Interview with Mr. SHASHANK
‘Why should Pakistan get irritated
with India-Israel co-operation?”
Former Foreign Secretary
Currently,Visiting Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University,New
Secretary (1st December, 2003 to 31st July, 2004)
Ambassador of India to Copenhagen, Denmark (March 1999 – May 2001);Ambassador
of India to Seoul, Republic of Korea (Nov. 1994 – January 1999);Ambassador
of India to Tripoli, Libya and concurrent accreditation as High Commissioner
of India to Malta (May 1991 – October 1994) ;Minister (Political)
and Deputy High Commissioner of India in Islamabad, Pakistan (September
1982 – March 1986) ;Posted at the Indian Mission in New York. (Jan
1974 – July 1978)Held senior positions in the Indian Missions in Brussels,
Hanoi & Cairo.
At present Mr
Shashank is associated with many National & International forums
& is holding the following positions :
He is a Commentator on International
President- Indian Council for International Cooperation ( ARSP)
Patron- India - Russia Chamber of Commerce
President- India - South Korea Friendship Society )
Text of the Interview
1.Has India's position
on Palestine undergone a change in the wake of growing India-Israel
Well, we have to keep
in mind that India-Israel had recognized each other for a long time
but there was no diplomatic relation for a long time, so there was plenty
of catching up to be done. So the growing India-Israel relationship
has been there, but they should not have a change in our dialogue or
our relationship with Palestine and I do not think that there is a change.
We have a representative in the Palestinian territories and now that
we are also member of the UN Security Council, our views are welcome
by all the Arab counties and the Israelis also. So, therefore, what
I can say is that India’s position perhaps has become a little
bit more normal because now we are able to interact with the Palestinians,
with the Arab countries as well as Israel.
2. India's historically
hostile relations with Pakistan are often cited as a key reason for the
India-Israel defence and intelligence link.
So there are two aspects
you are referring to- one is the defense link and the other is intelligence
Now, I would not know
about the intelligence link so much because many countries have intelligence
links. And it is quite likely that Pakistan may also have intelligence
links with Israel. So, therefore, I do not know much about this
part and we should leave it as it is.
As far as the defense
links are concerned, India has tried to buildup its defense capabilities
because India wants to be a peaceful neighbor to all its neighboring
countries, but at the same time India does not want to come under pressure
whether from Pakistan’s side, whether from Chinese side or any side.
Therefore, India has to buildup its defense capabilities and it has
found that if Israel can be a good partner like any other country they
can be a good partner, so why not. Why not build a relationship?
It is a different matter that I believe that India-Israel defense relationship
has moved very rapidly because there are many technologies in which
India is interested in and Israel is waiting to supply them under the
Indian overall policies. Therefore, the policy framework of India and
the availability from the Israel side if they are suitable, so I do
not see why India should not get them.
The question is
why should Pakistan get irritated about India’s defense cooperation
with Israel ?
Okay! This is the other
part that why should Pakistan get irritated.
But the point is that
at one time, if you remember, a few years ago Pakistan was trying very
hard to workout domestic consensus in order to have normal diplomatic
relations with Israel. And close relations with Israel. And it was stated
at that time by Pakistani media that we already have some kind of classified
or secret relationship, back-channel relation with Israel but now they
wanted to bring it into open. And since there was no consensus on this
and it was a military government at that time, therefore, they decided
to leave it to the future and it got enmeshed more with the domestic
politics of Pakistan than anything else.
So, therefore, if Pakistan
gets irritated with India, I do not think it is because of India-Israel
relations. It is because Pakistan wants to keep India under pressure.
So, either it is due to because the public statement which it may be
or it may try to buy more weapons, more sophisticated weapons from America,
from China, from wherever they can get it, so that they tried to get
and they have been getting these weapons. As a matter of fact,
I would say that not just buying them, sometimes they are getting them
from the inventories of the others under the status which they have
as all-weather friends of China and the major non-NATO ally of the United
States. So they have direct access to the US army’s equipment
available to them because they are that kind of major ally of the Americans
in their wars against terrorists and various other kinds of wars which
they may be fighting.
The other thing remains
that they are also able to get these transfers of second-hand weapons
from other countries, we have seen that. So therefore, Pakistan
also is going all out to strengthen its defense link, and we should
not mind if they are improving so long as it does not have an impact
on our own relationship and they are not trying to promote the terrorist
activities in India.
So they must give that
space to India also.
So they should give that
space to us, I agree with you and at the same time India has always
taken into view that India is a peaceful country. India wants
to sort out all its issues with Pakistan and other countries with peaceful
3. In the ensuing
"war on terror", in the wake of Mumbai 26/11
attacks , could the security relationship between India and Israel develop
into a strategic alliance?
The problem is that this
strategic alliance or strategic partnership itself is a term which has
not been defined very precisely. The communist countries have
a different kind of connotation of strategic partnership or strategic
Now, what India is trying
to buildup is a partnership with several countries. It has in
fact started a dialogue even with China. Because there may
be many issues on which they have common views, let’s say against
terrorists,against pirates, keeping the sea lanes secure.
So, therefore those issues
where we have several relationships, we can have partnerships or dialogues
with any country even with Pakistan. We can try to have a dialogue with
them so long as they do not try to destabilize any part of India and
they do not promote terrorism from any part under their administrative
control against India. It is something they have been professing,
but they have not been able to fulfill it. So what India is saying is
that if you match your words with deeds then we are quite prepared to
move ahead with you.
So, if you are trying
to buy some weapons, technical equipment from Israel to take care of
terrorist activities in India or infiltration by terrorists or by all
kinds of hostile forces from across the border then these are for our
own safety, security. These are not part of building up a wider
strategic alliance which may be against third countries with whom we
do not have any kind of enmity and then we have good relations with
them. This is mainly for increasing our own strength, increasing our
own defense capabilities and that I think this has to be understood
in that context only.
4.Do you agree that
evolving India-Israel relationship could damage India's relationship with
countries such as Iran and Syria, with whom India has friendly relations
but Israel does not?
Well, I hope we do not
do that because these are important relations that we have with Iran
and Syria. Already we are under pressure sometimes because of the international
sanctions against some of these countries.
And as member of the
UN and as having friendly relations with these countries we have to
make sure that our international obligations or sanctions which have
been imposed upon them through international decisions, do not
hurt our bilateral relations. It is a delicate exercise but Syria
and Iran also have to understand that we have to abide by our international
commitments. At the same time, the international community has
to understand that we have a relationship of energy security in which
we have to buildup these ties with these countries.
Because of the nuclear
capabilities being developed in Iran, it has become a little bit more
difficult because we had taken certain views in IAEA Governing Body
and also in the UN Security Council as for international commitments.
But at the same time we are trying to see whether our other relationships
with Iran get protected from these sanctions, etc. which have been imposed
on the nuclear site.
5. A growing Indo-Israeli
relationship has the potential to make a significant impact on global
politics by altering the balance of power, not only in South Asia and
the Middle East, but also in the larger Asian region. Do you agree with
No! That balance has
changed already because of two reasons.One is that for a long time we
did not have diplomatic relations with Israel but we used to deal with
them in the UN forums because they were member of the UN. Secondly,
India has become one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.
And in this globalized world, India has to buildup economic relations
and other ties with all the powers in the region and outside.
India is a member of the G-20, right now also a member of the UN Security
Council and we have also joined the regional forums like the ASEAN.
We are an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. So, there
are all these various organizations that bilaterally, trilaterally,
multilaterally we are interacting with the other countries in a different
kind of framework and India-Israel relationship to that extent would
make a difference.
I feel that it should
be seen as a more positive input into the building up of the Asian peace
scenario and global cooperation scenario. Because India has been
a leader of the Non-Aligned World , of the Afro-Asian Solidarity and
so if we are now trying to develop more interactive relations, strategic
partnerships with a larger number of countries, we should be seen that
now we are becoming really more actively involved, commensurate with
our economic and strategic presence and footprint in the region and
outside of region.
6. India and Israel
seem to be up against a "pragmatic," non-ideological American
administration under President Obama whose policy initiatives and proclivities
have the potential to cause friction in their respective bilateral interactions,
despite the best of intentions. The issues in contention range from
strategic concerns like Pakistan and Iran, to nuclear non-proliferation
and economic factors like outsourcing of jobs.
Well, the point is that
United States upto the time that President Obama took over had moved
in a certain direction whereby in various Islamic countries or countries
with large Islamic populations, USA was seen as a threat, as an enemy
and it was understood also by the American political leaders and, therefore,
when President Obama came to power after elections, his senior advisors
told him that USA must change its image among the Islamic people and
Islamic countries and therefore one of the very important visits which
he undertook fairly early in his presidency was to Egypt and to some
other Islamic countries and he wanted to emphasise that apart from his
personal interaction with the Islamic people, Islamic families, he also
felt that America was not at cross purposes with the Islamic people
and Islamic countries and would buildup relations with them.
Unfortunately, what has
happened within our own region. Pakistan which had already become a
major non-NATO power ally of the United States under the previous administration,
once again has become the kingpin of President Obama’s pro-Islamic
policy and to curb terrorism at the same time in Afghanistan and Uzbek
region. And now as more and more information is coming out from the
American security circles, it is not Uzbek region but it is Pak region.
This is causing the maximum amount of headache to the Americans, so
therefore what is happening is that because of their own domestic and
international image, the Americans are changing their view point and
their relationship with Islamic countries. They are continuing
with the policy of containment at the same time building up the new
ties. So, there are sometimes perceptions in countries like India
and Israel that America is no longer the same country as it used to
be in the past. It is trying to negotiate a very delicate process
and all along in India we had seen that while India was taken as a potential
partner but in all matters relating to arms transfers or Pakistan’s
terrorist activities in India, we saw that Americans were not really
able to control Pakistan and were willing to give them anything, money,
arms, any kind of strategic support, so they were going all out to support
Pakistan of today whereas for India it was more words for the future.
So, therefore, what we
have to see is that we have to keep on building relations with countries
like Israel, with all the other neighboring countries in South Asia,
Middle East, East Asia, everywhere else. The point is that we
have to buildup our own strength, our own maneuverability and diplomatic
connections with all the countries and, therefore, the strategic partnership
that I talked about, are very important because we find that as of now
the present realities force Americans to support Pakistan even though
it may be a collapsing or nearly collapsed and they have become of source
of trouble, terrorist trouble, source of the nuclear black market and
all kinds of armament transfers everywhere.
So, they have become
that kind of an issue but we have to also keep in mind that yes, there
is a future in which India has to play a more important role and we
need to buildup that future for our own immediate region, for the larger
neighborhood and therefore for that we need to buildup relations with
countries like China and Russia, Iran for our immediate neighborhood
and for the larger neighbor it needs buildup relations with countries
of the West Asia including Israel.
And, Europe of course.
We are member of G-20, we have to see that these countries have a larger
presence in G-20 or G-8 or in the UN Security Council, so we have to
see that where the future scenario unfolds we keep on having good relations
with these countries.
of Israel to Georgia,formerly Consul-General of Israel in Bombay (Mumbai)
(He holds a PhD
in International Politics from the University of South Africa, and his
doctoral research focused on India-Israel relations. He obtained his
MA degree in Political Science from Haifa University and was an instructor
at the Israel National Defense College (INDC). Dr. Gerberg has been
a lecturer at Tel Aviv University and a Research Fellow at the Israel
National Defense College Research Centre.)
Q.1.In the ensuing "war
on terror", in the wake of Mumbai 26/11 attacks , could the security
relationship between India and Israel develop into a strategic alliance?
1.Yes, taking into
consideration the current military bilateral cooperation on one hand and
the future situation in Afghanistan on the other.
Q.2. India –Israel relationship has
become an issue in domestic politics of India. Is it true of domestic
politics of Israel too?
2. No. There is a complete supportive
consensus about Indo-Israel relations in the Israeli political arena.
Q.3. India and Israel seem to be up against
a "pragmatic," non-ideological American administration under
President Obama whose policy initiatives and proclivities have the potential
to cause friction in their respective bilateral interactions, despite
the best of intentions. The issues in contention range from strategic
concerns like Pakistan and Iran, to nuclear non-proliferation and economic
factors like outsourcing of jobs. Do you agree?
3. No. Obama's foreign policy, Iran
etc.,should not affect the bilateral Indo-Israel relations, which depend
on strategic joint and common national interests. Moreover, regardless the
approach of the American president, India, Israel and the US, as leading
democracies in their regions must find the way for trilateral strategic
(2) Prof. Efraim Inbar
Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies
Ramat-Gan , Israel 52900
(Efraim Inbar is a
Professor in Political Studies at Bar-Ilan University and the Director
of its Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.
Born in Romania (1947),
he was educated at the Hebrew University (B.A. in Political Science
and English Literature) and at the University of Chicago (M.A. and Ph.D.
in Political Science). He served as visiting professor at Johns Hopkins
University (2004), at Georgetown University (1991-92), and visiting
scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (1996).
Prof. Inbar was appointed as a Manfred Warner NATO Fellow (1998), was
a visiting fellow at the (London) International Institute for Strategic
Studies (2000), and was the recipient of the Onassis Fellowship (2003).
He lectures at institutions such as RAND, Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Oxford,
and Yale Universities.
His area of specialization
is Middle Eastern strategic issues with a special interest in the politics
and strategy of Israeli national security. He has written over 60 articles
in professional journals. He has authored five books: Outcast Countries
in the World Community (1985), War and Peace in Israeli Politics.
Labor Party Positions on National Security (1991), Rabin and
Israel’s National Security (1999), The Israeli-Turkish Entente (2001), and Israel's National Security: Issues and Challenges since
the Yom Kippur War . He has also edited eleven collections of articles.
Prof. Inbar served
in the Israel Defense Force (IDF) as a paratrooper. He was a member
of the Political Strategic Committee of the National Planning Council
and the Chair of the Committee for the National Security Curriculum
at the Ministry of Education. He serves on the Academic Committee of
the History Department of the IDF and as the President of the Israel
Association of International Studies. Prof. Inbar is widely quoted in
the Israeli and international press.
Specialization : War and Strategy;National Security Problems in
the Middle East;Israeli Politics )
1.In the ensuing "war
on terror", in the wake of Mumbai 26/11 attacks , could the security
relationship between India and Israel develop into a strategic alliance?
I would use the
term strategic partnership. After all, neither India nor
Israel , want to
get involved directly in the other party’s wars. Cooperation in many
strategic areas is mutually beneficial and there is room for enhancing
2. Israel doesn't see
any long term benefits with supporting India . But with better relations
with Pakistan , Israel can open up the middle east and the rest of the
muslim world. Do you agree with this view point?
NO. Pakistan is
not a stable state as it is under increasing pressure form radical Muslim
elements. The foreign policy orientation Pakistan is also problematic
as it is relies heavily on China . Moreover, most of the political elites
in the Muslim world have already accepted Israel as a fait accompli
and reconciled themselves to the idea that it cannot be eradicated by
force. Israel does not need Pakistan as an entrance door to the Muslim
world. In contrast, India is a stable democracy increasingly aligned
with the leader of the free world, the
3. India – Israel
relationship has become an issue in domestic politics of India . Is
it true of domestic politics of Israel too?
No. There is nobody
of consequence in Israel that questions the importance of the burgeoning
relationship between Jerusalem and
Delhi . Moreover, there is great interest and respect for the Indian
civilization. Tens of thousands of young Israelis have visited in recent
years India as backpacker, creating a huge reservoir of sympathy for
India in Israel .
In his Paper Halt
Nuclear Iran (BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 124, December 2,
2010) Prof. Efraim Inbar has stated that “an Iranian nuclear arsenal
will also unhinge the precarious nuclear balance on the Indian subcontinent.
Pakistan , Iran's neighbor, will have to adjust its nuclear posture.
Such an adjustment will inevitably require changes in the Indian nuclear
posture, possibly creating an even more sensitive nuclear balance. ”
In view of this
we had asked Prof. Efraim Inbar if he visualized nuclear cooperation
between India and Israel in the distant future although India had ,at
the turn of the century,ruled out such a cooperation ? He replied :
It depends what
you mean by cooperation. I can see Israel and India sharing intelligence
on the Iranian nuclear program and maybe taking together secret steps
to prevent it. Anything dealing with the nuclear postures is unlikely
at this stage.
| (3) Professor
Department of International Relations
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
91905 Jerusalem, ISRAEL
(Yaacov Y.I. Vertzberger
received his Ph.D. Summa Cum Laude from the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem in 1979 and joined the Department of International Relations
,where he is currently a full Professor. He was also a visiting
researcher and professor at several major universities and research
institutes in Europe, North America and Japan,including : Stanford University,McGill
University,UC Berkeley,UC San Diego,The Mershon Center (Ohio State
University) group on the role of cognition in collective decision making,
The East-West Center ,The Rockefeller Bellagio Center,The Netherlands
Institute for Advanced Study,The Swedish Institute of International
Affairs, and the UN University (Tokyo).
areas of interest and research include : theory of international relations,international
political economy, political psychology,and the foreign and security
policies of South Asian countries.He has published extensively
on these issues.His articles appeared in major journals and his books
were published by leading university and commercial presses.Among his
major publications are the following books and monographs : Risk
Taking and Decisionmaking ; Foreign Military Intervention Decisions;
The World in their Minds:Information Processing ,Cognition and Perception
in Foreign Policy Decisionmaking; China’s Southwestern Strategy: Encirclement
and Counterencirclement; Misperceptions in Foreign Policymaking : The
Sino-Indian Conflict,1959-62;Coastal States,Regional Powers,Superpowers
and the Malacca-Singapore Straits;The Enduring Entente : Sino-Pakistani
His current research
is centered on the process of reforms in social strategic policies
and global disasters management.)
Relations: The Road Ahead
Yaacov Y.I. Vertzberger
Q1.In the ensuing
"war on terror", in the wake of Mumbai 26/11
attacks , could the security relationship between India and Israel develop
into a strategic alliance?
A1. The strategic
relationship between India and Israel is structured around a shared
of common and complimentary
interests of both countries. In other words, it is unlikely to be restructured
due to a single event, no matter how dramatic. In fact, even that particular
dramatic event has not affected the essence of India's, and even more
so, of Israel's definitions of their respective security interests and
Mumbai attack has revealed gaping holes in India's early warning system
that have had to be plugged. It is in regard to the measures of addressing
these deficiencies where the relationship between India and Israel has
been fruitful. This applies to four domains: (1) intelligence sharing,
which has been in place for some time; (2) the sharing of experience
regarding best-practice strategies for locking as tightly as possible
India's long (7,000 kms) shoreline, a subject on which Israel has acquired
a great deal of experience following a number of costly failures. These
lessons would prove to be very useful for India; (3) the acquisition
and application of advanced passive and active electronic reconnaissance,
surveillance and detection measures, including advanced satellite capabilities,
to "fence off" the shoreline (24/7); and (4) the operational
activation of combined fast response forces (naval, land and air) to
timely engage, seize and destroy any suspicious penetration craft before
they can reach the shore and land. Here again Israel can offer the hardware
and training for combined operations. Israel has acquired rich operational
experience of coordinated land, air and naval operations in pursuit,
seizure and destruction of detected threat targets, and at the same
time minimizing errors in identifying and separating hostile crafts
from innocent ones (e.g., trading and fishing boats).
in these issue areas does not require changing the current frame of
the security relationship between India and Israel. In fact, redefining
the relationship to an alliance status would have uncomfortable implications
for both countries, and might be perceived by third parties as mutual
commitment by both states to get militarily involved in their respective
regional militarized conflicts, in South Asia and the Middle East. This
is, for obvious political and practical reasons, not in the interest
of either India or Israel. In the case of Israel, it might also trigger
Chinese suspicions and perniciously affect a relationship that Israel
considers of great political and economic value, that is, Sino-Israel
all these considerations into account there seems to be no pressing
need or advantage in upgrading the relationship to the status of a strategic
alliance. At the same time it is obvious that the India-Israel relations
are on a trajectory towards becoming a comprehensive special relationship.
Q2. Israel doesn't see any long term
benefits with supporting India. But with better relations with Pakistan,
Israel can open up the middle east and the rest of the muslim world. Do
you agree with this view point?
A2. In light
of the discussion above, the second question takes for granted a set
of assumptions that are wrong on practically every count. First, Israel
views the relationship with India, both short and long term, as an essential,
vital multidimensional high-value asset, economically, commercially,
strategically and politically. To illustrate briefly, India is increasingly
becoming an important market for Israeli low and high-tech goods of
its civilian and military industries and with the establishment of a
PTA trade could reach 15 bn dollars by 2015. It is also likely to become
a preferred destination for investments by Israeli companies looking
for untapped opportunities abroad in an increasing range of technological
areas, as well as land and property development and various forms of
outsourcing. This will also present broader opportunities for joint
ventures between the Israeli and the Indian business community in bio
and agro-technologies, diamonds, manufacturing, communication technologies,
space technologies, pharmaceutics and more.
the two countries have, as indicated above, common interest in intelligence
cooperation against threats ranging from globalized terror to crime
organizations. There is also a strong interface between the two countries
in coping with threats from WMD, including the sharing of capabilities
for the construction of systems for early warning and interception of
ballistic and other missiles, whether land, air or sea based.
India's central role in a broad range of multilateral organizations
can benefit Israel in its attempts to contain attempt to isolate it
in the international arena.
the other hand, the prospects for normalization of relations with Pakistan
are low, even though there are some sectors in the Pakistani society
and policy circles that may view normalization favorably. Yet, the general
atmosphere in Pakistan is not conducive for normalization before a peace
agreement of sorts with, at least, the Palestinians will be reached,
which is unlikely to happen any time soon. Even following such an agreement
it is highly likely that the increasing Islamization of Pakistani society,
which has strong radical overtones (rather than being of an enlightened
flavor), will pose insurmountable cultured and political barriers to
normalization of relations between Israel and Pakistan.
of a low probability, in a more optimistic scenario, an exchange of
diplomatic representatives, most likely non-residential, might encourage
some moderate Islamic states, such as Indonesia, Malaysia and some of
the Gulf Principalities, to overcome their hesitations over normalizing
their relations with Israel. This is possible but not highly likely
as the perception of Pakistan's influence as a role model in the Moslem
world, beyond South Asia, is probably exaggerated. There are, however,
other issues that would need to be addressed between Pakistan and Israel,
such as Pakistan's support for terror activities by groups that are
ideologically motivated and might seek to transnationalize their imprint
to other conflicts, beyond South Asia, where Moslems confront non-Moslems
such as Jews (in the Middle East), and Christians in Europe (e.g., Germany,
France, Italy, Britain, Spain, etc.). Israel will have to convincingly
convey that if Pakistan will not be linked or associated with the exportation
by proxy, of the Indo-Pakistani conflict to other regions, Israel will
have no inclination to operate against Pakistani interests. In a similar
vein Israel should clarify its absolute objection to any form of nuclear
proliferation activities, by individuals or organizations based in Pakistan,
whether state-driven or not, and that Pakistan will bear the responsibility
for these activities. In this context it should also make clear that
Indo-Israeli extensive relations do not pose a threat to Pakistan and
do not imply that Israel takes, or will take, a position on the essence
of the ideological, political, religious and military conflict between
India and Pakistan that favors either side.
conclude, on the whole the balance of Israeli interests clearly, and
by a large margin, favors in any foreseeable future relations with India
over Pakistan, even in the best case analysis where Pakistan would agree
to establish some kind of a formal relationship with Israel. In that
case Israel should respond positively to the upgrading of engagement
with Pakistan. India should refrain, in such a case, from constructing
these developments as a threat or change of preferences in Indo-Israeli
–Israel relationship has become an issue in domestic politics of India.
Is it true of domestic politics of Israel too?
A3. The relationship
with India is one of the few foreign policy issues that are not contested
in Israeli domestic policies. There is a broad cross-sectoral consensus
over the importance and necessity of the relationship with India. Furthermore,
Indian culture is highly respected and admired, especially since thousands
of young Israelis have made India their preferred travel destination
(after completion of a compulsory 3-years military service). Although,
some of them had clashed with India's law authorities, or got caught
up in the drugs circle, this cohort of young people forms a constituency
that has been socialized by direct experience and is a bearer of a massage
of admiration and good will towards India, its society and culture.
Q4. India and Israel seem to be up
against a "pragmatic," non-ideological American administration
under President Obama whose policy initiatives and proclivities have
the potential to cause friction in their respective bilateral interactions,
despite the best of intentions. The issues in contention range from
strategic concerns like Pakistan and Iran, to nuclear non-proliferation
and economic factors like outsourcing of jobs.
A4. It is true
that both India and Israel have had their share of problems with the
Obama Administration, which stemmed from his administration's over enthusiasm
and inexperience in foreign policy that verged on ignorance. President
Barak Obama has been trying of late to mend fences with both countries.
Yet, the dilemma of the Obama Administration faces in balancing in both
sets of relationships, US-Israel-Arab world and US-India-Pakistan, should
not be underestimated. Trying to walk this tight triple rope without
falling off it, in the prevailing complex political and security situations
in the Middle East and South Asia, is bound to produce irritants, misperceptions
and policy misjudgments in US's relations with both Israel and India.
The US, India and Israel will have to device effective diplomatic instruments
to manage these problems wisely and cautiously, to avoid spilling the
baby with the bath waters. There is, however, a major difference in
how India and Israel can leverage their positions in the US political
system, to block and contain unwanted and even damaging presidential
initiatives to their interests.
