A statement by the SOUTH ASIA SOLIDARITY INITIATIVE
SASI Calls for People-to-People Solidarity with Palestine and Condemns Duplicity of South Asian States in Palestine Bid for UN Recognition
The South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) recognizes the importance and urgency of the Palestinian bid for recognition by the United Nations this September. Despite the threatened U.S. veto in the Security Council, all member nations have an opportunity to weigh in on the outcome through the General Assembly. We welcome the overwhelming support shown for Palestinian membership in the UNESCO. While noting the support for recognition of Palestine by South Asian states, SASI is dismayed by the duplicity of some of these states in continuing to build economic, military, and intelligence ties with Israel. SASI supports the efforts of all peoples movements in South Asia and elsewhere towards solidarity with the people of Palestine.
There is a long history of people-to-people solidarity between Palestinians and South Asians that predates the founding of existing states in both regions. This solidarity is now undermined by South Asian states in their reckless pursuit of ever greater economic, military and intelligence ties and strategic cooperation with Israel and the US. Media reports show that since the 1990s, India has grown to be Israel’s single largest weapons export market with contracts totaling $8-10 billion. India accounts for 50% of Israeli defense exports, and Israel for 30% of India’s defense imports. Since 2007, Indian purchases have included a $2.5 billion air defense system using Barak missiles and 5 Phalcon airborne warning and control systems which the Brookings Institution calls “the signature weapons system” in the relationship. There are also clear shifts in foreign policy thinking and practices of the strategic establishment to uncritically embrace Israel’s democratic credentials and its importance to India’s national interests. Such Israeli–Indian ties were strengthened and shaped by the Hindutva governments between 1998 and 2004, and have subsequently continued under Congress leadership.
This relationship has unfolded with full US approval, as both Israel and India like to portray themselves as frontlines in the “Global War on Terror.” After the Mumbai attacks of 2008, India spent $600 million on Israeli radar systems along the western seaboard while also providing launch sites for Israel’s advanced radar-imaging Polaris satellite, intended to target the Iranian nuclear program. Other collaborations are unfolding in the sectors of drone aircraft and laser-guided munitions. Other South Asian states, such as Sri Lanka, have also made considerable arms purchases from Israel in recent years and their intelligence, covert military and repressive collaboration with Israel dates back to the 1980s.
With the issue now internationalized in the UN and with great changes sweeping the Middle East in the context of Arab Spring revolts, SASI, consisting of progressive South Asians located in the US, condemns the role of the US in the continued oppression of the Palestinian people and are dismayed by the hypocrisy of some South Asian states who continue to strengthen ties with a regime that illegally occupies Palestinian lands and engages in apartheid while paying lip service to Palestinian demands. SASI is also alarmed by the increasing ties between the Israel lobby and the India lobby among the Diaspora in the US. A growing alliance between forces of Hindutva and Zionism helps establish an axis of Washington, Tel Aviv and Delhi to the detriment of Palestinian rights, further strengthening the ideological basis of the repressive “Global War on Terror” in general.
Our alternative, as expressed in our mission statement, is not tied to nationalism or governmental efforts now largely viewed by the bulk of ordinary citizens in each of these countries as a legacy of failure. We wish instead to assert the principle of international solidarity — a solidarity based not in religion or ethnicity, but in our shared ideals rooted in histories of anti-colonialism, struggles for self-determination and non-alignment. We fully support the right of the Palestinian people to negotiate and achieve the solution they deem appropriate.
To this end, SASI fully supports:
— The Global March to Jerusalem, initiated by Palestinians throughout the diaspora affirming the right to return home. We endorse the new initiatives in South Asia on solidarity with Palestinians including the Asian Caravan to Gaza last year, and their ongoing efforts to join the Global March on Jerusalem.
— The international Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement spearheaded by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee, calling for a comprehensive economic and cultural civil resistance against Israel until it complies with international law and ends its system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid.
South Asia Solidarity Initiative Mission Statement
South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI) is an organization based the United States that is in solidarity with progressive social movements and democratic politics in South Asia. We believe in the shared history and common struggles of South Asia and break from the confines of nation-states to carry forward an alternative vision for South Asia and its peoples.
SASI is opposed to state repression, majoritarian politics, reactionary non-state forces, dispossession of communities and oppression of people along the lines of caste, gender, class, region, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion. We stand with those in South Asia who dissent, and we will amplify the voices of those who are silenced.
SASI engages in the US public sphere to challenge the US establishment wherever it reinforces repressive politics in South Asia. We aim to both engender a progressive dialogue and confront reactionary forces within our diasporic communities. SASI builds on decades of South Asian progressive politics of solidarity within the United States for peace and reconciliation, inter-ethnic and inter-religious co-existence as well as social and economic justice in South Asia.
We stand in solidarity with progressive movements both within and outside the US.