Sunday, April 30, 2017

Kashmir: Any Lessons from Shin Bet?

An article by Virendra Kapoor in the Sunday Guardian presents a contrarian view to the prevelant doom-and-gloom scenario painted by the usual op-ed writers in the English press. He essentially points out that the "Kashmir Problem" is centered on just five of the 22 districts in the state, covering 15% of J&K's land area and less than half of the state's population of 12.5 million.

One of the tweets that came in response, suggested a documentary for essential viewing: "The Gatekeepers", based on an interview of all the surviving chiefs of Israel's secret service, Shin Bet.

Directed by Dror Moreh, this ~90-minute video contains many elements you would expect -- grainy clips from drones following vehicles used by Hamas operatives, dramatic recreations of some famous "targeted assasinations", especially that of Yahya Ayyash, and of interrogation techniques used by Shin Bet.

What is, however, completely unexpected is that clarity of understanding amongst all the spook-chiefs' that a solution to the Palestenian Problem cannot emerge out the ongoing cycle of violence and revenge. They are all for talks with anybody who is willing to negotiate a settlement. As one of the them puts it memorably. "We need to talk to each leads us to understand each other better...he may realise that I do not eat glass, I may find that he does not drink petrol."

It may not be entirely fair to equate Palestine with the Kashmir valley, but some elements are indeed common: The sense of being dis-empowered and alienated; of being under an army occupation; of midnight raids and the disappearance of young men, and stonepelters .  However, unlike Palestine, separatists in the valley are driven by an ideology inspired by radical Islam. This has resulted in an ethnic cleansing of Hindu Kashmiri's who continue to live in refugee camps elsewhere, and now the perpetrators of violence claim to be victims themselves who say, "Victory is to see you suffer!"

According to Clautzwitz, "Victory is simply the creation of a better political reality". While the Modi government finds news ways of overcoming the cycle of violence, it may be worthwhile to keep in mind Prof. Y. Leibowitz's prediction for Israel, one year after the Six Day War, in 1968:
 "A state ruling over a hostile population of one million foreigners, will necessarily become a Shin Bet state with all that this implies for education, freedom of speech, thought and democracy. The corruption found in every colonial regime, will affix itself to the State of Israel. The administration will have to suppress an Arab uprising on one hand, and acquire Quislings, or Arab traitors on the other.."


* Kapoor, Virendra (2017) - Rest Assured, Kashmir is not lost for India -
* Documentary - "The Gatekeepers" on Wiki -

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