Q5. Do you regard the emerging India-Israel ties
as a win-win situation for both countries?
A5. There is
little doubt that India-Israel comprehensive special relationship represents
a long-term win-win situation for both countries. To the extent that
there are issues on which the two countries do not see eye to eye, the
ongoing dialog and the mutual recognition of the broad range of shared
and complementary interests would overcome these irritations.
Harsh V. Pant
Department of Defence Studies,King's
College London,United Kingdom
(Harsh V. Pant teaches
at King’s College London in the Department of Defence Studies. He
is also an Associate with the King’s Centre for Science and Security
Studies and an Affiliate with the King’s India Institute. His current
research is focused on Asian security issues. His most recent books
include Contemporary Debates in Indian Foreign and Security Policy (Palgrave
Macmillan), Indian Foreign Policy in a Unipolar
World(Routledge) and The China Syndrome (HarperCollins). Email : "Pant, Harsh" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
1.In the ensuing "war
on terror", in the wake of Mumbai 26/11 attacks , could the security
relationship between India and Israel develop into a strategic alliance?
This is highly unlikley.
Indian elites are uncomfortable with alliances per se given India's
non-aligned history. Moreover, Indian domestic politics will not allow
a formal alliance to take shape between India and Israel.
2. Has India's position
on Palestine undergone a change in the wake of growing India-Israel
There has been little
change in so far as the rhetoric is concerned but in substantive terms
India has gradually modified its position in so far recent Indian governments
have not allowed the Palestinian issue to come in the way of developing
close ties with Israel.
3. Do you agree that
evolving India-Israel relationship could damage India's relationship with
countries such as Iran and Syria, with whom India has friendly relations
but Israel does not.
India's ties with
Iran and Syria will develop or decay based on how convergent Indian
national interests are with the interests of these states. Israel will
only play a marginal role, if at all.
4. India and Israel
seem to be up against a "pragmatic," non-ideological American
administration under President Obama whose policy initiatives and proclivities
have the potential to cause friction in their respective bilateral interactions,
despite the best of intentions. The issues in contention range from
strategic concerns like Pakistan and Iran, to nuclear non-proliferation
and economic factors like outsourcing of jobs.
There will be some
strains in India and Israel's ties with the Obama Administration but
in the long term Washington's interests are far more convergent with
Delhi's and Tel Aviv's and so there will be a strategic convergence.
5. A growing Indo-Israeli
relationship has the potential to make a significant impact on global
politics by altering the balance of power, not only in South Asia and
the Middle East, but also in the larger Asian region. Do you agree with
I agree as I am
the source of this statement. It is from my article on India-Israel.
(22 December, 2010)
Professor of Political Science,
Retired, Aligarh Muslim University
Aligarh 202002 India
Email : email@example.com
Area of Specialization:
Comparative Politics (Indian Government
and Politics)/International Relations (South and West Asia)
has written books on International affairs in English as well as Urdu.
Mention may be made of "An Encyclopedic Dictionary of Politics,New
Delhi,2006; "The Political System of the Islamic Republic of Iran”
,New Delhi, 2006; "A Dictionary of Politics” ,New Delhi, 2004;
"Soviet Policy towards the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1988, New
Delhi, 1988; "Regional Integration in South Asia. Problems and
Prospects ,New Delhi ,1986; Book Publication in Urdu includes, "Urdu
translation of Bimal Prasad's The Origins of Indian foreign policy,New
Delhi: Bureau for promotion of Urdu, GOI, 1977.
Gone are the days of
Nehru's pragmatic approach to the Israeli entity. He was neither for
Israel nor against the Arabs; neither he was for the Arabs and against
Israel. All in all, he was for India and her long-term interests. How
could he side with one against the 22?
End of Nehru era, then
end of the Cold War, then American sponsored and Chinese inspired liberalization,
then ascendancy of the rightist forces in New Delhi. Lo and behold!
India tilts towards the USA and its protegy, Israel.
I'm firmly convinced
Indian policy is geared towards greater integration with the American-European-Israeli
policy against the vital interests of the Arab-Islamic world.
Why put a question
regarding India-Israel strategic cooperation? It is already a fact of
Bhagwan Mahavir Professor of Jain
Studies and Professor of Religious Studies
Florida International University,Modesto A. Maidique Campus, DM 302,Miami,
www.indojudaic.com; spirituality.fiu.edu; religion.fiu.edu/mahavir Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(My research focuses
on Indo-Judaic studies, an area that I helped to pioneer. I am interested
in the interactions and affinities between Indic and Judaic civilizations.
I have written books about Jewish communities in India, and articles
about ancient world links between India and Israel, comparisons of themes
within Judaism on the one hand and Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism on
the other, as well as about Hindu-Jewish and Buddhist-Jewish dialogue.
In 1990 I was invited to join a delegation of eight scholars and rabbis
who met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his palace in Dharamsala,
India for extensive Jewish-Tibetan dialogue, and in 2009 I addressed
the first quasi-official dialogue meeting held in the west between swamis
My interest is based
both in my training and my own personal journey. I have spent many years
in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal) and was trained
in the classical thought and languages of the subcontinent. I have written
a number of books and articles about Indo-Tibetan religions, both in
South Asia and in the diaspora. Since I have a strong Judaic background,
combining the two was a natural for me.
Some years ago I started FIU’s unique Program in the Study of Spirituality.
As well as bringing some of the world’s greatest practitioners and
scholars of spirituality to speak at FIU, we have the world’s only
undergraduate program in the study of spirituality. To learn more, please
At FIU I teach specialized courses about the Religions of India –
a variety of undergraduate and graduate offerings on the texts and histories
of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, as well as about the Jews of Asia.
I teach World Religions, and on occasion the methods seminar. I have
just developed a new course, “Contemporary Global Spirituality,”
that investigates the relationship between spirituality and the professions,
such as health care, business and entrepreneurship, education, the arts,
military sciences, psychology, and so on. In 2010 I was named the Bhagwan
Mahavir Professor of Jain Studies, and will be developing courses, lectures,
and exchange programs in this exciting area. Please see religion.fiu.edu/mahavir
I have been very involved in FIU's programs in Asian Studies and Jewish
Studies, and have taught in the College of Business (as the Kauffman
Professor of Entrepreneurship, 2009-2010) and the College of Medicine.)
1.Beyond being targets
of Islamic terrorism, the softer tissue of human experience — culture,
religion, and values — binds Indians and Jews. Do you agree with this
I agree entirely.
There is much more that binds India and Israel. Shares values for one
– the obvious commitment to democracy, the mutual respect between
ancient cultures with vast literary, philosophic, artistic and religious
resonances, the contemporary lucrative interactions in IT and other
fields, common concerns about the diaspora-home relationship. But beyond
these, there is an indescribable mutual affection.
2.What are the tools
to improve and strengthen people-to-people contacts between Indians
Tourism for one.
I would love to see more Indians visiting Israel. I would dearly love
to see academic relations expand. Very many Israelis in general and
Jews in particular are ‘India-wallahs,’
but there is a lack of symmetry. I want Indians to come to Israel or
the US to study western culture, to study Jewish literature and philosophy.
The conversations have been all too one sided thus far.
3.India –Israel relationship has
become an issue in domestic politics of India. Is it true of domestic
politics of Israel too?
It is non-controversial
in Israel, so I would say not.
4.How do you view the
India-Israel relations? What are the next milestones the two countries
are expected to reach in their efforts to boost relationship.
Beyond the obvious
security and military collaborations, I want to see Indians become more
knowledgeable about Israel and about Jews. This is affected through
academic, artistic, and cultural exchanges, as well as tourism. When
and if India takes a seat on the UNSC, I hope its anti-Israel kneejerk
positions will become re-thought.
(8 December, 2010)
Note : Prof.
Nathan Katz observes that there are so many interactions between Jews,
Israel, and India that a new academic field of Indo-Judaic studies has
developed, with the Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies extant since the mid-1990s.
Katz, an Indologist, entered this field in 1986-19 87 when he
and his wife lived in Cochin with a Jewish family. According to him,
in general, Indian perception of both Jews and Israel is very positive,
affectionate, and with much idealization.
For an Interview with
Nathan Katz on The Jews, Israel,
and India , see Changing Jewish Communities, http://www.jcpa.org/cjc/cjc-katz-f05.htm
and the Concept of National Interest in Multi-Ethnic/Religious States
Theodore P. Wright, Jr.
Emeritus Professor of Political Science
State University of New York at Albany,
(Professor Wright took his doctorate in
international relations at Yale in 1957. He taught for ten years at Bates
College in Lewiston, Maine and then for thirty years in the Graduate
School of Public Affairs of the State University of New York at Albany.
Beginning in 1961 with his first visit to India, he has specialized
in his research in the politics of the Muslim minority of India and
has published some seventy articles and contributions to symposia volumes
including the American Political Science Review,
the Journal of Asian Studies and the Economic and Political Weekly
of India. Email:email@example.com)
is a cardinal principle of the "realist" theory of international
relations that the foreign policy of a sovereign nation state ought
to be in pursuit of the "national interest".(Hans Morgenthau,
“In Defense of the National Interest”, 1951) Any deviation
from this course in response, for instance, to the pressures of domestic
religious or ethnic minority groups, is fraught with peril and may lead
to the defeat and even extinction of the state.
this apothogem is stated as description: "all states always do
pursue national interests" which is manifestly untrue as states
have lost wars, even to the point of extinction. More accurately, it
should be stated prescriptively: "if a state does not pay heed
to its vital interests, the price will be high even to loss of its sovereignty”.
Often the demise of the Polish monarchy in 1772-1795 is cited as an
awful example. Although the cause was not religious politics but a selfish
ruling class, the result was the same: loss of independence for
a century and a quarter. Realists like Hans Morgenthau attribute the
tragic outcome in other cases to Idealists' overreach for moralistic
goals like US President Woodrow Wilson's project to eliminate war through
collective security organization (the League of Nations) after the First
World War. Idealists retorted that both World Wars were brought on by
the arrogance of amoral would-be world conquerors like Napoleon and
Hitler who “universalized” the national interests of France and
Germany respectively. .
In any case, the Realist case stands or falls on the existence of an
minimally the survival of the state, unless it were to join a broader
confederation voluntarily. But the existence of an empirically verifiable
inerest is is exactly what Marxists and other economic determinists
deny. Vannick, for instance, sees the hypothetical national interest
as only the welfare of a ruling class concealing its exploitation of
subaltern classes for its own benefit. Delineation of the national interest
is especially difficult where as with many of the post-colonial "new
nations" , and not the least India, the population is not relatively
homogenous, but linguistically and religiously diverse. If and when
this is the case and one or more of the minorities are politically mobilized
on behalf of beleaguered minorities of the same faith outside the state's
borders, the potential appears for conflict between majority and minority
definitions of the national interest.
United States of America, the first "new nation", relative
isolation from the
of European politics", to use President Washington's words, for
long obscured this conflict. Instead it was regional conflict between
two "Wasp" (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) elites which culminated
in a civil war (1861-1865). Only with the largescale immigration of
Irish Catholics in the 1840s, intent on freeing their homeland from
British hegemony, did the potential for conflicting definitions of national
interest arise. This was also obscured for the rest of the nineteenth
century by the anglophobia of the Wasp majority since the Revolutionary
war (1776-82) and the War of 1812 against Great Britain.
conflict over foreign policy of the United States became acute only
with the debates over American entry into the two World Wars. Leadup
to participation in the First World War on the side of the Allies, pitted
elements of the large German and Irish minorities against the
Eastern Wasp elite. Likewise, the isolationist vs. interventionist debate
of 1937-1941 had a partly ethnic, partly regional character, but it
was the mostly non-political Japanese minority who suffered the most,
being uprooted from their West coast homes and deported to detention
the Cold War with the Soviet Union (1948-1991), somewhat of a religious
split manifested itself in the early years, with secular Jews more sympathetic
with the USSR and Catholics and Orthodox Christians from Eastern Europe
more anti-Soviet. because of communist persecution of religion
in their ancestral homelands. In general, however, there was a broad
consensus on national interests in the Cold War until it fell apart
temporarily in the Vietnam war. (1964-74)
Where minority ethno-religious pressures diverged again from the national
interest was in United States policy towards the Arab-Israeli dispute
in the Middle East putting the United States squarely behind Israel.
Democracy worked in the opposite direction in India, making it favor
the Palestinians. P.R. Kumarawamy has convincingly and exhaustively
argued that “vote bank politics” allowed the large (12%) Muslim
minority to sway foreign policy against full diplomatic relations with
Israel for forty years. During the same period, American policy in the
Middle East has increasing favored Israel over the Palestinians. The
last time the United States alligned itself against Israel was in the
Suez crisis of 1955 when President Eisenhower compelled Great Britain,
France and Israel to evacuate the Suez canal and Sinai. The Jewish minority
in the United States, while much smaller (2%) than Muslims in India
has enjoyed unparalled economic mobility coupled with disproportionate
academic and media influence during the past two generations. This has
enabled it to organize the most powerful lobby in Washington: AIPAC
(American Israel Political Action Committee). This lobby, while not
representing even all Jewish-Americans, has succeeded in persuading
most Americans that Israel's national interests in the area are identical
with those of the United States. In recent years fundamentalist American
Christians have given the pro-Israel camp the numbers which it had lacked.
Mearsheimer and Walt (“The Israeli Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”,
2007) have presented the case for conflict between America's and Israel's
interest , but not have succeeded in convincing public opinion.
It has even been argued that a small clique of mostly Jewish “neocons”
(neo-conservatives) inveigled the Bush-Cheney administration into attacking
Iraq in 2003, to the great detrimentof the national interest. Mearsheimer
and Walt list three main interests of the United States in the Middle
East: keeping Persian Gulf oil flowing to world markets; discouraging
the spread of weapons of mass destruction and reducing anti-American
terrorism originating in the region. They demonstrate how all three
interests have been harmed by favoritism to Israel.
although there is a usually latent conflict of goals between the Dravidian
parties of Tamilnadu state and the “Center” over policy towards
the long Sri Lankan civil war over Tamil secessionism, the most conspicuous
case of imposition of a religious minority on Indian foreign policy
has been the forty years long Indian refusal fully to recognize the
Israeli state. As Professor P.R. Kumaraswamy has demonstrated meticulously
and exhaustively in his recent “India's Israel Policy” (2010)
, this policy has its origins in the efforts of the Indian National
Congress to court the large (25% before partition in 1947) and formerly
dominant Muslim minority to join the struggle against British rule.
Beginning with the Khilafat movement in 1919, Congress had an
affinity with Arab nationalism which rendered it hostile to Zionism
and the Jewish state despite the arguments by Hindu nationalists both
within and outside Congress to treat the two parties to the Arab-Israeli
dispute more evenhandedly in accord with India's national interests.
These include access to oil and employment in the Gulf and support in
the UN against Pakistan in the Kashmir controversy. As a functioning
democracy, Indian political parties have been vulnerable, like American
parties in the United States, to “vote bank politics”, the ability
in elections of organized and highly motivated ethno-religious minorities
to influence foreign policy over the indifference of the majority. Muslim
leadership in India has been careful since independence, not to lobby
on Pakistan's behalf or for the right of Muslim majority Kashmir to
secede from India. Here the vital interests of the Indian state, or
at least of its ruling elite, are at stake.
Since the turnabout of Indian foreign policy in 1991 with the collapse
of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Hindu nationalist B.J.P. to
power in New Delhi (1998-2004) , not only has India fully recognized
Israel, but has gone a long way towards accepting the American position
on the Arab-Israeli dispute and sanctions on Iran in return for
a nuclear treaty and other economic benefits. Only the declining Left
block of parties has resisted this diplomatic revolution. In the United
States, the new but unproven “J street lobby” has arisen to dispute
AIPAC power from within the Jewish community. But for a non-Jew to challenge
that American and Israeli interests are identical is to invite the charge
of anti-Semitism, which has been the kiss of death politically since
Jews in Israel- A Forgotten Diaspora?
Maina Chawla Singh
University of Delhi ; Scholar-in-Residence, American University, Washington DC
(Maina Chawla Singh Ph.D. , Associate Professor, University of Delhi
. Author of Being Indian, Being
Israeli : Migration, Ethnicity and Gender in the Jewish Homeland.
New Delhi: 2009; Gender, Religion, and
“Heathen Lands’: American Missionary Women in South Asia (1860s
– 1940s) New York: 2000.
Singh has extensively
researched Indian Jewish communities in Israel. She has been Haddasah-Brandeis
Scholar-in-Residence and Fellow, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies,
Brandeis University. Singh is currently Scholar-in-Residence, American
University, Washington DC. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org )
India-Israel relations today are at a comfort
level that is promoting trade, collaboration and bi-lateral exchanges
at a steady pace. Delegations move back and forth, ministerial visits
are frequent, and official statements quote bi-lateral trade statistics
with much satisfaction. Official figures quote investment figures
of Israeli businessmen attracted to Indian markets and more recently
the beginnings of Indian investment in acquiring or investing in Israeli
businesses where collaborations are mutually profitable. From a base
of US$ 200 million worth of trade in 1992 when India and Israel
established full diplomatic relations, bi-lateral trade today is multi-sectored
and was reported in 2008 at US$ 4010.1 million.(i)Although Embassy websites
and public statements are low-key about the defence collaborations
between the two countries, media reports claim that .Israel has
overtaken Russia as the main defence supplier to India after breaking
the $1 billion mark in new contracts signed annually over the past two
years. (ii) The Embassies in New Delhi and Tel Aviv are active
in cultural outreach engaging the people of India and of Israel.
However, even as bi-lateral
co-operation between the two countries touches new heights in commerce,
trade and defence, and Consular figures of the Indian Embassy in Tel
Aviv claim that over 40,000 visas are given to Israelis who visit India
every year, little is known about the Indian Israelis – a community
of Indian Jews estimated at over 70,000 who live scattered across Israel
today. This becomes all the more conspicuous given that in recent years
Indian communities in the diaspora have become increasingly active and
visible in bi-lateral relations of India and the countries where Indians
have chosen to settle. Indian-origin individuals as corporate professionals
and in some cases active in local politics have become prominent at
platforms of bi-lateral exchange. For example, Indian-origin individuals
in Mauritius and Fiji have had a history of political prominence, since
the 1980s Indians have entered mainstream British politics, and more
recently the Indian diaspora community in America is gaining prominence
in mainstream US politics. The elections of two second-generation Indian
Americans, Bobby Jindal and more recently Nikki Haley, as governors
has caught much media attention – perhaps more in India, than in the
In this narrative of
overseas Indians, and the even louder narrative of Indo-Israeli collaboration,
the Indian-origin community of Israel remains invisible. In popular
discourses in India, few people know about the Jewish communities who
emigrated in thousands between the 1950s and the 1970s to Israel and
were bestowed Israel citizenship immediately upon arrival. Indeed, at
lectures in Israel when I would remark that there are over 70,000 Indian
Jews in Israel, students at Israeli universities and even among educated
elites in central Israel, the response commonly was: ‘Are there so
many Indian Jews here?’ While there is some excellent historical and
anthropological scholarship on Indian Jews, there is a tendency to view
Indian Jews as 'exotic’, dwelling on their unique life-cycle rituals/
cultural practices, which set Indian Jews apart from other Jewish communities
from Europe and elsewhere. A rigorous examination of ethnicity, identity
and their community self-image remains elusive -- even though the first
India Jewish families migrated to Israel over 60 years ago!
As Indian-Israeli relations
grow, it is important to ask – who are the Indian Israelis? Where
are they situated in this configuration of bi-lateral relations between
the world‘s largest and one of the world‘s smallest democracies?
And, why they have been ‘invisible’ in this scenario? This
is an attempt to highlight some distinct aspects of this diaspora community,
its self-image and location within Israeli society and polity, and its
relationship to India.
I begin by tracing
the timing and motives for emigration and discuss the struggles for
social mobility and obstacles to assimilation. Following this,
I discuss issues of ethnicity and class, analysing the relationship
of Indian-Israelis to their country of origin -- India. In conclusion,
I comment briefly on issues of status and identity underscoring some
of the reasons for their ‘invisibility’in the current bi-lateral
Of India and the ‘Jewish Homeland’
After 1948, the Jewish
Agency made aggressive efforts to recruit potential olim (new
immigrants). Unlike Jewish communities living in Europe and in many
parts of West Asia, Indian Jews were slow to migrate and the bulk of
Indian Jewish emigration was only in the 1960s and 1970s – almost
a decade after statehood for Israel. Indian Jews have lived for centuries
in India mainly as three distinct communities. The Bene Israel were
the largest community who mostly lived in Maharashtra and Gujarat –
a highly urbanised community with a significant section working for
Indian Railway, the Indian armed forces and other white collar
jobs in banks, airlines and textile mills. The Jews of Kerala were scattered
around the coastal state – in Cochin and smaller towns like Parur
and Chendamanaglam. The Baghdadi Jews were a westernised community living
in Calcutta and Bombay with relatives spread across Rangoon, Hong Kong
and Shanghai.(iv) Unlike the Kerala Jews and the Bene Israel who were
well-acculturated communities, who while praying in Hebrew, widely spoke
local regional languages like Malayalam, Marathi and Gujarati, the Baghdadis
maintained a Judeo-Arabic tradition, spoke mostly English and socially
identified with the western elites in colonial India. (v)
Oddly enough, the three
Jewish communities in India hardly mingled with each other, and inter-marriages
between them were rare. Jews in India observed their faith and continued
to live in pluralistic neighborhoods in different Indian cities and
towns amongst their Indian Hindu, Muslim and Christian neighbours. Thus,
when the state of Israel was established in 1949, Indian Jews were slow
to make ‘aliya’ (the special Hebrew word meaning ascent,
used to signify committed migration to Israel). Although, the first
small group of observant Jews did arrive in Israel in 1950, the bulk
of Indian Jewish migration was in the 1960s -- the result of planned
decisions-making by families, not a distress migration, let alone a
search for ‘refuge’. Indian Jews had lived peacefully in India for
centuries, and although in their traditional recitations they prayed
for ‘next year in Jerusalem’, they had no sense of ‘exile’ in
their everyday lives.
In time, however, many
young Indian Jews were enthused by the zeal for the Zionist project;
others of orthodox persuasions were also deeply inspired to make ‘aliya’.
Still others were attracted by the idea that their children would find
Jewish spouses in Israel, others were simply attracted by the aggressive
outreach of the emissaries of the Jewish Agency. As Moshe from Kiryat
Gat narrated, “They came to our synagogues in Bombay and began telling
us about the new opportunities that there were for us Jews in the newly
established country for Jews. They offered us jobs, home-ownership and
education for our children.” For hundreds of middle and lower middle
class Jewish families, living modest lives with several members of a
joint family in cramped housing in suburban Bombay, the ‘new’
country offering exciting opportunities and the prospect of living in
a nation where their special Jewish festivals and rituals would be mainstream
was a wonderful thought.
Thus, over the years,
thousands of Indians boarded sponsored flights and migrated. Yet, none
of them were refugees. They were all winding up settled homes, giving
up steady jobs and bidding tearful farewells to their Hindu and Christian
friends and neighbours with whom they had shared their lives. Indeed,
many first-generation Indian Israelis till retain such strongly sentimental
memories. (vi) As per the Israeli Law of Return (1950), welcoming all
Jews ‘back’ to Israel, Indian Jews became Israeli citizens immediately
upon arrival. Unlike Indians who emigrated elsewhere, say to the UK,
Canada, or the US, the Indian Jews did not have issues of visa or immigration
status, nor did they have to wait years moving from work permits status,
to green cards and then apply for citizenship as their counterparts
in the US. Establishing Jewish-ness was enough to become part of the
Zionist project to create the ‘Jewish Homeland’. Access to housing,
education, employment and healthcare was automatic. But, in practice,
there emerged a caveat.
Upon arrival in the
1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s, the bulk of Indian Jews were sent to the Israeli
‘periphery’, to ‘moshavim’ (agricultural co-operative
villages) and ‘immigrant towns’, both in the arid Negev (desert
region in Southern Israel) and in the Northern Israeli border regions.
Although envisaged to grow, these regions remained economically depressed,
offering low-level jobs and poor quality education, which essentially
prevented these communities from benefitting from the economic growth
of Israel or its high educational standards. Although many Indian Jews
had held salaried jobs in banks, offices, railways, airlines in Bombay,
Gujarat, Kerala, and Calcutta, few got the recognition for their English
education or their white-collar skills. Thousands were employed by the
Immigrant Absorption department in welfare projects, manual labour or
other poorly paid jobs. Even as the Israeli economy grew, the communities
in the Israeli ‘periphery’ did not get their share of the pie. And
that is where the majority of first-generation Indian Jews have remained
— till today. Indian Jews live in thousands in Beersheva, Ashdod,
Lod, Ramla and Kiryat Gat (in the arid regions of Southern Israel) and
in northern ‘immigrant towns’ like Kiryat Shmona and Kiryat Bialik
which continue to have depressed economies and poor opportunities for
education or social mobility. Few from the first generation have made
it to prosperous Israeli neighbourhoods near Tel Aviv like Ranaana,
Ramat Aviv or Herzillya, although second and third generations reveal
greater social mobility.
Networks , Organizations
and Ethnic Pride
Although the majority
of Indian Jews live in the Israeli ‘periphery’(a term widely used
by Israeli social scientists to denote the regions beyond the economic
hub of Tel Aviv and central Israel), in the ‘Indian cluster towns’
mentioned above, community networks are strong and ethnic cultural retention
is apparent. Indian cultural heritage finds expressions in myriad ways
— both in family culture, community events and organizations.
