|Ariel Sharon's visit to India, quite expectedly,
created a lot of noise. The right-wingers in India see Sharon
and Israel as heroes, and would like nothing more than emulate
them. Tough leader, tough country. Surrounded by enemies, who
happen to be Muslims. Constant victim of terror and suicide
bombers. As Islamic terror strikes in India more often, it is
natural to look at a country that has been standing up to
Sure, there are lessons to learn from Israel and Sharon. The
tricky thing is pick the right lessons and the wrong ones.
For all Israel's heroism, perhaps we should ask ourselves a
question. At a time when the RSS, BJP and the Indian
government believe that Israel can be a model for India
and there is potential for an Indo-American-Israeli axis, would
we like to be South East Asia's Israel tomorrow?
can only be No. No, we would not like to be surrounded by
hostile nations and inflicted daily terror on. For all our
enemies and terrorist groups and Jammu Kashmir militants and
Islamic terror, India is nowhere near the state that Israel and
Sharon find themselves in. And it is incumbent on us to learn
how to never reach the constant state of war Israel is in.
can definitely learn from Israel's military technology,
entrepreneurial spirit and strong will. We should definitely
learn from Israel's anti-terror technology and infrastructure.
There are, on the other hand, lessons to learn from Israel's
pathetic handling of its anti-terror strategy and how a nation
based on a shared culture and religion can make the mistake of
responding to terror with terror and end up in a sea of blood.
Palestinians are no angels. There are innocents being killed in
both Palestine and Israel. But an eye-for-an-eye has not taken
Israel anywhere in its battle against Hamas and Islamic terror.
1. Lean from Israel's military power, technology and efficiency.
I don't think anyone, even die-hard lefties will have a
problem with that. The RSS and BJP would love it too.
country is a software power, and has been extremely innovative
in technology. The legendary entrepreneurial skills of Jews have
helped them a lot, and Israel's financial condition is a lot
better and it is a surviving democracy in a theatre full of
dictators and monarchies. They have beaten back all attacks by
Arab countries on them, and they have become brilliant at
manipulating the US into supporting them with a nudge and a
Lesson 2. Learn from the horrific mistakes in Israel's
Quite mistakenly, Sharon and Israel believe that it is
possible to beat terror with counter-terror - exactly what the
BJP, RSS, Advani and sundry others have been proposing as a
solution for all India's ills. Israel's has driven itself into a
blind alley for all its military power and precision strikes on
terrorist leaders. You need a political strategy when dealing
with terrorists, and Israel's current history, popular opinion
and extreme nationalistic fervor conspire to confine Israel to
the same blind alley. Israel does not have a political solution
to offer the Palestinians right now, neither does it have a
consensus on how much can be negotiated away- this one, a
particular legacy of Sharon. He has charge dup the country, and
in the process, has deprived himself of any space for manoeuvre
- a mistake the BJP, Shiv Sena and RSS are bound to make.
3. Learn the complications faced by a country when you have
Israel is a democracy, and this makes advocates of better
Indo-Israeli relations feel good. Israel's democracy is probably
the only one without a constitution! Why this is so, I am
unaware of. The impact on this on Israel's civil society has
been bad. The legal system in the absence of a constitution is
conveniently manipulated by popular opinion, religion the
unspoken predominance of Jews over Israeli Arabs.
Inter-denominational marriage is prohibited, the orthodox Rabbis
still have great power and Arabs within Israel are simmering
against injustices. India needs to look at that very carefully
and draw some lessons.
Lesson 4. Learn the limitations of
Suicide bombings cannot be stopped by tanks. Unless backed up
by a political strategy, force may win only when you are wiling
to butcher the entire populace. Israel cannot imprison
Palestinians, nor can it butcher them and get rid of the
problem. Let's be cold-blooded here. Let's say for the sake of
argument that all Palestinians are evil and all Israelis, Sharon
included, are paragons of virtue and godliness. Even in that
case, it is a practical impossibility for Israel to wipe out
Palestinians without risking all-out war and international
intervention. Tanks and missile strikes on a pissed-off populace
will only provoke more attacks.
With terror, dear Uncles
Vajpayee and Sharon, you need to offer carrots. Lots of them.
Keep a large stick handy. The entire story of Israel can teach
us many lessons. Hope our society and institutions will not
leave it to another generation to sort out the mess the Indian
Sharons are creating here.