Reader Post: Trending On Twitter #IndiaWithIsrael Upsetting Palestinian Activists

Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian journalist based in Europe. He is Contributing Editor for the UK-based Commentator and Senior Distinguished Fellow at New York-based Gatestone Institute.

Twitter in India is abuzz today with the hashtag #IndiaWithIsrael. The trending hashtag came as surprize to supporters of Israel on social media and predictably caused some serious irritation to Palestinian activists. What appears to be a spontaneous outburst of support for Israel on the surface, is a collective effort by Indian twitter activists, influencers and grassroots groups.

These social media activists, often disparagingly referred to as ‘Internet Hindus’ by mainstream media, are a political force to be reckoned with. Their enthusiastic support of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign was crucial in his landslide victory in Indian General Election of 2014.

This is certainly not the first time Indians have turned to social media to express their solidarity with Israel. Having lost more than 30,000 civilians and soldiers to terrorism since 1994, Indians have no illusions about the nature of global terrorism. In July 2014, at the height of Gaza conflict, #IndiaWithIsrael became a rallying cry for supporters of Israel in the country. The hashtag trended nationwide during the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge, maintaining the top slot even when the FIFA World Cup final was underway. Later in August an estimated 20,000 Indians turned up for a pro-Israel rally in Kolkata.

Despite India’s official ‘ambiguity’ towards Israel at diplomatic level in the past, Indian public opinion has always been overwhelmingly supportive of the Jewish State. With election of Prime Minister Modi in May 2014, New Delhi’s official stand has now reflects the popular mood.

As one Indian Twitter user responded to angry pro-Palestinian cause célèbre Carlos Latuff, “Get used to it (Indians supporting Israel). This is just the beginning.”

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