Indian Jewish families retain distinct practices -- although this may
vary by family/ region of origin. (For example, Indian-Baghdadi families
may be more westernised than those who came from Kerala or the Bene
Israelis from Maharashtra). Indian Jews have their own synagogues and
maintain family cultures which have a strong ‘Indian’ flavour
– in what they eat, the languages they speak, the music they
dance to at their weddings, and many of their life-cycle rituals.
The ethnic heritage
is clearly more watered down among second and third generation Indian
Jews who grow up as young Israelis, proudly nationalistic and serving
as IDF soldiers. However, community mobilisation is inter-generational
for Indian cultural activities and Bollywood-focused song-dance programs.
Hundreds of Indian Jews congregate in Ashdod, Ramla or Beersheva to
attend such events -- which may be unrelated to Jewish festivals but
recreate a strong Indian ethos. Sometimes, Marathi, Malyalam or
Hindi may blend with Hebrew in these programmes, just as Indian-ness
and Israeli-ness blend in contemporary Indian-Jewish life in Israel
(b. 1946) Raigad , Maharashtra came to Israel in 1970( Centre) and his
wife Sybia who was born in Karachi ( left) , posing with author ( right)
. Noah Massil has been a long-standing President of COIJI, the largest
umbrella Organization of Indian Jews in Israel ( estd.1986) with over
30 branches across Israel. Noah Massil was also co-founder of ‘Maiboli’
– a quarterly Marathi magazine (estd.1985).
Indeed, Indian Israelis
living among their Jewish cousins who came from East Europe, Morocco
or Iraq are conscious that Indian Jews were never refugees in
search of a safe haven. They recall bidding tearful farewells to their
Hindu and Christian friends and neighbours with whom they had shared
their lives in India. First-generation Indian Jews strongly retain this
memory and proudly recall India as a ‘Motherland’ with no anti-Semitism.
This is reflected in the enthusiasm with which the Indian Israeli community
attends the Indian Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations hosted
by the Indian Ambassador to Israel.(vii) In fact, even at their own
cultural events (about 50 of which I attended), it was moving to see
that often the stage, on which second and third generation young Indian-Israeli
youth danced to Indian Bollywood songs, was adorned by two national
flags – the Israeli and the Indian!
Independence Day celebrations Aug 2008, hosted by Indian Ambassador to
Israel. Young Israeli-born Indian Jewish girls dancing in saris (matching
the Indian tri-color!) to the patriotic song ‘Vande Matram’. They
are led by David Negrekar of Ashdod, founder of the cultural group ‘Namaste
Israel’. All the performers are second-generation Indian Jews with
little contact with India.)
Conclusion : Lack
of Political Clout
Yet, however strong
and active these Indian Jewish intra-community networks may be, they
are not a show of strength. As a community they are not economically
empowered to attract attention, either in high-end corporations, Israeli
bureaucracy or the military establishment. Admittedly, they are numerically
smaller than say the Moroccan or Iraqis communities settled in Israel,
but it is also true that there are too few success stories among Indian
Jews to make a mark on mainstream Israeli society. Apart from not being
a strong presence socially or professionally, Indian Jews also suffered
from cultural stereotyping. Many recounted in their interviews that
their workplace image in Israel was widely that of ‘quiet’
people, who worked away and ‘made no trouble’. In a militaristic
society like Israel, where young men and women valourise physical prowess
and aspire to be included in combat units of the IDF, ‘a quiet worker’
would be a euphemism for ‘passivity’, ‘lack of enterprise’—
a definite disadvantage!
conducted among first-generation Indian Israelis establishes that the
post-migration struggles for assimilation and barriers to social mobility
posed by post-migration spatial and locational disadvantages, combined
with under-recognition of educational attainments damaged prospects
both for social mobility and community empowerment for the first-generation
which have adversely affected the social access of the second generation.
Lack of social status has easily translated to lack of visibility
and therefore political clout, both as an ethnic group within Israel,
as well as in the ‘Indian diaspora community’.
So while Indian Jews
have strong intra-community networks, they have not aggressively staked
political ambitions. Not considered a ‘critical mass’ even
as a voting bloc, Indian Jews get little political attention, which
in turn contributes to their marginalisation even when the Israeli state
interacts with their erstwhile home — India. Not surprisingly
then, the Indian-Israelis remain neglected in contemporary scholarly
discussions -- both in Israel and India.
i ‘Embassy of India
- Bilateral Trade Relations’ :
ii According to news
reports, Russia had averaged sales of $875 million annually to India
for the past 40 years. Israel Becomes India's Top Defense Supplier with
PHALCON Deal | India Defence : http://www.india-defence.com/reports-4221 See also, Hari Sud. “Israel's military supplies to India”.
iii This essay draws
from extensive fieldwork done between 2005-8 when I lived and researched
in Israel. Over 150 interviews were conducted among first-generation
Indian Jews across Israel for this research project. See, Maina Chawla
Singh, ‘Being Indian, Being Israeli : Migration, Ethnicity and
Gender in the Jewish Homeland.’ ( Manohar, New Delhi : 2009)
iv In their interviews
Indian Jews in Israel referred to Indian cities with the older names
by which they knew those cities. Thus, in this research, I have retained
the use of Calcutta, Bombay and Cochin rather than use the newer
v For comprehensive
histories of the Bene Israelis , Kerala jews and the Baghdadis see :
Shirley Isenberg, India's Bene Israel: A Comprehensive Inquiry
and Sourcebook, Bombay: Popular Prakashan; Berkeley: Judah L. Magnes
Museum, 1988; Elias, Flower and Judith Elias Cooper. The Jews of
Calcutta : The Autobiography of a Community. Calcutta: The Jewish
Association of Calcutta 1974; Nathan Katz and Ellen S. Goldberg, The Last Jews of Cochin :Jewish Identity in Hindu India. Columbia,
University of South Carolina Press, 1993.
vi Many still
visit Bombay, Ahmedabad and Cochin with their Israeli-born children
and reunite with friends they left behind.
vii I attended 8 such
events between 2005-8. It was fascinating to observe that Indian community
members would sometimes travel 100 kms in pre-arranged buses to
gather for these celebrations. Many amateur groups volunteer to perform
for the cultural program. See photo of young Israeli-born Indian Jewish
girls dancing in saris (matching the Indian tri-color!) to the patriotic
song ‘Vande Matram’. They are led by David Negrekar of Ashdod, founder
of the cultural group ‘Namaste Israel’. All the performers are second-generation
Indian Jews with little contact with India.
The Imperative and the Challenge
Dr. Richard L. Benkin, US
(Dr. Richard Benkin is a
human rights activist, author, and speaker. Over the past five years,
he has freed a journalist from imprisonment and torture in Bangladesh,
forced Bangladesh's notorious RAB to release an abductee unharmed, halted
an anti-Israel conference in Australia, and raised the issue of Bangladesh's
ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Washington and other capitals; among other
accomplishments. In 2009, he received a verbal okay for hearings about
the Bangladeshi Hindus from members of the United States government;
and will be pursuing those hearings in 2011. In 2005, the United States
Congress honored Dr. Benkin for his human rights work.
In 2009, Benkin
helped found Forcefield, a human rights NGO, described as "non-agenda
driven," in that it is informed by no particular ideology or anti-Israel
or other bias in contrast with other human rights organizations.
Its first human rights case is that of Bangladesh’s Hindus.
Richard Benkin received his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania
and has since held a number of faculty and business positions in the
He is currently writing a book
about the destruction of Bangladesh’s Hindus, entitled A Quiet
Case of Ethnic Cleansing. For detailed Bio.go to : http://interfaithstrength.com/RichardBio.htm)
It seems inconceivable
that India and Israel lacked any sort of relationship for most of their
relatively brief histories or that they only established full diplomatic
ties the same year Israel and China did (1992). Yet by 2003, Yuval
Steinitz, then head of the Israeli Knesset’s Foreign Affairs
and Security Committee, said that the strategic alliance with India
had become so important that it was “second only to [Israel’s] relations
with the United States.” 1 Today, the Israel-India
relationship stands as one of the most important bi-lateral ties of
the 21st century and arguably the most important in
the fight against radical Islam.2 From their births
at the end of World War II until the last decade of the 20th century, a number of factors prevented the two nations from joining
hands; but three later developments forced that to change.
The first was the fall of the Soviet Union. The Cold War and US-USSR relations dominated the international landscape,
and nations were expected to hew the line favored by one or the other.
On the Middle East, the Americans and their allies were Israel’s major
supporters; the Soviets and theirs its major antagonists.3
Although India was a leader of the so-called “non-aligned movement,”
the movement’s members were in fact allies of the USSR; and that meant
an unyielding pro-Arab position.4 The Soviet Union’s
collapse in 1991 “changed international realities and caused most
nations to take a new look at their strategic interests.” India’s
re-assessment forced a more dramatic change than did others.5
The second factor was the rise of radical Islam, and it left India and Israel uniquely
bound to one another. Both are democratic republics committed
to religious freedom and opposed to becoming theocracies. Yet,
each is associated strongly with a particular faith. For Israel,
that faith is Judaism; for India, Hinduism. Hindus and Jews share
an historical experience of coercive attempts by Muslims to dominate
their ancestral lands and force Islam on their members. India
and Israel have similar-sized Muslim minorities—between one sixth
and one fifth of the citizenry—that are normally restive, often violent.6
Those violent elements, moreover, are able to find shelter within these
two Muslim communities. Both countries also face terrorist
attacks by home grown and foreign Islamists, and both have fought defensive
wars against countries claiming to carry the flag of Islam. Islamists
might call the United States the “great Satan,” but there likely
are no two countries in the world that they are intent on destroying
and turning into Muslim theocracies more than Israel and India.
The third factor follows
from the second: parochial disputes between
the two countries and those who claim to represent Islam. I have called Kashmir “India’s West Bank,” because many would
sacrifice both territories on the altar of realpolitik in land-for-peace
formulae that few believe will bring genuine peace. As P. V.
disputes, in Palestine, Kashmir and elsewhere are the justification
for Islamic terrorism. Will peace be established if Palestinians are
given the territory they want and Kashmir is handed over to Pakistan?
It is more than likely that such concessions will only whet the appetite
of Islamic fundamentalists.7
Yet, the pressure to
do both is growing. Just as Judea and Samaria8 once
had large Jewish populations, Kashmir was once home to large numbers
of Hindus and Sikhs. Over time, those peoples were violently uprooted,
allowing advocates for territories cleansed of all three to claim that
their position only reflects the will of the people (now) living there;
therefore, they claim, any nation calling itself democratic must support
The similarities do
not end there. The West Bank abuts Israel, is a terror hub, and
is otherwise surrounded by a Muslim ummah that has shown no willingness
to stop its elements with maximalist designs; the same for India-abutting
Kashmir. Moreover, both sets of terrorists have a penchant for hiding
among local Muslim populations then, capitalizing on the collateral
damage it insures, find allies to demand that the Indian army in Kashmir
and the IDF in the West Bank be handcuffed in protecting their people
from these deadly threats.9 As a result, political
authorities in both countries have at times decided to exercise restraint
even in the face of murderous attacks.
In this changed geo-political
landscape the Israel-India relationship has blossomed in hitherto unseen
ways; most obviously in the military and security fields, with special
attention to the Islamist threat. For almost a decade, Israel
was India’s second largest defense supplier until 2009 when it became
the largest. This is more significant than at first blanch.
Russia (nee the Soviet Union) was previously India’s main supplier
of military hardware and maintained that position even after it collapsed
as an international superpower. The Indian military was powered
by Russian weapons and had hosted Russian military advisors and instructors
for decades. Its decline as a reliable supplier provided the major
impetus for India to seek a new trading partner.
According to an unnamed
Indian official, the “turning point… was the Al Qaida-aligned
attack on Mumbai in November 2008.” Despite undisputed evidence
pointing to Pakistan as the source, India was unable to retaliate for
the 150 people killed, which “highlighted India's weakness in air
and naval surveillance.” Turning to Israel to rectify the situation,
India bought state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries’ EL/M-2083
radar system valued at $600 million. It would “be deployed along
the Pakistani border.”10 The Mumbai attack also made
it clear that contemporary India has far more in common with Israel
than with Russia.11 Israel and India have now moved
beyond the earlier stage of one-way military trade to joint projects
in developing both offensive and defensive weapons.
Beyond the military,
many cultural points of similarity have emerged since the lid was taken
off the India-Israel relationship. India had replaced Turkey as
the major Israeli tourist destination, even before the latter’s open
move into the Islamist camp. “That Israelis feel an instinctive
affinity for India should perhaps not be surprising,” noted Martin
Sherman, who added that India’s “history is virtually devoid of
anti-Semitism.”12 That cannot be overestimated for
Jews. It seems that almost everywhere we travel, we find ourselves
walking on territory that has been watered by the blood of our people;
but not in India. I observed this for myself in Rishikesh, the
holy Indian city in the Himalayan foothills. There large numbers
of young Israelis have come to drink in the spirituality offered there
and in the nearby city of Haridwar.
All is not well, however,
partly due to complex international relations and partly due to domestic
Indian politics. For instance, in 2009, India voted “yea”
on a United Nations resolution that endorsed the now-discredited Goldstone
Report, which could result in indictments of Israeli leaders before
the International Criminal Court.13 The vote reflected
Indian political reality; viz., that politicians will be ever mindful
of how their actions might alienate the country’s significant Muslim
vote. Thus, Israel said it was “disappointed” by the Indian
action, but left it at that. More recently, Indian President Pratibha
Devisingh Patil publicly supported Syria’s claims in its dispute with
Israel over the Golan Heights. While it was highly inappropriate
for Patil to inject herself into the bi-lateral dispute, it probably
represented little more than her toadying approach to foreign relations
rather than anything of substance. It also reflects India’s
traditional alliances and its officials’ fear of jeopardizing its
extensive trade and foreign receipts from the Gulf States.14
Thus, Israel’s response was muted.
Like its counterparts
elsewhere, India’s mainstream has an almost knee-jerk response to
any news item on the Middle East, condemning Israel and uncritically
accepting the Arab position—even if that position is ultimately contrary
to Indian interests. An editorial in The Hindu about Israel’s 2009 war against terrorists in Gaza was typical.
It claimed Israel “massacred 40 Palestinians” (factually incorrect
and inflammatory by intent) and accused Israel of a “potential war
crime” (never proven and a well-worn anti-Israel talking point).
In the midst of its screed, The Hindu never once mentioned the unprovoked and indiscriminate Arab attacks
on Israeli civilians that prompted Israel’s defensive action; nor
did it connect those attacks to similar unprovoked attacks on Indian
citizens to which the Indian government (like Israel) sometimes responds.15 The Economic Times was guilty of the same hyperbole when it screeched
that Israel’s 2010 attack on the terrorist-inspired and funded Gaza
flotilla was “nothing short of an act of piracy, of state terrorism.”
It also termed it “shameful” and “criminal” without ever mentioning
the flotilla’s deliberate and offensive aims or its proven terror
The prevailing anti-Israel
sentiment on Indian campuses frequently manifests itself in anti-Israel
attacks when I speak on campuses. Those who are not trying to
disrupt my address are trying to hijack its agenda to an anti-Israel
one. Elsewhere, Indian university students consistently report
that many professors push the standard anti-Israel narrative as if it
was objective truth; and while most campuses offer Arab or Islamic studies,
they virulently reject any classes on Judaism, Jewish history, or Israel
from other than an ideological and anti-Israel perspective.17
For these elites, their
international counterparts rather than their fellow Indians comprise
their reference group. Their enforced political correctness serves
overarching philosophies rather than the interests of their Indian nation.
Similarly, older line politicians see Europe as their reference group.
Many cling to an outdated Nehru-era philosophy that views Israel as
an arm of the “imperialist west,” and ignores today’s imperialist power: radical Islam.18
There are, however,
signs of a growing disconnect between the elites’ anachronistic
policies and a growing pro-Israel sentiment among the people.
Amitabh Tripathi, founder of the South Asia Forum, has been working for years to help build a strong India-Israel relationship.
He contends that India’s future is with Israel’s in a principles
fight against a singular terrorist threat; and he believes that this
realization is taking hold among the generation of Indians several decades
removed from the old assumptions that drove Indian policy during the
Cold War years. As one journalist for a major Indian news outlet
told me, "there is something of a generation gap between the [established
and generally older] editors and publishers" and today’s younger
professionals. 19 The disconnect he and others told
me, exists in part because of the fast pace at which realities and relationships
In 2008, I met with
numerous Indian journalists who wanted to speak out against the prevailing
position that is enforced in their newsrooms. They offered me
their candid opinions about the “media's leftist bias, the center-left
government, and the severity of the Islamist threat facing their country.”20
They worked for major newspapers and broadcast channels; English and
Hindi-language outlets; purely Indian companies, and some based internationally.
Many of them had shown no fear of dangerous situations if that is what
it took to get a story. Yet, to a man they said they "would
surely be sacked" if their editors or colleagues heard those candid
opinions. Thus, we met in out of the way hotels, coffee shops,
and other inconspicuous places, and they spoke on conditions of anonymity.
They said that for India’s very survival, it must enter into “a
strong alliance with Israel and the United States” against the Islamist
and communist terrorists” victimizing its citizens regularly.
They expressed frustration at the slow progress they see in that regard
and attribute it to “vote bank politics.”
The key to maintaining
that generational momentum is continued effort to counteract the restricted
information and perspectives that would be available to large constituencies
otherwise; and Tripathi has engaged in that sort of activism on at least
two fronts. He has expanded that effort to reach non-English speakers
by starting Lokmanch, a Hindi-language web site that offers original
and translated pieces on Israel, the struggle to defeat Islamist terror
and extremism, US policy and President Barack Obama, and the need for
a strong Israel-India relationship. “The web site is only the
first step,” he said. “Small, local papers publish in huge
numbers and they are not part of the mainstream media. They are
just as frustrated with things as we are.” That has taken him across
India to several villages and smaller localities where he has been able
to make that wider range of information accessible to the new publics.
Others are engaged in similar efforts to broaden the information sources
available to Indians.
pro-Israel groups have helped galvanized students. Delhi University’s
2010 Student Union elections reflected the effort with students of the
Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, student wing of the right-leaning
Bharatiya Janata Party) winnning three of four posts, including the
presidency.21 Over the past several years, I have spoken
to students and faculty at numerous Indian universities and found a
consistent hunger on the part of students for information about Israel.
Students pepper me with questions about Israeli technology and life
in general, but the most frequent question is: “How has Israel
defeated the terrorists arrayed against it, and how can India learn
from their example.”22 In one 2008 class of more
than two dozen journalism students, only one openly supported the Arab
cause. After a civil exchange of ideas and information, the student
maintained his stance but expressed a desire for more information from
varied sources: for principled debate over charges and counter-charges.
Here, too, the key is organized efforts to expand the range of information
available to students.
No such effort would
be successful, however, unless its substance was compelling. Thus,
ultimately strengthened relations with Israel depend on the actions
of Israelis themselves. In addition to the security assistance,
military cooperation, and cultural ties noted above. Israel has
also provided grass roots development assistance. For instance,
since 2001, its Rural Development Organization, with the goal of empowering
India’s rural poor, has produced schools, income generating projects,
and environmental efforts, and trained locals to pursue the program
without Israeli involvement. It also sent emergency teams to help
Indian victims of a major earthquake that year and provided aid to victims
of other disasters natural and man-made. Israel continues to maintain
programs to improve medical care and agricultural technologies in rural
Over the years, I have
shared public podiums and other venues with Israeli officials in India;
and have been struck by their painstaking efforts to respect the reality
of their hosts’ political and other predicaments. In a
world where most nations and entities either criticize India for the
often ambiguous actions that result from domestic and international
conflicts or attempt to take advantage of them; it might just be the
genuine respect by Israelis that ultimately convinces Indian officialdom
that their best interests lay in a strong India-Israel alliance.
 Martin Sherman,India and Israel : Strategic Bedfellows,” Israpundit, November 9, 2010
. Unless otherwise specified, “India ” and “Israel” refer to the two modern nation-states established in1947 and 1948 respectively. Ancient Israel and India had relations extending back at least 2500 years.
 The USSR voted in favor of the Jewish State’s creation, and Communist Czechoslovakia was Israel’s primary arms source in its 1948 War of Independence. Otherwise, however, the communist bloc took a hard anti-Israel stance, especially after the 1967 Six Day War.
 Richard L. Benkin, “An India-Israel-United States Alliance: The Last Great Hope for Humanity.” Arvind Ghosh Memorial Lecture, Chicago November 1, 2008 .Also see Richard L. Benkin, “Nehru, Obama, and U.S. Support for Pakistan ,” UPI Asia May 11, 2009
 Op. cit., India-Israel-United States Alliance.
 The population figures for Israel exclude the disputed territories. It includes pre-1967 Israel plus all of Jerusalem , which was restored as Israel’s capital in 1967. Jerusalem was divided for 19 years between 1948 and 1967 when Jordanian troops occupied the eastern part of the city. In comparison, Germany’s re-united capital, Berlin , was divided for 45 years between 1945 and 1990, but no one suggested that the division was somehow natural or right.
 P. V. Indiresan, Dealing with Terror,” The Hindu, September 15, 2001 (four days after 9/11).
 Judea and Samaria are the historical names for the territory today called “the West Bank ” The West Bank is a new name for these ancient lands. Jordan gave it that name to designate it as a Jordanian province after its troops captured it in 1948.
 Richard L. Benkin, “Op Ed Calling India Pariah State odd Choice for Israeli Publication,” South Asia Forum, October 14, 2010.
 “End of an era:Israel replaces Russia as India's top military supplier,” World Tribune,March 25, 2009 It should be noted that World Tribune is an independent outlet of seasoned professionals with a record of solid reporting on international events.
 While victimized by Islamist terrorists on the Chechnya issue, Russia has not been besieged as continuously as India and Israel; nor has it taken a firm stand against radical Islam, while Israel is arguably the leader in that fight.
 Martin Sherman, “Strategic Bedfellows,” Reform Judaism, Winter 2010/5771, p.46.
 The so-called Goldstone Report was the report on a UN investigation of the 2009 Gaza War. Most objective analysts (including the US Congress) and even some of its participants have noted the report’s anti-Israel bias.
 See Samir Pradhan, “India’s Economic and Political Presence in the Gulf: A Gulf Perspective, in Gulf Research Center, India’s Growing Role in the Gulf Implications for the Region and the United States, 2009; pp. 15-39. Also, “Patil lauds role of Indian expatriates in development of India , UAE,” The Indian News, November 22, 2010
 “Facing up to Gaza Truths, The Hindu, February 7, 2010.
 “Israel’s act of piracy,” The Economic Times, June 2, 2010.
 These comments came from personal experiences with students and faculty at several Indian campuses in the North and Northeast.
 Subhash Kapila, “India’s Payback Time to Israel, South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No. 442, April 10, 2002.
 Richard L. Benkin, “Indian Conservatives Struggle to Build Alternative Media,” American Thinker, May 31, 2008.
 Their comments and those which follow were made in personal conversations during 2008.
 “ABVP Wins Delhi University Elections 2010,” http://www.highereducationindia.com, September 4, 2010.
 The cited incidents occurred from 2008 through 2010 at several universities in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
of India-Israel Relationship
Karamatullah K. Ghori
Former Pakistan ambassador
(After joining the
Pakistan Foreign Service in 1966, served in various diplomatic posts
at New York, Buenos Aires, Manila, Kuwait, Tokyo and Beijing. He became
ambassador to Algeria, Mali and Mauritania in 1988, and thereafter served,
successively, as Pakistan’s ambassador to Kuwait (immediately after
the 1991 Gulf War), Iraq, Turkey and Macedonia. He also represented
Pakistan at a number of regional and international conferences. He took
early retirement from service to settle down in Canada in September
2000. He started writing columns on international and current affairs
in 1964 for Dawn. He also writes, regularly, for several Urdu
and English newspapers and journals of North America. He is an accomplished
Urdu poet. As a poet he believes in beauty in brevity. He is
also a short-story writer, in both Urdu and English and has published
collections in both languages.)
The most enduring aspect
of Pakistan’s foreign policy at both regional and international levels
is that it has always been India-centric. But this ‘consistency’
of a weird kind is not without foundations; there is a historical perspective
to it, though many, for the sake of convenience or other considerations,
tend to overlook and disregard the thread of history running, immutably,
through the entire spectrum of 63 years of a roller-coaster relationship
between India and Pakistan.
It started as a blow-back
of the partition of India, the Great Divide that was accompanied by
one of history’s greatest migrations of people across the newly laid-out
frontiers of India and Pakistan. But it was not a simple migration of
peoples across new barriers; the mayhem and blood-letting-with-impunity
that went in tandem with that epic sundering made it a baptism of fire
for the newly founded dominions of the British Commonwealth.
The bloodied genesis
of Pakistan instilled in its people and leaders a congenital fear of
India, the larger component of the truncated Sub-continent of South
Asia. Some of the actions of the Indian government—taken obviously
as a knee-jerk response to the vivisection of India and without much
serious thought of their fallout on relations with Pakistan—added
to this psychological complex of Pakistan. Holding back the transfer
of funds to Pakistan from the exchequer of undivided India and foot-dragging
on the sharing of military stores with the junior dominion was regarded,
rightly or wrongly, in Pakistan as a kind of unwarranted arm-twisting
of the weaker entity by India.
