Originally Published 2003-12-04 09:12:00 Published on Dec 04, 2003
The presentation on Israel, US and Terrorism, by Mr.B.Raman, Convener, ORF Chennai at the weekly ORF Chennai interaction on November 29, 2003 had a first to its credit ¿ it was the first video conference carried out by the Chennai Chapter of the ORF. On this particular occasion
Israel, US and Terrorism
The presentation on Israel, US and Terrorism , by Mr.B.Raman, Convener, ORF Chennai at the weekly ORF Chennai interaction on November 29, 2003 had a first to its credit - it was the first video conference carried out by the Chennai Chapter of the ORF. On this particular occasion, the link-up was with the ORF Delhi. Mr. Raman spoke on his visits to Israel and the USA in October 2003 and he started with his observations and impressions of his visit to Jerusalem, to attend a conference (summit) on counterterrorism, where Mr. K.P.S. Gill and Mr. Ajay Sahni were among the four Indian participants present. Some of the Speaker's observations of Jerusalem and the conference, included the following:

  • Pleasantly surprised to find a lot of Arab Muslims with no apparent tension between the Jews and the Arabs.
  • Security is tightened but unobtrusive

  • From among the participants, Jews from West Europe and North America could not agree on the formation of Palestine on grounds of security and even if a Palestine is formed, there should be restrictions on issues like the army and security

  • Jews who migrated from Russia are vehemently opposed to the formation of Palestine. They also believe that Jordan is Palestine

  • Mr.K.P.S.Gill, while talking on the Indian Muslim community made a point about the Al Qaeda not being able to make an inroad on the 140 million Muslims that make up the second largest Muslim population in the world.

  • The Speaker spoke on jihadi terrorism and made the point that even if all their (jihadi terrorists) demands are met, they will keep their cause alive

  • Most sessions were devoted to what should constitute the Palestinian state

  • While the Jews from East Europe and Russia are knowledgeable about the US and Israel, those from West Europe and the US are very knowledgeable about India's fight against Jihadi terrorism

  • After the PLO was allowed to return and form the provisional Palestinian self-rule state, security has deteriorated among the Jews, who feel that it was a Himalayan blunder in allowing interim Palestinian rule

  • India is a pluralistic society and cannot afford to emulate some of Israeli counterterrorism methods (e.g., bulldozing). However, other Israel methods like technical intelligence, informational technology and fencing the borders can be emulated. Blindly copying Israel, with an overemphasis on military methods will not do India any good.

In the second component of his presentation, the Speaker talked about his testimonial before a joint US Congressional hearing "to review US counterterrorism policy toward Asia and the Pacific" on 29th October 2003 during which he spoke on his assessment of cross-border terrorist challenges facing India and their implications for the counterterrorism policies of the USA (text available at www.orfonline.org   ; www.saag.org   and ). Last year, too, Mr. Raman testified before the Congress, the differences being that while in the previous year, there was a closed-door meeting that was totally devoted to South Asia, this time, the hearings were widely-publicized and telecast and was not India-oriented. The objectives of the hearing were to shine the searchlight on the US administration's policies, cross-examine them and educate the public about them. The Speaker regretted the fact that there was only one Indian journalist to witness the hearing and most of the coverage by Indian journalists was based on reports about the hearing rather than first-hand experience. Some of the presenters worried that terrorism in India could lead to war between two nuclear neighbors. With the exception of two speakers (Dan Burton and Dana Rohrabacher, who were decidedly pro-Pakistan in their sympathies), the others "showed understanding and sympathy for the Indian position and indicated continuing concerns over the policies of President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan." Mr. Raman did not allow the remarks made by Mr. Burton and Rohrabacher against India to go unchallenged. The Speaker concluded by saying that we have to be a little more supportive of the US because their actions (where Pakistan is concerned, which is a message to Musharraf that the US is not totally satisfied) speak louder than words - and Indian writings should reflect this.

Points made during the Discussion

The first interaction via videoconference saw lively participation from both Chennai and Delhi and participants made comments or asked questions on an alternate basis. A participant suggested a two-pronged Indian strategy to tackle terrorism: the country should develop its own strategy without regard to any outside influence, including the USA; the country should become an independent economic giant within the next decade or two. A comprehensive counterterrorism strategy should be developed today in all strategic aspects (including political, economic and diplomatic). In this, the country needs to have the support of a large number of international organizations on its side, including the USA. Another participant felt that we should deal with terrorism as a serious disease. When a question was asked on whether India has a good counterterrorism policy, the difference between counterterrorism policy and counterterrorism doctrine was brought out - the country has a good counterterrorism policy (the operational aspect of tackling different situations) but lacks a good counterterrorist doctrine. With regard to whether there is a convergence between Indian and Israeli interests, it was felt that while there can be a convergence in the analysis of threat perceptions, India cannot have an operational convergence. With regard to a counterterrorism policy vis-à-vis Pakistan, India does not have a clearly enunciated doctrine and the country must have a public debate on this issue and evolve one. Other points that were made include: is jihadi terrorism an end in itself or a means to an end - the answer - it does not have issues, only pretexts; the country needs to tackle other forms of terrorism, apart from jihadi, also; while strategic fatigue in tackling terrorism will never happen in India, there might be tactical fatigue; terrorism for the sake of terrorism has come to stay; a lack of political determination is sadly lacking in not specifying counterterrorism doctrine and varying the way response to terrorism is made taking various factors into consideration.

Participants ORF, Chennai

  1. Anantachari T, IPS (Retd)
  2. Chari S N, Social Activist
  3. Chittaranjan H S, IPS (Retd)
  4. Dhanlakshmi Ayyer
  5. Geeta Madhavan Dr, Advocate
  6. Govindarajan R
  7. Indhu Malini, Advocate
  8. Kalpana Chittaranjan Dr., ORF
  9. Karthikeyan R Maj Gen (Retd)
  10. Krishnan L V
  11. Madhavan N, Editor, Financial Express
  12. Mohan V K
  13. Padma Priya R J
  14. Raghavan B S, IAS (Retd)
  15. Rajan D S, IPS (Retd)
  16. Ramamurthy V, IAS (Retd)
  17. Raman B. IPS (Retd)
  18. Ramesan S
  19. Ravi Mani Wg Cdr
  20. Rohit Bhaskaran, ORF
  21. Sakthivel J
  22. Sampath V R, IPS (Retd)
  23. Sarathy V R P Brig (Retd)
  24. Sathiya Moorthy N, ORF
  25. Subramaniam, IFS (Retd)
  26. Subramanyam VA Brig (Retd)
  27. Sundaralingam R, ADGP (Retd)
  28. Suryanarayan V Dr
  29. Swaminathan R, IPS (Retd)
  30. Syed Ali Mujtaba Dr

Participants at ORF, Delhi

  1. Deo Ambassador AR
  2. Rajagopalan Rajesh Dr
  3. Wilson John
  4. Singh Ashok
  5. Ramana PV
  6. Sharma Devika
  7. Parashar Swati
  8. Jacob Happymon
  9. Agarwal Rupesh

Report prepared by Dr Kalpana Chittaranjan

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