MUMBAI — More than six decades after Israel's creation on the rubble of Palestine, Indian Muslims are remembering the predicament of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem) and Al-Aqsa Mosque under the yoke of Israeli occupation.
"How should I describe the pain of occupied Jerusalem and Palestine? It is ingrained deeply in collective Muslim sub-consciousness," S. S. Shaikh told IslamOnline.net on Thursday, May 14.
"My inner self desires to visit the holy land of Jerusalem. It is connected to my soul."
Israel captured and occupied Al-Quds in the six-day 1967 war, then annexed it in a move not recognized by the world community or UN resolutions.
The city is home to Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Shaikh said Al-Quds binds Muslims the world over together.
"There is a strong invisible bond. It cannot be seen by the naked eye," he said.
"Nakba runs deep in Muslim consciousness. Indian Muslims are naturally moved by the very mention of Jerusalem and Palestine."
On April 18, 1948, Palestinian Tiberius was captured by Menachem Begin's Irgun militant group, putting its 5,500 Palestinian residents in flight. On April 22, Haifa fell to the Zionist militants and 70,000 Palestinians fled.
On April 25, Irgun began bombarding civilian sectors of Jaffa, terrifying the 750,000 inhabitants into panicky flight.
On May 14, the day before the creation of Israel, Jaffa completely surrendered to the better-equipped Zionist militants and only 4,500 of its population remained.
"Palestinians should be given their land. It is their birthright. It is their human right," said Burhanuddin Qasmi, editor of Eastern Crescent, a Muslim monthly magazine, and spokesman for Maharashtra United Democratic Front.
"Israeli occupation is barbaric. It is against the humanity. Israel is against United Nation's human charter."
Many Muslims grieve that brutal Israeli practices against the Palestinians have never been punished.
"There is complete a disregard for world opinion," Mustafa Khan, a retired professor, told IOL.
"Israel has got this impunity because of America. If America does not support, Israel will be most likely prosecuted in any world court."
Israeli troops killed more than 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounded 5,450 in 22 days of attacks in Gaza in January.
The United Nations and several human rights groups have accused Israel of committing war crimes during the Gaza war.
"The greatest need, we feel in our country, is that Palestinians should be helped. But one way of helping is legal prosecution at the international criminal court and Israel must be brought to book," said Khan.
"An international platform is the best way to promote legal prosecution. India is an ideal place to launch this movement because of its active civil society."
"Initially Indian government was pro-Palestinian and aligned with the Palestinian cause," Shameem Tariq, a Mumbai-based research scholar, said.
"Things radically changed during Narasimha Rao government," he said, referring to the country's 12th prime minister.
"Ever since then, we have a very strong Jewish lobby in India which has done much harm to the Palestinian cause."
A founder of the Non-Alignment Movement, India had been a staunch supporter to Arab issues.
But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Indian-Israeli relations have seen a U-turn.
In 1992, full diplomatic relations were set up between the two countries and since then bilateral relations have grown exceedingly.
Indian-Israeli relations have further blossomed under the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
"A new kind of situation developed in India where the right-wing parties like BJP and the RSS came to the fore," Khan, the retired professor, said.
"They believed that Israel and America are much closer to us in terms of cultural affinity."
"Therefore their help of Israel became all the more important," he said.
To put a brake on the booming Indian-Israeli rapprochement, a group of Indian parties and NGOs have formed a forum to draw support to the Palestinian cause.
"One of the primary objectives was to pressurize and thus influence the Government of India to follow a policy that clearly espouses the Palestinian cause," Feroze Mithiborewala, the head of the Awami Bharat party, told IOL.
"Our Palestine People's Solidarity Forum will campaign for a more proactive and concerted action on the part of the Indian government for solidarity with Palestine and demand an end to India's diplomatic and strategic ties with Apartheid Israel, as we did in the case of South Africa."
IslamOnline.net May 15 2009