The callous murder
of Mahatma Gandhi—the saint who had interceded with great moral force
with the Indian leadership of the day to get Pakistan its fair share
of funds and arsenal—at the hands of a Hindu extremist was seen in
Pakistan as evidence of India being consumed by right-wing fanaticism,
if not paranoia. The use of force by India to wrest control of the larger
segment of the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir provided more
grist to the mills of Pakistan’s growing fear of India as a power
determined to undermine its sovereign existence.
Pakistanis, to date,
have made little amends to their perception that the agenda of Pakistan’s
creation would remain half-achieved and only half-fulfilled as long
as the people of Indian-administered Kashmir were not given their right
to choose between allegiance to India or Pakistan.
Yet another early cause
of mounting concern against India’s intentions against Pakistan was
served to the Pakistanis by what was described in India’s official
parlance as ‘police action’ to subdue the largest princely
state of India, Hyderabad Deccan. It was a transparently-unconvincing
euphemism to describe as police action what was seen starkly as blatant
use of military power. The cession of Hyderabad Deccan was a great psychological
shock to the Pakistanis, for it was the Nizam of Hyderabad who had literally
saved the fledgling state of Pakistan from early bankruptcy when India
was sitting tight over the funds due to Pakistan under the partition
scheme. It instilled fear among the Pakistanis, including the harassed
policy makers of the young state, that Indian policies were calculated
to undermine and undo the moorings of Pakistan as a sovereign entity.
So Pakistan was launched
on the stage of inter-state relations carrying a big load of baggage
on its shoulders; it was a baggage of fear that haunted the denizens
of the infant state about the designs and intents of its much bigger
In reaction to what
was conceived by its intelligentsia as well as power brokers as a huge
handicap, Pakistan’s foreign policy became a policy of reaction—intentionally
or unintentionally—to India and its policies on the global stage.
Fear of being drowned under the current of an India in spate dictated,
largely, the course of Pakistan’s foreign policy. To the dismay of
many a Pakistani intellectuals that reactionary course has not run out
of steam, to date.
It can be argued with
conviction that a reactionary policy is never a good policy format.
The problem is worse compounded when the format, as in the case of Pakistan,
may have been continually pursued, in one form or another, for well
over 6 decades. But that is more or less the case with Pakistan’s
India-centric perception of the outside world and its reaction to challenges
thrown at it in the process.
Apart from blind-siding
the evolution of Pakistan’s foreign relations, the one-dimensional
nature of it has spawned a political culture that has not, to date,
been instrumental in, or helpful for, the development of a genuinely
democratic polity in Pakistan. There are, of course, other factors and
elements responsible for Pakistan’s wayward growth as an off-again-on-again
democracy; the hogging and monopolizing of its politics by the rich
and powerful feudal gentry being one of them.
However, the most worrying
off-shoot of Pakistan’s endemic fear of an India bent on undoing it,
or weakening it to the extent where it may be forced to subsist as a
vassal of India, has been the catalyst for the rise of Pakistan’s
army as a major power-broker and a regular—obtrusive or unobtrusive—player
on the country’s political stage.
It is not the intent
or scope of this paper to dilate on the role Pakistan’s powerful military
has played—and according to most observers still continues to play—in
shaping the overall complexion of its domestic and external policies.
But no discussion of Pakistan’s policy in regard to India, in the
strictly bilateral context, or in the context of regional or international
policy projections would be complete without mentioning the central
role the Pakistan army has played over such a long period of time. And
it is not over, yet, by any means, or is likely to become irrelevant
in any foreseeable future.
Fear of India was used
by Pakistan’s ambitious feudal barons as a rallying call to gather
the people behind them. It spawned chauvinism, especially in the province
of Punjab which, on the strength of its majority population and economic
clout, has dominated Pakistan’s political fortunes since the demise
of the country’s eastern wing. Many a political pundit don’t shy
away from arguing that the truncation of Pakistan—that resulted in
the birth of Bangladesh in 1971—was engineered by Punjab to force
the majority Bengali population of East Pakistan out of reckoning and
usurp that role for itself. But that debate, too, is beyond the scope
of this paper.
However, much more
than augmenting the fortunes of feudal barons, the fear of subversion
by India became the bedrock for the rise of Pakistan’s unduly privileged
and powerful army. The country’s fragile frontiers had to be secured
and made impregnable against a rapacious India determined to undo Pakistan
from its hinges, ran the argument in favour of building a powerful armed
forces far beyond the country’s limited economic resources. ‘Defence-
of- the- country- above- everything- else’ became the mantra to dull
and scotch any critique against allocating to the army extraordinary
resources so that it may never be starved of them. Priority for economic
and social development was made secondary to the needs of the army.
It didn’t bother the policy makers or leaders that stagnation in the
country’s socio-economic sectors could be a recipe for disaster.
Pakistan aligned itself
with the west-engineered defence pacts and alliances—in the throes
of the Cold War—largely because it was felt that it could defend itself
against India with greater facility and confidence with the help of
its ‘allies,’ besides ensuring a source of weapons in order
to beef up its defences against India. It was also hoped that US, Pakistan’s
principal mentor under its defence agreements, would also help Pakistan
in forcing India to relent on the prickly Kashmir dispute. That US didn’t
prove to be much of a help on this account—and has lately thrown up
its hands completely—has been one of the sour notes in Islamabad’s
relations with Washington. But that is beside the point as far as this
paper is concerned.
of Israel has a historical context too. However, unlike its overall
view of India that is steeped entirely in the context of the history
of the South Asian Sub-continent, the context in Israel’s case has
Pan-Islamism ruling the roost.
Not many students of
the Pakistan Movement—or what is in common parlance known as the struggle
for the attainment of rights of Muslims of India—would be able to
recall, today, that in the thick of the battle for securing the political
rights of Muslims of India, their main representative body, the Muslim
League, had a very powerful sense of voicing its concern for the rights
of the Arabs of the then British Mandated territory of Palestine, too.
By the same token,
even many Pakistanis wouldn’t be able to recall the historical fact
that on that epochal day, March 23, 1940, when the Pakistan Resolution
was adopted at the All India Muslim League’s Convention in the city
of Lahore, the League, from that very platform and podium, also adopted
a resolution affirming its fullest support for the attainment of national
rights of the indigenous Arabs of the British-controlled Palestine.
Under the banner of
the Muslim League, Muslims of India had kept their ears plugged to whatever
had been going on in the British-administered Palestine since the end
of World War I. The Khalifat Movement, in which Mahatma Gandhi was an
enthusiastic participant, had exponentially raised awareness among the
Muslims of India of the plight and suffering of Muslims of the Middle
East and erstwhile Ottoman Empire under the victorious European powers.
The Indian Muslims couldn’t save the khilafat because the Turks under Mustafa Kemal Pasha had themselves decided to
undo it. Therefore, hobbled by their sense of loss in the Khilafat Movement,
the Muslims of India were all the more keen to do something for the
emancipation of their Muslims brethren in other places.
Palestine was a special
case in point, for it was there that Britain, the imperial power mandated
to control that historical territory—with the Third Holiest Muslim
shrine of Bait-ul-maqdas located there in Jerusalem—was embarked
on a course calculated to harm the interests and national rights of
its original Arab people. Under its avowed objective to help create
a Jewish homeland in Palestine, enshrined in the 1917 Balfour
Declaration, Imperial Britain was turning a blind eye, if not implicitly
assisting it, to a massive and well-orchestrated influx of European
Jews, under the aegis of the World Zionist movement, into Palestine.
According to Britain’s own records, 164,000 Jews had entered Palestine
as immigrants between 1933 and 1936. In the five-year period of 1931-36,
the Jewish population of Palestine had risen from 175,000 at its beginning
to 370,000 by its end, thus augmenting the Jewish content in the territory’s
overall population to 27 % as against just 17 % five years ago.
The Muslims of India
had been watching with alarm the intensive campaign underway in Palestine
to dispossess its original Arab inhabitants of their ancestral land
and give its keys, instead, to European Jews who have never had a title
to it before. Imperial Britain, the tormentor of Muslims of India, was
fully complicit in that cloak-and-dagger operation going on unabashedly
in Palestine. It was exercising its mandated prerogative, in violation
of its terms, to subvert the rights of the Palestinians. And when they
rose in revolt, in 1936, against its unjust authority, they were put
down and massacred with brute force. Thousands of the Palestinian men
and women had been butchered in cold blood by British army and police
by the end of the uprising in 1939.
All these stories of
British brutality and Jewish intrigues were known to the Muslims of
India. They could relate to their Palestinian brethren in more ways
It wasn’t just an
awareness induced by an acute sense of Islamic solidarity, which made
it obligatory for them to feel the pain and anguish of the Arab population
of Palestine. What hurt the sensitivities of the Indian Muslims even
more was that the Arabs of Palestine were being reduced to second class
citizens in a land where they have had their roots for centuries. The
Muslims of India had likewise been targeted by the British suzerain
power after the 1857 movement to get rid of the British yoke. But, for
the sake of argument, the Muslims of India had never been the majority
population in India, whereas Arabs of Palestine had always been the
majority in that land.
It was thus quite natural
and understandable for the All India Muslim League to voice its utmost
concern for the suffering of their Palestinian brethren from the same
podium they had chosen to unfurl the standard of struggle for the attainment
of the rights of Muslims of India. To the League leaders, they and their
Palestinian brothers were waging the same battle at two different fronts:
Muslims of India were up against the British Raj and Hindu opposition
to any demand for a separate home for them; the Palestinians were fighting
British imperialism and the Zionist movement of Europe that sought to
dispossess them in their own land. There couldn’t be a more convincing
case of two brothers waging an epic and identical struggle.
No surprise that an
independent Pakistan, in the infancy of its own birth, opposed the creation
of Israel tooth and nail. The long and extremely well-articulated speeches
in the UN General Assembly by Pakistan’s first Foreign Minister, the
distinguished jurist Sir Mohammad Zafarullah Khan, are still regarded
as the finest ever in defence of the Palestinian rights and opposition
to the illegal Jewish entity conjured up out of the Palestinian lands.
stop the birth of Israel. However, it was goaded by its sense of solidarity
with the Palestinians and the Arabs to not recognize what it regarded
as an illegitimate state. It has persisted in that denial to date and
refused to entertain any idea of recognizing Israel or entering into
formal relations with it. Such is Pakistan’s opposition to the Jewish
entity that until not too long ago, all Pakistani passports, except
diplomatic ones, were stamped with a caveat: ‘Not valid for travel
to Israel and Taiwan’.
A broad swath of Pakistanis
of all stripes and persuasions viscerally subscribe to the notion that
the oppressed Palestinians bravely soldiering on for emancipation from
the Israeli yoke is a continuum of the Pakistan freedom movement, and
thus deserving of Pakistan’s fullest and uncompromising moral support.
They also believe that until the Palestinians and Kashmiris of the Indian-administered
Kashmir attain their freedoms the agenda of Pakistan, as conceived by
its founding fathers, will remain unfinished and incomplete.
One may differ with
this Pakistani mind-set to any extent possible but that is exactly the
scenario in which Pakistan now finds itself confronted with the modern
reality of its arch-rival and estranged neighbour, India, cozying up
Pakistan, of course,
has no legal or moral right to voice its concern about the rapidly budding
camaraderie between two countries that are sources of concern to it
in so many ways. However, it has every right to take stock of the challenges
this putative entente poses to its territorial integrity, its
sovereignty and its place in regional and international connotations.
Shorn of all sophistry,
anything that portends to bind two of Pakistan’s major adversaries
into a relationship of close co-operation was bound to raise alarm and
set off the bells ringing in its corridors of power.
This current phase
of Indo-Israeli camaraderie is a development of recent vintage. It started
less than 2 decades ago when India entered into formal diplomatic relations
with Israel in 1992. This upward movement in Indo-Israeli graph coincided
with the lowest ebb in the fortunes of the Muslim world—of which Pakistan
has always regarded itself as an inseparable and integral part. The
Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait, in the summer of 1990 had dealt
a near-fatal blow to the concept of Muslim Ummah’s unity and brotherhood. The dream of the Arabs being one nation, from
the Atlas Mountain to the sands of Iraq, was shattered and lay in ruin.
The swift induction of US military power into the theatre opened up
by Saddam Hussain’s monumental folly allowed the expansionist lobby
in US, backed up by erstwhile imperialist powers of Europe, to
get much closer to realizing its dream of controlling the energy resources
of the Middle East and using them to make the 21st century
an ‘American Century.’
Pakistan was not the
only country in the Islamic camp to view the unfolding drama with utmost
dismay. Many others in the Islamic world interpreted the Gulf War of
1991 as paving the way for Israel’s emergence as the regional policeman
and watch-dog of American imperial interests. What was left among the
Arab states to resist Israel, they asked. Egypt, the most powerful Arab
state, had been neutralized and taken out of any reckoning in as far
as standing up to a militarist Israel was concerned. Anwer Sadat had
happily agreed to castrate his country’s power in return for dollops
of economic assistance from Washington. Egypt entering into diplomatic
relations with Israel had sapped the Arab resistance to Israel at its
Next to Egypt, Iraq
was the only other Arab state with the potential to pose a credible
‘threat’ to Israel. It possessed the resources and manpower
for such a role. However, Saddam Hussain’s aggrandizement against
a weak neighbour like Kuwait had exposed his flanks to those western
powers that had been lying in wait for just such an opportunity.
The breach of Arab
solidarity and Israel’s rising stature as the regional policeman in
the Middle East were troubling developments for Pakistan in their own
Pakistan’s own co-ordinates,
both external as well as domestic, were not in the best of shapes either.
Domestically, the country
had just, barely, put paid to the long reign of General Ziaul Haq’s
11-year-long military rule. But the newly-crowned democrats, like Benazir
Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, were making a hash of democracy and testing
the patience of the people and, more importantly, of Pakistan’s well-entrenched
ruling elite—the so-called ‘establishment’—to its limit.
In the external context,
the decade-long Afghan War against the Soviets had ended with the ignominious
expulsion of the invaders. However, that remarkable feat had brought
little relief for Pakistan, which now was confronted with rank instability
in Afghanistan quickly spawned by the internecine conflict that was
consuming Afghanistan. From the smoke of that virtual civil war were
to rise the rag-tag Taliban with their nihilistic agenda carrying in
its womb further complications and challenges for Pakistan.
According to the Pakistani
interpretation of India getting into bed with Israel, the move was calculated
to add to Pakistan’s woes and concerns. After all, what could be a
worse scenario for Pakistan than its arch-rival and old adversary warming
up to a country which was a pariah not only to Pakistan but also to
virtually the entire Islamic bloc.
Pakistan had another
axe to grind with Israel on the highly sensitive issue of its nuclear
ambitions, for Israel had been waging a relentless propaganda offensive
against Pakistan’s alleged ‘Islamic bomb.’ Pakistanis felt
themselves entitled to suspect that a powerful motive for India to get
in league with Israel—whose anti-Pakistan rant on the nuclear issue
had the fullest backing and support of the western world—could be
none other than aimed at isolating Pakistan and drive it in a corner.
However, the most powerful
reason for Pakistan to suspect the budding Indian-Israeli friendship
was in the context of Kashmir, specifically in relation to the popular
uprising of the Kashmiris—often described, romantically, as the Kashmiri Initfada—which had been in spate since 1989 and was at its peak
at the time of India entering into formal relations with Israel. Pakistan
subscribed to its own belief that the intensity of the Kashmiri backlash
against continued Indian occupation of their land had unnerved the Indians
and cast the die for them to run to the Israelis for succor. The regular
flow of young Israeli ‘tourists’ into the valley, on the heels of
the bubbling entente seemed to lend credence to the Pakistani
suspicion that Israeli intelligence agents, with decades of experience
in crushing down the hapless Palestinians in the Occupied Territory,
were infiltrating Kashmir and providing their expertise to quell the
The Indians were, no
doubt, motivated by self-interest and desire to beef up their foreign
policy options. India had finally said good-bye to decades of experimentation
with a socialist economy that had brought nothing stagnation. The end
of the Cold War and the Russian debacle at the end of it had freed the
Indians of their ideological fascination with centralized economic management—which
had proved to be the bane of the now-defunct Soviet Union. The Indian
economy was entering the phase of open markets and free flow of capital.
It needed not only new capital but also latest technology to put it
in top gear. US were the obvious choice to get close to for the best
inputs on both counts. But the Indians had had years of less-than-ideal
relations with Washington and needed a hefty push to kick-start a new
phase. What better middleman to fit the bill than Israel with its supra-influential,
effective and powerful lobbies ruling the roost in US.
There was hardly anything
to worry as far as Arab reaction to the new Indian move was concerned.
The Arabs had been pulverized and were in complete disarray in the wake
of the Gulf War. An added incentive for India was that some Arab countries
themselves were in various phases of making overtures to Israel under
intense pressure from Washington. The most important of all, Yasser
Arafat and his PLO were embarked on a course—which was soon to prove
futile and unproductive—to bury their hatchets with Israel and take,
instead, to a peace offensive.
Of course the Indians
were going against the grain of their founding fathers. Mahatma Gandhi
had been openly opposed to the creation of Israel and Pundit Nehru,
a socialist, liberal and secular, to his finger tips, had kept Israel
at arm’s length as long as he was at the helm of India. But the Nehru
era was now a matter of history. Pragmatism, if not exactly expediency,
was the name of the new game.
For Pakistan there
was another worrying symptom coming increasingly into focus in regard
to the domestic developments, taking shape concomitantly with this sea-change
in foreign policy orientation of India, in its political landscape.
The rise of BJP as a political force articulating the political philosophy
of Hindu extremism and chauvinism was as much a cause of concern to
Pakistan as India’s flirtation with Israel. Both aspects pointed to
India inexorably drifting away from the moorings its founding fathers
had laid down for it. However, it didn’t seem to occur to the Pakistani
policy framers that they had themselves steered Pakistan so agonizingly
far from what the founder of Pakistan had extolled them to do.
The Pakistanis didn’t
have too long to wait to see the banal influence of BJP-fed Hindu militancy
gaining the better of the Nehru-era secularism of India. The demolition
of the historic Babri Mosque, on December 6, 1992, proved their worst
nightmare true about the ascendancy in India of Hindutva, with all its
known and unknown permutations. The politically-astute verdict of the
Allahabad High Court, only weeks before the 18th anniversary
of that seminal event, proves the snowballing Pakistani perception that
Indian secularism is rapidly yielding ground to the macabre ideology
of Hindutva. The charges laid against an outspoken Arundhati Roy—on
the heels of the court verdict—for her critique of the Indian military
repression in Kashmir simply provides more grist to the Pakistani mills
that India is being sucked into the vortex of Hindu extremism as much
as Israel already is a Zionist-led state where the Palestinian minority
is in the category of second-class citizens with few rights.
The cataclysm of 9/11
came as a boon to India and Israel and a bane to Pakistan.
The apocalyptic event
opened up a whole new vista for the right-wing proponents of the American
Century, with Bush arrogating to himself and his country the ‘right’
to intervene preemptively wherever in the world US interests and security
seemed to be threatened or challenged. ‘Security trumps everything
else,’ became the mantra for those believing in the military
might of US dictating priorities to friends and enemies alike. Security
concerns of an old ally and surrogate like Israel, and a new ally like
India, were put on par with the concerns of US. This mind-set authorized
the authors of the new global agenda to brazenly declare all resistance
movements of oppressed people, like the Palestinians groaning under
a brutal Israeli occupation, and the Kashmiris resisting continued Indian
occupation of their land, as terrorists.
Pakistan, by implication,
was put on the defensive for its alleged involvement in the Kashmiri
people’s resistance against the Indian military and political control
of their land. This was despite the fact that Pakistan’s power-drunk
military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf, had pawned Pakistan to
the Bush ‘war on terror’ as its front-line soldier.
That’s more or less
the case prevailing today in the trilateral context in which Pakistan
finds itself pitted hopelessly at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the two
‘real allies’ of US in marked contrast to the make-believe
ally that Pakistan is—and has been so—to Washington.
Pakistan is a front-line
ally of US in the ongoing ‘war on terror’ which Obama has re-christened
as the ‘long war.’ Over the 9 years since Musharraf took the
blind leap into the cauldron of Bush’s war, Pakistan has suffered
massively from the fallout of this war-with-no-end-in-sight.’
It has lost more soldiers and officers in waging a war within its own
borders at US behest than the combined losses of the 28-member states
of NATO whose soldiers are involved into various degrees of combat in
is in a horrible mess, blighted by acts of terrorism and suicide bombings
which have become almost a routine in the country. Thousands of innocent
civilians have been killed and maimed in these barbarous acts. With
its political fortunes in the hands of a corrupt cabal of robber-barons
masquerading as political leaders, the Pakistani nation is teetering
on the brink of total collapse and bankruptcy, not only of its economy
but, more troubling than that, also of its moral values and its civic
And yet Pakistan is
a Washington-faithful ally whose loyalty and fealty is not trusted by
the Americans. The constant refrain of the ‘master’ in what
is without doubt a master-client—if not exactly master-slave—relationship,
is to demand ‘more’ sacrifices from its vassal.
have a sense that they are being used by Washington to pull its chestnut
out of the fire while no regard is shown to their sensitivities and
concerns. Pakistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty is being
violated almost daily, lately, in what many decry as ‘visitations’
by unmanned Drones, whose frequency is constantly on an upswing. Hundreds
of Pakistani civilians have been killed in bombing raids by these Drones
against impugned terrorists. But Pakistan’s wails of protest are dismissed
as ‘collateral damage’ in the war against terror.
Pakistan may be an
ally for use of a better semantics only. Otherwise Pakistan is being
treated as a rogue and scoundrel as much by the Obama administration
as was the case with Bush. There is no ray of hope for Pakistan’s
concerns on Kashmir getting an audience in Obama’s Washington, although
Obama had entered the White House with a determination—based on his
campaign rhetoric—to do something about getting the Kashmir dispute
between Pakistan and India off the dead centre. Obama seemed close to
delivering on his pledge when he named Richard Holbrooke as his special
trouble-shooter on Afghanistan as well as on Kashmir. But the latter
assignment remained still-born. Obama backed down without so much as
a squeak or murmur of protest when India raised a holler against the
Since that debacle
of Obama’s putative peace-making on Kashmir, Washington has refused
to move a finger on Kashmir beyond platonic and pious expressions of
hope that India and Pakistan would themselves find a solution to this
lingering crisis through dialogue. That’s neither here nor there.
Pakistanis, reading the lips of the Obama factotums are convinced that
there’s no will, at all, to do anything that might displease the Indians.
Pakistanis can point
to a visible pattern of being short-changed by Washington in comparison
to India’s molly-coddling by Obama and his coterie of advisers. The
recent, high-visibility, tour of India by President Obama is a case
in point. Both the president and the first lady seemed overly anxious
and eager to court India and the Indians. They put on a real feast of
good public relations in India to the chagrin of the Pakistanis, not
because they resented the first American couple dancing, literally,
to the Indian tunes. The Pakistanis felt offended because they had been
deliberately shunned and dealt out of President Obama’s 3-nation Asian
safari. Pakistan was merely given a sop with the president’s vacuous
promise to visit Pakistan at his convenience, sometime in the future.
It was small comfort for the Pakistanis to hold on to.
for parity with India in the transfer of nuclear technology from US
for civilian purposes find no audience in Washington. Pakistanis can
detect a visible double-standard there: Israel stays far beyond any
expressed concern from Washington of its well-known and burgeoning arsenal
of nuclear weapons. India has been brought on a special pedestal as
far as sharing of nuclear technology is concerned. But there is constant
chest-beating about Pakistan’s nuclear assets and efforts to compromise
them remains a priority concern of Washington.
that what to them is an ‘unholy’ alliance between India and
Israel to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Reports have been rife,
from independent western sources of an Indo-Israeli plan to ‘take
out’ the main Pakistani nuclear station at Kahuta, outside Islamabad,
in a blitz like the one Israel perpetrated against Iraq in 1980.
The budding co-operation
in the nuclear field between Israel and India, which couldn’t be without
Washington’s tacit support, is a cause of deep concern to Pakistanis
of all shades and opinion. Reprehensible as the Mumbai mayhem was, by
any moral standard, a powerful element in the nefarious Jihadi design
to sow terror in Mumbai was, in particular, said to have been inspired
by the presence of the Nariman Centre in Mumbai, which most believed
was a den of intrigues and a nerve-centre of Israeli activities against
Pakistan from a vantage point in its proximity.
That is more or less
the perspective and the context to Pakistan’s perception and assessment
of India-Israel co-operation.
Pakistani policy framers,
without exception, don’t see it in a bilateral frame between two distant
countries, which apparently have little historical incentive to get
so close to each other, as India and Israel have over the past decade,
except that they share a common aversion to Muslim states in their neighbourhood;
and their camaraderie of mutual interest has been whetted, since 9/11
as the take-off point, by US’ undeclared war against the world
of Islam. George W. Bush’s indiscreet comment that his war against
terror was a new crusade may have been quickly finessed by his
spin doctors as a slip of the tongue but the essence of it has not been
lost on the Muslim world. The atrocities perpetrated in US-occupied
Iraq and Afghanistan—with Abu Ghuraib and Bagram as ugly totems of power-drunk soldiers keeping the
local populaces on the points of their bayonets—do hark back, in the
conscience of history-buffs, to how the Crusaders had vented their fury
and blood lust on the inhabitants of Muslim Jerusalem when they conquered
it in 1099.
