India and 'Israel': From distant parties to close allies
India and the Israeli occupation have made a rapprochement over the years after having been very distant at the start.
South African journalist and author Azad Essa argued in a new book of his that India's growing alliance with the Israeli occupation goes back to New Delhi and "Tel Aviv" have similar ethnonational ideologies when it comes to how each party should be run, Foreign Policy reported.
However, though the Israeli occupation and India are very close allies today, one look at the past reveals a very different relationship between the two, as India saw the occupation as a threat in light of the rise of its regional foe, Pakistan.
Historically, the Israeli occupation was perceived negatively in India due to the country's nationalist movement, as the latter was not going to support the religion-based foundation of the Israeli occupation because that would have given legitimacy to Pakistan's moral foundations in the eyes of New Delhi.
There is also India relating to the Arab World that has just emerged from a decades-long anti-colonial fight that had prompted India to shape much of its foreign policy around sympathy for the Arab world.
Moreover, the local authorities at the time also took into consideration the country's largest religious minority, the Muslims, renowned for their opposition to the Israeli occupation.
Starting with India's independence in 1947 and throughout nearly the entire Cold War, New Delhi was implicitly hostile to "Tel Aviv", voting against the UN partition plan for the British Mandate of Palestine and later on voting against admitting the Israeli occupation to the United Nations General Assembly after "Israel" declared its "independence" in 1948. It took until 1950 for India to recognize the Israeli occupation.
In the meantime, India turned out to have been keeping its ties to the occupation under the table, taking until after the Cold War to normalize its ties with "Israel" at the Madrid Peace Conference.
Back to today, Essa, in his book "Hostile Homelands: The New Alliance Between India and Israel", underlined the converging India-Israeli views and ethnonational beliefs and addressed most of what is already known about the evolution of the Israeli occupation's relationship with India.
The flourishing Indian-Israeli ties involve bilaterally beneficial material ties that span numerous sectors, such as commerce, agriculture, tourism, and security, Essa said in his book.
The Indian government, in addition to sharing a similar extremist political ideology with "Israel," has also been suspected to be using Israeli spyware to spy on Indian activists - a form of cyber warfare.
The Indian government refused to deny or confirm its usage of the Israeli spyware, citing “national security” as a pretext.
The warming ties between India and the occupation bears serious repercussions for both regional and global politics, enabling both parties to have a bigger hold on the Middle East, especially the Gulf, the journalist argued.
To back his claim, Essa highlighted how both New Delhi and "Tel Aviv" participated in I2U2, a new quadrilateral alliance comprising the aforementioned parties, as well as the United Arab Emirates and the United States, that aims to undermine China's influence in the region while underlining Washington's alleged support for its allies in the region.
According to the author, Indian-Israeli ties have deepened and broadened over the past few decades, but the past decade in particular, since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office, has seen the bilateral relationship between the two reaching unprecedented levels.
Modi, a center-right premier, just like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has been his counterpart for the majority of the time he spent in office, ensured that his country would get closer to the Israeli occupation - and that it did.
India, under Modi, has grown less and less supportive of the Palestinian cause as it enjoys extensive tourism from Israelis as well as sturdy military ties that are seeing New Delhi receiving arms and equipment from "Tel Aviv".
New Delhi, once a supporter of the Palestinian cause as a power that emerged from the anti-colonial struggle, abstained in 2015 and 2016 from voting on a United Nations resolution that would have referred the Israeli occupation to the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed during its 2014 aggression on the Gaza Strip.
The ethnonationalist PMs leading India and "Israel" today have undoubtedly given impetus to the flourishing ties between the two parties, and both Modi and Netanyahu have improved Israeli-Indian ties exponentially to serve their common projects of ethnonationalism, the book underlined.