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Modi’s Israel Visit: Memories of a Journalist’s Visits To Jewish State

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Modi In Israel

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By: Saeed Naqvi

Israel has been in the news in the context of the Prime Minister’s visit and I may be forgiven for a touch of nostalgia. I was the first Indian journalist to visit Israel after an Australian fanatic had set fire to the pulpit of the Al- Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in August 1969. The Arab World was ablaze.

Indian passports in those days were not valid for South Africa, Israel and Southern Rhodesia. Under a special dispensation you could obtain a separate passport for travel to countries with which India did not have diplomatic ties. Israelis were more practical: they pinned a piece of paper for entry and exit which could be pulled out when travelling to other countries.

The reception I received at Ben Gurion airport was the stuff of fairytales for a reporter in his 20s. Never will Jerusalem Municipality have a public relations officer more beautiful than Bathsheba Herman.

Something that had not touched the Israelis then was arrogance. They came across as clever, wise, modest people, working diligently on their Kibbutz, the typically Jewish cooperatives, where inequalities were not discernable. It was possible to contemplate Fa Giladi, the exquisite Kibbutz in the shadow of Mt. Hermon, as the dream location for research on the Palestinian issue.

The simplicity of the people helped tone down shades of Zionism instilled in us and which was the bane of the Palestinian people. Ambassadors like John Kenneth Galbraith held Pandit Nehru in their thrall with their intellect. But during the Indira Gandhi years, changes were creeping across the diplomatic corps. There were various ways to gauge how well informed an Ambassador was. A simple test could be this: was the ambassador a regular fixture at the New Year eve party hosted by Indira Gandhi’s leftist adviser, editor of Seminar, Romesh Thapar. By this and several other criteria the trophy belonged to Clovis Maksoud, Arab League’s first ambassador, articulate, even bombastic, with an unerring eye for New Delhi’s well groomed ladies. His role in sensitizing the New Delhi elite to the intricacies of the Palestinian case must never be underestimated.

Nehru as leader of the Non-Aligned and Afro-Asian bloc obviously had a large constituency among left liberals and Muslims. His charm offensive even on the Arabs worked such magic that Raees Amrohvi, an Urdu poet from Pakistan, was moved to write a quatrain:

“Jup raha hai aaj mala ek Hindu ki Arab

Barhaman zaade mein shaane dilbari aisi to ho!

Hikmat e Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ki qasam

Mar mitey Islam jispar, kafiri aisi to ho!”

(What a spell this Brahmin has cast on the Arabs

Who now chant his name on their beads.

Look at the magic of this kafir (non-believer);

Believers of the Arab world lie at his feet)

Until 1990s, it was anti intellectual to cast positive light on the Israeli case. When Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in 1984, he was advised by Muslim Congressmen in his vicinity (but totally out touch with the community) not to upgrade relations with Israel because that would adversely affect the party’s Muslim support.

When I argued against this line in the Indian Express, Rajiv had it expanded into an official note. Muslim leaders, such as they were, and the Mullah had shackled the community with issues like Shah Bano, Salman Rushdie, Babri Masjid, Muslim character of Aligarh Muslim University and now relations with Israel. What any backward community needed was employment, education, entrepreneurial help, I wrote.

After Rajiv was assassinated, half way through the 1991 General Elections. P.V. Narasimha Rao upgraded relations with Israel in 1992. There was not a whimper from the community.

Initially, relations were more or less mechanically upgraded. Absence of any real content in the relationship invited Shimon Peres to quip in an interview with me:

“Indo-Israeli relations are like French perfume – to be smelt not drunk.”

The Israel Bathsheba Harman introduced me to soon after the 1967 war, had hardened by the 1993 Oslo accords. But even so one could salve one’s conscience with the thought that Oslo would atleast lead to a two-state solution.

 An episode firmed up my appraisal of the Israeli-Palestinian two-state process.

It was a Shabath lunch, at a friend’s house in Herzilia. Among this very small group happened to a person at one end of the lawn, wreathed in cigarette smoke, a glass of red wine in one hand, rapidly replenished, obviously reveling in the company of three well groomed ladies who had formed an admiring circle around him. It was Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, lighting one Kent after another, like Belmondo in a Godard film.

He came across at first a shy man but once he opened up, he was transparent and obviously trustworthy. His approach to Oslo was not at a variance from another loveable Israeli, Yossi Beilin, very much the author of the Oslo accords.

Obsession with survival and security had injected some iron in the Israeli soul, but the Jewish state became hard as nails after the 9/11 wars, Islamophobia, and Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister who visited India on the first anniversary of 9/11, just when the war-on-terror rhetoric was being amplified here too.

Sensitive defence deals with Israel begun under Atal Behari Vajpayee were boosted by Manmohan Singh. The Palestinian issue, which was highest priority upto Indira Gandhi, dipped in saliency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, however, is fired by an atavistic Hindutva adoration for a small country on top of its mischievous Muslim neighbors. Ramallah has been bypassed, of course. But it should not be lost on the insiders that during the September non aligned summit in Venezuela the Indian delegation received instructions from South Block, to drop the routine reference to the Palestinian issue altogether. It was a tradition from the earliest days of NAM.

