World media has been reporting the shocking story (to those who don’t follow IDF tactics in the West Bank) of Indian army patrols tying a Kashmiri man to the grill of a military jeep and traveling through restive villages in order to humiliate and intimidate the Muslim residents. Kashmiris are outraged by this abuse and it crossed a red line for many who’d been apolitical or even supportive of India’s decades’ long occupation of the Muslim enclave:
…It is difficult to point to any single image more disturbing over that time than a video clip that started spreading on social media on Thursday. It showed a young man tied to the front bumper of a military jeep as it patrolled villages, apparently serving as a human shield against stone-throwing crowds…
Mr. Dar [the victim] said he was tied to the jeep’s bumper and driven around at least nine villages, where local people were astonished at the sight of him.
“When they saw me, they were afraid and angry,” he said. “I saw people breaking into tears on seeing my state…I voted, and this is what I got in return. Do you think it will help India in Kashmir? No. It will give Kashmiris another reason to hate India.”
To those familiar with method of IDF abuse in the West Bank, they’ll recall the numerous instances in which troops have strapped children to the hoods of jeeps and paraded them through villages in the same manner and for the same purpose. They’ll also recall troops raiding civilian homes using children as human shields in order to prevent militants from firing at them from inside the homes. Nor are these solitary incidents, but rather systematic and repeated acts of brutality.
When India abuses civilians in the same fashion, there are articles in the New York Times, outrage ensues, Indian generals shiver in their boots, heads roll. When Israel engages in even worse behavior (exploiting children, not adults as India did), there is barely a peep.
But lately IDF behavior has changed. Using children as human shields (a tactic long falsely attributed to Hamas) has lost its deterrent effect. So many children throw stones that it’s become an epidemic (in Israeli eyes). Now they engage in mass arrests of children, torture them in detention, and sentence them to long periods in prison–all in violation of international law. There are hundreds of children in Israeli prisons and arrested every day. Of course, these long prison stays provide an extensive education in Palestinian militancy. When the children emerge from prison as young adults they will take their place on the front line of Palestinian resistance–and among the shahids who sacrifice their lives (in Palestinian eyes) for the Palestinian nation.
I’ve long documented here the impact of Israeli counter-terror tactics on foreign armies facing similar civil unrest or occupation. The U.S. adapted the Israeli drone program into virtually its sole approach to Islamist militancy throughout the Middle East. Over 3,000 Muslim civilians have been killed in such drone strikes during the Obama presidency in Muslim states like Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. But as opposed to Israel, where such targeted assassinations are embraced wholeheartedly by a nation which has turned itself into a garrison state, the U.S. has at least engaged in a debate about the efficacy of these policies.
Returning to India, it has much in common with Israel today. But it was not always so. In the 1950s and 60s, India was a leader of the nonaligned movement, which supported guerilla movements around the world, including the Palestinian struggle. India also maintained close relations with the Soviet Union, which provided much of its armaments.
But in the past few years, all that has changed. India has come to be ruled by the Hindu nationalist BJP Party. Its prime minister was deeply implicated in pogroms instigated by Hindu militants against Muslims in Gujarat, where he was chief minister. Though Narendra Modi has attempted to soften the rough edges of his political past, they remain in his hostility to the interests of India’s hundreds of millions of Muslim citizens, and his confrontational approach to Pakistan.
The Hindu nationalists see Muslims as their eternal sworn enemies. They see this drama play out everywhere, but especially in Kashmir, where India and Pakistan come into the most violent and dangerous conflict. For decades, India has maintained its military occupation of the Muslim territory, though most residents object to its presence.
The parallels between Kashmir and Palestine are extraordinary. And the two occupying nations have only reinforced this impression by becoming close allies. No Indian prime minister has ever visited Israel–until now. This July, Modi embarks on a triumphal visit to Israel which, desperate for friends as it is, will fete him with open arms. The Indian premier undoubtedly has a vast military shopping list. Israel just announced the largest single foreign arms sale in its history, nearly $2-billion, to India.
There has also been a great deal of corruption in past Israeli military sales to India. Israeli arms manufacturers face no accountability for corrupt dealings and massive bribery of foreign leaders and military officials. Since the arms industry is a mainstay of the Israeli economy it operates with total impunity.
India and Israel are an Islamophobic match made in heaven (or the Other Place). What’s especially noxious about it is that it offers Israel a means to export not just its weapons, but also its Islamophobia, hate and intolerance to the world’s second most populous nation. This alliance will only reinforce the worst impulses in each country.