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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 Lebanon—and Hizballah—Conned and Humiliated Rex Tillerson

Feb. 21 2018

Last Thursday, the American secretary of state arrived in Beirut to express Washington’s continued support for the country’s government, which is now entirely aligned with Hizballah. His visit came shortly after Israel’s showdown with Hizballah’s Iranian protectors in Syria and amid repeated warnings from Jerusalem about the terrorist organization’s growing threat to Israeli security. To Tony Badran, Tillerson’s pronouncements regarding Lebanon have demonstrated the incoherence of the Trump administration’s policy:

[In Beirut], Tillerson was made to sit alone in a room with no American flag in sight and wait—as photographers took pictures and video—before Hizballah’s chief allies in Lebanon’s government, President Michel Aoun and his son-in-law the foreign minister, finally came out to greet him. Images of the U.S. secretary of state fidgeting in front of an empty chair were then broadcast across the Middle East to symbolize American impotence at a fateful moment for the region. . . .

Prior to heading to Beirut, Tillerson gave an interview to the American Arabic-language station al-Hurra, in which he emphasized that Hizballah was a terrorist organization, and that the United States expected cooperation from the “Lebanon government to deal very clearly and firmly with those activities undertaken by Lebanese Hizballah that are unacceptable to the rest of the world.” . . . But then, while in Jordan, Tillerson undermined any potential hints of firmness by reading from an entirely different script—one that encapsulates the confused nonsense that is U.S. Lebanon policy. Hizballah is “influenced by Iran,” Tillerson said. But, he added, “We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon”—which apparently makes being “influenced by Iran” and being a terrorist group OK. . . .

The reality on the ground in Lebanon, [however], is [that] Hizballah is not only a part of the Lebanese government, it controls it—along with all of the country’s illustrious “institutions,” including the Lebanese Armed Forces. . . .

[Meanwhile], Israel’s tactical Syria-focused approach to the growing threat on its borders has kept the peace so far, but it has come at a cost. For one thing, it does not address the broader strategic factor of Iran’s growing position in Syria, and it leaves Iran’s other regional headquarters in Lebanon untouched. Also, it sets a pace that is more suitable to Iran’s interests. The Iranians can absorb tactical strikes so long as they are able to consolidate their strategic position in Syria and Lebanon. Not only have the Iranians been able to fly a drone into Israel but also their allies and assets have made gains on the ground near the northern Golan and in Mount Hermon. As Iran’s position strengthens, and as Israel’s military and political hand weakens, the Israelis will soon be left with little choice other than to launch a devastating war.

To avoid that outcome, the United States needs to adjust its policy—and fast. Rather than leaving Israel to navigate around the Russians and go after Iran’s assets in Syria and Lebanon on its own, it should endorse Israel’s red lines regarding Iran in Syria, and amplify its campaign against Iranian assets. In addition, it should revise its Lebanon policy and end its investment in the Hizballah-controlled order there.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, U.S. Foreign policy