At New Delhi event, civil society laments India’s complicity in the ongoing genocide in Palestine

Noted economist, civil society leaders, trade unionists, advocates and politicians came together at the Constitution Club of India to speak on the ongoing genocide of Palestinians by Israel and the complicity of world leaders and India in it.

As we speak and continue to speak on the ongoing genocide being committed by Israel in Palestine, and despite the interim Order of the International Court of Justice [ICJ], Israel continues to raid Gaza relentlessly. There is no heed paid to the interim Order,” said Anand Grover at an event at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi yesterday.

Grover, a senior advocate at the Supreme Court of India, was referring to the interim Order of the ICJ dated January 26, in which the court directed that Israel must take all measures within its power to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide in relation to members of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip.

Among the other speakers at the protest meeting, titled International Court & Justice in Gaza: A Public Meeting on the International Court of Justice Ruling, were Adnan Abu Al Haija, the ambassador of Palestine in India; Salman Khurshid, senior advocate at the Supreme Court; Siddharth Varadarajan, founder of The Wire; Amarjeet Kaur, general secretary of the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC); Asaduddin Owaisi, member of Parliament; K.P. Fabian, a retired member of the Indian Foreign Services; Dipankar Bhattacharya, Community Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); and Subhashini Ali, trade unionist and leader of the All India Democratic Women Association.

This was organised by Indians for Palestine, a group of concerned citizens.

ICJ’s interim Order attempts to restore the faith of the people

Grover told the audience that an interim Order from the ICJ clearly stated that it is ‘plausible’ that there is a real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice will be caused to the rights of Palestinians.

Explaining the case, he said that South Africa invoked the jurisdiction of the ICJ under the 1948 Genocide Convention to prevent the commission of genocide on the Palestinians by Israel.

He stated that Article II of the Genocide Convention states that genocide is committed in relation to an ‘identified group’. Grover told the audience that an identified group, as the convention requires, must constitute a distinct “national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

Article II defines genocide as killing members of an identified group, causing serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in parts, imposing measures intended to prevent birth within the group and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The Genocide Convention was born out of the holocaust in Germany, Grover reminded the audience.

He pointed out that the interim measures of the ICJ clearly state that Palestinians form a protected group within the Genocide Convention.

Grover further pointed out that to commit Genocide, a special intent, or dolus specialis, is required. On this, Grover remarked: “The intent [to commit] genocide is apparent from the statements of Israeli officials.

He referred to one of the statements made by the President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, to which the ICJ had also referred in its interim judgment: “It is an entire nation [Palestinans] out there that is responsible. It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware or involved. It is absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have sought against that civil regime [referring to Hamas] which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.

Grover pointed out that it is ironic that Israel, which was set up to protect Jews who were persecuted in Europe, is now perpetrating genocide on Palestinians. He said that it is most unfortunate that the US and Europe are funding the genocide.

Grover concluded by stating that despite States not following the principles of international law, it has to be preserved because it is not the principles that are faulty but those who implement them.

Fabian added to what Grover had said. He told the audience that the West under the leadership of the United Nations, which also included the United Nations Security Council, has failed to stop the genocide.

He remarked that the West speaks a lot about international law-based legal order. However, it only applies to them. He said: “What happens to the rest of the world does not matter to the West.”

Fabian gave the example of the February 24, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. He noted that the civilian deaths in Ukraine led to a huge outcry from the international community.

He said: “When civilians die elsewhere [outside the West], sometimes they [Western leadership] do not have the time.

Whereas Khurshid termed the cause of Palestine as the cause of humanity. Khurshid, a member of the Indian National Congress, reiterated the stand of the political party that it stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine. 

He told the audience that in the face of mass bloodshed and slaughter of the people of Palestine, asking for an immediate ceasefire is the smallest thing we can do.

Successive generations of Israelis will have to pay for the present atrocities

Varadarajan spoke on whether it makes a difference if the present genocide is being documented, unlike the holocaust.

He told the audience that in Germany, movie reels and photographs of concentration camps were shown to the population on the presumption that it could have been prevented had they known what was happening in Auschwitz.

Varadarajan said that it is an illusion to say that we could have prevented had we known the horrors committed against Jews. This is because the horrors of the current genocide are before us in real time and still we have not been able to stop it.

He remarked that the Gaza genocide proves to us that the killing of innocents does not matter to a certain category of world leaders.

