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Zionism, exterminism, and the Times of India

A Letter to the Editor

by Dilip Simeon, 9 January 2009

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The Editor, The Times of India


On January 8, 2009, you published the result of a poll in answer to your question "Should India follow Israel’s lead in its own war against terror?" The answer, predictably, was 84% in favour. I submit that this was a disingeneous way of conducting Israeli propaganda, a means of misleading the public and a violation of journalistic norms of fairness. Your newspaper prides itself on educating your readership. You have the right to publicise your views on current affairs, but do you not recognise that that there may be views at variance with your own? And that they need an airing in a responsible newspaper? Are you not aware that the Israel-Palestine conflict has aspects to it that may not be wished away by catch-phrases such as "war against terror"?

Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were not anti-Israel, but had a deep sympathy with the Palestinian refugees struggle for a homeland. Indian policy towards the Middle East was informed by knowledge of the gross injustice manifested in the evacuation of seven lakh Christian and Muslim Arabs from their homes and villages in Palestine in 1948, an evacuation enforced by massacres. Since then there have been five major wars, and several well-documented atrocities against Palestinian refugees - I need only refer to the Sabra and Chatila massacres of September 1982, where between 2000 to 3000 Palestinian refugees were killed by a pro-Israeli militia. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli defence minister was found responsible for this and had to resign. Had Europeans been the targets of such an atrocity would the ’civilised’ West permitted the man responsible to ascend to the position of Prime MInister?

Yes, Hamas has an extremist ideology. So does Israel, which has illegally occupied and settled the West Bank with over 2 lakh Jewish settlers, and subjected the Palestinian population to racist discrimination. There is ample material to bear this out, some of it written by democratic-minded Jews, including Israeli citizens. Israel is the only country in the world that believes in expanding its own recognised frontiers by sheer force, and with utter contempt for UN resoutions. It is Israel that breached the current truce, in order to launch its latest massacre. It is the Palestinian refugees who are the victims of terror.

The Israel-Palestine conflict is a dangerous flashpoint and needs serious discussion. But the editors of the Times of India refuse to allow it. By implicitly aligning Indian public opinion with the latest Israeli outrage you are reneging on your responsibility as an organ of public information. You are also endangering the norms of Indian democracy by suggesting that India emulate Israel in its brutal and racist attitude towards innocent civilians. Please avoid such facile and tendentious ’polls’ as the one reported on January 8, and allow a real debate on this burning issue.


Dilip Simeon
- New Delhi