THE SPINE NOVEMBER 27, 2008
No, this is not correspondence from Shimon Peres to Manmohan Singh. It was actually written by Steven Plaut, an economist at the University of Haifa, as an approximation of what Peres would write to Singh if he were to encapsulate his own thinking on how Israel should deal with the Palestinians and extrapolate this to how India might deal with extremist Muslims.
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
My heartfelt sympathies to you and the Indian people for the Bombay/Mumbai unrest and protests against occupation this week. However, we must really speak about how to deal with these forms of activism in India, perpetrated by these misunderstood Islamic militants.
Mister Prime Minister, I have a great deal of experience in dealing successfully with terrorism and violence, and this is why I wish to come to your rescue. The first thing you must realize is that one can only make peace with one's enemies. With one's friends, there is no need to make peace. There is no military solution to the problems of terrorism, and this is why you must seek a diplomatic solution. "No Justice, No Peace?" as they say.
You must invite the leaders of this Islamic organization responsible for the bloodshed in Mumbai to New Delhi to meet with you and perhaps tour the Taj Mahal together. You must learn to feel their pain and understand their needs. However, most importantly, you must end the illegal occupation of territory that does not belong to you! First, you must withdraw from Kashmir and Jammu and remove all the Hindu settlers there. But, that is just a beginning. Large sections of West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Hyderabad contain local Moslem majorities. Lakshadweep is 95% Moslem.
You cannot continue to coerce these people into living as demographic minorities. The solution is to create two states for two peoples, inside India itself. Indian Moslems are entitled to self-determination and national sovereignty! You must bear in mind that India was conquered by the Moguls and that makes all of India the homeland of Moslems. The fact that India was partitioned with Pakistan and Bengladesh granted independence does not solve anything. What about the right of return for Punjabi Moslem refugees and other Moslems? These demand that they be allowed to exercise their sovereign rights inside India in the lands of their forefathers and have their one-time homes restored to them!
Then there is the matter of the status of New Delhi. It was a Moslem city for centuries, and served as the Moghul capital. Your selfish insistence that New Delhi remain Indian is racist. You must end the apartheid regime inside Delhi and turn it into the shared capital of two states, or maybe three. I have no doubt Pakistan will applaud your efforts.
You must meet all the demands of the militants in Mumbai in full. In addition, you must offer them Internet web services and five-star tourist hotels in exchange for their promising to abandon violence. After all, that is how we turned Yasser Arafat into a peace partner. You see, military force serves no role any more in the post-modern universe. It is passe. It is archaic. Today, consumer interests dominate the world, and the Islamist activists of the earth will surely make peace in exchange for some profits from participating in global trade.
The attacks on Mumbai came because you have been insufficiently sensitive to the needs of the Moslem Other. You took their rhetoric at face value, whereas we in Israel know that all this rhetoric is empty and in fact, these people truly want peace. Sure, they praise Hitler and celebrate genocidal atrocities, but what is it that they really want? You must negotiate with them even while under attack. Conditioning negotiations on an end to violence is a no-win situation. It will simply extend the bloodshed! You must put your own house in order, and eliminate inequality and injustice inside India, and then the terrorists will no longer target you.
The key is to build a New Middle Asia, one in which everyone is so busy with the important matters of developing tourism, infrastructure investments and high-technology that they will have no time to pursue violence. Moreover, if you strike at the perpetrators of the Mumbai protests and their supporters, you will simply expand and enlarge the cycle of violence. Your retaliation bombs will no doubt injure some innocent children and civilians alongside any terrorist activists you strike. That will enrage the rest of the world and make the victims seek revenge. Your violence against these militants and activists will cause them to hate the Hindus and it will drive the separatists to embrace terrorism. Moreover, if you refuse to negotiate with the Moslem separatists, then their leaders will be toppled and a violent extremist group will take charge. In that case, you will have lost the window of opportunity to make peace.
Begin by declaring a unilateral ceasefire! Mister Prime Minister, blessed is the peacemaker. Remember Mahatma Gandhi (but not Rehavam "Gandhi" Zeevi). The entire world will support you and congratulate you if you respond to these horrific attacks by disarming India and opening serious dialogue with the terror activists. All we are saying is give peace a chance. Yitzhak Rabin would have approved. Yes, chaver, what you need is shalom, salaam, peace. You will be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in recognition. Do not allow yourself to be drawn down into the gutter of retaliation. Violence never achieves anything. History has no lessons. History is the dead past.
Follow my example! Provide the Bombay bombers with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles so that they can battle against the true radicals and extremists. Moreover, they will do so with no ACLU or Supreme Court to restrain them! Demonstrate your humanity by paying pensions to any widows and orphans of the terrorists who blew up the hotels. Mister Prime Minister, my own peace policies have eliminated war, bloodshed and terror from the Middle East. We now have only peace partners. If you follow in my footsteps, you can achieve the same lofty goals.
Shimon Peres, Peacemaker-at-Large