Of course India has
every right and reason to expand its co-operation with Israel over any
vast gamut of activities, with Pakistan having no choice but look at
the gathering mass with awe or envy.
Bilateral trade between
the two countries, for instance, had ballooned from a paltry $ 200 million
in 2001 to a whopping $ 4.1 billion by the end of 2009. It is expected
to jump three-fold to $ 12 billion in the next 5 years if a preferential
trade agreement, currently in the works, is finalized.
Sky seems to be the
limit for India-Israel co-operation, mushrooming into myriad fields,
from atomic camaraderie to space research to rocket science et al.
From the Pakistani
point of view the major cause of its concern is the inroads Israel is
making into India’s defence supplies, weapons system and overall military
Israel has already
become the largest source of weapons to India, overtaking the once bosom-friend,
Russia. Israel is also the source of hi-tech early warning aircraft
(AWACS) that have joined the burgeoning fleet of the Indian Air Force.
Pakistan is under no delusion when it argues that both the supplier
and the supplied seek to undermine its defences, breach its security
and, in the larger context, keep it guessing all the time.
But, to be realistic,
there isn’t a lot of guessing to be done on Pakistan’s part. The
policy planners there know that it isn’t a case of the two-some India
and Israel holding Pakistan’s feet to the fire; there is also the
powerful element of the US involvement—robust inducement if not active
participation—which is calculated to test Pakistan at every step of
the way. US is, to use a cliché, the elephant in the room when it comes
to India and Israel breathing down Pakistan’s neck.
Pakistan can feel the
heat utmost in the context of its role in Afghanistan where it is the
front-line US ally in the war against terror, which is rightly turning
out to be a very long war in Afghanistan, with Pakistan constantly on
the hook. In spite of the stiff toll in blood that the Pakistan army
has paid to date—and continues to, unabated—in fighting the war
against the Taliban on America’s behalf, its role is still suspect
in America’s eyes. Indeed Pakistan is guilty of not having reined
in its religious extremists and fanatics earlier, long before they became
so powerful as to challenge the writ of the state in brazen defiance.
But Pakistanis have
no fancy notions about the long-term American designs in Afghanistan.
Washington would like to prolong its presence in the strife-torn and
perennially bleeding country, on one excuse or the other. The earliest
new deadline for the withdrawal of Nato and Us troops from Afghanistan
is 2014, and that too comes with strings and caveats. Therefore the
blame game against Pakistan must not be relented in order to keep it
occupied continually in Afghanistan. It doesn’t matter to Washington,
or anyone else down the long line of Nato allies playing out their role
in Afghanistan that Pakistan has already been singed in the process
and is itself bleeding.
policy framers know that one day US and its allies will pull out
of Afghanistan, irrespective of the outcome of the longest war these
neo and former imperialists have waged anywhere in the world. But Pakistan
alone will be dealing with the aftermath of this horribly miscued western
adventure next door to it.
At the same time, Islamabad
is well aware that US will not want to leave a vacuum in Afghanistan.
It has been planning for years to have the space filled by its new trusted
and long-term partner, India. The string of Indian consulates in Afghan
cities close to Pakistan is meant to provide spaces to dig the heels
in. Pakistan may look warily at these supposedly ‘diplomatic’
missions as eavesdropping outposts and feel nervous about them. But
that’s also the purpose in setting them up: it is to keep Pakistan
Washington almost got
away, in the summer of 2010, with its long-sought agenda to bamboozle
Pakistan into giving transit rights to India for trade convoys to Afghanistan
through its territory. Islamabad’s corrupt and incompetent rulers
realized the trap they were walking into virtually at the last minute
when the army sounded the alarm.
Israel, with a nod
from US, is trying to sneak into Afghanistan under the Indian skirt.
India is in a desperate bid to become a major player in Afghanistan
with US assistance. The Israeli interest in pursuing this course is
two-fold: to keep Pakistan nervous about the Israeli designs against
its nuclear assets, and get ever closer to its design to give Iran a
bloodied nose because that country has become an obsession for the Zionists
who regard Iran as the only obstacle to their ambitions to impose their
hegemony in the Middle East.
So what Pakistan sees
on the cards in its Afghanistan backyard is an American plan to bequeath
its legacy of geo-political domination in the region to two of its most
trustworthy satraps, India and Israel. That revives for Pakistan the
classical existentialist fear of facing two enemies simultaneously.
Pakistan was born with the dilemma of fighting on two fronts at one
and the same time. The truncation of its eastern part, in 1971, from
the main body of the nation didn’t quite rid it of this congenital
fear. Pakistan’s arm-chair ideologues and geo-strategic planners thought
they had finally been cleansed of this cancer when the Pakistan-primed
Taliban rose to power in Afghanistan. A sigh of relief was heaved; Pakistan
had its back secured.
However, the American
invasion of Afghanistan robbed Pakistan of its short-lived comfort.
In a macabre turn of events, Pakistan is now in league with US chasing
the chimera of blocking the resurgence, and return to power, of the
very Taliban it had pampered two decades earlier and paved their way
to power in Kabul. In other words, Pakistan is tilting at the windmills
to resurrect its old dilemma of fighting at two fronts, simultaneously,
at any given time, as price of its nihilistic alliance with US. Its
problem is worse confounded because it knows well that US would want
to supplant Pakistan’s two worst enemies to keep its dilemma alive
even when the Americans may have gone, or forced out, from Afghanistan.
The Indian policy gurus
might feel tempted to congratulate themselves that they, with a lot
of help from their new friends or partners in Washington and Tel Aviv,
have hit upon a cost-effective prescription to keep Pakistan in chains.
They have barricaded Pakistan in the lap of that historically notorious
‘prickly hedge’ of Afghanistan that had severely tested the
mettle of the British imperial power at its zenith.
But it still remains
to be asked of the Indian policy pundits if it is a good policy to seek
alliances with those, from outside the region that India shares but
precious little of history with, and whose interests may, eventually,
militate against India’s pristine moorings?
Yes, a Machiavellian
fantasy might articulate, and nudge you in its direction, that your
enemy’s enemy is, per se, well suited to become your friend. However,
dictates of geography argue against such a course. In the case of India
and Pakistan, geography is also robustly complemented by shared history
of a thousand years. The great Indo-Gangetic culture steeped over the
centuries is not only a unique legacy in its own right but it is also
a wealth for both India and Pakistan that cannot be compared with anything
else from another country or neighbour. Pakistan certainly doesn’t
have that kind of affinity or genuine bondage with any of its ‘brotherly’
Muslim country, though saying so may be regarded by many a zealot in
Pakistan today as a sacrilege.
India, too, has no
historical context to its warming up to Israel except that it may work,
for a time, as a tactical ploy to keep Pakistan groping in the shadows.
Israel is courting India for tactical reasons described in the foregoing.
Israel’s history of the past 6 decades is enough to shed light on
the harsh reality that it is friends of none, not even of its great
mentor, US, which has been blindly supporting it at the expense of its
relations with the 1.5 billion Muslims of the world.
It would be highly
naïve and short-sighted for both India and Pakistan to squander their
rich and shared legacy in an incontinent urge to drag the other in the
mud. Sadly, however, what is most conspicuous by its absence at the
present juncture is a serious and dedicated effort by both countries
to raise the level of trust between them. Confidence-building should
be the mantra guiding them but is not. Pakistan is mired in its socio-economic
muck, which is entirely a creation of its own inept governance, for
which its endemically corrupt ruling elite bears full responsibility.
Expecting Pakistan to take a bold leap to clear the hurdles with India
would be nothing but a flight of fancy. India, standing on a much firmer
ground and blessed by confidence that comes only from a healthy socio-economic
footing, has the onus on it to take bold initiatives to move its moribund
relations with Pakistan off a dead centre.
On the contrary, however,
Pakistan is being fed signals that do nothing to instill any sense of
confidence but serve grist to its extremist fringe about India’s
‘designs.’ For some time, now, it is becoming quite a normal
practice for India’s vaunted and elite visiting guests, like Prime
Minister David Cameron of Britain—earlier in the summer of 2010—and,
lately, President Nicholas Sarkozy of France, to publicly lambast Pakistan
for terrorist ‘havens’ and sanctuaries on its soil that threaten
India. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany does the same while playing
host to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Berlin. Pakistan seems to be
given the sense by India’s new admirers, not without India’s nod
of concurrence that it remains permanently in the dock. That’s no
way to raise its confidence.
The habit of constantly
picking on each other is invitation to untrammeled hostility between
the South Asian twain of India and Pakistan. Even if unintentional,
this proclivity is breeding hard-line fanaticism on both sides of the
‘divide.’ In a nihilistic one-upmanship both countries have
drifted miles apart from each other and even more from the course their
founding fathers had charted; they will have difficulty in recognizing
what they had built were they to return to this earth one more time.
Suffice to say that
the two countries owe it to their succeeding generations to desist from
a self-destructive course.
The writer is a
former career diplomat who retired as ambassador after 35 years in the
diplomatic service of Pakistan. He can be reached at K_K_ghori@hotmail.com
INDIA: ISRAEL AND
(Prof. Ninan Koshy
author, political analyst and commentator based in Thiruvananthapuram,
Kerala, India was Director of the Commission of the Churches on International
Affairs (CCIA) from 1981-1991 and Visiting Fellow, Human Rights Program,
Harvard Law School, USA, 1991-92
His books on international
affairs include, The War on Terror: Reordering the World (2003), Under the Empire: India’s New Foreign Policy (2006) and (co-author) Uncle Tom’s Nuclear Cabin (2007). He contributes articles to Foreign Policy in Focus, Asiatimes
online, Economic and Political Weekly, Mainstream etc.)
Mani Shankar Aiyer,
member Rajya Sabha and former Minister told the Indian Express on September 25, 2010, “We have become so dependent on defence
supplies from Israel that when I put up a Rajya Sabha question seeking
the government to reply on whether it equated the large number of civilians
killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza strip - as found by the Goldstone
fact-finding team – with the killings of Hamas, the Ministry of External
Affairs disallowed my question, calling it a state secret. Since when
has the subject of India-Palestine relations become a state secret given
the fact that (we) India were in the forefront of the Palestinian struggle”
For a long time,
Mr.Aiyer, is the answer to the question. He should have known better
as a former diplomat and an insider of the government. Yes, from the
time India-Palestine relations were subsumed under India-Israel relations,
they are a state secret. The simple reason is that India-Israel relations
have always been secretive. Just before the momentous visit of Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon to New Delhi on the second anniversary of September
11, the Financial Times had this to say, “It’s one of the
world’s most secretive relationships”. As for the reason of the
visit, FT said “it was to be a coming out party”.
Many more parties have
been held since but both sides have ensured that no light is shed on
the nature of the relationship. It has remained a secret. This
is a status that has been vetted and certified by Mark Sofer, Israel’s
ambassador to India in February 2008. This is what the Ambassador said,
“We do have a defence relationship with India which is no secret.
On the other hand, what is a secret is what the defence relationship
is. And, with all respect, the secret part of it will remain a secret”. (1)
Rahnuma Ahmed asks,
“What is one to make of this? That defence and intelligence cooperation,
which includes sale of high tech weapon systems and mutual access to
military facilities and training, is mere surface? What lies underneath
them? Something which is so hidden, so momentous that His Excellency
needed to utter the word ‘secret’ four times?” (2)
So to find out about
current India-Palestine relations we have to begin with India- Israel
relations and not the other way though India had relations with Palestine
long before it started its romance with Israel.
India and Israel were
born within months of each other. While the former became an independent
state on August 15, 1947, the latter was created on May 14, 1948 by
decision of the United Nations to partition British-mandated Palestine.
India, which had opposed this partition, remained officially cool to
the Jewish state. In May 1949 it voted against the admission of Israel
into the UN. In early 1950 after recognizing the state of Israel, a
visibly reluctant New Delhi allowed it to set up an ‘immigration office’
in the port city of Mumbai. This eventually morphed into a ‘trade
office’ and then into a consulate.
The end of the cold
war and the beginning of India’s economic reforms in the early 1990s
provided the impetus as well as justification for the Indian government
to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel. Negotiations between
the Palestinians and Israel had started under the Oslo accord. For Israel,
this was a time when it was keen to expand its diplomatic contacts outside
Europe and the United States, and India was an important part of this
expansion. For India, heavily dependent on the now-fallen Soviet Union,
Israel emerged as an important source of expertise on security issues
and a growing source of advanced military technology and hardware. India’s
tilt towards the United States also was an important factor.
Relations between India
and Israel had begun secretively much before 1992. For the Indian intelligence
agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), Israel’s intelligence agency,
Mossad had become an active counterpart already by the end of the sixties.
When full diplomatic relations were established, the first expansion
was in intelligence contacts and then in defence and then in trade,
in that order.
But the main transformation
in the relations between India and Israel took place with the Bharatiya
Janatha Party (BJP) coming to power in 1998. They were cemented during
the Kargil War. During the War Israel responded quickly to India’s
desperate requests for arms, despite pressure from various quarters.
It was in the vacuum
in technological imports and military supplies, created by sanctions
on India in the wake of the nuclear tests, that Israel stepped in as
India’s friend in the hour of need. Unmanned Aerial vehicles for high
altitude surveillance, laser-guided systems and many other items were
provided within days of the request. Jane’s Defense Weekly which gave details of the supplies, reported in March 2000 that Israeli
security officers were regularly visiting the Kashmir border. Jane’s
Terrorism and Security Monitor reported: “Israeli intelligence agencies have been intensifying their
relations with Indian security apparatus and are now understood to be
heavily involved in helping New Delhi combat Islamic militants in the
disputed province of Kashmir”. (3). The Jerusalem Post reported on 3rd February 2003 that India was sending three
battalions of nearly 3,000 Indian soldiers to Israel for specialized
anti-insurgency training. Their assignment on return would be to employ
newly learned techniques to stop infiltration of India by Pakistani
terrorists in the contested Kashmir region, the report said.
The advantages for
Israel in forging a defence alliance with India were explained by Professor
Martin Sherman as follows:
The alliance with India
was important for Israel as it intended to develop sea-borne defence
capability. In view of the miniscule territorial dimension of Israel,
its defense planners are increasingly aware of the crucial significance
of the marine and the sub-marine. The vulnerability of land-based military
installations grows with the acquisition of modern weaponry by other
countries in the region. Strategic thinking in Israel tends to give
prominence to the Indian Ocean as a location for logistical infrastructure.
For the establishment and operation of such a maritime venture, cooperation
with the Indian navy would be vital.”
Sherman added: “An
alliance between India and Israel openly endorsed by the U.S. would
create a potent stabilizing force in the region, which together with
like-minded regimes such as Turkey, could contribute significantly towards
facing down the force of radical extremism so hostile to American interests
in Western and Central Asia.” (4)
The visit of Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to New Delhi in January 2002 became an
occasion to reinforce the strategic ties between India and Israel. An
Indian foreign ministry spokesperson said during Peres’ visit,
“India finds it increasingly beneficial to learn from Israel’s experience
in dealing with terrorism since Israel too has long suffered from cross-border
terrorism.” (5) The spokesperson slipped into the ministry’s
grave and oft-repeated error of equating the Palestinian struggle with
cross-border terrorism. Unfortunately this continues to be the assumption
on cooperation between India and Israel on counter-terrorism.
One major factor in
the momentum of relations between India and Israel during the BJP-led
regime was the close affinity between Hindutva and Zionism. As Mike
Marquesee, himself a Jew wrote, “In many respects Hindutva and Zionism
are natural bedfellows. Both depict the entities they claim to represent
simultaneously national and religious identities. Both claim to be the
sole authentic spokesperson for these entities (Hindu and Jewish). Both
appeal to an affluent diaspora. But most importantly, at the moment,
both share a designated enemy (Muslim terrorism)” (6)
To roll out the red
carpet for Sharon in New Delhi in September 2003, within months of the
US invasion of Iraq and after his famous declaration that “Arafat
is our bin Laden”, clearly showed India’s approval of the role assigned
to Sharon in West Asian politics by President Bush. It was known that
the Iraqi invasion was closely linked to Israeli ambitions and US plans
After the ‘regime
change’ in Afghanistan, Sharon was invited to Washington to coordinate
the next moves in the War on Terror – this time against Iraq.
Since that time President Bush defined Israel’s military actions against
Palestinians as ‘self-defence’ and Palestinian resistance as
‘terror’. Israeli commentator Levi Grinberg wrote on the role of
“Sharon is deeply
satisfied with Bush’s Middle East plan that practically means a global
war managed by the ‘Busharon’ team in which Bush will play the role
of the global Sheriff, imposing a new order in the Islamic states. Sharon
has been nominated as the ‘regional Sheriff’ and allowed to impose
a new order in his area of influence.” (7)
The Hindu commented editorially that “New Delhi has sent out wrong signals by
playing host to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at this particular
juncture”. During Sharon’s visit India and Israel signed a joint
statement along with six agreements on environment protection, drug
trafficking, visa-free travel for diplomats, and cooperation in health,
education and culture. But the more important secret pacts were scrupulously
kept away from public gaze and there was little reference to the burgeoning
During Sharon’s visit,
Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Yosef Lapid told journalists that an
“unwritten and abstract’ axis had been created between Israel,
India and US to combat international terrorism. “While there was no
formal triangular agreement, there is mutual interest of the three countries
in making the world a more secure place for all of us. There is American
support for the development of the unwritten axis”, Lapid told reporters
in New Delhi. “Therefore in the abstract sense we are creating such
an axis”. (8) Just a few months before Sharon’s visit Brajesh Mishra,
India’s National Security Adviser had made a call for a US-India-Israel
axis. Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee,
Mishra maintained that only a ‘core’ consisting of democracies
such as India, Israel and US can deal with terrorism. India, the US
and Israel were ‘prime targets’, they had a ‘common enemy’
and required ‘joint action’, Mishra added. (9)
Israel and India not
only exchange crucial intelligence information on what they call ‘Islamic
terrorist groups’ but Israel has been ‘helping’ India
to ‘fight terrorism’ in Kashmir by providing important logistical
support such as specialized surveillance equipment, cooperation on intelligence
gathering and joint exercises. The level of intelligence cooperation
between India and Israel is more extensive and deeper than between India
and the USA. As mentioned earlier thousands of India’s special
troops were trained in Israel. India primarily wanted this training
in order to tackle cross-border infiltration of insurgents in Kashmir
from Pakistan, as well as protecting Northeastern states from similar
infiltration from neighbouring countries.
The ballast for Indo-Israel
bilateral ties is provided by the defence cooperation between the two
states with India emerging as Israel’s largest arms market and with
Israel becoming India’s biggest arms supplier. Israel’s growing
relationship with India goes a long way toward sustaining its own local
defence industry, and this in turn is also a significant boost to Israel’s
economy as a whole. As a result, the India-Israel defence partnership
has reached a critical mass in recent years.
It is against this
backdrop that we have to assess the current relationship of India to
Palestine. It was always taken for granted that India’s support
to the Palestinian cause and its friendship with the people of Palestine
is an integral part of its time-tested foreign policy. It is this assumption
that has been called into question now.
In 1947 India voted
in the United Nations General Assembly against the partition of Palestine.
In fact one of the outstanding features of the Indian national movement
was its support for the Arab cause. In 1936 the All India Congress Committee
(AICC) gave a statement of its position to which the Congress consistently
adhered – to support the establishment of a free democratic state
in Palestine. Nehru likened the Arab struggle against British imperialism
in Palestine to India’s own struggle for freedom. India
was the first non-Arab state to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people
in 1974. India was one of the first countries to recognize the state
of Palestine in 1988. It was in the context of the sea change
in world affairs by the exit of the Soviet Union, India’s economic
reforms and the Oslo accords that India established full diplomatic
relations with Israel.
The PLO had started
negotiations with Israel and apparently it had no objection to India
upgrading its relations with India. But the PLO never thought that this
would develop into a defence nexus detrimental to the cause of the Palestinians.
The government of India has always claimed that its relations with Israel
in no way affect its support for the Palestinian struggle for independence
and statehood. But this is not true.
The Palestinian view
on this was clearly articulated by Nabil Sha’ath, the Palestinian
Foreign Minister, in an exclusive interview to The Hindu on the
eve of Prime Minister Sharon’s visit to India. He disagreed with growing
Indian efforts to coordinate anti-terrorist activities among New Delhi,
Tel Aviv and Washington. “I know it is the position of some of your
Ministers. First of all, I see no need to go to Israel to reach the
United States. The United States is open to India. I do not think that
you need that intermediary.” He added, “Israel would like to make
it look as if all Palestinian resistance was terrorism. Identifying
with that puts you in a position of being anti-Palestinian when there
is no need to do so.”
When the Congress led
UPA government came to power in 2004, there were expectations in certain
quarters, including among the Left parties which supported the government,
that there would be a change in the West Asia policy. These expectations
were belied immediately. It was made clear that the new government would
not only continue but strengthen defence and intelligence relations
with Israel. In the very early days of the UPA government, Defence Minister,
Pranab Mukherji stated that there would be no slowing down in the burgeoning
defence ties with Israel. On Palestine the UPA appeared to be more vocal
than the NDA regime in its support. India’s expression of support
to Palestine was very much related to the establishment view that as
long as Arafat was around, the Congress had an obligation to support
him. But at no time was India ready to factor relations with Israel
as adverse to the Palestinian interests.
The apparent improvement
of relations of Palestine with Arab countries like Syria and Kuwait,
after the exit of Yasser Arafat from the scene, was used by India as
the pretext for further political and military contacts with Israel.
Arafat’s death appeared to have removed the ambiguity about the sense
of direction of India’s West Asia policy. There seemed to be no longer
any special obligation on the part of India towards the Palestinians.
The primacy of bilateral relations with Israel was affirmed. There was
a flurry of high level visits from Israel and a series of meetings between
Indian and Israeli defence officials immediately after Arafat’s death.
The timing was significant.
The lukewarm approach
of the Indian government to the Palestinian struggle became clear during
the visit of the new President of Palestine Mahmud Abbas. It was a low-profile
visit and did not reflect any enthusiasm on the part of India. New Delhi
said that the “cycle of violence in the occupied territories should
end as it could be counter-productive for peace in the region”. What
exactly is meant by the “cycle of violence in the occupied territories”?
In the absence of any reference to Israeli occupation, despite a clear
request from Mahmud Abbas to India to use its influence to end “Israeli
occupation of Palestine”, the “cycle of violence” either
faults the Palestinians, or equates Palestinian resistance with Israeli
repression of the Palestinian people – or does both. (11)
The Hindu wrote editorially:
The Manmohan Singh
government handled the visit to India of the Palestinian Authority President,
Mahamud Abbas in rather low key. If this was because Mr.Abbas, a far
less charismatic figure than his predecessor Arafat, preferred to shun
the limelight it would be understandable. However it would be inexcusable
if the lack of enthusiasm over the visit reflected any decline of interest
in the Palestinian cause.
The editorial pointed
out that the call for an end to violence was grossly inadequate. The
official statement on the visit should have included a condemnation
of the Israeli occupation, which is the primary cause for the strife.
We now come to more
India’s spy satellite
launched by India in the third week of January 2008, has considerably
enhanced Israel’s intelligence gathering capacity. The launch of the
Tecsar satellite also known as Polaris opened a new stage in India-Israel
strategic relations and added a new factor in the complex security scenario
in West Asia. In reporting on the event, the Israeli media highlighted
the strategic significance of the satellite in relation to Iran. The Haaretz reported on 21 January 2008, “The sophisticated new spy
satellite could boost intelligence gathering capabilities regarding
Iran”. The satellite “enables Israel to establish a new point of
view in space allowing it photographic angles and reception of Iranian
communications which were unavailable in prior satellite launches”,
the daily continued. Indeed Iran had every reason to complain to India
which it did but it was ignored by New Delhi, playing its assigned role
in the US strategy to contain Iran. (13)
India launched an Israeli-made
spy satellite from Sriharikotta near Bangaluru city in the southern
Indian state of Karnataka on April 20. It is in a bid to keep a twenty-four-hour
surveillance on its international borders, news agencies quoted Indian
defence officials. The satellite will help India track infiltration
of militants on its borders with Pakistan and inside the country. It
could capture the images even under clouds and transmit them to the
As in the case of the
Israeli satellite launched in January 2008, the Indian Space Research
Organization (ISRO), responsible for the launch, officially labelled
the satellite a tool for “disaster management”. The launching of
the satellite in 2008 January for Israel had been explained by ISRO
as “utilizing its advanced technological capability to place satellites
in orbit.” The organization had deliberately underplayed the strategic
and political implications of the launch.
In the case of the
launching of Israeli-made satellite in 2009 April, Israeli sources clearly
stated that it was a “radar imaging espionage satellite made by Israel”.
The acquisition of the spy satellite was fast-tracked after the Mumbai
terrorist attacks in November 2008. The Indian security establishment
was impressed by the Tecsar and wanted for itself a satellite capable
of monitoring developments especially in its neigbourhood.
between India and Israel does exist but the nature of the engagement
is shrouded in absolute secrecy. India is a declared nuclear weapon
state from 1998 and Israel has been an undeclared nuclear weapon state
for decades. In his visit to Israel in 2000 Advani, then Home Minister
in the NDA government, spoke of the possibilities of nuclear cooperation
between India and Israel. Speaking about maritime cooperation between
Israel and India, Prof. Sherman wrote, “It is especially significant
that in 2000, Israeli submarines reportedly conducted test launches
capable of carrying nuclear warheads in the waters of the Indian Ocean
off the Sri Lankan coast.” (12) This would not have been possible
without the knowledge, if not facilitation, by the Indian Navy.