No, Ramallah was not just bypassed; Palestine has been downgraded to the level of irrelevance.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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46 dead, 147 wounded in suicide bombing at Peshawar mosque

A suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar city on Monday left at least 28 people dead and left another150 wounded, reports said.

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suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan

A suicide bombing at a mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar city on Monday left at least 46 people dead and left another 147 wounded, reports said.

As per reports, the attack took place when worshippers gathered inside were offering afternoon prayers in the mosque in the northwestern city, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordered by Afghanistan.

Police officials said a suicide bomber walked into the mosque where over 260 people were offering afternoon prayers and detonated his explosive vest causing a massive explosion. They said the roof of the mosque collapsed due to the blast and caved in burying many people underneath the debris.

Eyewitnesses said they saw blood-soaked survivors limping away from the blast site.

Reports quoted a police officer, Meena Gul, who survived the blast, as saying that he was inside the mosque when the blast occurred but could not provide details on the number of injured and dead in the attack.

Read Also: Devotees brawl inside Ajmer Sharif shrine, video viral | WATCH

Gul said he was disoriented and all he could hear was cries and screams after the bombing.

Officials said the wounded are being rushed to local medical facilities where many are stated to be in critical condition, raising fears that the death toll may rise.

No terrorist group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack; however, officials suspect this has all the markings of being the handiwork of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after 20 years of war.

In March 2022, an Islamic State suicide bombing left 64 people dead at a minority Shiite mosque in Peshawar, the country’s deadliest terror attack since 2018.

Uttar Pradesh: Video of men flaunting weapon in moving car goes viral, internet users demand strict action | WATCH

Devotees brawl inside Ajmer Sharif shrine, video viral | WATCH

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Bangladesh teen sleeps while playing hide and seek, found in different country 7 days later

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Bangladesh teen sleeps while playing hide and seek, found in different country 6 days later

During the game of hide and seek, a 15-year-old boy reached another country 3,700 kilometers away. To people’s surprise he was found after 6 days. During this, the family members of the child kept searching for him. The case is of Chittagong, Bangladesh, and from there the missing boy was found in Malaysia after 7 days.

According to reports, 15-year-old Faheem was playing hide and seek with his friends in Chittagong port. Meanwhile, he locked himself inside a shipping container and slept there. By the time he woke up, the container had reached Malaysia. Neither his family members nor the people working there got a clue about this.

But when the container was opened at the port of Malaysia, the people of the authority were shocked. A boy came out of it. During interrogation, it was found that he is from Bangladesh. After which the authorities informed the employees of Chittagong port.

Teen transported from bangladesh to malaysia

Faheem, who went missing on January 11, was found in the port of Malaysia on January 17. According to the Malaysian news agency, Bernama, Malaysia’s Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasyushan Ismail has given a statement regarding this incident. He said that it is believed that the boy had entered the container, then slept there and reached here.

It was told that Faheem remained hungry and thirsty for a whole week in the container. Due to this he had become very weak and he also had fever. After being taken out, he was taken to the nearest hospital for examination.

The police initially suspected that it could be a case of human trafficking, but after contacting the Bangladeshi authority, the truth came to the fore. However, this is not the first case. In October last year, Malaysian police recovered the body of a 15-year-old boy from the container.

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Brazil man fakes death to see who gathers at his funeral, family and friends enraged

The man identified as Balthazal Lemos, earlier this month, had shared the false news of his Facebook by sharing a status that read that Balthazar Lemos had parted from the world.

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An amusing story has come to light from Brazil where a man faked his own death in order to see who will turn up at his funeral. According to reports, the man had spread the fake news about his death to his relatives and friends with the intention to find out who will come.

The incident according to reports started earlier this month but concluded on 18 January after his funeral.

According to reports, the 60 year old man had shared the news of his death on his social media after which even his last rites were conducted. The Brazilian man single-handedly concocted the plan. The man had been conducting last rites ceremony in his career which was the reason why he could solely depend on himself to carry out the plan.

The man identified as Balthazal Lemos, earlier this month, had shared the false news of his Facebook by sharing a status that read that Balthazar Lemos had parted from the world. After Lemos’s post, his family were taken aback by shocking learnings.

After learning about the death of Lemos, his nephews rushed to the hospital to find out what happened that led to his death. However, the situation took an awry turn as the hospital staff denied recollection of Lemos being admitted to the hospital.

The friends of the Brazilian man also chimed in and shared the news and asked for the cause of death, however, no explanation was given out. Instead of telling about the cause of death, the location and time of the funeral was shared, directing the people to attend the funeral ceremony.

At the funeral procession, which was organised in a small chapel at Lemos’ hometown, the friends and family of the man showed up to offer their condolences and bid their last good-byes to the man. However, Lemos’ voice startled the guest as he announced himself to the people which led to many people shedding tears.

Lemos rose up from his coffin bed after opening the gate and stood tall in front of all the guests. The Brazilian man after rising up told the people why he did what he did after which many were agitated by his somewhat harmless joke and accused him of hurting their sentiments.

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