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The Indian Soldiers Who Fought to Liberate the Land of Israel

July 10 2017

During his visit to Israel last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by Benjamin Netanyahu, paid a visit to a cemetery in Haifa where 44 Indian soldiers who fought with the British army during World War I were laid to rest. September 23, 1917, the anniversary of the Battle of Haifa—during which these soldiers fell—is still commemorated by the modern Indian Army. Lenny Ben-David tells the story of the Indian troops who fought to free Palestine from Ottoman rule, and especially their role in the liberation of Jerusalem:

More than a million Indian troops fought with the British army in World War I, at the Western front in Europe [and] in Africa, Mesopotamia, and the Near East. On the Sinai-Palestine front, 95,000 Indian combatants served; approximately 10 percent were killed. From 1914 to 1918, they fought the Turkish and German armies at Gallipoli and the Suez Canal, throughout the Sinai and Palestine, and finally at Damascus, with crucial battles in Gaza, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Haifa, Nablus, and Megiddo. . . .

The Indian troops served in the cavalry, camel corps, infantry, and logistics units. A large number of them were Muslims, and the Turks attempted to weaken their resolve with religious appeals. Except for a few cases, the Turkish propaganda failed. The importance of Muslim soldiers was understood by the British commander Edmund Allenby. After capturing Jerusalem, he cabled to London, “The Mosque of Omar and the area round it has been placed under Muslim control, and a military cordon, composed of Indian Mahomedan officers and soldiers, has been established round the mosque.” . . .

The war ended in 1918, but British and Indian troops remained to police the British Mandate and put down Arab disturbances.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Edmund Allenby, History & Ideas, Israel-India relations, Israeli history, World War I

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen