#WeStandWithIsrael: How Indian Netizens Are Vociferously Backing Israel While Modi Govt Lends Support To Palestine

India has officially reaffirmed its support for the Palestinian cause and a two-state solution amid the latter’s conflict with Israel, however, Indian netizens are vociferously backing the Jewish nation. 

At the United Nations Security Council, New Delhi has avoided making any direct reference to the status of Jerusalem or the future Israel-Palestine borders but reaffirmed its support for Palestine.

In a statement issued on May 16, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, T.S. Tirumurti said, “We had expressed our deep concern over violence in Jerusalem, especially on Haram Al-Sharif/ Temple Mount during the holy month of Ramadan, and about the possible eviction process in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, an area which is part of an arrangement facilitated by the UN. We had also expressed our apprehension at the spread of violence to other parts of West Bank and Gaza.”

However, social media users have taken a diametrically opposite position. Since the conflict between the two regions intensified last week, hashtags like #ISupportIsrael, #IndiaWithIsrael, and #IndiaStandsWithIsrael have been trending on Twitter.

Interestingly, those who have posted comments in support of Israel include members of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other right-wing organizations like Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

On May 15 May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude to foreign governments for supporting his country in the ongoing clashes with Hamas. The post included emojis of flags from 25 countries, but India was not one of them.

This appears to have disappointed and disturbed Indian social media users, provoking them to plead with Netanyahu to include the Indian flag emoji in appreciation of their bond with Israel.

Some seemed to convince themselves and others that, though India’s stance is neutral owing to geopolitical compulsions, Israel is fully aware that India indirectly supports Israel. Then, there are some who promised unconditional support to Israel in its fight.

India’s Stand On Palestine

Though historically an unequivocal supporter of the Palestine cause, India’s position on the world’s longest-running conflict has shifted to a delicate balancing act with its three-decade-old good relations with Israel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a decision to cement India’s ties with Israel. In July 2017, Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel. Pragmatically, de-hyphenation is a fine balancing act, with India sliding from one side to the other as circumstances dictate.

Months later, Modi also became the first Indian PM to make an official visit to Palestine, in February 2018. He was conferred upon the ‘Grand Collar of the State of Palestine’, the highest civilian award of the land, for his “support to our people’s right to independence and freedom so that peace prevails in the region.”

After the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019, the reaction of the Arab world, including Palestine, was not critical at all.

This was in stark contrast to Pakistan’s constant accusation that there had been widespread human rights violations after New Delhi had withdrawn the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Turkey has also joined this chorus and leveled similar allegations against India.

Now, New Delhi has urged both parties to de-escalate the situation and resume dialogue. It has stated its “unwavering commitment” to the two-state solution while expressing “strong support” for the  Palestinian cause and opposing Hamas’ rocket attack on Israel.

“Immediate de-escalation is the need of the hour, so as to arrest any further slide towards the brink. We urge both sides to show extreme restraint, desist from actions that exacerbate tensions, and refrain from attempts to unilaterally change the existing status-quo, including in East Jerusalem and its neighborhood,” the Indian envoy to the UN said.