Both India and Israel
are outsiders in the nuclear club, having not signed the Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT). India was assured by President Bush – in the context
of the negotiations on India-US civil nuclear agreement – that
it would not be pressed to sign the NPT. Israel had such an assurance
even earlier and it was reiterated by Bush and then Obama. India seems
to be still unsure of Obama’s position on this matter.
The most effective
lobbying on the Capitol Hill for the India-US civil nuclear agreement
was made by the Israeli embassy in Washington and the American Jewish
Committee. The Indian embassy had little experience in such lobbying
and had employed two lobbying firms. But the American Jewish Committee,
which has emerged as one of the big supporters of India in Washington,
was the most influential on Congress and Senate members on the nuclear
deal. It is not clear at what all levels the nuclear cooperation between
India and Israel exists.
However it is evident
that in supporting the India-US nuclear agreement, in addition to political
and business interests Israel had its own specific interest in getting
access to US nuclear technology, by making the India deal a precedent.
On this matter Israel seems to have succeeded. Israel’s Army Radio
reported in July 2010 that the US has sent a secret document committing
to nuclear cooperation between the two countries. US has reportedly
pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity as well
as nuclear technology and other supplies despite the fact that Israel
is not a signatory to the NPT. The Army radio’s diplomatic correspondent
said the reported offer could put Israel on a par with India, another
NPT holdout which is openly nuclear-armed, but in 2008 secured a US-led
deal granting it civilian imports. (15)
In 2008 Israel surpassed
Russia as the main defence supplier to India after breaking the $1billion
mark contracts signed annually over the past few years. Israel is not,
as Defence Minister Antony claims, just one among 45 countries with
which India has defence deals. A Jerusalem Post article on 15th February, 2009 had the screaming headline,
“Israel now India’s Top Defence Supplier”. Around the same time
Udi Shani, Head of the Israeli Defence Ministry’s SIBAT, Defence Export
and Cooperation Agency said in an interview to the Indian press, “We
have a very special intense relationship with India. It is now moving
toward joint development of equipment. There are several projects in
the pipeline.” He added, “There is close cooperation and the Indians
respect Israeli systems and our experience in fighting terror”. (16)
The nature of the cooperation
of India and Israel in dealing with terrorism raises fundamental questions
not only about India’s views on terrorism but also on how it understands
the nature of the Palestinian struggle. The Indian government continues
to equate Palestinian resistance to terrorism and often calls it cross-border
terrorism. India and Israel have found a shared enemy to target in their
respective ‘anti-terrorism’ operations, conflating Kashmir
and Pakistan with Palestine, and a common agreement on a framework that
has gained global currency with Bush’s war on terrorism. This is conceptually
flawed and politically dangerous.
homeland security systems are way ahead and India can benefit from your
own experience. We are friendly countries and strategic partners based
on sound fundamental principles. We have to cooperate to the fullest
extent to combat the menace”, stated India’s Minister of State for
Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia told business leaders in
Tel Aviv in February 2010. Israeli President Shimon Peres offered New
Delhi his country’s complete cooperation in the fight against terror
saying, “India’s security is as important to Israel as its own”
during a one-to-one meeting with Scindia. The Minister thanked Israel’s
timely help in fight against terror from time to time. Describing the
relationship between India and Israel as a “relationship between two
souls”, Scindia said it is based on shared morals and principles.
Recent statements or
reactions from the Indian government of India on Israeli aggressions
reflect more a calculated caution not to displease Israel in any way
than a principled response to the developments or support to the Palestinian
cause. Three instances may be cited: Israeli invasion of Lebanon in
2006, aggression on Gaza strip 2008-2009 and military attack on the
flotilla of humanitarian goods to Gaza in 2010. The language and tone
of the statements on these occasions were carefully modulated so as
not to invite displeasure from Israel or from the USA. There have been
important developments on which India has kept silent. It has not criticized,
let alone condemned, the Apartheid Wall that makes Bantustans in Palestine,
though the Wall has been declared illegal by the International Court
India hesitated in
deploring the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006. It described the
violence as a conflict between Israel and Hezbullah. India condemned
the excessive and disproportionate military retaliation by Israel but
stopped short of calling it an invasion or aggression targeting Lebanon’s
Similar was India’s
response to the Israeli massive and brutal attack on Gaza (Dec 2008
– Jan 2009) which killed thousands of Palestinian civilians.
India urged Israel to put an end to the strike and resume a dialogue
with the Palestinians. Here again the official statement did not name
Israel as the aggressor and refused to condemn or deplore Israeli action.
On 31st May, 2010, nine peace activists aboard the Flottila carrying humanitarian
aid for people trapped in Gaza were shot dead. As usual India added
a feeble voice to the criticism of Israeli action. It took an entire
day for the mandarins in New Delhi to frame the statement. The External
Affairs spokesman Vishnu Prakash told reporters that “India deplored
the tragic loss of life and the reports of killings and injuries to
people on the boats carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification
for such indiscriminate use of force, which we condemn.” But who used
such indiscriminate force? Who killed the nine people? India did not
want to say and therefore the word Israel is not mentioned in the statement.
There was not even a request, let alone any demand, from India that
the blockade against the Palestinians should be lifted immediately and
all supplies of medicines and other essential commodities resumed forthwith.
This time Palestine
reacted openly. It is an educated guess that on earlier occasions Palestine
made private representations expressing its concern about the tone and
content of Indian statements on Israeli aggressions. The Palestine Ambassador
Adli Sadeq said he was ‘surprised’ over India’s ‘weak’
statement on May 31 Israeli attack on the flotilla of civilian aid ships.
He was speaking at a conference organized by Indo-Palestine Friendship
Society in New Delhi. “The Indian government issued a weak statement.
It did not mention Israel. That is not the political heritage of India’s
ruling party.” Later Sadeq told IANS that Palestine had conveyed
its ‘anguish’ to India over the statement. (18)
He went further and
raised serious questions about the assumptions in India-Israeli relations,
“Now Israel tries to convince India to fight terrorism. That is a
lie,” the ambassador said.
India has consistently
refused to consider the impact of its defence nexus with Israel on occupation
and Palestinian resistance. An appeal in 2008 by a number of non-governmental
organizations related to Palestine to the “Indian people and its government”
to “Stop arms Trade with Apartheid Israel” said, “The Indian
government which continues to reiterate its commitment to a just solution
of the Palestinian question in accordance with international law, has
unfortunately emerged as the major broker of Israel’s arms industry.
It is important to realize that this is tantamount to financing continued,
illegal occupation of Palestinian and Arab territory as it helps subsidize
the occupation regime. India’s arms trade strategically contributes
to the perpetuation of Israel’s occupation and apartheid system. We
know that principled support for the Palestinian cause among Indian
people is still unswerving.”
The damage done to
the Palestinian cause by the defence nexus between India and Israel
is considerable. That is the main reason why India’s relation with
Israel is a ‘state secret’.
- “The Secret of India-Israel
Defence Ties Will Remain a Secret”, Outlook Magazine, February 18, 2008.
- Rehunuma Ahmed, “Military
Ties Unlimited: India, Israel”, Posted in Global Issues, Media
Issues, January 21, 2010.
- Jane’s Terrorism and
Security Monitor, August 14, 2001.
- Martin Sherman, “From
Conflict to Convergence: India and Israel Forge a Solid Strategic Alliance”, Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2003.
- Quoted by John Cherian in
“The Sharon Visit”, Frontline, 13-26, September 2003.
- Mike Marqusee, “Fateful
Triangle: India, Israel and the US”, Palestine News, July 2006.
- Levi Grinberg, “The Busharon
Global War”, Foreign Policy in Focus, June 2002.
- “Unwritten, Abstract US-India-Israel
Axis to Fight Terror”, Indian Express, September 11, 2003.
- Address by Brajesh Mishra,
National Security Adviser of India at the American Jewish Committee
Annual Dinner, Embassy of India, Washington, DC, 8 May 2003.
- Amit Baruah, “No Need
to Go to Israel”, The Hindu 1 September 2003.
- Ninan Koshy, “Under the
Empire: India’s New Foreign Policy”, LeftWord Books, New Delhi 2006, p. 258.
- “Firm Up Support for
Israel”, Editorial, The Hindu, 26 May 2005.
- Ninan Koshy, “India
and Israel Eye Iran”, Foreign Policy in Focus, February 12, 2008.
- Martin Sherman, Ibid.
- “Report: Secret Document Affirms US-Israel Nuclear Partnership”, Haaretz. Com, 07.07.2010.
Becomes India’s Top Defence Supplier”, www.india-defence.com/reports-4221.
- “Tackling Terror: India,
Israel vow to Boost Ties”, Rediff.com, 19 February, 2010.
- “India’s Statement
on Israeli Attack Weak: Palestine”, My Palestine, June 22, 2010.
Dr. Fatima Shahnaz
(Ph.D. Sorbonne University, Paris, France)
Email : email@example.com
(Dr. Fatima Shahnaz,
(Ph.D. Sorbonne University, Paris, France), has been a ‘Visiting Professor’
(Political Science) at the Hyderabad Central University, Academic Staff
College, and Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi. She is President
of the India Peace Organization, an advocacy promoting international
human rights and global peace which she founded in New York and operates
in India and internationally. She took a stand for many causes in the
US, for justice, ethnic minorities living in the US, against racism,
and as an anti-war activist. She is a published author (her first novel,
GOLCONDA, was published by News India-Times in New York), and a journalist
published internationally. Several books of poetry by her include ‘Sarasvati’.
She won the Jawaharlal Nehru Gold Medal for Writing in her early teens
and was the first Asian/Indian Head Girl of her English Girls’
boarding school in Europe. Her primary and secondary education was British
(G.C.E. Ordinary/Advanced levels from the Oxford-Cambridge boards).
She obtained her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, Paris. She
has lectured at diverse universities, including the Alliance Francaise
in Delhi and Hyderabad. She was cited by the Government of France as
“Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres”, (“Knight of
the Order of Arts and Letters”) in 2010, for her contribution to culture
and service to civilization. Political articles, including “NATO’s
new strategic role” were published in “Third Frame,”
a journal co-published by the Jamia and Cambridge University, U.K. The
Jamia also published, “NATO’s new role: Kosovo, Afghanistan, Pakistan
and Beyond”, a book on NATO by her. She has lectured widely on politics
and human rights and appeared on radio and television. Her introduction
and a poem on the tsunami were published in a collection entitled “In
the Arms of Words: poems for disaster relief” by Sherman Ascher
publishers, USA. Funds from the sales of this book were donated to victims
of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in the USA.)
for any in-depth analysis of India’s role in the greater Middle East
is a critical revision of regional geo-politics and the ‘special interests’
(key players) in the six-decade old crisis. Awareness of the broader
spectrum would be decisive in defining the new bilateral Indo-Israeli
relationship. However, equally significant is maintaining the balance
with traditional allies in the Arab world and others such as Russia
and Iran for India’s geo-strategic and national interests, particularly
as the country has been defined as an emerging regional economic power-house.
Additionally, destabilizing the balance will have a resonance in the
Central Asian region, in addition to the fragile Sino-Indian relationship
as China (like Russia) is integral to the new multi-polar relationships.
Any strategic alliance should take into account the high stakes involved.
Behind Indian policymaking itself lie principles that run far deeper
than the current global financial disintegration: India’s image as
a non-interventionist nation built on compliance with international
law and universal humanitarian values rooted in justice cannot be shredded
through political myopia, religious bias or short-term profit. While
‘realpolitik,’ self-interest and the ‘national security state’
may be the benchmarks of the post-Cold War era, foreign policy issues
touch on an array of concerns: these ramifications, the end-game, overlap
covering areas from the economic to the moral, strategic and political.
Brief benefits rooted in ‘irrational’ or rash assumptions may, by
and large, backlash if they fail to anticipate the self-destructive
collision course such unilateral policymaking may have. As Israel is
sponsored by the United States, (is even considered a ‘proxy’ or
‘foot-soldier’ of American interests), a realistic appraisal of
US history and policymaking, past and present, would provide crucial
evidence to foreign powers like India. The recent American experience
of interventionism, with two illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, serves
as a grim deterrent against military aggression. But earlier still,
since Israel’s creation, the depletion of decades of American taxpayers’
funds to sustain the Zionist state (particularly at the current rate
of unemployment and homelessness among American citizens) and the decline
of the US into a war industry, the Military-Industrial complex, are
warnings against the American example, of falling into the morass of
its failed foreign policies. Such a disaster-course should be a blatant
reminder of the incompatibility between US militarization that has exploited
the war against terrorism as a pretext for a new arms race, and India’s
modern heritage as a crusader for democracy. In brief, how can Mahatma
Gandhi and Gunboat diplomacy mix? The globalists’ dogma is that Gandhi
is an anachronism in the age of neo-liberal economics! Has India outgrown
Gandhi? Can mythical non-violence, ahimsa, and the Indian past
of pacifism be a match for Defense Inc., the expanding global war economy?
Ostensibly, the Government of India has crossed the Rubicon, the imperialist
threshold, and opted for Defense Inc. as it ‘liberalizes’ Indian
markets for foreign military hardware. As Israel is now the second largest
supplier of arms for India, the covert relationship between the two
(currently cemented in Afghanistan where both have a marked presence)
targets two traditional enemies: Pakistan in India’s case, and Iran,
allegedly building its own nuclear arsenal, viewed as a threat by Israel
which is the only nuclear power in the Middle Eastern region. Israel
has been a US ‘garrison state’ entirely armed by the Anglo-American
and Western military arsenal, and a launch-pad of Britain’s imperial
interests in the Middle East. From the legal and moral standpoint, the
Zionist state has systematically violated international law, been declared
both an apartheid state and an occupying power of Palestinian territories.
A deeper analysis would disclose the foreign interventionism in this
cockpit of the world with the richest energy resources. Alienating oil
sheikdoms through a pro-Israel policy would not only be self-defeating,
but against India’s own interests at the drawing board for much-needed
oil. Such ‘national interests’ cast a shadow over India’s so-called
new ‘pragmatism,’ which may be tainted with a cynical disregard
for the humanitarian toll – through the expanding theatre of war from
Southwest Asia to the subcontinent, and the “crores” on defense
spending invested in Israel and other arms merchants.
India’s paradigm-shift in foreign policy (with regard to Israel in
particular) is not without its blowback effect. A scourge of challenges
dogs the UPA Congress Government steered by Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh. The domestic priorities can neither be wished away nor minimized,
and internal contradictions place the Government on the horns of a political
dilemma. A daunting motley crew, consisting of the Opposition Hindutva
forces, BJP hawks and nationalists calls for a theocratic Hindu state
on the lines of Israel’s Zionist “Ersatz Israel,’ or Greater
Israel. The trend threatens to subvert the very fiber of a secular Indian
democracy, making it analogous to Pakistan, defined as a theocratic
state (and India’s regional rival). From recent events in the Islamic
nation, the latest being the assassination of a Governor in Punjab pitting
Islamists and religious groups against secularists, it is blatant that
the theocracy-model has failed in Pakistan. Similarly, the Zionist model
of Israel has become a ‘fortress’ or ‘garrison state’
mired in the perpetual war scenario from its inception. India’s internal
fragmentation reveals fractious regional coalitions, secessionist movements,
the anti-American left wing communist/Marxists, plus a vast Muslim minority
vote-bank - all forces the Congress must contend with, appease, or keep
at bay while pursuing policies as controversial as the one with Israel.
It is perhaps tightrope walking in this volatile climate that compels
the UPA to balance its new ‘diplomacy’ toward the Jewish state
by opting for pragmatism, flexibility or compromise (often viewed as
But these very contradictions,
fraught with ambivalence, have placed the Indian state in a moral quandary.
Accusations of covert support for Israel, engineered by the new Indo-American
strategic ‘partnership,’ lay blame on the Congress for becoming
a ‘junior partner’ or ‘client state’ of the U.S. Further,
the current Indian Government advertising its Gandhian heritage
has come under increasing criticism for betraying its own democratic
and secular principles. This is not merely in shifting from its traditional
policy of supporting the disenfranchised Palestinians expropriated and
expulsed from their territories under Israeli occupation. India once
took the moral high ground by supporting democratic movements in the
post-colonial period. More importantly, having diverged from the path
of non-interventionism pioneered by the Non-Aligned Movement, the Congress
Party has additionally been denounced by critics for betraying India’s
historic role of opposing imperialist domination, as an advocate of
democratic movements and the sovereign nation state, of secularism and
humanitarianism. Losing neutrality in a multi-polar world by tilting
toward the Euro-Atlantic-Israeli Western powers has sucked the UPA into
the maelstrom of the Middle East quagmire. With its support-base beefed
by vast US military, financial, and technological aid, Israel is viewed
by less armed Arab states as a despot, the proverbial ‘bully on the
block’ or worse, the regional policeman for its puppeteers, the US
with global sentiments blinded by rabid anti-Americanism, the British
role in Middle East geo-politics has virtually been whitewashed. Architect
of the state of Israel, the Sykes-Picot pact partitioning Arab territories,
Britain’s exploitation of the oil-rich Arab Gulf states is historic.
It has been a partner in the Anglo-Saudi arms-for-oil scheme called
Al-Yamamah brokered in 1986 between Prince Bandar, the British Government
and British weapons cartel, BAE Systems. This provided fighter jets,
radar, training and logistical and spare parts to the Saudi Air Force,
and the British were paid for the military hardware with crude oil.
BAE sold this on the international spot market and an estimated $100
billion in excess funds were siphoned to offshore accounts. These were
aimed at funding “black” operations (terrorism?) worldwide.
The sponsorship of the Afghan mujahideen fighting the Soviet Red Army
was one recipient of the funds, and recently leaked US State Department
documents declare that al-Qaeda, the Taliban and LeT (lashkar-e-Tayyiba)
continue to receive funding from these sources. Former US Vice President
Dick Cheney was entangled in financial scandals involving the BAE deal,
which he did not declare to the US Congress. The Saudi-British nexus
with the Bush family (two US Presidents, father and son) was uncovered
in the post-9/11 period. Britain has been identified as providing
a safe haven for ‘terrorists’. The U.K. is also allied with Israel
in launching the current war-drive against Iran. The adversarial relationships
fomented between the Gulf States and Iran is another missing piece in
the Mideast jigsaw puzzle.
regard to Iran, Indian policymakers send mixed signals, flip-flopping
under American pressure. With overwhelming US military aid, Israel’s
war machine targets Iran, considered a rival building its own nuclear
arsenal and a future threat to Israel. Grant F. Smith (in Online
Journal) reports that the Republican US Representative Mark Steven from
Illinois received $221,000 in campaign contributions from Israel political
action committees (PACs) to introduce legislation preventing the Import-Export
bank from providing loan guarantees to countries doing business with
Iran. In December 2010, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, envoy
of the ‘Middle East Quartet’, was in the US attempting to influence
U.S. policy in Southwest Asia and toward the Muslim world, specifically
promoting war against Iran. At the Israel-Palestine forum in the Saban
Center of the Brookings Institution on December 10, Blair met Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton who gave a keynote address attended by Labor
Party Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad. Blair, who belongs to the British intelligence group “the
Faith Foundation,” has connections with the fundamentalist “settler”
extremists in Israel. On December 2, the Faith Foundation chose as its
first American university associate Wheaton College, Illinois, affiliated
with the “Christian Zionism” doctrine that promotes war in the Middle
East. Alumni of Wheaton College include the fundamentalist speechwriter
of George W. Bush who targeted Iran in the ‘Axis of Evil’ State
of the Union speech in 2002. Christian-Zionist fanatics in the Bush-Cheney
White House drafted U.S. foreign policy with a fundamentalist doctrine
based on defining the borders of Israel along those in the Old Testament.
For Christians this would usher in the Battle of Armageddon prophesied
in the Book of Revelations. In the Netherlands, NIPAC (the Netherlands
Israel Public Affairs Council) like the US-based Israel lobby (AIPAC)
has been used by the Israeli Government of Prime Minster Netanyahu to
enlist support in Europe for a war drive against Iran. A Dutch member
of Parliament, Wim Kortenoeven, member of an anti-Islamic party, director
of NIPAC who lived in Israel, proposed a “preventive war” on Iran
on December 15 (Dutch news service, NOS). He said, “By attacking,
we have to prevent our own destruction.
THE CASE AGAINST
Zionist state itself epitomizes the model of apartheid state India denounced
through its principles of justice in the case of South Africa. The late
Columbia University Professor, Edward Said, described Israel as “the
last colonial outpost of empire”. With its own history of ‘covert
war,’ or terrorism, Israel has launched assassination squads
against leaders, activists or individuals opposed to its policies. The
latest in these are suspected to be a murdered Iranian nuclear scientist,
and human rights activists on the flotilla (“Spirit of Humanity”)
carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians exterminated under the Israeli
blockade on Gaza. In a grisly replay of daily news, an innocent Palestinian
was shot in his home by Israeli troops this January, 2011. Indian history
stresses a fundamental incompatibility in India’s relations with any
abuser of international law. But a turning point in Indian policy occurred
during the Kargil War in 1997, with the BJP Government forging a new
alliance with Israel, which heavily supplied weapons to India against
Pakistan. In the post-9/11 phase, the new international zeitgeist of a booming arms industry is the ‘security state’. The ‘war against
terrorism’ is its ‘mantra,’ and war-profiteering its ideology.
THE COSTS OF INDIA’S
Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement (May 31, 2010)
on the “incident” involving the Israeli raid on the aid flotilla
on the sea off the coast of Gaza.: “India deplores the tragic loss
of life and the reports of killings and injuries to people on the boats
carrying supplies for Gaza. There can be no justification for such indiscriminate
use of force, which we condemn. We extend our sympathies to the families
of the dead and wounded. It is our firm conviction that lasting peace
and security in the region can be achieved only through peaceful dialogue
and not through use of force”. Yet soundbytes out of New Delhi
are devoid of credibility, as if ‘invisible puppeteers’ operated
a puppet government. Foreign policy decisions appear to lack consistency,
or even consensus within the Congress Party, so the contradictions emerging
are political spin in a vacuum. For example, India’s standing in the
Organization of Islamic Conference countries demonstrates another‘flip-flopping’
attitude, in addition to ambivalence on the Palestinian issue. While
voting with the OIC each time it denounced Israel, India found itself
isolated when the OIC took anti-India resolutions repudiating India’s
sovereign right over Jammu and Kashmir. The Hindu right-wing is benighted
by its own lacunae, its perennial blind spots. Its worldview remains
narrowly reductionist, obsessive over traditional enemies like Pakistan
and China, but blindly supporting Israel for its Islamophobic policies
equated with communal anti-Muslim sentiments in India. This misplaced
bias gives a green light signal for Israel’s expansionism into the
Indian region, and penetration of Indian intelligence, military and
political networks. The presence of Israelis, even covert intelligence
operatives posing as students or journalists in Goa, the Himalayan region
or the Northeast is barely disclosed, either by the Indian media or
right-wing Hindu Parties. Saffron organizations (even the RSS) may be
informed of the presence of scores of rabbis on the subcontinent and
conversions of Hindus to Judaism, but this wave of Israeli infiltration
is largely ignored while Christian and Muslim minorities, mostly ethnic
Indians, are subjected to routine pogroms. These are the contradictions
in the fractured Indian polity and mind. As the French philosopher Voltaire
(1712-1778) wrote “Those who can make people believe absurdities
can make them commit atrocities.” Israeli penetration in the Kashmir region, as in Afghanistan, is another
minefield for India, as it alienates the local Muslim population, driving
them deeper into the Pakistan camp. Israel was recruited by the US and
Britain in the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to train “contractors”
in torture methods and intelligence techniques practiced on Palestinian
prisoners. Along with a growing influx of the American FBI (Federal
Bureau of Investigation) and CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) into
India, Israel has also trained the Indian armed forces in Kashmir and
other troubled areas in dealing with ‘terrorist’ tactics. The arbitrary
arrests of Muslim youth throughout India, countless ‘fake encounters’
of innocent civilians targeted by the Indian ‘security forces’ in
Kashmir, show evidence of Israel’s ‘Palestinian model’ of torture
practiced on Indian citizens, mostly innocent Muslims. This is an alarming
recipe for India’s decline into ‘state terrorism’ on the Israeli
model of a state rooted in violation of international law, a remorseless
abuser of human rights. But as Voltaire said, the absurdity of the situation
is the distorting propaganda itself: in the United States the Israel
lobby censors any dissent or criticism of Jewish policies by accusing
critics of ‘anti-Semitism’. In this way, the abusers have
maintained a ‘brainwashing’ technique that has virtually silenced
opposition to Israel in the Western hemisphere. Paul Craig Roberts,
former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration,
told the Russia Today TV Channel (July 3, 2009) that “when it comes
to the Middle East, the US Government is the puppet of Israel (or rather
its lobby)”. He observed,
“Americans think that they are a superpower, but in fact they are
a stupor-power. A puppet state if truth be known”.
