India & Israel

Relations between India and Israel are warm. As also with the Palestinian Territories. India continues to support the Palestinian people’s “legitimate right” to statehood, but has also developed strong diplomatic, military and trade ties with Israel. Indian officials say that this has left both sides in the intractable conflict with the view that India is a trustworthy intermediary. The flood of Israeli tourists into India, even in places as remote as Dharamkot in Himachal Pradesh underlines the strengthening relationship between India and Israel. Though both became nation-states within months of each other, it was not until 1992 that India recognized the state of Israel. BS Brar, professor of political theory and international relations at Panjab University, Chandigarh, says. “With regard to foreign relations, our approach was rather ideological a few decades ago, so we kept a distance from countries like Israel. But gradually, India’s approach is getting more pragmatic in nature, and so we have opened up to Israel, and that’s a good sign.” Experts say there were reasons other than an attack of Indian foreign policy pragmatism, not least the insurrection in J&K in 1989, collapse of the USSR and military escalation with Pakistan. The relationship has blossomed so much that Israel is India’s second largest arms provider now after Russia.Israeli infotech firms are setting up offices in Indian IT hubs and increasing numbers of Indian professionals are being hired to work in Israel like Ness Technologies, global provider of end-to-end IT services, which has three offshore centers in India and a combined workforce of 2000.The relationship goes much beyond defence and trade. It extends to a sense of shared values, possibly in the face of a perceived pan-Islamist threat.Last year, the world’s first Jewish-Hindu interfaith leadership summit was held in India. It was attended by the American Jewish Committee and ended with a shared desire to build bridges because “the Jewish and Hindu communities are committed to the ancient traditions of Judaism and Hindu dharma, which preach almost similar things”. Eline Davis, formerly headed the Organization of Indian Jews in Israel. He now helps rehabilitate poor Indian Jews who migrate to Israel. He says the young Indian presence in Israel is increasingly integrated but the older Indian immigrant retains its links with India. “There are approximately 70,000 Jews of Indian origin in Israel, most of who are now Israeli nationals. A majority of them are from Gujarat and Maharashtra and are engaged in agriculture or work in the new development towns outside the urban centers.” The main wave of immigration from India to Israel took place in the 1950s and 60s, he says and this older generation maintains an Indian lifestyle and cultural links .

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