Man’s inhumanity to Man: Israel and Kashmir
0 comments | by Dr Arshad M Khan
Man’s inhumanity to man reached new levels of odium. The generally trigger-happy Israeli army fired at unarmed demonstrators on the other side of the fence cordoning Gazans into a prison. That hundreds were injured and at least 18 killed evoked little sympathy from our media and certainly no one dared criticize Benjamin Netanyahu’s crowing of the incident as a great victory. The ‘liberal’ National Public Radio terms such incidents “violent clashes” as if there is a certain parity of arms, when a military firing at civilian demonstrators would result more appropriately in a massacre. But Israel has new worries. For the first time, Palestinians (Christian and Muslim) now outnumber Jews within Israel and the occupied territories. A half million more now with the difference expected to widen on account of the higher Palestinian birth rate- hence it’s a war of attrition.
Trigger-happy soldiers, an imprisoned Gaza with appalling living conditions, and then, of course, there is ethnic cleansing. Outright expulsion or denial of water and electricity and generally making life unbearable leads to a ‘voluntary’ form of departure. The village of Umm al-Hiran thus was razed to the ground after the eviction of its residents. Ayman Odeh, a Palestinian Arab member of the Knesset, was shot in the head and back by rubber bullets as he and others protested. The area will now house Jewish settlers. The reality of eviction, ethnic cleansing and annexation is not news, but is an undeniable new reality seeking to cordon off Palestinians in the worst areas. For some Israelis, the choice boils down to segregated Bantustans or brutal expulsion. The country itself is changing as Middle-Eastern Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews now number closer to the European Ashkenazi and are expected to exceed them eventually. A civilized living together is excluded by religion in this Middle-Eastern enclave masquerading as a Western democracy; more like George Wallace’s Alabama awaiting a Martin Luther King, Jr. About 2500 miles east is yet another beleaguered population, the Kashmiris suffering a brutal decades-long occupation by an estimated three-quarter million force of Indian soldiers. In one tactic they use shotgun weapons loaded with small pellet shells — no riot control techniques for them. Their preferred target is not the lower body but the upper, resulting in all too numerous instances of small boys and young men being blinded for life. Major Aditya Kumar was charged with murder after one incident only to be granted relief recently by a pliant Indian Supreme Court.
Demonstrations have intensified since the killing of the popular and charismatic rebel leader, Burhan Wani, in July 2016. He was just 21. Thousands of civilians have been injured, many blinded, and many have died as a result of the brutal response by the occupation forces. The latest incident on April led to 20 deaths. India promised a plebiscite under UN supervision about 70 years ago. It has not been held. The fact that Kashmiris are in massive civilian protest as well as open rebellion is well established by the presence of troops. It is also abundantly clear, given a choice, that Kashmiris would tell their Indian overlords to get the hell out. Whether they would want to join Pakistan or wish to remain by themselves is an open question. It hardly matters in these days of open economic communities. But foresight or statesmanship is not to be expected in leaders pushing their antiquated and noisome upper caste Hindu supremacy, tarnishing the founder Nehru’s proud boast of a secular state. Add to it a rewriting of history in which the Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple. It is not. In the new India Christians, Muslims and lower caste Hindus (Dalits) are under constant threat or attack. So there we are … two nuclear powers in constant confrontation without the sense to bury a colonial past and forge a new modern subcontinent. No, that would be much too sensible. Instead, religious extremism has secured a foothold and we all know how that can end unless it is quickly snuffed out.
Dr Arshad M Khan is a former Professor based in the U.S. whose comments over several decades have appeared in a wide-ranging array of print and internet media. His work has been quoted in the U.S. Congress and published in the Congressional Record.