Varadarajan further stated that the US is the most culpable in this regard, but so is India. He referred to the statements of S. Jaishankar, Union external affairs minister, where he describes India as the ‘vishwa mitra’ (friend of the world).

Varadarajan questioned: “What kind of a friend are you when you do not want to speak the truth of what is happening [in Palestine]?

Government of India complicit in ongoing Genocide against Palestinians

Noted economist Jean Dreze began the meeting by stating that the present meeting is a form of protest against Israel’s continued assault on Gaza and the people of Palestine.

Dreze told the audience that the death toll in Gaza continues to rise as more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, including about 85 journalists, 152 United Nations workers and 600 doctors and other health workers. Amongst the 30,000, a significant number are women and children.

He also accused the government of India of being complicit in the ongoing Genocide. Dreze stated that the government is facilitating the recruitment of Indian workers to Israel as Palestinians’ work permits have been suspended.

On November 9, 2023, all central trade unions unanimously opposed the “export” of Indian workers to Israel to replace Palestinian workers.

These trade unions include the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, AITUC, Hind Mazdoor Sabha, Indian National Trade Union Congress, Trade Union Coordination Centre, Self-Employed Women’s Association, All India Central Council of Trade Unions, Labour Progressive Federation, and United Trade Union Congress.

Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza began on October 7, 2023, when Hamas launched an attack on it. Some 1,400 Israelis were killed during the first day of flare-up.

Consequently, approximately 20,000 Gazan workers, who were only issued work permits in 2021, were asked to leave as per the November 2, 2023 announcement of the Israeli cabinet.

Apparently, the Israeli Builders Association faces a shortage of labour and plans to hire from India.

Dreze further remarked that the government of India is subsidising joint ventures between Indian and Israeli weapon manufacturers, including the production of military drones for possible use against Palestinians.

Reportedly, twenty Hermes-900 military drones produced by Hyderabad-based Adani–Elbit Advanced Systems India Ltd have been delivered to the Israel Defence Forces deployed in Gaza.

Adani–Elbit is a joint venture company between India’s Adani Defence and Aerospace and Israel’s Elbit Systems. These are medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles capable of both surveillance and aerial bombardment.

Recently, the Water Transport Workers Federation of India, which consists of more than 3,500 workers working at major Indian ports and are part of labour unions, has declared solidarity with Palestinians. 

In a press release on February 14, the workers refused to load or unload weapons shipments from Israel or any other country that handles military equipment and its allied cargo used in Palestine.

Kaur, who has played a significant role in opposing the recruitment of Indian workers to Israel, stated that pre- and post-independence India, except the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has stood and will continue to stand with the people of Palestine.

She stated that the RSS did not oppose British rule. The founder of the RSS is on record for having said that they were not fighting against British colonial rule, she remarked.

Kaur further states that she is not surprised that the Indian government has not taken any stand on this issue considering that “Prime Minister Modi has been brought up by the RSS whose founder had once stated that he is inspired by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini”.

She continued: “The founder of the RSS had said that their ideology is Nazism and fascism.”

Kaur added that the founder of the RSS was once asked who his three enemies were. She said that the founder had replied: “Christians, Muslims and the red flag [referring to the ideology of communism].

Kaur said that “Modi is carrying forward the philosophy and ideology and the understanding that their people fought against Indians and in favour of Britishers.”

She reiterated the position of the AITU and stated that it is significant that they opposed the recruitment of workers because they, as Germany or any part of the world where atrocities were committed, are answerable to future generations.

She also clarified the political position of the Communist Party of India that it stands in solidarity with Palestine.

Ali, who spoke after Kaur, also reiterated the position of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) as standing in solidarity with Palestine.

Ali told the audience that there is a reason why the US continues to veto the resolutions passed in favour of Palestine including the resolutions for sending humanitarian aid. She stated that Israel is nothing but an outpost of US imperialism. Israel is a way for the US to control oil which currently lies in the control of the Arab countries, she said.

Bhattacharya concluded the protest meeting by speaking on why India is complicit in the ongoing genocide.

He told the audience there is a global perception that five countries in the world are complicit in the genocide: Israel, the US, Britain, Germany and India.

He stated that one of the ways through which India has shown its complicity is by outlawing the right to protest against the genocide of Palestinians.

Bhattacharya clarified that huge protests are taking place in the US, Britain and Germany against the genocide in Gaza, but in Delhi, people need to get permission to protest and the government does not grant that permission.

At the end of the two sessions, Indians for Palestine passed a resolution in solidarity with Palestine.