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Kashmir and Palestine share the struggle for self determination against colonial occupation

Opinion
on 28 Comments

As a Kashmiri living in North America, I have been to Kashmir some twenty times. I have experienced the instability, power outages, curfews, and closures that are a cruel part of everyday life, and witnessed massive non-violent demonstrations against the military occupation. I have seen Indian military personnel haul Kashmiri kids playing cricket into armored vehicles, and listened carefully to the stories of my aunt, an ophthalmologist, who operated on hundreds of youth blinded by pellets shot by the Indian army.

As a Palestinian, I have also studied and witnessed first-hand the settler colonization of Palestine. It was exactly this time two years ago that I was in Kashmir, working on a legal research paper, combing through newspaper articles offering the latest on the Indian government’s attempts to use the law to eliminate Kashmir’s semi-sovereign status. It all seemed familiar, like déjà vu, until I realized I was simply looking at a different application of Israel’s use of the law to justify the denial of basic rights to Palestinians.

On August 5, the Indian parliament by a majority vote revoked the special semi-sovereign status of Jammu and Kashmir by scrapping Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and bifurcating the state into two union territories. Article 370 enshrined the limitations on the power of the Indian parliament to make laws for Jammu and Kashmir, the essential term of Kashmir’s accession to India in 1947. Without Article 370, Kashmir has been stripped of any semblance of autonomy, ushering in a new stage in India’s colonial relationship with the state. India has moved at least 48,000 troops to the region, in addition to the 700,000 already stationed there that have made Kashmir the most densely militarized zone on earth for decades. The Indian government imposed a total security lockdown in Kashmir, with orders to shoot-to-kill upon seeing Kashmiris in the streets, and a communications and media blackout, shutting down landlines, mobile phones, and internet.

Israel is an oft-cited example of an ethno-nationalist political configuration. Ethno-nationalism is rooted in colonial narratives that dictate a racial hierarchy of belonging in which the subordination of some members of the population, the out-group, is structurally entrenched and often backed up with physical violence. As per its Nation State Law, Israel is not a state of its citizens, but rather belongs to Jewish people that have membership and belonging in the state. The full privileges of membership in Israel are extended exclusively to its Jewish population.

A community might measure what rights its members enjoy by looking at those from which they are excluded. When, in July 1952, leaders of the Indian government and several Jammu and Kashmir political parties convened in Delhi to resolve outstanding issues relating to Kashmir’s accession, the Indian government was openly concerned that extending the fundamental rights granted by the Indian Constitution to the restive Kashmiri populace might have the effect of impeding the central government’s ability to deal “swiftly and effectively” with troublemakers. In 1954, when numerous provisions of the Indian Constitution were extended to Jammu and Kashmir, the order came with the caveat that the fundamental rights afforded broadly to Indians could be suspended anytime in Kashmir in the interests of “security” and without judicial review.

India’s neocolonial relationship with Kashmir is brilliantly illustrated by laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which grants special powers to Indian Armed Forces in so-called “disturbed areas,” a category of which Kashmir has been a part since 1990. AFSPA grants the Indian military sweeping powers to arrest without warrant, shoot-to-kill, and destroy property. Characterized by Human Rights Watch as a “tool of state abuse, oppression and discrimination,” AFSPA also handily provides immunity for military personnel who conduct extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and mass disappearances.

Reviewing the literature on AFSPA and its origins, it is not hard to draw the connection to Israel’s justification of the use of torture and indefinite detention against the Palestinian population by declaring the areas in which it is applied to be in a state of emergency, remaining so for decades.

Hindutva, a form of Hindu nationalism, is the official ideology of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and its followers claim that Muslims and secularists have undermined the strength of the Hindu nation. Hindutva nationalists and Zionists often try to reframe the conflicts not as ones over human and political rights, sovereignty, consent, and self-determination, but as being caused by irrational and implacable Muslims and Islamists who if not confronted and stopped will take over the world. In this context, all the repression and state violence to which millions of people are subjected is justified in the name of fighting terror and defending democracy and civilized values.

The frame of “terrorism”, which legitimizes global silence on the issue of Kashmir and the ongoing violence against the population, supports an economy of arms trade between India and Israel. In this context, the aggressive religious nationalisms of Zionism and Hindutva are neutral shared security interests. Kashmiri and Palestinian quests for self-determination are reduced to neighboring Muslim or Arab states causing unrest.

Suggesting that the two nations are not un-self aware of their close ideological ties, India and Israel have fostered political and military links in recent years, including arms sales, joint intelligence operations, trade agreements, and cultural exchanges. Since 2003, when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon signed an agreement with the Indian government declaring that India and Israel were “strategic partners,” Israeli technology and tactics have been deployed regularly by Indian forces occupying Kashmir. The Shin Bet and other Israeli agencies responsible for human rights abuses and killings of Palestinians have provided training and advice to India on how to suppress the people of Kashmir. Today, India is the largest buyer of Israeli arms and Israel is training Indian military units in “counter-terrorist” attacks and urban warfare to be used against Kashmiris and resistance groups in northeast and central India.

Hindutva groups have tried to minimize attention to human rights violations in Kashmir, the conditional annexation by India in 1947, or the right to self-determination, by limiting the discussion on Kashmir to the issue of displacement and killings of the upper caste minority Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in the late 1980s, and by insisting that Kashmir is not an international issue.

Similarly, Zionists seeking to draw attention away from Israel’s abuses of Palestinians’ human rights often focus exclusively on suicide bombings or the rule of Hamas. Their aim is to silence any discussion of the historic Palestinian demands for the implementation of the refugees’ right of return, an end to the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and equality for Palestinian citizens in Israel.

Kashmiris are held hostage by larger post-colonial turned neo-colonial states of India and Pakistan that have competed to claim them in the name of religion and nationalism. So too are Palestinians caught between peace process after peace process while the number of illegal settlements increases unabated.

Both Kashmir and Palestine must be re-centered in the global discussion around self-determination and the demands of the people who have lived for so long under colonial military occupation regimes. Much of that work can begin in exposing and resisting the lure of ethno-nationalism and racial supremacy, placing Hindutva and Zionism in this context, and understanding these long-running “conflicts” for what they are: colonialism.

Many have written about an imminent ethnic cleansing in Kashmir. As anthropologist Patrick Wolfe has noted, “the question of genocide is never far from discussions of settler colonialism.” As a Palestinian and Kashmiri there is little escape from the violence of the colonial machine. As I sit with my family and wait on news – any news – the only thing I can think to do is write.

Zainab Ramahi

Zainab Ramahi is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley School of Law and has researched the implications of scrapping Article 35a and Article 370 on Kashmir’s future.

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28 Responses

  1. echinococcus on August 9, 2019, 9:53 am

    RoHa writes in another thread totally unrelated to Palestinian resistance:

    “I am not convinced that the position of the Palestinians is advanced by dragging the fashionable obsessions of the US pseudo-left into the discussions.”

    Or, one may add, by becoming the representative of the US pseudo-left (ie the politically reactionary while culturally permissive fraction of US politics) with a relatively specialized interest for Palestine.

    Associating whatever the cat dragged in, or better said, bringing all our unrelated personal hobby horses to what are ostensibly support fora for Palestinian anti-Zionist resistance is the surest way of losing people.

    The result is what we see: MW, started as a place to develop ideas, now increasingly looks as an official site belonging to one of the supposedly two US Zionist parties, used for propaganda of the most controversial Palestine-unrelated fads and the continual airing of elementary-school debating society sessions of Zionist propaganda, while discussion of the basic issues is pitilessly censored.

    • IsraelShamir on August 9, 2019, 11:14 am

      How true! This piece of Ms Zeinab does not belong here at all!

    • Mooser on August 9, 2019, 3:04 pm

      ‘Like Israel is doing in the occupied territories’ is being used to describe Modi’s intentions in Kashmir.
      ‘Like Israel’ has become the lingua franca for violent settler-colonialism cloaked by law and “security”.

    • fyrebird on August 9, 2019, 8:30 pm

      Instead of running purity tests, maybe you can outline why the comparisons don’t stick. Not just why it displeases your highnesses.

      Both India’s and Israel’s occupations involve strangulation and demonisation of the victims. In both cases offenders – whether Indian Hindu or Israeli Jewish – hang around the crime scene (the crime never stops) like hulking blowflies.

    • fyrebird on August 9, 2019, 8:53 pm

      ‘Associating whatever the cat dragged in, or better said, bringing all our unrelated personal hobby horses to what are ostensibly support fora for Palestinian anti-Zionist resistance is the surest way of losing people.’

      What a disingenuous remark. This is not something a cat dragged in. India is not a cat when it comes to the Dalit or wrong man or woman of the caste in hierarchy or the Muslim. Zionism doesn’t have a monopoly on global suffering. Nor does ISIS. Hindu and Buddhist demons exist, you know.

      More specifically, this is about illegal occupation and the most heavily militarised zone in the world. There is no shortage of armed soldiers in such a populous country – the difference with Israel is perhaps only in recruitment.

      • echinococcus on August 10, 2019, 11:06 am

        Firebird,

        When we gather on a discussion site to try and figure out how to help Palestinian resistance, it is to help specifically Palestinian resistance. It has to unite every single person without exception who, for whatever reason, wants to help Palestinian resistance. No matter if cultural liberals or political left (if still any alive), conservative or reactionary. Atheists and religious fanatics; tribal Jewish gatekeepers and old-fashioned antisemites. Pink-hat Democrats and Trumpoplorables both. Even Kashmiris and Indian nationalists. Both. As long as they want to support Palestinian resistance.

        The enemy is formidable; it is the most oppressive empire and the most effective propaganda organization in history. Also, all the historical record is clear: antagonizing some of your supporters and favoring others, as you and the liberaloids here continually do, guarantees failure and reeks of sabotage.

        To summarize, it’s not “about illegal occupation” that we are all here on this specific site but about the occupation of Palestine and the rights of the Palestinian people. For all other problems, take them elsewhere.

      • Mooser on August 10, 2019, 5:32 pm

        “When we… that we are all here…” “Echin”

        Sorry “Echin, I’m a bit confused. Who is “we” in your comment?
        Or is a “w” just a upside-down “m” in this case?

      • fyrebird on August 11, 2019, 6:39 am

        echinococcus: ‘Atheists and religious fanatics; tribal Jewish gatekeepers and old-fashioned antisemites. Pink-hat Democrats and Trumpoplorables both. Even Kashmiris and Indian nationalists. Both. As long as they want to support Palestinian resistance.’

        If you think anti-Semites and Hindu nationalists support Palestine, you know less than I originally supposed. No opposer of the occupation of Palestine I know is an anti-Semite. There maybe opportunists here and there but they are too few to consider. At best a Hindu nationalist may oppose it all as a grandstanding against ‘monotheism’ that appeals to certain myopic members of the ‘pseudo-left’, but that doesn’t amount to anything. I don’t even believe discussion board heroism will amount to anything.

        The resistance, or should I say reconfiguration, will probably happen due to environmental breakdown. But decay will happen anyway. That’s the course of things. I don’t see Europe, the United States or the Arab World, China or anybody doing anything about the Palestinians. Whenever Gaza gets bloodied, there is discussion, a handful of leaders speak a little because it causes them an itch, and the show goes on.

        No point in cliques / alliances that don’t make sense and are not true. In my book, informing people who *will listen* is far more effective.

      • Mooser on August 11, 2019, 12:47 pm

        Hello ,”fyrebird”. If you would like why “we gather” here the place to go is the “About Mondoweiss” page.

        Of course, each commenter may have his own private interests, and I wish “Echin” much success making Trumpists into anti-Zionists.

      • echinococcus on August 11, 2019, 3:08 pm

        Fyrebird,

        Just as there are a number of, unimaginable but true, American Republicans and even Democrats who oppose Zionism, against their organizations’ basic tenets, I know a number of Palestine supporters who do support Indian policy, for whatever reason. If you need another example, this site is run and manned by Democrats, ie adherents and enablers of the main Zionist political organization (who won’t even talk to Republicans who support Palestinian resistance.)

      • Keith on August 11, 2019, 8:48 pm

        FYREBIRD- “I don’t see Europe, the United States or the Arab World, China or anybody doing anything about the Palestinians.”

        Sad but true. Personally, I find the article relevant to Palestine for a couple of reasons. First, because it shows the extent to which Modi and the BJP have climbed aboard the imperial bandwagon demonstrating that in many ways BRICS opposition to empire was/is an illusion. Also, India has gotten quite cozy with Israel and is utilizing Israeli trainers to implement the Matrix of Control developed to control the Palestinians and now being marketed to authoritarian regimes worldwide. The situation is bleak and about to get bleaker as both the ecosystem and global economy collapse in the near future.

      • fyrebird on August 13, 2019, 11:29 pm

        echinococcus: ‘Just as there are a number of, unimaginable but true, American Republicans and even Democrats who oppose Zionism, against their organizations’ basic tenets, I know a number of Palestine supporters who do support Indian policy, for whatever reason. If you need another example, this site is run and manned by Democrats, ie adherents and enablers of the main Zionist political organization (who won’t even talk to Republicans who support Palestinian resistance.)’

        But those exceptions – if one grants those unimaginable possibilities – require bargains. Republican I understand, white nationalist I don’t. Hindu nationalists – euphemism for Indian policy – are equivalent to Zionists including in the myth of eternal victimhood. During the Civil Rights Movement certain black leaders made a deal, an ‘understanding’ with Zionists and Israel was the red line. The participation of Zionists helped but criticism of Israel even now hangs like a warning sign to not cross. So if you want to make deals like that, watch out. Of course, the earlier example is a poor one since you don’t even have the numbers to make that kind of deal.

      • fyrebird on August 13, 2019, 11:43 pm

        Keith: ‘First, because it shows the extent to which Modi and the BJP have climbed aboard the imperial bandwagon demonstrating that in many ways BRICS opposition to empire was/is an illusion. Also, India has gotten quite cozy with Israel and is utilizing Israeli trainers to implement the Matrix of Control developed to control the Palestinians and now being marketed to authoritarian regimes worldwide. The situation is bleak and about to get bleaker as both the ecosystem and global economy collapse in the near future.’

        That’s a great rundown and foretells more. We’ll probably see more of this Matrix of Control in other places. I was always sceptical of the BRICS opposition. Don’t know your thoughts, but seems empire is a conglomerate – with more power in the US – and the participants and beneficiaries and figureheads from Modi to Prince Salman to the Adani Corporation are well scattered and well co-ordinated.

      • fyrebird on August 13, 2019, 11:44 pm

        Mooser, we definitely have our own reasons. Better to own that right away.

      • Keith on August 14, 2019, 10:36 am

        FYREBIRD- “Don’t know your thoughts, but seems empire is a conglomerate – with more power in the US ….”

        We are very close. My view is that beginning roughly in the 1970s, the US empire transmogrified itself into a global corporate/financial empire with the preponderance of power in the US. While the US nation-state has grown weaker, the global empire is actually somewhat stronger as global soft power becomes preeminent and national borders and economic independence disappear. We have entered an era of extreme turbulence which is accelerating as the era of cheap and abundant energy ends even as environmental catastrophe looms. Our entire society is totally dependent upon unsustainable technology. The future looks bleak to me.

      • Mooser on August 14, 2019, 2:40 pm

        ” My view is that beginning roughly in the 1970s, the US empire transmogrified itself into a global corporate/financial empire with the preponderance of power in the US”

        I remember the 70’s. It was the winter of our discotheque.

      • gamal on August 15, 2019, 4:24 pm

        “I remember the 70’s. It was the winter of our discotheque.”

        You had the same thing in the States? boy we had the winter of discontent ’78-’79, and then i grew up, wow the world is rough rough place but i have always kind of enjoyed and loved it,

        I a primitive and simple thing and have an absolute right to be so and anyway happy to take the consequences of all this “western (White) rage”, what does God say, you could just ease up and relax, tell me does Christ look tense up on the cross?

      • Mooser on August 16, 2019, 2:32 pm

        “You had the same thing in the States?”

        You bet! We made a large covered area with canvas and poles, a sound system, put on some “Bony M” and danced the night away. All through January.
        What a winter that was.

  2. IsraelShamir on August 9, 2019, 10:11 am

    What does it mean, a Kashmiri AND a Palestinian? Perhaps this American lady has Kashmiri and Palestinian ancestry, like other Americans have British and Italian ancestry, but they usually do not claim the right to speak for Brits and Italians.
    Just for the record: there is absolutely NO similarity between Kashmir and Palestine. Kashmir is a part of India; Indian Kashmiris have all rights of Indian citizens, they can move freely in all India; they have Indian passports. This is not the case of Palestine.
    I’ll add that Kashmiris in Pakistani Kashmir have it worse than in Indian Kashmir.
    This text is a failed attempt to claim more victimhood for the Islamic forces in Kashmir by enlisting Palestine. Nonsense, Zainab! Too many claims for one article!

    • Mooser on August 9, 2019, 2:52 pm

      “Meanwhile, Trump’s victory is the best thing that happened in the US for a very long time”

      • Mooser on August 16, 2019, 2:39 pm

        “What does it mean, a Kashmiri AND a Palestinian?”

        Yes, this whole dual-nationality” concept must be very difficult for Zionists. I mean, imagine somebody calling themselves an “Israeli-American” or something like that.

        I imagine being an American citizen, but having a family attachment to, or concern about, another place might be another concept very difficult for Zionists to grasp

    • Keith on August 9, 2019, 6:30 pm

      ISRAELSHAMIR- “Just for the record: there is absolutely NO similarity between Kashmir and Palestine. Kashmir is a part of India; Indian Kashmiris have all rights of Indian citizens, they can move freely in all India; they have Indian passports.”

      While it is possible that you are unaware of India’s brutal occupation of Kashmir based upon military rules of occupation, it would appear that you have either not read or cannot comprehend the OBVIOUS similarities between Israel’s suppression of the mostly Muslim Palestinians and Narendra Modi’s cosy relationship with Israel and his Muslim bashing for political gain. Modi and the BJP have been an absolute disaster for India. A couple of quotes confirming the essential accuracy of the article you maligned.

      “Kashmir is the most densely militarized zone in the world, with an estimated half a million Indian soldiers posted there. In addition to the Intelligence Bureau, the Research and Analysis Wing and the National Intelligence Agency, the uniformed forces – the Army, the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force (and of course the Jammu and Kashmir Police) each does its own intelligence gathering. People live in terror of informers, double agents and triple agents who could be anybody from old school friends to family members. Under these circumstances, an attack on the scale of what happened in Pulwama is more than just shocking. As one pithy Twitter commentator put it, (she was referring to the increasingly popular Hindu vigilante practice in North India, of tracking down and lynching Muslims accused of killing cows), how is it that the BJP “can trace 3 kg of beef but cannot trace 350 kg of RDX”?” (Arundhati Roy) https://www.huffpost.com/entry/our-captured-wounded-hearts-arundhati-roy-on-balakot-kashmir-and-india_n_5c78d592e4b0de0c3fbf82bf

      “While China identified “Occupy Hong Kong” as a mere Western-instilled and instrumentalized plot, India, for its part, decided to go for Full Occupy in Kashmir.

