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Israelís Gaza Venture Hits Chord in Wounded India

Author: Amity Shlaes, Former Hayek Senior Fellow for Political Economy
January 15, 2009
Bloomberg.com

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Israel hasn't won much praise for invading the Gaza Strip. This unpopularity abides even though Israel is bombing Gaza to stop Qassam rockets from hitting its own towns.

Still, Israel has at least some supporters in what might seem an unlikely place: India.

Not official support, mind you. Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee rejected any comparison between the two countries in a recent television interview. But individual Indians have been speaking out in the press and on blogs about similarities between the missile attacks from Gaza and the November attack by terrorists who killed 164 people in Mumbai, India's financial capital.

Just as Iran backs Hamas in Gaza, many Indians suspect that Pakistan is behind the Mumbai attack. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said outright that Pakistani agencies were involved.

Shashi Tharoor, a former United Nations undersecretary general, summed up the attitude in a recent Project Syndicate column on "India's Israel envy."

Tharoor writes, "As Israel demonstrates anew its determination to end attacks on its civilians by militants based in Hamas-controlled territory, many in India, still smarting from the horrors of the Mumbai attacks in November, have been asking: Why can't we do the same?"

In the space of the next few paragraphs, Tharoor ticks off the obvious answers to that question: Israel maintains a higher permanent state of alert and has less porous borders, while India faces, in Pakistan, an enemy that is a member of the nuclear- weapons club.

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