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Architect of modern India and its first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote a long time ago that Indian communists were an intelligent lot but would take directives from abroad and stray from their own mission. I wonder if the situation is not worse today. The other day a prominent communist member of Indian Parliament demanded that New Delhi suspend its arms purchases from Jerusalem in protest against the latter’s recent military action against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Clearly, he and his supporting comrades have learnt little from their Chinese counterparts.

History bears out the national interest governs the behaviour of China’s communist leadership. According to knowledgeable sources, Sino-Israeli business relationships have been expanding after a series of trade agreements in 1995. By the end of 2010 the trade between the two doubled to $10 billion. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, then Israeli President Shimon Peres was one of only eight world leaders selected to speak with his then Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. Last year Chinese President Xi Jinping and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netahyanu concluded some important agreements to boost their bilateral ties further.


The sources add Jerusalem has been aware of the importance of China to its growth and security. China has the world second-largest and fastest-growing economy and the largest population. It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. It has an active interest in the Middle East because of its massive reliance on oil from Iran and other Middle Eastern countries as well as its own growing markets in the region. Beijing, too, concentrates on its own interests. It is drawn to Israel’s innovative industries, particularly in green technology and hi-tech sector. China has been exploring green technology ventures in Israel. China has greater business interests in Iran, particularly in its energy sector. But it does not let this affect its ties with Jerusalem.

Like India, China has had no history of anti-Semitism. It welcomed Jews fleeing persecution in the 1800s and after World War II. The Chinese also greatly admire Jews and link accomplished Jewish personalities such as Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger to the Jewish people as a whole. Beijing has been using this historical context to advance its ties with Jerusalem.

I wish the Indian communists could think at least the China way and concentrate on boosting Indo-Israeli ties in the interest of India alone first. The ties between the two nations have been very strong since they attained their Independence. After Congress Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao decided to establish full diplomatic ties with Jerusalem in 1992, the bilateral relations have been expanding in various sectors . Since 2009 Israel is said to have been India’s prime supplier of weapons and technologies. Indo-Israeli cooperation in intelligence and counter-intelligence too has got strengthened over the years.

This entire process needs to be given further encouragement. Needless to say, Russia’s recently growing bonhomie with China endangers New Delhi’s status as Moscow’s preferential defense customer. Moscow’s recent decision to sell Islamabad M-35 attack helicopters indicates a future trend. As such India may do well to cultivate Israel to replace Russia in this crucial area. Jerusalem could be very useful in New Delhi’s determination to boost its defense industry too.

Besides, I wish the Indian communists could appreciate what has led to the current Israeli intervention in the Gaza Strip. It is well documented that the main objective of Hamas, a deadly terrorist organization, is to dismantle the Jewish state . With this in mind, it has been launching missile attacks on Israel from inside its densely populated civilian areas in Gaza. It has diverted hundreds of thousands of tons of concrete that entered Gaza for civilian purposes to build a vast network of underground tunnels and missile silos. It has used humanitarian vehicles to carry out military acts and disguise combatants as civilians. Hamas has trained children as young as 13 to wear explosive belts and attack Israeli troops. It has hidden missiles in civilian facilities, including schools run by UNRWA. Hamas has used the Shifa Hospital as its military headquarters. The Hamas- fired missiles have killed, traumatized and terrorized Israelis—Jews and Muslims alike. In such a situation Jerusalem has had no alternative but act against Hamas in Gaza.

As for the deaths of innocent Gazans in the present conflict, it is sad indeed. But for this too it is Hamas alone to blame. Observers say sometimes, their missiles fall inside Gaza causing death and destruction within. Hamas has forced civilians not to exit fighting zones leaving them to be killed in Israeli military action for their propaganda purposes. It has also prevented civilians from reaching the field hospital Israel set up at the Erez Crossing to treat injured Palestinians. It has even fired missiles on this hospital to frustrate attempts to treat them.


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Jagdish N. Singh is an Indian journalist based in New Delhi.