“Agent Provocateur: On Israel, India plays Boy Scout” Kanchan
Gupta (in his weekly column, Coffee Break, The Pioneer, June 6, 2010)
stresses the Indian ambivalence from the Hindu conservative’s angle: “We can vote against Iran at the IAEA to please America (it would
have been an entirely defensible and justifiable decision had New Delhi
voted against Tehran on its own and not at Washington’s behest) but
we can’t refuse to vote against Israel bearing in mind our national
interest?” He refers to the military weapons generously supplied
by Israel in the Kargil war. The Hindu right-wing accuses the Government
of subservience to the OIC and of failing to show sympathy for Israel
as it might “antagonize” the Muslim world, and on the basis that
this would support Pakistan’s claim to J&K. Such false assumptions
echo the ‘clash of civilizations’ dogma of the anglophile, Professor
Samuel P. Huntington, who viewed all Muslim nations as ‘monolithic’.
The Hindutva ideology is similarly based on the irrational assumption
that all Muslims are pro-Pakistan. It would be no exaggeration to register
the impact on India’s foreign policy toward Arab states through the
vast foreign incomes coming from NRIs of the Indian diaspora working
in the Gulf area. Such conflicting considerations are underpinnings
of the ‘covert’ or tacit nature of the Indo-Israeli relationship.
But despite these ‘national interests,’ Kanchan Gupta disparages
the pro-Islamic tilt of the Indian political establishment: “By
rushing into criticizing Israel, we may think we have scored brownie
points with Turkey, which has recalled its Ambassador to Tel Aviv and
threatened to snap six decades of diplomatic relations, but such expectations
are entirely misplaced. The Islamist AKP regime in Ankara has made it
abundantly clear that its sympathies lie with Islamabad and not New
Delhi on a host of issues, especially the future role of Pakistan and
India in Afghanistan; that it will facilitate Tehran’s bomb-in-the
basement programme through subterfuge and sleight of hand and, that
it sees itself as the new centre of Islamic politics and Islamist revanchism.
If anything, India looks as silly as Nicaragua and South Africa
– the first is trying to rediscover Left radicalism in a world that
cruelly mocks at the Left; the second is blessed with a succession of
Muslim Deputy Foreign Ministers who abuse Israel to satiate their lust
closer study of Byzantine Middle Eastern politics would certainly avoid
rash judgmentalism: since the flotilla incident, Israel and Turkey have
re-established communications. Neither would wish to forfeit their longstanding
trade and development relationship. For India, the dangers of falling
into a new ‘saffron-Star of David’ nexus might be more relevant.
When extremist Hindu terrorists were arrested in India for several bomb-blasts
(Malegaon, Mumbai, Ajmer, Mecca Masjid etc.) it was reported that some
of these had established a “Government in Exile” in Tel Aviv,
with the blessings of the Israeli Government! The issue of China is
raised by Mr. Gupta as another thorn in India’s flesh: “As if
that were not enough, we have been bracketed with China which amazingly
lectured Israel on the need to be mindful about safeguarding human rights.
We could, of course, compare our hypocrisy with that of Britain which
earlier this year expelled an Israeli diplomat over the targeted killing
of a Hamas terrorist in Dubai. Few know that sanctimonious Britain provides
caring shelter to Islamists wanted for horrible crimes around the world.” Britain, it may be recalled, happens to be the mastermind and puppeteer
LOYAL GURKHA GUARDS
the above it is implicit that an in-depth awareness of imperial geo-politics
in the Middle East, and imperialist oil wars, might help Indian policymakers
gain better insights into the Israeli-Arab conflict. A failure to do
so would confuse and distort the wider realities at stake. With its
own colonial history, India cannot forget the past by subscribing to
the imperial narrative, regressing to the role of the loyal ‘gurkha’
guards servicing the very empire the nation overthrew.
home to 1.5 million Palestinians driven by force out of their homes,
farms, and villages with American-supplied Israeli weapons, has been
called the “world’s largest concentration camp”. The continual
expansion of Israeli settlements in stolen Palestinian territories has
been an ongoing violation of international law and United Nations laws
condemning Israel’s theft of Palestine. Some witnesses have compared
this with the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of American Indians by US
settlers robbing their lands between the 17th and 19th centuries. Israel’s blockade of Gaza in 2010 and assault on the “Spirit
of Humanity” carrying humanitarian aid caused international outrage,
but with US support for the Zionist state, the human rights movement
itself becomes a hypocrisy. The abuse and torture of captured Palestinian
children, shot down in streets by Israeli defense forces is an open
secret. The Geneva-based Defense for Children International, cited in
Time Magazine, reported that “the ill-treatment and torture of
Palestinian child prisoners appears to be widespread, systematic and
institutionalized, suggesting complicity at all levels of the political
and military chain of command”. Time comments, “Often,
children suffer lasting traumas from jail.
Says Saleh Nazzal, of the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoner Affairs,
“When soldiers burst into a house and drag away a child, he loses
his feeling of being protected by his family. He comes back from
prison alienated from his family, his friends. They don’t like
going back to school or even leaving the house. They start wetting
their beds.” A YMCA counselor helping kids returning from
prison, Mona Zaghrout, adds, “They come out of prison thinking
and acting like they are men. Their childhood is gone.”
The end-result of this child abuse is to radicalize children who then
go on to join armed militant groups “fighting the Israeli occupation”.
Israel’s blockade of Gaza prevents any human rights activists or international
intervention. Foreign nationals and human rights activists on the aid
ship were kidnapped or killed by the Zionist state. The fence ghettoizing
Palestinian territories, a new Berlin Wall, has been condemned
by international courts, but disregarded by Israel. In sixty years of
Israel’s war-crimes and violations of international law any United
Nations sanctions have been vetoed by the US, and Western powers. Israel’s
power over the United States Congress and President (with an Israeli
citizen, former member of the Israeli Defense Forces made a Chief-of-Staff
in the Obama White House), extends far beyond, into the American heartland
itself. Right-wing “Christian Zionists” and “rapture evangelicals”
milled around the regime of former President George W. Bush, creating
the nexus between the Jewish lobby and Christian Right. That Christian-Zionist
movement has been recently revived by former British Prime Minister,
Tony Blair, in his trip to the US last December (2010) to drum up war
WHAT IS A TERRORIST?
rabid ‘Islamophobia’ has defined Palestinians and Arabs as
‘terrorists’. This includes the freely elected government of Hamas,
in Gaza. According to Paul Craig Roberts, “Hamas, unlike Israel,
is declared to be a terrorist organization by the puppet American State
Department in Washington.” In Israel’s view the human rights
activists on board the “Spirit of Humanity” were seen as aiding
and abetting terrorists as they delivered goods to them. The US Department
of Justice prosecutes American citizens and charities sending aid to
Palestinians on the basis that the latter are either terrorists, or
governed by terrorists. While US states like California fall into bankruptcy,
Craig commented “our government in Washington told the Governor
of California “not one red cent,” President Barak Obama handed over
2.775 billion and the weapons to Israel.” On June 29, 2010 Online
Journal reported that the handover of Americans’ tax-dollars to Israel
occurred in a “tiny Capitol room” where members of the press were
denied access. This is the state of affairs in Washington while
the American nation has its highest rate of unemployment since
the Great Depression. In military aid, Israel bypasses the Pentagon
to deal directly with American weapons suppliers. This bolsters Israel’s
nuclear arsenal and empowers the Israel lobby in congressional committees.
PROCESS SHOT DOWN
amalgamation of all these factors calls for a new perspective on the
current impasse regarding the Arab-Israeli peace process, which has
repeatedly been shot down by the Likud conservative government in Israel,
expanding the illegal settlements, supported by the Anglo-Americans.
But there has been a considerable shift in regional balance since the
Lebanon War in 2006, and Israel’s Gaza invasion in 2008 targeting
Hezbollah and Hamas (the leading Palestinian party elected into office
after Fatah), with long-range rockets. While the United States and Britain
are viewed as the traditional ‘puppeteers’ replaying imperial
interests in the region, Syria and Iran are Israel’s targets, accused
of “covertly supplying the two [Palestinian] groups with more than
50,000 missiles and rockets,” according to the British Economist.
The newspaper gives a dire forecast for war and spiraling violence,
thus justifying Israel’s right to self-defense: “For the first
time a radical non-state actor has the power to kill thousands of civilians
in Israel’s cities more or less at the press of the button.” As Israel is prepared to “strike back with greater fire-power, “a war of this sort could easily draw in Syria, and perhaps Iran.” The Economist predicts an expansion of the theatre of war is inevitable
within the next year: “Every time an attempt at Arab-Israel
peacemaking fails, as Barack Obama’s did shortly before Christmas,
the peace becomes a little more fragile and the danger of war increases.
Sadly, there is reason to believe that unless remedial action is taken,
2011 might see the most destructive such war for many years.”
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
this apocalyptic scenario, there are emerging voices with new perspectives,
albeit tentative. These may be the “road less traveled,” but
new regional triangles and strategic partnerships are challenging the
old imperialist script. Some optimism emerges from these divergent views
countering the imperialist failures. As an emerging power in the South
Asian region, India may have a pivotal role to play in resolving the
Middle East conflict and Arab-Israeli deadlock. Former Russian Prime
Minister Yevgeny Primakov (December 9, 2010) proposed the intervention
of China and India in the group of international mediators involved
in resolving the Middle East stalemate, to be achieved by re-activating
the “roadmap” drafted in 2003 by the ‘Quartet’ (the
U.S.A., UN, EU, and Russia). In a speech to the annual conference of
the Valdai Group in Malta this year, Primakov said “it is necessary
to activate the Quartet and to expand the mediator mission on its base.”
The impasse of the Quartet was blamed by former Russian Prime Minister
Yevgeny Primakov on Israel. Novosti, the Russian news agency, reported
he “poured cold water on the Quartet’s defunct 2003 “road map,”
blaming Israel for the failure of talks regarding freezing settlement
construction in the occupied Palestinian territories. Although talks
resumed in September 2010 after a lapse of 20 months, the Israelis continued
construction on the West Bank leading to a collapse of the talks. Meanwhile,
the Iranian Press TV reported that a move by three Latin American countries,
Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay recognizing a sovereign Palestinian State
within the 1967 borders of Israel and Palestine was condemned by Israel.
The three nations sent a formal letter of recognition to the Palestinian
National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on December 6. The initiative
of the three Latin countries serves as a moral code reminding that the
real issue is one of morality and justice, through recognition of the
Palestinian state. Europe and the United States have allowed Israeli
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud (right-wing) government
to block chances of negotiations. But the imperialist hand, specifically
British imperial interests in the Middle East region, strangles the
peace process; and duplicitous machinations – the “old” way of
doing things - thwart endeavors to bring peace. Over 100 countries,
including China and Russia, two permanent UN Security Council members,
have recognized the state of Palestine. But despite this there is no
independent Palestinian state, while Kosovo became one recently. The
two reasons for this are that it perpetuates the colonial policies of
the British empire and its imperial interests, and controls the nations
through fomenting such crises. The need to “think outside the box”
would mean not playing the game controlled by the “invisible puppeteers”.
As pragmatic self-interest in foreign policymaking is prioritized
over moral or humanitarian prerogatives, the smaller poorer nations
striving to be “players” on the chessboard operate through appeasement
policies. While a rift has arisen and been fostered externally between
the two major Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah, recognizing an independent
Palestinian state would have to include both parties, as Hamas has been
limited to Gaza. In the final analysis, the Palestinians themselves
should have a right to decide who their elected representatives are
to be and the nature of their state. In recognizing these ground realities
India would pursue a realistic and independent foreign policy, not pressured
by the satraps of external powers.
the complex and dangerously fragmented multi-polarized global scenario
there is a compelling need to review bi-polar relations. The bilateral
Indo-Israeli relationship that has burgeoned in the past two decades
should be seen in this light, particularly with nations on the brink
of disintegration, national bankruptcies, volatile currencies and expanding
warfare. Shifting global alliances and new strategic partnerships are
symptomatic of this turbulent climate. A timely reminder of the high
stakes facing the nation, and the Planet, lies in US President Dwight
D. Eisenhower’s farewell address on January 17, 1961 to the American
people fifty years ago. The speech was described by Time magazine as
“one of the most notable policy statements of U.S. history”. In
the aftermath of Joseph Stalin’s death, offering a new five-point
plan to the Soviets for ending the cold war, Eisenhower defined his
vision for peace. He denounced the alarming militarization of the age
through the rise of the military-industrial complex, the escalating
stockpiling of the American war machine, and defense spending that misappropriated
resources from “productive to destructive purposes,” according to
Andrew J. Bacvich (The Atlantic, January 2011)). In his presentation
to the American Society of Newspaper editors on April 16, 1953, Eisenhower
prophesied a protracted war scenario ahead, describing it as “humanity
hanging from a cross of iron”. This echoed the misgivings of
his farewell speech a decade earlier: “Every gun that is made,
every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense,
a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and
are not clothed.” He continued, “Any nation that pours
its treasure into the purchase of armaments is spending more than mere
money. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of
its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Eisenhower,
a mere voice in the wilderness, was drowned by US policymakers who saw
plausible economic benefits in boosting the military arsenal. What Eisenhower
saw was that “the cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern
brick school in more than 30 cities ... We pay for a single fighter
with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer
with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”
“crores” lavished by the Government on Defense Inc. and Israel,
the second largest supplier of Indian weaponry, India’s “aam
aadmi” may well be ‘collateral damage’ in the meatgrinder
war-machine. But a “theft from those who hunger and are not fed”
should remind Indians of the stench of malnutrition in our urban areas,
our slums and cities, specifically children; of the “half-million
bushels of wheat” that paid for a single fighter, but cannot
stop farmers’ suicides in our agricultural sector; the price
of a single destroyer that could have “housed more than 8,000 people”
but cannot allow Hindus, Muslims and any ‘humane-ness’ to cohabit
in our cities. But that was then, Eisnehower’s America! This
is now, shining India. The price of onions, of gasoline, of rotting
grains in warehouses sold to feed European cattle but not India’s
poor, the price-tag of fighter jets that could sustain a small country.
humanitarian considerations may seem grossly outdated in the globalists’
agenda; nor is this article intended as an anti-Semitic diatribe against
Jews or the Jewish faith, but against militarization and belligerence
which has led the world into spiraling violence. Our sense of universal
justice should be anchored in morality, a civilized conscience, civil
equity. The words of a prominent New York Rabbi who once told a Biblical
story during the 1990s reflect this. When Moses parted the Red Sea and
the Israelites walked safely to the other shore, they turned to see
Pharaoh’s troops, the pursuing enemy forces, drowned and killed. Moses
congratulated the Israelites for surviving, but when he sought God’s
blessing, He was silent. Three times Moses asked God if he was not happy
with the miracle, but finally God replied, “Why should I be happy?
You have killed my children”.
who saw Saddam Hussein’s scuds fall on Israeli cities in the first
Gulf War of 1991-92, who saw televised images of Benjamin Netanyahu
in a whole night’s vigil on a roof-top watching missiles strike Israel,
or Israeli citizens, women and children, blown up in buses, cannot delete
those horrors from memory. Nor can the atrocities of the Holocaust in
Nazi Germany be forgotten, just as the new death-camps of Gaza cannot
be erased. The killings can only stop when the arms cartels stop; when
justice is not arbitrary but the same for Jew and Palestinian; and when
the rabbi’s story with God’s words, “You have killed my children”
applies to all humankind indiscriminately, Arab, Jew, Hindu, Muslim,
Christian, Sikh, Jain, as to all races.
relationship: a survey
Department of Government
Cambridge, MA 02138
interested in security studies, military affairs and especially civil-military
relations, South Asia with a focus on the foreign policy of India. I
also have interests in international political economy, and political
I studied politics and economics at Cambridge University (Gonville and Caius College), where I edited
the undergraduate economics journal for two years and graduated with
a Starred First. During 2008-9, I was one of Britain's nine Kennedy
Scholars at Harvard.
I have taught both economics and politics
at both places, and have also worked for the National Democratic Institute (NDI)
in Moscow on electoral analysis and democratic training projects, Citigroup in
New York in their regulatory reporting division, and the Royal United
Services Institute (RUSI) in London on Indian foreign and security
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
The enduring idiosyncrasies
of the India-Israel relationship were underscored in September 2010
when Mani Shankar Aiyar, a senior Congress leader and former career
diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, publicly condemned the Congress-led
government’s friendliness towards Israel. He complained that India
had ‘become so dependent on defence supplies from Israel that when
I put up a Rajya Sabha question seeking the government’s reply on
whether it equated the large number of civilians killed by Israeli forces
in the Gaza strip … with the killings by Hamas, the Ministry
of External Affairs disallowed my question, calling it a state secret’.
Aiyar lamented the major policy shift that this reflected, given that
‘we (India) were in the forefront of the Palestinian cause?’ 1
India and Israel famously
established full diplomatic relations only in 1992, four and a half
decades after the two countries were founded as independent states a
year apart. For much of that period, India’s opposition to Israel’s
actions towards the Arab states and the Palestinian territories was
vocal, held by many as an article of faith, and garnered consensus across
India’s bureaucracies. It accorded with India’s prominent role in
the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), with India’s close ties to Arab states,
and with the scepticism of American foreign policy that buttressed successive
generations of mainstream views amongst decision-makers in New Delhi.
Although India recognized
Israel in 1950, the former’s participation in NAM was deemed to require
support for the erstwhile Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as
part of a broader anti-colonial struggle, during a period in which colonial
assets were still held by European states (including Goa, by Portugal).
In keeping with this commitment, India was quick to permit PLO representation
in New Delhi, and became one of the first states worldwide to recognize
Palestinian independence. India was the first non-Arab state to recognize
the PLO as the ‘role legitimate representative of the Palestinian
Maulana Kalam Azad,
a senior figure in the Indian independence movement and India’s first
education minister, was influential in ensuring both strong Indian support
for the Arab states in their disputes with Israel and also the limitations
on Indian diplomatic relations with Israel.3 In the 1960s, V. K. Krishna Menon, defence minister between 1957 and
1962, explained to an American scholar that India could not extend full
recognition to Israel because ‘we have got [anti-Israel] Pakistan
on our borders, and the West supports Pakistan, and we cannot go and
create more enemies than we have at the present moment’. He went on
to add that ‘the one very good friend we have in the world is Nasser’,
against whom Israel had fought in both 1956 and 1968.4
Even so, M.J. Akbar notes that at the first and seminal Afro-Asian (Bandung)
Conference in 1955, ‘although Krishna Menon wanted Israel’s presence,
Nehru succumbed to Arab pressure and kept Israel out’. Nehru later
admitted to Indian diplomats that ‘keeping Israel out was illogical’.5 Yet by this time, India’s policy was undergirded by a broad set of
seemingly durable interests.
Securing Muslim states’
support for India on the Kashmir issue, which remained subject to considerable
diplomatic effort through the 1950s and 1960s, generated incentives
for Delhi to demonstrate India’s fidelity to their own disputes and
interests in the territorial contest with Israel. This was largely to
no avail. In the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War, for instance, ‘Muslim’
states as disparate as Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran all sent
military aircraft to assist Pakistan.6 Ironically,
Israel offered covert support to India in this, as well as the 1962
Sino-Indian War before and the 1999 Kargil War after.7
In the latter conflict, Israel reportedly rushed ammunition to India,
and assisted in the interpretation of imagery from unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs, or drones). India also consistently overestimated the likely
Arab and other Muslim states’ reaction to Indian engagement with Israel.
India also retained
interests in securing supplies of oil from the Arab states, and continued
to harbour views that Zionism was tainted with the same anti-secular
and regressive implications of the founding ideology of Pakistan.8
Former foreign minister Jaswant Singh has also suggested that because
‘it was felt that injustice must not be done to India’s Muslims
… India’s Israel policy became captive to domestic policy and therefore
an unstated veto’.9 There is little evidence as to whether
this was in fact an important influence on Indian leaders, but the effect
of foreign policy on Indian minorities was certainly a deep concern
of Nehru.10 Later, as many as three million Indian
workers in the Middle East were supplying a steady flow of remittances
back into India, providing another reason for reticence in engaging
During the tenure of
the Janata government in 1977, Israel’s foreign minister (and hero
of the 1967 war) Moshe Dayan conducted a secret visit to India, meeting
India’s foreign minister (and later prime minister) A.B. Vajpayee
and prime minister Morarji Desai. The latter reportedly observed that
he would be at risk of being removed from office were the visit to be
made public and that, although it was a mistake not to have done so
in 1948, he could not suddenly restore full diplomatic relations.11
After the Camp David Accords of 1978, India was firmly against the attempt
of some Arab states to expel Egypt from NAM for its signing of a separate
peace with Israel, despite the continuation of the occupation. Yet the
structural factors that constrained India’s policy remained largely
unchanged. As late as 1989, India controversially voted in the United
Nations to condemn Zionism as racism. 12
of Indian foreign policy that took place after the dissolution of the
Soviet Union and the financial crisis that forced a more rapid liberalization
of areas of the Indian economy was a process that C. Raja Mohan described
as ‘crossing the rubicon’.13 But the shift was
in fact more gradual than this idiom suggests, and nowhere more so than
in India’s Middle East policy. Even before 1992, there purportedly
existed close collaboration between the intelligence organisations of
Israel’s Mossad and India’s Research and Analysis Wing over matters
of mutual concern, such as terrorism and areas of nuclear proliferation. 14
support for India in 1962 and 1965 was documented above. A.B. Vajpayee,
defending his role in the secret trip to India by Moshe Dayan, later
insisted that ‘"I am also constrained to say that the closest
relationship between the two countries was in 1962, 1965 and 1971 and
not during my tenure in the external affairs Ministry’. 15 There is limited evidence as to the scope of this cooperation.
There is a more extensive record of the two states’ mutual concern
about Pakistan’s nuclear program. Israel was fearful of Pakistani
cooperation with Libya, and had experience of having bombed the Iraqi
reactor at Osirak in 1981. Throughout this period, there were sporadic
Pakistani concerns that India and Israel would collaborate on a strike
on Pakistani nuclear facilities at Kahuta. Aside from India’s acute
vulnerability to retaliation, this was subject to familiar constraints.
One senior defence official claimed that ‘we have 100 million Muslims
in India. If w cooperated with the Israelis in attacking Pakistan, it
would be a huge political disaster and could cause severe internal problems’. 16
In 1992, then prime
minister Narasimha Rao – along with foreign minister SHarad Pawar,
foreign secretary J.N. Dixit, and defence secretary K.A. Nambiar –
established full diplomatic relations, with representation in Tel Aviv.
A year later, Israeli foreign minister (and current president Shimon
Peres visited Delhi, and five years later, Israeli president Ezer Weizmann.
As the details above suggest, there was more continuity to this move
than has previously been recognized. But the changes of the preceding
years had afforded to India greater strategic latitude, along with the
necessary change in perception to take advantage of this. The India-US
relationship had been steadily improving since the beginning of the
1980s, and Rao’s shift came just before a major trip to Washington.17
In the period since, India’s rapprochement with the United States,
particularly after the key accords of 2005, has lubricated the India-Israel
relationship by virtue of Washington’s unusually close relationship
with the latter. India’s enduring divergences from US foreign policy
– for instance, regarding Indian engagement with Iran and Myanmar/Burma
– have been a source of awkwardness for successive American administrations,
and the reconciliation between a long-time and a newfound ally was particularly
welcome by Presidents Clinton and Bush.18
By the time the Oslo
Accords disintegrated in the 1990s, Arab states were increasingly concerned
about India’s apparent balance in its Israel-Palestine policy, which
C. Raja Mohan notes ‘in fact … was a significant retrenchment
of traditional support for the Arabs’, to the point where ‘New Delhi
was loath to project itself as a potential interlocutor between Israel
and the Arabs’.19 In September 2003, India was able
to welcome Ariel Sharon to Delhi without much of the embarrassment that
had accompanied such prior meetings between officials.
This grew over the
decade, to the point where Israel became India’s second-largest source
of arms (on some estimates, the largest).20 During the 2005-2009 period in which India was the world's second-biggest
arms buyer (behind only China), India imported nearly half a billion
dollars worth of arms from Israel (compared to only $147 million from
the United States).21 A separate study gauges Israeli sales
to India between 2002 and 2005 as amounting to over $5 billion.22
The sensitivity of these transfers increased over time, and defence
ties came to be seen as the vanguard of the broader relationship. This
was exemplified by the sale of Israeli Phalcon AWACs (airborne radar
systems) to India in 2004. This contrasted sharply with the US attitude
towards Israel’s desired sale of the same to China in 1999. Since
the system constituted a joint venture production owing to financial
support from the US, Washington was able to veto the sale to China,
reportedly costing Israel a quarter of a million dollars in losses.
The first system landed in India in May 2009. India has acquired three,
and plans to purchase two to three more. According to one report, this
would comprise the largest defence agreement in the history of Israel’s
transfers have also been key in aircraft avionics (many of which feature
in the Russian entry in India’s Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft,
or MRCA, tender), border defence technology such as unmanned ground
sensors along the India-Pakistan Line of Control, air defence platforms,
theatre missile defence technology, and a range of other security-related
transfers that for so long has been denied to India under the technology
denial regimes that followed India’s two nuclear tests.
