Israel is in denial about Palestine just as India is about Kashmir

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New Delhi in January 2018. Prakash Singh / AFP

One of the best explanations for what’s happening with Israel appears under Chemi Shalev’s byline in Haaretz. I found it very sharp in its analysis of Israeli sentiment towards the Palestinians and how similar it is to India with respect to Kashmir.

Mr Shalev’s piece as follows: “Hardened by terror and frustrated by failed peace efforts, Israelis don’t want to hear about the evils of occupation or ways of ending it”.

That sounds a bit like India. Narendra Modi’s get-tough policing measures in Kashmir have harvested no more than fierce local anger and resentment but Indians don’t know what to do about Kashmir anymore and there’s little talk of peace in our time or for all time.

Consider the following paragraph from Mr Shalev’s piece with respect to Israel’s upcoming elections: “The Palestinian problem, in fact, is hardly being mentioned, other than as a club with which the right browbeats leftist politicians and portrays them as defeatist and even treacherous. Politicians run away from discussing potential solutions — never mind actual peace — as if it was the plague. And it’s not because they’re all out of fresh ideas, though they are: They know the Israeli public is in collective denial and that voters won’t reward those who dare snap them out of their reverie. Those who are might be tempted to cry out ‘The emperor has no clothes’ will first be shushed and then sent home, consigned to political oblivion.”

India, where elections are also due by April/May, is not discussing real solutions. In fact, the February 14 suicide car bomb attack on Indian paramilitary police has further hardened the discussion. The attack was perpetrated by a Kashmiri man and many Indians are angry and grieving — but not, sadly, sufficiently questioning about what should happen next.

The Haaretz piece mentions the folly of ignoring a crucial issue.

“The Palestinian elephant will continue to be ignored, consigned to a collective Israeli attitude reminiscent of the Ottoman fleet that was sent by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent in the mid-16th century to reconnoiter the island of Malta and to ascertain the reason for its steadfast resistance to his superior forces. The famous response of the commander sent on the mission was to tell his sultan ‘Malta yok’ — Malta does not exist.”

Originally published at on February 19, 2019.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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