Freedom for Palestine! Cease-fire in Sri Lanka!!

Relying the fond hopes of all those who greeted each other for a ‘peaceful’ and ‘terror-free’ 2009, the New Year has begun on a particularly aggressive note of war and destruction. Armed Israeli forces have mounted an all-out assault on Gaza, killing and maiming hundreds of Palestinians through air strikes, ground offensive as well as sea-borne attacks. Nearer home, the Sri Lankan Army claims to be advancing towards Mulaitivu, after having already captured the LTTE stronghold of Kilinochi. The LTTE claims to have killed more than 50 members of the Sri Lankan armed forces in retaliatory resistance and counter-operations, both around Mulaitivu and in capital Colombo.
Both these campaigns seem to have been timed deliberately at this particular juncture. Busy with the post-election change of guards, neither Bush nor Obama will have to face the heat on account of these wars, and the European Union and all other major players in international relations are preoccupied with the global financial meltdown and economic recession. Israel’s attack on Gaza clearly enjoys the fullest backing of the US which sees Israeli aggression merely as a ‘reply’ to acts of military ‘provocation’ by the Hamas. The Sri Lankan military offensive may not enjoy that sort of explicit endorsement by the US and its allies, but Sri Lanka is out to seek international legitimacy for its action by projecting the whole thing as a crucial victory over “savage terrorism”. The history of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in Gaza and West Bank goes back to four decades. Notwithstanding periodic changes of guards in both Israel and the US, the two establishments have always had the closest strategic partnership. Every military assault by Israel on Palestinian/Arab territory or people has enjoyed the protective political umbrella of the US and since 2001 the partnership has been reinforced by the US-led global ‘war on terror’. While the US has gone on to invade and occupy countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, Israel has specialised in targeting the backbone of Arab resistance, Hamas in Palestine and Hezbollah in Lebanon. But just as the US has got stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq, two years ago Israel too had to suffer a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Regrettably enough, the US-Israel axis has been emboldened not only by the silence of much of the Western world and big Asian countries like China and India, but also by the complicity and acquiescence on the part of sections of Arab rulers. Egypt and Jordan have already been pushed into so-called peace treaties with Israel, and they now look away, if not play willing accomplices, as the US-Israel axis targets the Palestinians, Lebanese and Syrians. In spite of such a division within the Arab ruling establishment, the Hezbollah had successfully withstood and defeated Israeli aggression two years ago, thanks to overwhelming popular support within the Arab world. This time too, the Hamas and Hezbollah have both called for organising mass protests and resistance across the Arab world and Israel may once again have to pay a heavy price for its military misadventure in Gaza. Reports of communist-led protests are also coming in from within Israel.
Interestingly, the Sri Lankans decry the Israeli action and would like to project their military operation in a different light than the ethnic cleansing unleashed by Israeli armed forces even as President Mahinda Rajapaksa hailed the fall of Killinochi as “the most honourable victory in the annals of military heroism that runs through many centuries” of Sri Lanka’s history. Whatever truth there may be in Rajapaksa’s military claims, the fact remains that Sri Lanka’s aggressive military bid to put an end to the “false Eelam struggle” and unite the whole of Sri Lanka under one single flag and as one single nation smacks very much of the Zionist politics of ethnic hatred and racist domination.
India has traditionally opposed the Israeli occupation of Palestine and since the disastrous IPKF experience in the late 1980s, officially India has favoured a political, and not military, solution of the Sri Lankan Tamil question. But over the last ten years as Indian foreign policy has started revolving increasingly around the US-Israel strategic axis, India too now effectively endorses the aggressive military strategy pursued by Israel and Sri Lanka. Meanwhile, the FBI has virtually taken over the ‘Indian’ probe into Mumbai terror attack and, through the newly set-up NIA, the US now has an ever tighter grip on various aspects of India’s domestic security as well.
The Indian people must therefore come out ever more vociferously against the Israeli attack on Gaza and also for an immediate cease-fire in Sri Lanka. The more India endorses the marauding military expeditions of the US-Israel axis, the more India weakens her own battle against terrorism. A free Palestine remains the most crucial unfinished agenda of the contemporary global battle for peace, justice and democracy and the Indian people must throw their entire weight behind the just forces of Palestinian resistance and for a dignified political resolution of the Sri Lankan Tamil question.

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