Mumbai fights for Palestine

Updated: Dec 23, 2017, 15:26 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

mid-day chats with founder of India-Palestine Solidarity Forum about the United Nations vote against Donald Trump's plans to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

Palestine may be over 4,000 km away, but its struggle resonates deeply with Mumbai. On Thursday, even as the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to condemn US President Donald Trump's declaration to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, closer home in Mumbai, the India-Palestine Solidarity Forum held an awareness meet at the Press Club at Azad Maidan to denounce Trump's move.

Firoze Mithiborwala
Firoze Mithiborwala

In an interview with mid-day, Firoze Mithiborwala, Mumbai founder and national general secretary of the forum, spells out why Palestine is important to Mumbaikars.

Q: What is the India-Palestine solidarity Forum?
A: The forum was formed in 2010. Towards the end of 2010, going into beginning of 2011, we took the first land convoy with over 100 people into Gaza, to spread awareness and try to break the Israel siege.

Q: What are your thoughts on the UN vote?
A: The resounding majority rejected the US move.

Palestinians at West Bank protest over Trump's Jersualem move. Pic/AFP
Palestinians at West Bank protest over Trump's Jersualem move. Pic/AFP

Q: There are several who have abstained from voting; isn't that a way of sitting on the fence?
A: Yes, in a way, it is. That may also be because of certain deals with the US. Yet, the threats that US made were obnoxious, and this was evidence of the arrogance of a power in decline.

Q: The forum questions the supposed 'silence' of India. India, however, did vote against the US move at the UN.
A: Yes, India did vote against Trump, which is good. Yet, we had expected India to speak out against the move at the UN, which the representative did not do.

Q: Is the forum disconcerted that India is getting closer to Israel?
A: Yes, it is. I am ashamed that the Israelis are teaching us to defend ourselves. There is talk about Mossad (Israeli intelligence agency) being great, but Israel is not the great military power it was.

Q: India has the right to fight terror, to defend itself. There are those who say that Israel goes to any length to defend its people, but we do not do that.
A: Who is attacking us? The problem is within. We are a strong nation. We have a strong army. We are not soft targets; we also defend our people.

Q: What are the future plans of the forum?
A: We will continue with seminars, programmes to create awareness about Palestine. We will plan large-scale protests when Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu visits India in January. These protests will be powerful and pan-India.

Netanyahu to visit
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit India on January 14. He will also visit Mumbai during his four-day tour in the country. A programme will be held at the Chabad House at Colaba, and another at the Taj Mahal hotel in south Mumbai.

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