Shalom-Namaste! If you are wondering what all happened during PM Modi’s ‘historic’ 3-day visit to Israel to meet his ‘friend’ PM Netanyahu. How two ancient lands redefined their relationship. How the two sister democracies, India and Israel, although unequal in size, are equal in spirit, you are definitely at the right place. Here is a brief account of the grand event.
On 4th July 2017, Israeli PM Netanyahu welcomed PM Modi at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport. Yes, you read that correctly. The Israeli PM broke the protocol and received our beloved PM Modi all by himself. This is definitely a mark of respect for the entire 1.25 billion population of our country India.
According to experts, Indian Prime Minister’s red carpet welcome was extraordinary and grander, even by Israel’s high standards. Not only the Israeli government, but the Israeli media, as well as the general public also gave a hearty welcome to the Indian Premier. It’s said that only the US president or the Pope of Vatican receives such salutations while visiting the last remaining bastion of Jews in the world.
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(74.8% of Israel’s population consists of Jews, which is greater than any other country of the world.)
Welcoming Modi, Netanyahu said: “You are a true friend. We love India.” The Israeli PM ventured to speak in Hindi and said: “Aapka swaagat hai mere dost (You are welcome, my friend)”. The emphasis on friendship was on full display as Israel pulled out all the stops to welcome Modi.
He further said, “We waited for you for seventy years!” With this statement alone one can gauge the emotions of the Israeli establishment. India is a country which is home to all communities and perhaps the only country in the world where Jews have never faced any persecution. That is why, despite the policies of previous Indian governments, Israel seeks friendship with India.
From the Historical Perspective:
India supported Palestine at the UN in 1948. Although India gave recognition to the state of Israel in 1950, it didn’t develop full diplomatic relations with the Jew-majority nation until 1992.
India’s compulsions were many. Foremost being India’s policy of not annoying Arab nations that employ millions of Indian workers. Secondly, Nehru thought that by siding with Arab countries, India could gather support over the Kashmir issue. Also, some petty political concerns over issues related to minority appeasement too became pressing factors for later governments.
But Israel always knew that India was one of its true friends. Despite no diplomatic relations, Israel helped India in 1962 Indo-China War and the 1965 Indo-Pak War. After the 1971 Indo-Pak War and the subsequent liberation of Bangladesh, Israel became the first country to give recognition to Bangladesh as an independent nation, even though its close ally, the USSR was reluctant to do so. During the 1999 Kargil War, Israel had sent a special contingent on a plane to help India.
The Palestine Conflict
Post 1992, although, many visits were exchanged between Indian and Israeli dignitaries, such trips mainly revolved around the Palestinian state. However, this time around things have shaped out differently due to de-hyphenation of Palestine. Some in India have questioned this de-hyphenation too.
(In the map, the area marked blue is Israel and the area marked Green is Palestine.)
Many experts feel that Modi’s policy of getting close to Israel might prove counterproductive as it would annoy Arab countries, eventually resulting in the isolation of India by the Arab world. However, Narendra Modi’s decision of openly displaying friendship with Israel and de-hyphenating Palestine can be well understood.
Firstly, Arab countries have never supported India on Kashmir as was thought by Nehru. Secondly, except for Iran and Syria, all other Arab nations have friendly ties with Israel. So, why not to have friendly relations with Israel? Why not embrace Israel as our long-standing friend? Besides, Israel has always proved to be a trusted ally for India.
The previous UPA government didn’t send its Prime Minister to Israel thinking that Indian Muslims will get annoyed. But then, why would Indian Muslims care about what conspires in the Arab world?
How would both the countries benefit from this friendship?
Israel might be a tiny nation but is home to a brave, brilliant and innovative population credited for its unparalleled cutting edge technology. There is no bar for Israel on providing any type of technology to India. It should be remembered that Israel doesn’t provide technical support to China despite Israel-China trade being more than double of the trade between India and Israel.
Both the countries have faced common challenges and the first of them is to defeat the forces of terror that rampage through the world and threaten both their countries.
India and Israel teamed up to launch a technology fund and sign seven accords aimed at creating a cooperative relationship in various industries, including space research, science and agricultural development-The Israel-India Innovation Fund (I4F).
Cyber Security Partnership-An Important Outcome
Moreover, India and Israel’s cyber security partnership could be a potential game changer. While Indian IT companies eager to reinvent themselves are shifting focus from traditional to trendy technologies such as cloud computing, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Israel’s success in incubating the world’s most sought-after startups in cyber security is a phenomenon the Indian government is keen on replicating domestically.
Training cyber warriors is also a part of this agreement.
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“It is said that in Silicon Valley in California, two languages are very common — Hindi and Hebrew,” PM Netanyahu said.
The formula for success (as said by PM Netanyahu)
“The formula for success is simple, it’s I-squared and T-squared, which equals ‘Indian talent and Israel technology’, and equals ‘India-Israel ties for tomorrow’,” said PM Netanyahu.
India and Israel are natural allies. Credit must go to PM Narendra Modi who ended an era of hesitation. Let’s hope for better friendship and close partnership with Israel. The Israeli Prime Minister wishes to ‘Make with India’ matching with Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’.
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