Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

That Bomb in Delhi


“Tarry a little, old Jew,” remonstrates Portia with Shylock before having his macabre petition for a pound of human flesh thrown out of the window at the magistrate’s court in Venice.

Portia, if Shakespeare allowed, would be compelled to rein in the Indian media with a sharper rebuke over the last few days after a suspected magnet bomb exploded at the back of an Israeli embassy car in Delhi, injuring a diplomat’s wife.

Terror, Hezbollah, Iranian extremists — whatever the Israeli government’s compulsions to say of the incident, much of the Indian media largely projected as fact. Hillary Clinton ad libbed it even more loudly. Iran’s denial was buried in the inside pages of most newspapers, if it was carried at all.

No one had the time or the inclination, Portia would have noticed, to explain or ask when or how the villains switched over from Lashkar-i-Taiba, Al Qaeda and others that had been quoted all these days as threatening Jewish targets in India.

How did Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu home in on Iran within minutes of the incident? Did he know something ahead of the event, in which case had Delhi been informed about Israel’s apprehensions about an attack?

I have yet to see a fair TV discussion, for that matter, about the modus operandi of the attack, involving a magnet bomb allegedly planted by a motorcycle rider. How was it different from the method used to kill a clutch of Iranian scientists in recent incidents, someone might have asked?

If it was not too dissimilar in the method should we be asking the more serious question — about a likely agent provocateur who might wish to corner public opinion in India ahead of an Iran-Israel military showdown, for example?

Had India been dragged into the Middle East conflict with the attack? The media were insistent it had, almost hoping their scaremongering were true. No one in Tbilisi or Bangkok made much of the real or imaginary Middle Eastern shadow descending on them though there were similar-looking attempts there too. But Indian journalists spotted an imminent threat from a new, unheard-of source.

What they perhaps  end up doing unwittingly is fill the coffers of the drooling hawks who seek more lethal hardware, intrusive vigilance equipment and hefty unaccounted budgets to squander on make-believe security that can only be promised but never guaranteed.

For the record, India has been involved in the Middle East for longer than today’s newspaper editors or TV stations have existed. It was involved in Egypt with Nasser. It kept in touch with Iraq, Syria — not to forget Iran both before the revolution and with the ayatollahs who followed.


The end of the Cold War prompted a course correction when India established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1992. I attended the first Feast of Passover hosted by the Israeli embassy in Delhi as correspondent for an international wire agency. All the food — chicken, wine, leavened bread — as well as the crockery was flown in from Brooklyn.


Orthodox Jews, I discovered, are as rigid in their habits as any dyed-in-the-wool Brahmin. Gershon Kedar, my Israeli diplomat friend, would meet me only at Dasaparakasa, an avowedly vegetarian restaurant in Delhi, because other venues were not kosher to him.


I can understand Israel’s fear of terrorists. Still, has Tel Aviv not spawned its own version of evil aggression against innocent civilians in West Bank and Gaza? Has it not carried out cold-blooded assassinations of perceived adversaries?


Even in the 1990s, Israeli diplomats who came home for dinner showed a degree of insecurity. As they left after dinner once, a diplomat couple scanned the underside of their car with torches they both said they always carried.


That moment of caution was probably prompted by a botched kidnapping in Kashmir around the time in which an Israeli tourist was killed and some others managed to escape after shooting their captors on a houseboat. Still, the Middle East has always been present in India. And this  shooting if linked to the Iran-Israel standoff is only a small proof.


India needs the Middle East. It gets its largest share of foreign exchange remittances from its workers in the region. It gets its oil from there. But so does China. Have we ever found Beijing hopping from Iran to Saudi Arabia, to Israel to show its sense of involvement?


Quiet, unflappable, serenely confident of protecting its interests and, above all, an understated but powerful presence — that’s how China is seen in the Middle East. Actually, you can’t see it, perhaps only feel it, Indian anchors may note.


(However, there are rare and sane voices in the Indian media too. Some of them recently slammed the government for rushing into the unfolding Maldives drama, in which New Delhi has probably ended up embracing a pro-Islamist government while dumping a secular leader who celebrated South Asia’s multicultural heritage.)


Finally, let me lean on history to frame Israel and Iran in a context that largely eludes our media. Israel and Iran have a longer history of camaraderie than their present rivalry allows us to see.


While the Shah of Iran was a close ally of Israel, the ayatollahs have shown amazing finesse in dealing with the alleged enemy state. There would be no Iran-Contra affair had Israel not been ready to sell weapons clandestinely to Tehran.


Why shouldn’t the bonhomie come back? That’s why, as Portia decreed, let’s not jump to quick conclusions. There’s nothing to lose in simply observing, silently, like others.


JAWED NAQVI is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi.



More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation wasted $32.2 million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians