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Israel fails to mention India again despite ‘full support’

October 11, 2023 at 5:32 pm

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) hold a joint press conference following their meeting in Jerusalem on 5 July 2017 [Haim Zach/GPO / Handout /Anadolu Agency]

Two years after their self-inflicted humiliation on social media, Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) users in India have once again expressed disappointment that Israel has not included them in their latest online propaganda campaigns, which feature supporters and messages of solidarity with the occupying state from around the world.

In May 2021, amid another onslaught on Gaza, sparked by tensions over approved plans for evicting Palestinian families from East Jerusalem, as well as the provocative storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by Israeli police, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to platform X (formerly known as Twitter) to express gratitude to world governments for standing with Israel and affirming its “right to self-defense against terrorist attacks.”

The post featured flag emojis from 25 countries, and notably, India was not among them. This omission triggered a flurry of posts from pro-Israel Indians, urging “sir” to “please mention India.” At the time, they were widely ridiculed and the “full support sir” expression has become something of an Internet meme due to their perceived cringe-worthy behaviour and the apparent one-sided dimension to the Hindutva-Zionist relationship.

These sentiments are largely attributed to their own biases, as well as their animosity towards their substantial Muslim minority population, the ongoing occupation of Muslim-majority Kashmir, and their mutual hostility with neighboring Pakistan, which does not recognise the state of Israel.

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It seems as old habits die hard, as following the latest devastating Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, the latest resistance operation Al-Aqsa Flood, and the remarkable outpouring of solidarity around the world for the Palestinian cause, Israel’s own propaganda machine has gone into overdrive.

Hindutva social media users tend to be more vocal and prominent than even Israelis themselves in the comments section of any pro-Israel social media posts. On 7 October, they were likely taken by surprise when the official Israel state account finally acknowledged them by posting a simple, “Thank you India,” with the Indian and Israeli flags displayed side by side. This response came in reaction to “India stands with Israel” trending on the platform.

However, this jubilation was short-lived, as days later, the Israel-based Terror Alarm account noted the countries that stood by Israel on its “darkest day.” The Indian flag emoji was once again omitted, leading to more mockery.

The official account of Israel today posted a montage of people from various countries voicing their support for the apartheid state, yet despite the very open support conveyed by Hindu nationalists, no one from India was included in the video.

One disappointed user remarked: “Only white people huh? No mention of the biggest support you getting from India,” before tagging the Israel in India account to bring it to their attention.

Others were quick to point out that in spite of the zealot support from Indians, the Israelis chose not to include one Indian from the world’s most populated country.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry shared a separate video, thanking various countries across the world, including images of their capitals. Again India was nowhere to be seen.

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This user demanded that they mention India over their strong support for Israel.

Another upset Indian couldn’t understand why India was left out, and took the matter all the way to the top by tagging Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

To add further insult, amid a mass mobilisation of Israeli reservists and former soldiers from around the world and increased US military support directed to the occupation state, even in its worst crisis in living memory, Israel’s Ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, declined the offers of Indian nationals to volunteer in the Israeli military, stating:  “I am proud of the fact that few Indians wanted to volunteer but we don’t need any help, we can fight our own battle.”

One can’t help but wonder if this love story between Hindutva supporters and Israel is destined to remain unrequited, but for now, support from “the world’s largest democracy” just isn’t that much of a priority for “the only democracy in the Middle East,” even as it faces unprecedented security challenges and a potential multi-front war.

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