A number of Muslim and secular organisations joined the protest at Jantar Mantar in the capital on August 18 to appeal to and exert pressure upon the Government of India to wind up its growing ties with Israel. The joint protest was staged at a time when a Muslim delegation consisting of some so-called Muslim intellectuals and journalists was paying a not so secret visit to Israel.
The organisers of the dharna included All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Momin Conference, Markazi Jamita-e-Ulam-e-Hind, Milli Talimi Foundation, Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadith, Majlis-e-Fikr-o-Amal, Shah Waliullah Institute, and the English fortnightly Milli Gazette.
In a memorandum submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh they said that India has a very long tradition of supporting the Palestinian cause because it is considered an international legality. Our Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi used to say that Palestine originally belongs to the Arabs just as Britain belongs to the British and France to the French. This is why our country totally refused to accept Israel when it emerged in May 1948, after UN Partition Plan of November 29, 1947. This caused Israel to gobble up large chunks of the Palestinian territory as well as the deportation of the Palestinians from their native land. These Palestinians still live in the umpteen camps on the borders of Israel.
The memorandum analysed that Indo-Israel diplomatic relations were established only after it concluded Oslo Agreements with the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1992 which represented the emergence of a free and independent state within five years on the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967, unfortunately, representing only 22 per cent of the historical Palestine. It laments that nothing happened as Israel was never serious or honest about its dealings with the Palestinians.
The memorandum says that Indo-Israel strange developments started taking place with huge purchase of arms and close military, security and intelligence cooperation during the then NDA government. It was expected that Indo-Israel relationship would go back to the normal mode after the UPA government; disappointingly nothing happened.
However, the joint protest was carried out after an Urdu daily, Hindustan Express reported that the Muslim delegation’s visit to Israel would hurt the religious sentiments of 20 crore Indian Muslims. The delegation members were scheduled to meet Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmart and foreign minister as well as Chief Israeli rabbi.
President All India Imam Organisation Maulana Jameel Ilyasi and Editor Rashtriya Sahara Aziz Burney, who were scheduled to be from among the delegation members, reportedly postponed their visit to Tel Aviv following mounting protests from the various Muslim quarters. However, they sent their representatives. Maulana Jameel Ilyasi sent his son Maulana Umair Ilyasi and Burney sent a senior journalist of Rashtriya Sahara, Shakeel Hasan Shamshi.
initial report revealed the background of different visiting members of the delegation. It alleged Maulana Jameel Ilyasi of always working against the Muslim cause, and Aziz Burney of having been involved in promoting Zionism and Qadianism through his journalistic talents. According to the report, Khwaja Iftikhar had formed the Vajpayee Himayat Committee after the Gujarat massacre of Muslims, while Maulana Umair Ilyasi was brought up under the shadow and affection of RSS (Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh). Abdul Wahid Chisthi, who is associated with the holy Ajmer dargah, and Sheikh Manzoor of UNI are also accompanying the delegation.
The visit of the delegation has been facilitated by the India office of American Jewish Committee (AJC) which has been actively involved to protect and promote Israeli interests in India.
In view of the delegation’s visit to Israel, Assistant Secretary Jamaat-e-Islami Hind Intizar Naeem said Israel is busy building its lobby in India through diplomatic and political circles, particularly in the vast sections of Indian Muslims. “Everybody knows Israel is the biggest trouble of Muslims around the world as well as the biggest enemy of humanity,” he said while strongly condemning the then Congress government of Late Narasimha Rao, who actively supported the move to invite Israel for diplomatic relations. Mr Naeem said India should consider developing its socio-political relationship with Arab countries and not with Israel. He also demanded boycotting the members of the visiting delegation.
Dr Zafar-ul-Islam Khan, Editor Milli Gazette said that US has announced $30 billion aid to Israel. However, it has never bestowed its financial aid to the suffering Palestinian community. He advised New Delhi to keep from any deal with Israel and purchase of arms and ammunitions from it. He also appealed to the Muslim community to boycott the members of the delegation the latter have not been loyal to their religion.
Mohd Adeeb (Member A.M.U Court) wondered why some of the community members visited Israel while the Israelis illegally occupied the Masjid al-Aqsa and are responsible for killing thousands and thousands of innocent Palestinians.
A number of prominent other delegates including religious scholars participated in the dharna against the Israeli aggression.