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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les paysans indiens solidaires de la résistance palestinienne

by Lina Sankari

Indian Farmers Lend their Support to the Palestinian Resistance

Translated Sunday 12 November 2017, by Naomi Norberg

Indian farmers announced they were joining the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law and ceasing its occupation and colonization.

Agriculture is one of the pillars supporting the stronger ties between the ultranationalist Israeli and Indian governments. Indian farmers have decided to boycott the companies involved in the military occupation and apartheid in Palestine.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi finds the ultranationalist, racist policies of his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahou, to be an infinite source of inspiration. Modi was treated to every honor during his visit to Tel-Aviv in July—the first ever by an Indian head of government. And with good reason: the trip was not only historic in itself, but in addition, the Hindu nationalist did not deign to make a stop in Palestine. In response to the increasingly strong ties between the two countries and the fact that Benjamin Netanyahou is expected to visit India soon, communist Indian farmers announced they were joining the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. Modeled on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, BDS aims to pressure Israel into complying with international law and ceasing its occupation and colonization.
 
Having the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS, the Indian Farmers Association) rally to its cause is evidence of the BDS movement’s steadily increasing influence in the world. The AIKS, which has 16 million members, is the largest Indian agricultural federation and is active in 21 of the 28 Indian states. According to a press release, its strategy is to resist “the corporate takeover of Indian agriculture sector by Israeli companies” and to “raise awareness among Indian farmers to prevent Israel and its corporations from reaping profits in India that finance military occupation and apartheid in Palestine.”

While it may be getting its second wind today, Indian solidarity with Palestinian resistance is rooted in the Non-Aligned Movement. During the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, India supported the Palestinian and Arab side. In 1975, New Delhi was one of the first world capitals to authorize the Palestinian Liberation Organization to open a representative office. And after the Palestinian National Council declared independence in 1988, the Asian giant even recognized Palestine’s statehood. “Grassroots movements in India, Palestine and beyond are working to defeat the violent wave of right-wing politics plaguing our world today. By joining the BDS movement, AIKS is saying no to the hateful politics of Prime Minister Modi, Netanyahu and Trump, and joining us to build a more free [sic], just and equal world,” explains Apoorva, the BDS National Committee’s coordinator for South Asia.

The Indian farmers’ strategy is of real importance, because in addition to Israel’s increased sales of arms and sophisticated military equipment to India, the Israeli Agency for International Development Cooperation has made agriculture one of the main pillars for its relations with New Delhi. Fifteen of seventeen [planned[Selon l’article qui contient la citation de M. Fadnavis.]] Israeli centers of excellence showcasing agricultural expertise are already operating in India. As Davendra Fadnavis, chief minister of the state of Maharashtra explained in 2015: “Israel’s agricultural and water technology is helping to satisfy global hunger.

Who could disagree with that?” One of the world’s largest irrigation companies, NaanDanJain, is thus Indo-Israeli. Ammon Ofen, its director, maintains that “India is an agricultural country and we are helping India bloom with our affordable drip irrigation, filter, and fertilizer technology.” Mr. Modi has often mentioned how Israel made “the desert bloom.” Such terminology has often been used by Zionists to give credence to the idea that pre-1948 Palestine was an uninhabited land discovered by the Israelis.
 
Strengthening its ties with Israel is also a way for India to curry favor with the United States. In his strategy of turning toward Asia, former U.S. President Barack Obama largely used India to check China’s influence in Asia. This strategy has been even clearer since Donald Trump took office, as the new government uses the term “Indo-Pacific region.” Before he rose to power, Modi was denied a visa to the United States because of his presumed role in the anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat state, which he governed at the time, but he was received in Israel as early as 2006.

According to Vivek Dehejia, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, “the concept that Israel is the natural home of the world’s Jewish peoples, a place to which they hold a birthright, is a central tenet of Zionism. . . . It is irresistible to compare this to the concept that India is the natural home of the world’s Hindus, a place to which they, in their turn, have a birthright.” Benjamin Netanyahou’s upcoming visit thus marks the ideological convergence between the Likud’s exclusionary Zionism and the Hindu ultranationalism of the Indian People’s Party (BJP), which considers the Muslim minority to be alien and dangerous.


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