Palestine and Eezham Tamils: The Hindu group’s double standard
The Hindu group and its associates known for their bias and bigotry towards the issues of genocide and independence of Eezham Tamils, and towards the LTTE-led militant struggle of the recent past, have now reiterated their stand on Palestine, endorsing Hamas as the resistance force representing the people of Gaza. As a response to the recent Israeli military offensive against the people of Gaza, The Hindu and associates have been rallying public opinion in favour of the Palestinian struggle. In two separate events organized in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, the affluent Hindu clique has vehemently condemned Israel and termed its acts against the Palestinians as war crimes and demanded India to take a more vocal stand against Israel, writes a media watcher in Chennai.
During the genocidal war, which concluded in Mu’l'livaaykkaal in May 2009, The Hindu was leading the Indian national media campaign, which effectively distorted the unfolding events as a legitimate war against ‘terrorism’ by heavily reproducing the Sri Lankan state propaganda.
There is thus a perplexing contrast in their pro-Sri Lanka-ness and their anti-Israeli attitude: in their understanding and rationalization of the Palestinian national resistance and the structural nature of violence Palestinian people face, while demonizing the LTTE and silencing the structural genocide faced by the Eezham Tamils. This was most evident during the recent events organized by groups associated with The Hindu and in an article appeared in The Hindu affiliated monthly, The Frontline Magazine.
On August 6, a meeting was organized by Harmony India at New College auditorium, Royapettah, Chennai, in solidarity with Palestine. The Harmony India – which officially the ‘Association for Communal Amity, Secularism and Human Solidarity’– is headed by The Hindu’s N.Ram and his associates. Despite its name, the association is predominantly constituted by a particular section of the populace.
The dignitaries spoke at the meeting besides N. Ram were U. Vasuky, State secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former Bengal governor and former New Delhi ambassador in Colombo, Nawab Mohammed Abdul, Prince of Arcot, and T.M Krishna, Carnatic musician.
The speakers stressed repeatedly that India must be more vocal in condemning the aggression of Israel in Gaza and its human rights violations. They furthered that the conflict, which has so far claimed nearly 2000 lives, mostly civilians, including a large number of children, should be viewed purely as ‘an act of aggression’ by Israel on unarmed, innocent people. “Gaza has become an open air prison and unarmed civilians have become easy targets,” said U. Vasuki. She also urged India to fall back on its traditional ‘pro-Palestine’ stance and condemn the violence. She added that the only permanent solution for the current crisis was to restore the Israel-Palestine border to its 1967 position, which in effect expressed her endorsement of Palestinian statehood and nationhood.
N.Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons Ltd., said that of the 1,865 people killed since violence erupted on 6 July, 429 were less than 18 years old, 243 were women and 79 were above the age of 70. He further said that Hamas was elected by the people in 2006 and was now the vanguard of the resistance in Gaza. He targeted the present Indian government’s refusal to allow a parliament resolution to condemn Israel’s assault, as unjust, arbitrary and illegal. Mr. Ram stressed that the meeting was convened not to call for the destruction of Israel, but to express solidarity with the people of Palestine in line with the two-state solution.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi said that India should take a strong stand on the issue and Nawab Mohamed Abdul Ali, the Prince of Arcot, said “Mass murder in any form should not occur. War has achieved nothing other than causing more wars”. Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna said the violence in Gaza should not be seen as a ‘Muslims versus Jews’ issue, but should be viewed purely on humanitarian grounds.
The complete lack of solidarity with Eezham Tamils was strikingly evident in the meeting that not a single line of comparison was drawn between the oppression and state violence committed by Israel on Palestine and Sri Lanka on the nation of Eezham Tamils. Neither did any of the solidarity dignitaries nor participants draw any parallel or an even a comment between Eezham and Palestine.
The logic of solidarity expressed by The Hindu associates on behalf of the Palestinian people and their struggle has persistently been denied when it concerns Eezham. This evidences the Indian national media’s role in delegitimizing the Eelam political struggle through their control of public and popular opinion.
On 18 August, a panel discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict titled “War and Peace” was held in Chennai at the Indian Institute of Technology.
The panelists for the discussion were another group affiliated to The Hindu: Mr. Sashikumar, chairman of Asian college of Journalism, Dr. Stanley Johny from The Hindu Business Line, Dr. Tabraz, a professor of IIT Madras and Mr.Pradyot Baradwaj, a student of IIT Madras.
The panelists were stridently opposed to Israel’s pounding of Gaza and Dr. Stanley Johny stressed the disproportionate loss of Palestinian lives and property, which he pointed out as nothing but the attack on Palestinian Nationhood. He gave a brief historical background to the conflict from 2006, when Hamas won the majority in the Palestinian election. He stressed the importance of inevitability of Hamas retaliating to Israel’s structural genocide and said that the human shield theory used by the Israeli state against the Hamas militants is hogwash.
Mr. Sashi Kumar called Israel a rogue state and received a roaring applause from the audience.
One of the students present in the auditorium questioned the panelist on their double standards in their solidarity with Palestine and denial to Tamil Eelam. The student noted out the similarities of the military campaign against Tamil Eelam and Palestine and asked “Why are you ready to see Hamas as a legitimate group fighting for their self determination. Why do Liberals and Indian communists like many of you dismiss the structural genocide against Eelam Tamil children and women with apathy and scorn?”
Taken aback Shashi Kumar replied, "I agree with you, if not for LTTE the Tamils would have been finished off much earlier but the LTTE is a proto fascist organization, which killed many Tamil groups"
In contrast, in an article carried in Frontline on August 22, the following was written about Hamas and the Israeli military attack:
“Demonising Hamas by characterising it as a “terrorist” organisation, Israel started accelerating its game plan for the scuttling of the two-state scenario envisaged in the Oslo Accord […].The flattening of Gaza, in short, has nothing to do with Hamas or terrorism. It is about never-ending control over Palestinian land by the occupiers and denying Palestinians the freedom they have been fighting for. Mahmoud Abbas, speaking for all Palestinians, issued a heartfelt appeal as Israel was trying to bomb the civilian population into submission.”