As the genocide in Gaza continues, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking notes.

by Aparna Gopalan, In These Times

On October 12, as Israeli airstrikes were pummeling Gaza, Israel’s ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, told Asian News International that he had received such an outpouring of support from people in India that he could fill another Israeli army just with Indian volunteers. ​Everyone is telling me, ​I want to volunteer, I want to fight for Israel,’” he said.

Gilon’s remarks came five days after Hamas militants’ attack on Israel claimed 1,200 lives (a number Israel revised down from the initial 1,400); Israel’s response has been an ongoing, genocidal bombing campaign, which killed more than 10,000 Palestinians in Gaza in its first month. Within hours of the Hamas attack, Narendra Modi, India’s far-right prime minister, expressed solidarity with Israel, and ministers throughout his party echoed him, many proclaiming that India and Israel share a common struggle against ​terrorism.” Meanwhile, Indian media has inundated hundreds of millions of viewers with relentless pro-Israel coverage, and India’s social media users have created such a flood of anti-Palestinian fake news that the cofounder of an Indian fact-checking nonprofit declared India ​the disinformation capital of the world.”

netanyahu and modi meet in india

This fever pitch of pro-Israel sentiment among right-wing Indians has deep historical roots. As journalist Azad Essa explains in his new book, Hostile Homelands, the movement to establish India as a Hindu-supremacist homeland — known as Hindutva — has long seen Israeli Zionism as a kindred struggle. Both ethno-nationalist movements draw inspiration from 20th-century European fascism, as well as each other. In a 1923 tract, Hindutva cofounder Vinayak Savarkar wrote, ​if the Zionists’ dreams are ever realized — if Palestine becomes a Jewish state — it will gladden us almost as much as our Jewish friends.”

For most of the 20th century, the Hindutva movement struggled to gain a following and its fervor for Israel did not influence Indian politics. Instead, India officially sided with Palestinians. In 1938, Mohandas Gandhi wrote that the Zionist displacement of Palestinian Arabs ​cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct.”

Read More