanyahu expects Modi to stand by – after all, Israeli and Indian companies are entering into co-production of advanced drone aircraft, finally.
But then, there is more to this than an intense family affair. The Modi government has high stakes in Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem. The point is, Modi government is also preparing for its Jerusalem announcement – construction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya. (Both are, ironically, “campaign pledges”.)
Circumstances may vary, but the powerful symbolism is quintessentially the same – bludgeoning the “other” party into submission by creating a fait accompli. Both Jerusalem and Ayodhya are explosive issues. In a world, which is barely coping with tensions and challenges of various kinds, it is illogical to inject more poison. The toxic act is unwarranted and risky unless based on consensus within a broader framework of reconciliation.
But, on the other hand, it has become necessary to placate the ‘core constituency’ at home as well as to address compulsions that exist or are expected shortly. Certainly, Trump must shore up his Christian support base and counts on the Jewish lobby to rescue him if the Congress attempts to impeach him – that is, if Michael Flynn implicates Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner (a Jew, ironically) by telling FBI special prosecutor Mueller’s team that he had contacted the Russians during the campaign itself while acting on Trump’s instructions.
In India, too, the “core constituency” of the ruling elite is no longer euphoric. Dawood Ibrahim is still in Pakistan; Article 370 remains in the book. Equally, Make in India isn’t taking off. The best option is to follow Trump’s footfalls to shore up support base and distract public opinion. By a strange coincidence, Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem and the 25th anniversary of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya overlapped on November 6. (Indian Express)
Of course, Trump is going to be pilloried by the international opinion and the US’ Middle East policies will run into headwinds. Hopefully, Trump will reciprocate India’s support. Two is company, as they say.
The bottom line is, China is the winner. Beijing probably anticipates it. This is what the foreign ministry spokesman said in Beijing on November 6 even before Trump made the announcement:
- We have noted the report and are paying close attention to the relevant development. What we worry about is any potential flare-up of regional tensions. The status of Jerusalem is a complicated and sensitive issue. All parties shall bear in mind regional peace and tranquility, proceed with caution, and avoid impacting on the long-standing basis for the settlement of the Palestinian issue or triggering new rivalry in the region.
- China firmly supports and advances the Middle East peace process. We support the just cause of the Palestinian people to restore their legitimate national rights and stand behind Palestine in building an independent, full sovereignty state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. We call on all parties to remain committed to resolving disputes through negotiations and promoting regional peace and stability in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions.
There is no daylight possible between China and the Muslim world. Whereas, from now onward, there is not only daylight but also moonlight possible between India and the Muslim world.