      Curfew was imposed all across the Kashmir valley. Internet was cut off. All Kashmiri politicians were rounded up and arrested. In fact all Kashmiris – loyalists (to India), nationalists, secessionists, independentists, apolitical – were branded as The Enemy. Welcome to Indian “democracy” under the crypto-fascist Hindutva.” (Pepe Escobar) http://thesaker.is/hong-kong-kashmir-a-tale-of-two-occupations/

    • fyrebird on August 9, 2019, 8:59 pm

      Thanks Naipaul.

    • Mooser on August 9, 2019, 10:26 pm

      “Kashmir and Palestine. Kashmir is a part of India; Indian Kashmiris have all rights of Indian citizens…”

      Gee, “Israel”, if I didn’t know better I might say you sound just like a Zionist Zio-splaining the occupation.

      “This text is a failed attempt to claim more victimhood…”
      What’s the matter “Israel”, afraid they might get some of ours?

  3. philweiss on August 9, 2019, 2:52 pm

    Fascinating analysis and extremely informative, too, thank you for sharing these thoughts….

  4. fyrebird on August 9, 2019, 11:39 pm

    Another similarity. Phil Weiss writes:

    “These regressive attitudes are obviously deeply engrained in the American Jewish community, they touch on entitlement and superiority beliefs that are reinforced by wealth, and they’re not going anywhere fast. ”

    https://mondoweiss.net/2019/08/shocking-leading-rashida/

    This is also true of the American Hindu community. Modi and Hindu nationalism are highly celebrated and extremist Hindu organisations are funded by moneyed nationalists. In both cases the communities do not reside in their fairy homeland.

    While support for violent Muslim organisations is rightly stigmatised, such as the spurt of Sunni nationalism re Syria, entrenched ugly attitudes among Hindus and Jews is seen as a matter of disagreement and are permissive beliefs even if faulty rather than fundamentally immoral positions.

    • Mooser on August 10, 2019, 5:19 pm

      Well, that’s the way the naan crumbles sometimes…

  5. Sibiriak on August 10, 2019, 3:15 pm

    Will India’s Occupation of Kashmir Become Colonization?

    https://therealnews.com/stories/will-indias-occupation-of-kashmir-become-colonization

    Prof. Junaid Ahmad says India’s revocation of Kashmir’s autonomous status not only increases tensions between India and Pakistan, but is designed to lead into a situation where India encourages colonial settlement in the region and eventual annexation, along the lines of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land

    * * * *

    JUNAID AHMAD: […] there was a time over decades that the Kashmiris would have perhaps accepted some type of semi-autonomous status within the Indian federation. By this point, the levels of repression, now we have to remember we’re talking about 750,000 troops. In addition to that, probably around 150,000 paramilitary security forces and so on, so it is the most highly militarized zone in the entire world, much more than Palestine or anywhere else. I think at this particular stage, the Kashmiri many people have such contempt for the Indian state that we can expect an uprising at the level of what happened in 1989, if not even greater.

    GREG WILPERT: Now, many are speculating that Modi will encourage Hindus to settle in Kashmir just like Israel has encouraged Jews to settle in occupied Palestine, so that this could eventually lead to an excuse for annexation. What do you think such comparisons between Israel-occupied Palestine and Indian-occupied Kashmir?

    JUNAID AHMAD: I think the comparison is very apt. I think that in fact, this is a key factor in what the Indian government is doing. The close collaboration between Israel and India in developing policy, not just with regard to Kashmir but if we go a few years back, the Israelis said very openly to the Indian government that, “We can help you solve your Muslim problem,” and that is what we have been seeing that has been unfolding within India itself. The Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi has been viciously targeting minorities, Muslims, Christians, and so on, but especially Muslims.

    And so I think with specifically in Kashmir the parallels with what Israel is in terms of trying to change the demographics of this society by once again, and they have done this before as well, importing really, Hindu pundits also separating Ladakh. What they did in this, they bifurcated Kashmir. Ladakh is where predominantly Buddhists live.

    So it is classic divide and rule policy that they are engaged in internally. So this whole mythology of integrating Kashmir is actually a neo-colonial policy of divide and rule and for their subjugation.

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