FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

That Bomb in Delhi

by JAWED NAQVI

“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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 22, 2017
Jason Hirthler
Invisible Empire Beneath the Radar, Above Suspicion
Ken Levy
Sorry, But It’s Entirely the Right’s Fault
John Laforge
Fukushima’s Radiation Will Poison Food “for Decades,” Study Finds
Ann Garrison
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party, and the UK’s Socialist Surge
Phillip Doe
Big Oil in the Rocky Mountain State: the Overwhelming Tawdriness of Government in Colorado
Howard Lisnoff
The Spiritual Death of Ongoing War
Stephen Cooper
Civilized, Constitution-Loving Californians Will Continue Capital Punishment Fight
Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla
Cuba Will Not Bow to Trump’s Threats
Ramzy Baroud
Israel vs. the United Nations: The Nikki Haley Doctrine
Tyler Wilch
The Political Theology of US Drone Warfare
Colin Todhunter
A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture
Robert Koehler
When the Detainee is American…
Jeff Berg
Our No Trump Contract
Faiza Shaheen
London Fire Fuels Movement to Challenge Inequality in UK
Rob Seimetz
Sorry I Am Not Sorry: A Letter From Millennials to Baby Boomers
June 21, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
Resist This: the United States is at War With Syria
James Ridgeway
Good Agent, Bad Agent: Robert Mueller and 9-11
Diana Johnstone
The Single Party French State … as the Majority of Voters Abstain
Ted Rall
Democrats Want to Lose the 2020 Election
Kathy Kelly
“Would You Like a Drink of Water?” Please Ask a Yemeni Child
Russell Mokhiber
Sen. Joe Manchin Says “No” to Single-Payer, While Lindsay Graham Floats Single-Payer for Sick People
Ralph Nader
Closing Democracy’s Doors Until the People Open Them
Binoy Kampmark
Barclays in Hot Water: The Qatar Connection
Jesse Jackson
Trump Ratchets Up the Use of Guns, Bombs, Troops, and Insults
N.D. Jayaprakash
No More Con Games: Abolish Nuclear Weapons Now! (Part Four)
David Busch
The Kingdom of Pence–and His League of Flaming Demons–is Upon Us
Stephen Cooper
How John Steinbeck’s “In Dubious Battle” Helps Us Navigate Social Discord
Madis Senner
The Roots of America’s Identity and Our Political Divide are Buried Deep in the Land
June 20, 2017
Ajamu Baraka
The Body Count Rises in the U.S. War Against Black People
Gary Leupp
Russia’s Calm, But Firm, Response to the US Shooting Down a Syrian Fighter Jet
Maxim Nikolenko
Beating Oliver Stone: the Media’s Spin on the Putin Interviews
Michael J. Sainato
Philando Castile and the Self Righteous Cloak of White Privilege
John W. Whitehead
The Militarized Police State Opens Fire
Peter Crowley
The Groundhog Days of Terrorism
Norman Solomon
Behind the Media Surge Against Bernie Sanders
Pauline Murphy
Friedrich Engels: a Tourist In Ireland
David Swanson
The Unifying Force of War Abolition
Louisa Willcox
Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Tom Udall Back Tribes in Grizzly Fight
John Stanton
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
Robert Fisk
Did Trump Denounce Qatar Over Failed Business Deals?
Medea Benjamin
America Will Regret Helping Saudi Arabia Bomb Yemen
Brian Addison
Los Angeles County Data Shows Startling Surge in Youth, Latino Homelessness
Native News Online
Betraying Indian Country: How Grizzly Delisting Exposes Trump and Zinke’s Assault on Tribal Sovereignty and Treaty Rights
Stephen Martin
A Tragic Inferno in London Reflects the Terrorism of the Global Free Market
Debadityo Sinha
Think Like a River
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail