- Published 30.12.10
What is a peace mission? It is a delegation which seeks to diffuse tensions and suggest measures of confidence-building among warring parties. Being a peace mission, it would not incite violence. Similarly, a humanitarian mission would seek to alleviate the suffering of the poor and not get involved in the bureaucratic mills that contribute to the suffering. So, when peace and humanitarian missions shift their goals with biased reporting and incitement to turmoil, the world needs to recognize such parties for what they are and de-legitimize them before they can do further damage in the garb of moral good.
An “aid convoy” called the “India Lifeline to Gaza”, which is a part of the Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine, recently went from New Delhi to the embargoed Gaza strip. The group, which seeks to end the isolation of Gaza, describes itself, misleadingly, as an aid convoy. Further, by calling itself “India Lifeline to Gaza”, it makes a desperate attempt to create fissures in the Indo-Israeli alliance.
Let’s, first, clear up some facts about the situation in the Gaza strip, which is controlled by the Hamas government, widely proscribed as a terrorist organization. Defenders of the regime argue that it won local elections and is therefore a legitimate representative of the residents of Gaza. The flaw in this premise is the belief that elections mean democracy. The situation in Gaza is grim not primarily because of the blockade which has been enforced for defensive purposes, but because the Hamas regime seeks to have a stranglehold on developments in the state.
Reports of United Nations-run schools being burnt down, women being denied basic rights, and of using civilian shields during conflict are some of the accusations against the Hamas. Not to mention how an economically-deprived Gaza has opened a luxurious shopping mall in the aftermath of the conflict with Israel. Do these indicate a conflict warranting an international aid convoy?
The convoy itself is filled with vehemently anti-Israeli and anti-Indian members. Its parent body, the Asian People’s Solidarity for Palestine, has implied the destruction of Israel, and calls for the renunciation of the UN resolution that dissolved the “Zionism is racism” declaration. Convoy members include figures such as Salim Ghafouri, who has declared that Indian forces in Kashmir were occupying forces responsible for human-rights violations.
The backing that the group received in Iran is indicative of the political play at work. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a surprise visit to the convoy, thereby raising its profile. Ahmadenijad’s vitriol hatred of Israel is well documented, as his regime’s strong patronage to terrorist groups such as the Hezbollah and the Hamas. His role in the Middle East turmoil has met with opposition even from neighbouring Arab States. So this visit marked another attempt by Ahmadinejad to legitimize himself by aligning with the convoy’s message. The convoy is intended to be an aid convoy, and yet, according to reports, it has taken across few resources to Gaza. Further, it does not show any sign of handing over the goods via appropriate channels such as the UN or the International Red Cross.
It is important for India, which shares close relations with Israel, to keep an eye on their citizens participating in this convoy. The Iranian regime’s patronage of the convoy shows how it seeks to exploit relations between Israel and India to its own end. These indicators are not lost on the government, and measures were taken to delay or bar the departure of the convoy. That responsibility should also be shared by the national media by naming and shaming such duplicitous organizations.