An Arab MK and a Jewish Israeli professor were among those in India last week for a conference that aimed to put an end to Israel-India ties. MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad), professor Ilan Pappe, and Palestinian Authority official Mustafa Barghouti traveled to New Delhi to speak in favor of boycotting Israel.
Like many pro-boycott conferences, the event in New Delhi featured criticism of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, the growing Jewish population of Jerusalem, and the clash in late May between Israeli soldiers and pro-terror Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound ship. It also included criticism of the Jewish presence in the Negev, which Arab activists claimed is rightfully Bedouin land, but is within the UN borders of Israel in 1948.
MK Zahalka told Indians to stop purchasing Israeli arms because they are, he claimed, ineffective. “India should end its defense ties with Israel because it is buying equipment that failed during Israel's aggression on Lebanon,” he said.
Ilan Pappe, known radical leftist and one of the few Israeli professors to support an academic boycott of Israel, focused on the flotilla incident, which he said “exposed Israel for who and what they are [sic].” He criticized the Arab world for “not doing anything” against Israel.
Both Pappe and Zahalka were critical of Israel's ongoing talks with the Palestinian Authority, saying the talks are unlikely to succeed since they do not include Hamas, which governs Gaza.
Another speaker at the event was Richard Falk, formerly the United Nations Human Rights Council envoy to Gaza, Judea and Samaria. During his term as UN envoy Falk condemned Israel for such actions as destroying illegally built Arab structures in Jerusalem and deporting four senior Hamas members from the city. Israeli officials criticized Falk as “redundant at best and malicious at worst” and accused him of lacking objectivity.
Israel and India have had increasingly close economic and military ties for several years. In 2009, Israel became India's top defense supplier, as more than $1 billion in new contracts were signed between the countries per year. IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi made a historic visit to India in December of last year.
India has shown interest in Israeli supplies in particular as it fights its own terrorist threats. Among the equipment it has purchased in the past two years is a radar system to detect attempts at infiltration by sea, such as the infiltration of terrorists into Mumbai in 2008 in which eight Jews at Chabad House were cruelly murdered, to carry out attacks in which hundreds were murdered or wounded.
A global Foreign Ministry poll conducted in 2009 found that support for Israel is highest in India, where 58% of those polled said they supported Israel. The United States was in second place with 56% support.