What is notable is
that each Cold War era driver of Indian enmity with Israel –
rivalry with Pakistan, competition for the affections of Arab and Muslim
states, a substantial domestic Muslim population perceived to be hostile
to Israel and its treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories,
an Indian migrant worker community in the Middle East, and Indian dependence
on the Middle East for energy supplies – remain. Some, such as
the energy factor, indeed ought to have intensified as constraints on
India-Israel ties. 23
And yet, the relationship
is more expansive and multifaceted than ever before. The dissolution
of the Soviet Union was not unimportant, particularly in driving the
India-US relationship and thereby altering India’s interaction with
traditional US allies. But the Soviet Union had never forced India to
keep its distance from Israel, and had a turbulent relationship to its
Arab allies, many of whom charted reasonably independent courses. This
suggests that much of Indian policy was driven by domestic perceptions
rather than rigid external constraints. When broader policy was re-evaluated
and overhauled from 1992 onwards, this allowed a re-assessment of policy
By the late 1990s,
the India-Israel relationship had diversified in content, and included
much more than pure defence matters. India, in a marked departure from
its usually lethargic diplomacy, began to expand contacts with pro-Israel
lobby groups in Washington so as to develop new sources of leverage
with American administrations. Increasingly, Delhi has viewed
these lobby groups as models, to which the Indian-American community
could aspire. The role of Indian-American groups in encouraging and
pushing through Congress the US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement
in the years after 2005 appears to have validated this judgment.25
Between 2001 and 2005, trade tripled to $2.2 billion, a relatively low
figure but indicative of a major shift since the 1980s and 1990s (trade
does, however, remain dominated by diamonds). Space cooperation has
also flourished. In January 2008, India launched a spy satellite for
Israel, and there are plans to significantly expand space research cooperation. 26
What concerns remain?
First, the relationship
remains unbalanced in its overwhelming focus on defence transfers. One
the one hand, this reflects an Indian attempt to diversify its import
sources after generations of almost exclusive procurement from Russian
sources. Those Russian arms became increasingly obsolete, and dealings
with Russia became more commercial and less favourable to India. The
astonishing delays that Russia was able to impose on India regarding
the sale of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov highlighted for India
the dangers of relying too greatly on one state.27
Increasing imports from Israel and the United States not only reflect
qui pro quos for concessions in the diplomatic realm, but also ensure
the risks associated with the need for spare parts, ammunition and technology
modification are more evenly spread. 28
However, Israel has
not been an unproblematic defence partner. In June 2009, the Indian
government suspended involvement with several companies concerned with
a case entailing alleged bribery of a former head of the Indian Ordnance
Factor Board. Israeli Military Industries (IMI), one of the companies,
had been contracted to build five ordnance and ammunition factories
in India. The Indian Army, and the Indian special forces, were reported
to be especially dependent on Israeli sources of equipment.29
Other firms, such as Rafael and Israeli Aerospace Industries, were also
implicated but their centrality to the Indian defence sector left them
These reflect only
a fraction of the concerns with Indian procurement. Nor is Israel the
only state whose arms industry has raised such concerns – these
are familiar to Indian external and internal procurement – but
it suggests India will not be free from the problems that have plagued
its prior efforts at modernization.
Second, Indian diplomacy
has at times struggled with balancing competing diplomatic interests.
India’s multiple votes against Iran at the IAEA provoked considerable
anger in Tehran, and set back India’s efforts to consolidate relations
with Iran. But these votes were deemed a necessary corollary of Washington’s
great efforts towards the civil nuclear deal. India’s relations with
Burma/Myanmar have been a similar thorn in the side of the India-US
relationship, with India eager to secure Myanmar’s support on countering
insurgent groups and long-term energy supplies, and the United States
conversely interested in isolating the regime in response to its human
rights violations. In some ways, this was an unavoidable consequence
of growing ties with the United States, ties that have brought a range
of benefits for India.
have been surprisingly sanguine at India’s trade, cooperation and
engagement with Israel. This is in part because the ideological content
of the Arab-Israel and Palestine-Israel disputes has diminished, with
international fora such as NAM playing a decreasingly relevant role
in shaping the terms of the struggle. Additionally, many Arab states’
relationships with Israel have also improved greatly. Even those states
whose relationship has greatly worsened, such as Iran, are largely uninterested
in India’s own stance on the issue. Rajiv Sikri, a former Indian diplomat,
even notes that ‘the Arab countries themselves, including Palestine
… quietly hope that India could be a moderating influence on Israel’. 30
Lastly, India’s own
concerns over terrorism have dovetailed with Israeli concerns over Hamas,
Hezbollah and other such groups whose methods have included the use
of terrorist attacks. This has dampened India’s inclination to portray
groups such as Hamas as national liberation organizations, and increased
incentives to understand the cross-national linkages between even disparate
groups of Islamist characteristics. Overall, India has gained from its
relationship with Israel highly valuable military equipment. As the
India-US relationship matures, much of this will also be available from
the United States. But Israel retains expertise and proficiency in several
areas, such as avionics. This will undergird the relationship, at what
is likely to be perceived as entirely acceptable cost.
Third, a bureaucratic
basis has been laid for the relationship. This allows cooperation to
continue below the political radar, and away from the ongoing Indian
sensitivities over dealings with Israel. This is especially important
at a time when a right-wing government governs in Israel, including
strongly right-wing elements associated with the settler movement and
holding hard-line positions on the peace process and policy in the Hamas-controlled
Gaza strip. Previously, anything more than fleeting cooperation with
such a government would have politically toxic, as reflected in the
secrecy and ambivalence of prior Indian dealings with those like Dayan.
But now that diplomatic relations have been normalized, and non-political
officials of both countries meet each other on a regular basis, the
bilateral relationship has been somewhat insulated.
Today, Indian intelligence
officials have labelled Israel ‘the more reliable partner than the
US in counter-terrorism operations’.31 India ‘has
sought new technology and training methods’ from Israeli security
agencies, creating a cadre of officials who will have contacts with
and understanding of their Israeli counterparts.32
Defence officials meet, discuss requirements and share intelligence
without fear that the ties will be abruptly severed. Scientists, in
particular, afford a durable channel by which non-political technocrats
can develop shared understandings and mutual familiarity. Some of these
interactions are even institutionalized. The Indo-Israeli joint working
group (JWG) on counter-terrorism was established in 2000, allowing a
regularized forum for these ties to grow.33 This is
why, even though a moderate cooling of India-Israel relations has been
perceived to take place under the UPA government and high-level political
exchanges have been scarce, underlying cooperation remains as vigorous
as ever. All this indicates that the relationship has a robust base,
free from short-term disturbances.
1Ravish Tiwari and D.K.
Singh, “Aiyar’s latest revolt: UPA depends on Israel, is ignoring
Palestine justice,” Indian Express, September 25, 2010, http://www.indianexpress.com/newhttp://www.indianexpress.com/news/aiyars-latest-revolt-upa-depends-on-israel-is-ignoring-palestine-justice/687661/s/aiyars-latest-revolt-upa-depends-on-israel-is-ignoring-palestine-justice/687661/.
2Rajiv Sikri, Challenge
and Strategy: Rethinking India's Foreign Policy (New Delhi, India:
SAGE Publications India, 2009), 144.
3Nehr.u: a Political
Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1959), 571-572.
4Michael Brecher, India
and World Politics: Krishna Menon's View of the World (London: Oxford
University Press, 1968), 80; see also Muḥammad Ḥasanayn Haykal, Sphinx and Commissar: The
Rise and Fall of Soviet Influence in the Arab World (London: Collins,
5 M. J. Akbar, Nehru:
the making of India (London: Penguin, 1989), 499.
6Hasan-Askari Rizvi, “Pakistan:
Ideology and Foreign Policy,” Asian Affairs 10, no. 1 (April
1, 1983): 48-59.
7Efraim Inbar and Eytan
Gilboa, eds., US-Israeli relations in a new era: issues and challenges
after 9/11 (Taylor & Francis, 2009), 198.
8 Ashok Kapur, India:
From Regional to World Power, India in the modern world 2 (London:
Routledge, 2006), 214.
9Singh quoted in C. Raja
Mohan, Crossing the Rubicon: The Shaping of India's New Foreign Policy (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 220.
10 Srinath Raghavan, War and Peace in Modern India: a strategic history of the Nehru years (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2010), 64.
221Prithvi Ram Mudiam, India and the Middle East (British Academic Press, 1994), 170.
222 Teresita C Schaffer, India and the United States in the 21st Century: Reinventing Partnership (Washington, D.C: CSIS Press, 2009), 157.
223 Raja Mohan, Crossing
224 H. V Pant, “India-Israel
Partnership: Convergence and Constraints,” The Middle East Review
of International Affairs 8, no. 4 (December 2004).
225 Mudiam, India and
the Middle East, 171.
226 George Perkovich, India's Nuclear Bomb (University of California
Press, 2002), 241.
227 Evan A. Feigenbaum,
“India's Rise, America's Interest: the fate of the US-Indian partnership,” Foreign Affairs (April 2010), http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/65995/evan-a-feigenbaum/indias-rise-americas-interest.
228C. Christine Fair, “India
and Iran: New Delhi's Balancing Act,” Washington Quarterly 30, no. 3 (May 1, 2007): 145-159; Marie Lall, “Indo-Myanmar Relations
in the Era of Pipeline Diplomacy,” Contemporary Southeast Asia:
A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 28, no. 3 (2006):
424–446; Ashley J. Tellis, The United States and India 3.0: Cave!
Hic Dragones, Policy Brief (Washington DC: Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, October 2009), http://www.carnegieendowment.org/publications/index.cfm?fa=view&id=24058.
229 Raja Mohan, Crossing
the Rubicon, 228.
20Schaffer, India and
the United States in the 21st Century, 79; for a higher estimate,
see Stephen P. Cohen and Sunil Dasgupta, Arming without Aiming: India's
Military Modernization (Washington DC: Brookings Institution, 2010),
222 Ajai Shukla, “India's arms import doubles in five years,” Business
Standard, March 18, 2010.
22Inbar and Gilboa, US-Israeli
relations in a new era, 198.
23Tanvi Madan, “India's
International Quest for Oil and Natural Gas: Fueling Foreign Policy?,” India Review 9, no. 1 (2010): 2; Carin Zissis, “India’s Energy
Crunch,” Council on Foreign Relations, October 23, 2007, http://www.cfr.org/publication/12200/indias_energy_crunch.html.
24Schaffer, India and
the United States in the 21st Century, 158.
25 J. A Kirk, “Indian-Americans
and the US–India Nuclear Agreement: Consolidation of an Ethnic Lobby?,” Foreign Policy Analysis 4, no. 3 (2008): 275–300.
26 Sikri, Challenge and Strategy, 146; Schaffer, India and the
United States in the 21st Century, 100.
27 Varun Sood and James
Lamont, “India set to launch nuclear submarine,” The Financial
Times, July 9, 2009.
28 Sunil Dasgupta and Stephen
P. Cohen, “Military Modernization in India,” Seminar, no.
611 (July 2010).
29Cohen and Dasgupta, Arming without Aiming, 38.
30Sikri, Challenge and
322 Inbar and Gilboa, US-Israeli relations in a new era, 202.
32Cohen and Dasgupta, Arming without Aiming, 141.
33 Pant, “India-Israel
Security Implications for Pakistan
of Strategic Studies,
(Ms. Mahwish Hafeez
belongs to a Pashtun family from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. She did
her graduation from University of Punjab with journalism and sociology
as major subjects. After graduation, she earned her Masters degree from
Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi in the field of Defence and
Diplomatic Studies. She has been associated as Research Fellow with
Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad since November 2006.)
pursuing an anti-Israel policy for almost four decades, India finally
decided to establish full diplomatic relations with the State of Israel
on January 29, 1992. Soon after the creation of Israel in May 1948,
India not only opposed its creation but also raised its voice against
the U.N. membership for Israel in 1949. But once Israel came into being
and was accepted by the world community, India also decided to grant
de jure recognition to Israel in 1950. The decision of granting de jure
recognition instead of establishing full diplomatic relations was driven
by a number of factors. India was a founder member of Non-Aligned Movement
(NAM) which supported anti-colonial struggles around the world. India
was also interested in countering Pakistan’s influence in the Arab
world and to safeguard its oil supplies from the Arab countries particularly
after the 1973 oil crisis. Besides, India also feared that by formally
recognising Israel, it would alienate its large Muslim population. However,
despite these considerations and an apparent pro-Arab stance, India
and Israel ran covert diplomacy as is indicated by the reciprocal frequent
visits of high level delegations from both the countries. These visits
resulted in a number of secret agreements particularly in the field
of arms supply and nuclear cooperation.
By 1990s, certain developments around the world compelled India to reconsider
its policy vis-à-vis Israel. With the collapse of the Soviet Union
in 1991, India not only lost an important arm and spare parts supplier,
but also a reliable partner on the international diplomatic front. Israel,
by that time had developed expertise in improving weapons systems of
Soviet origin which could benefit India. It was also observed by India
that the support it gave to the Arab world over the Israeli-Palestinian
issue was not being reciprocated to India over Kashmir as the Organisation
of the Islamic Countries (OIC), in almost all its meetings adopted resolutions
on Kashmir calling for a plebiscite. China’s relationship with Israel
was yet another factor that contributed in Indian policy shift towards
Israel. By 1980s, despite absence of diplomatic relations, China and
Israel were co-operating in the field of military procurements and technology
transfer. This procurement of hi-tech weapons by China was a matter
of great concern for India as despite the improvement in relationship,
India perceived China as a major security threat. Similarly, shortly
before its collapse, the USSR also exchanged its ambassador with Israel
after years of strained diplomatic relations. With these considerations
in mind, India, in a policy shift that is perceived as a most important
step in Indian diplomacy, announced the establishment of full diplomatic
relations with Israel. By taking this step, India also hoped that this
decision would appease and soften the U.S. towards India.
Since the establishment of Indo-Israel relations, there has been a growing
cooperation between both the countries in various fields particularly
defence and anti-terrorism. Despite attempts made by New Delhi to keep
the flourishing bilateral relationship under wraps, the steady strengthening
of India’s relations with Israel could not escape full public view.
This bilateral relationship assumed an altogether new dynamic with the
first ever visit by a ruling Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to
India in September 2003.
Having ancient and illustrious civilisations, both India and Israel
share a common national psyche which makes them natural allies. They
see themselves as democracies surrounded by hostile and implacable adversaries.
Both have fought wars against their respective opponents in almost every
decade. Both the countries share concerns regarding the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. In their perception, no
other two countries in the world have suffered so much at the hands
of “State-sponsored Islamic terrorism” as India and Israel.
Their growing ties have the potential to make a significant impact on
global politics by shifting the balance of power particularly in South
Asia and the Middle East. The present paper attempts to analyse defence
ties between the two countries and its impact on Pakistan.
Defence ties and counter-terrorism
defence relations have been growing steadily. Both Israel and India
aspire to become unchallenged military powers of the Middle East and
South Asia, respectively. Israel helped India in its war against China
in 1962 and against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. RAW, which was created
in 1968, worked as an invisible actor in the formation of India’s domestic,
regional and global policies. The role RAW played in dismembering Pakistan
in 1971 is no secret. It is also said that before that, Prime Minister
Indira Gandhi and Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban had held a secret
meeting somewhere in Europe for two hours after which an agreement was
signed for raising an army consisting of Bengalis to be supported by
Israel. Israel also agreed to send its experts to train this army besides
providing arms and ammunition. A new role was given to RAW by Indira
Gandhi, commonly known as the “Indira Doctrine”, in early 1980s
to undertake covert operations in neighbouring countries, especially
tacit Israeli help was available to the Indian army during the Kargil
crisis which, according to the Israeli ambassador to India, Mark Sofer,
turned around the situation in India’s favour. It is said that Israel
had sent laser guided missiles to India, making it possible for the
Indian Air Force to destroy bunkers in the Kargil mountains. India,
on the other hand, helped Israel during the 1967 Middle East conflict
by covertly sending military equipment to Israel. Though never acknowledged
in public, this cooperation signalled a shared security understanding.
As has been mentioned above, even prior
to the establishment of full diplomatic relations, high-level Indian
and Israeli defence delegations visited each other’s country. In 1963,
General Shaltiel, Isareli Chief of Army Staff, visited India for a secret
meeting with his Indian counterpart. In 1979, Indian Prime Minister
Moraji Desai secretly invited Israeli leader Moshe Dayan. The cooperation
between the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Israel’s Agency for
Intelligence and Special Operations (the Mossad) began in the second
half of 1960s and Indira Gandhi continued the policy of covert relationship
with Israel. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, an elite commando
unit, the Indian National Security Guards (NSG) was formed with the
responsibility of protecting the dignitaries. The NSG allegedly had
links with the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and a number of NSG commandos
were even sent to Israel for training. Establishment of diplomatic relations
between the two countries opened the way for formal structure and opportunities
In the 1980s, it was suspected that
Israel and India were secretly planning to undertake a joint operation
against the Pakistani nuclear facility in Kahuta. However, the operation
was called off due to fears of a retaliatory attack on Indian nuclear
facilities. Besides, it was also believed that the CIA had tipped off
Pakistani President Gen. Zia-ul-Haq about these plans. Since at that
time Pakistan was a frontline State against Soviet Union and a close
ally, the U.S. did not want it to lose focus from the Afghan jihad.
Therefore, the State Department also warned India against any such attack.
In early 1990s, Pakistan suspected
that India was working on a process of inertial confinement fusion in
order to produce and develop nuclear weapons including the hydrogen
bomb. On the other hand, both India and Israel had suspicions regarding
Pakistan’s nuclear programme and its transfer to the Arab countries.
Thus, India and Israel found that intelligence sharing would benefit
January 1996, there were reports that India was contemplating of placing
a $100 million order with the Elta Electronics for 90 radar-jamming
pads for its air force. In June 1996, Abdul Kalam, the brain behind
India’s nuclear programme and military projects like missiles, Light
Combat Aircraft and battle tank Arjun, visited Israel. His visit to
Israel came to light after he had returned to New Delhi.
Pakistan detonated its nuclear device in May 1998, intelligence was
received that six ultra-modern aircraft, loaded with sophisticated missiles
and flown by Israeli pilots, had landed on different air bases in Indian-occupied
Kashmir. With the help of Israelis, the Indians also laid Electronic
Counter Measure (ECM) frequency-operated equipment network to neutralise
Pakistan’s electronic network at its nuclear facilities, particularly
at the Kahuta plant. As a result, Pakistan placed more than 125 surveillance
planes over Kahuta round the clock. This speculation of a strike on
Pakistan’s nuclear facilities was once again raised after Sharon’s
visit to India when a decision was taken to keep a mutually watchful
eye on “fanatic Islam”.
Furthermore, it was also reported that
Indian Air Force had bought a sophisticated Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation
(ACMI) system from Israel for developing air combat tactics. This deal
was termed as the “first major defence purchase” from Israel and
ACMI was installed at the high security Tactics and Air Combat Development
Establishment (TACDE), located at Jamnagar air base. Indian Navy had
also bought electronic support measure (ESM) sensors from Israel for
installing in the solitary operational aircraft carriers INS Virat.
Although this relationship is multifaceted,
it is the menace of terrorism that particularly holds the attention
of both these countries. India and Israel describe fighting terrorism
as a major national challenge. Both consider themselves democratic,
pluralistic States with large domestic Muslim minorities. In fact, immediately
after the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries,
Indian Defence Minister Sharad Pawar announced that normalisation of
relationship with Israel has paved the way to drawing on Israel’s
successful experience to curb terrorism. Though he later denied issuing
the statement, but couple of months later, he, as the Chief Minister
of Maharashtra, led a delegation to an agricultural exhibition in Tel
Aviv. The delegation also included a high level military team that visited
Israeli military facilities including the Israeli Anti-Terror Unit.
Both the countries blame their neighbours for sponsoring terrorism in
their countries. In this regard, the proposal made by Indian National
Security Advisor Barjesh Mishra for the formation of a formal alliance
between India, U.S. and Israel to combat the common threat of “Islamic
fundamentalism” in a speech to the American Jewish committee in May
2003, was an important development. He argued that democratic nations
face the menace of international terrorism and should form a “viable
alliance” and develop a multilateral mechanism to counter the menace.
He also added that “distinctions sought to be made between freedom
fighters and terrorists propagate a bizarre logic.” These observations
were strongly supported by Israel which declared that an “unwritten
and abstract” axis with India and the U.S. has been formed to combat
Since then, India and Israel have been
cooperating closely on the counter-terrorism front. India has been learning
form the Israeli experience of tackling cross-border infiltration. Both
the countries feel that terrorism in their respective countries not
only comes from the local marginalised groups but also aided by the
neighbouring States. A declaration was signed during Sharon’s visit
to India in which States and individuals that aided terrorism across
borders or provided sanctuary or financial support, training and patronage,
and Israel exchange crucial intelligence information on terrorist groups.
Israel has been providing India material and training to fight dissidents
in Kashmir. It has also provided India important logistical support
such as specialised surveillance equipment, cooperation in intelligence
gathering, joint exercises and cooperation to stop money-laundering
and terror-funding. Tactics used by Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) in
the guerrilla and urban warfare in its war against Palestinians in the
West Bank and Gaza Strip serves as a good example for the Indian security
forces in countering insurgency in Kashmir. Israel’s experience in
training, equipping and operating elite undercover units in Palestine
to gather intelligence, spot targets and engaging Palestinian gunmen
is yet another example for the Indian security forces in Kashmir. In
1991, it was reported in the media that about 600 Mossad or Israeli
commandos were present in Indian-held Kashmir. In 1993, during the Hazrat
Bal crisis, around five hundred Israeli commandos were flown in to Occupied
Kashmir at the request of then Prime Minister Narisimha Rao.
Israeli army officers have also been
imparting training to the Indian army officers to curb the freedom movement
in Indian-held Kashmir. The Israeli Army Chief, Major General Avi Mazrahi,
also visited Indian-occupied Kashmir on September 10, 2008, and interacted
with senior Indian army officers. He gave a lecture on counterterrorism,
and was given a briefing on security situation. A team of Israeli experts
also visited Indian-occupied Kashmir and surveyed sites for establishing
new electronic warfare detachments along the Line of Control (LoC) and
the working boundary. In addition to that, another team visited Indian-held
Kashmir and advised the Indian army on improvement of LoC fencing including
construction of walls at selected locations. This fencing of LOC is
also fitted with Israeli anti-personnel devices like thermal imagers.
Indian fencing of the LoC can be equated with the separation wall build
by Israel in occupied Palestinian territory. Furthermore, following
Israel’s footsteps, India has also been trying to bring about demographic
changes in Kashmir so that the Muslim majority can be converted into
During Sharon’s visit, Israeli Deputy
Prime Minister Josef Labed declared that Israel would strengthen India’s
defence capability by giving it latest technology to fight terrorism
as both Israel and India are the victims of terrorist attacks by the
“fanatic Muslims”. Soon after Sharon’s visit, India and Israel
decided to hold a joint military exercise for their elite special forces
to further strengthen defence collaboration. Israel has also been training
Indian soldiers for specialised anti-insurgence strikes, adding to their
training in desert, mountains, forests and counter-hijacking and hostage
crisis situation. India also bought Tavor assault rifles, Galil sniper
rifles, night vision and laser range finding and targeting equipment
in order to improve the capabilities of its forces to effectively tackle
the insurgency. Both the countries decided to expand the range of issues
discussed at the joint working Counter-Terrorism Group. Seminars on
the issues of border security, suicide bombers, aviation and financing
of terrorism are held by Indian and Israeli experts.
It is believed that Israel, in view
of its size, could be seeking strategic depth by setting up logistical
bases in the Indian Ocean for its navy and for that, cooperation with
the Indian Navy is essential which is taking place in many ways. In
this regard, in addition to seven already procured Israeli Barak anti-missile
defence systems, the Indian Navy intends to acquire about ten more.
This system will provide India with a close-in-point defence system
against the Harpoon and Exocet missiles acquired by Pakistan.
has been mentioned earlier, with the disintegration of the former Soviet
Union, the arms market for India also diminished. Israel, on the other
hand, with specialisation in upgrading Russian equipment, emerged as
an alternative source of hi-tech defence procurement. Israel has been
playing a vital role in India’s attempts to enhance its conventional
defences in order to counter Pakistan by providing surface-to-air missiles,
avionics, sophisticated sensors to monitor cross-border infiltration,
remotely-piloted drones and artillery. In June 2002, when India was
planning to carry out a limited military strike against Pakistan as
part of “Operation Parakram”, Israel supplied hardware through special
A number of Israeli weapons technologies
are developed with funds from the U.S. As a result, the U.S. has a strong
say in matters of Israeli military sales to other countries. The nature
of relations between India, Israel and the U.S. can be gauged from the
fact that U.S. opposition led to the cancellation of the sale of Israeli
Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACS) radar systems to
China in 1999, but allowed the same to India in 2004. An AWACS is a
control centre which can track 100 targets and intercept at least half
of them simultaneously with aircraft and SAMS with each engagement closely
monitored and reported in real time. The Phalcon early-warning systems
would give India the capability to look nearly 200 kilometres inside
Pakistan territory and would make it difficult for Pakistani troops
and war planes to move without being detected. Air Marshal (Retd) B.
K. Pandey explained the function of AWACS in these words “ The AWACS
will help us keep a watch on our neighbours, especially Pakistan. It
will keep an eye on all air fields across the border and also keep a
watch on air-borne aircraft. Once an aircraft is spotted, it would give
it an ID and help track its movement”. The Phalcon system acts as
a major force multiplier which would drastically alter the military
balance in South Asia. Apart from detection of incoming cruise missiles
and aircraft in all weather conditions, AWACS are also able to direct
air defence fighters during combat operations against enemy jets. The
first of the three Phalcon (AWA&C) arrived in India on May 24, 2009, whereas
the second arrived in March 2010 and the last one was expected to be
inducted by the end of 2010. Once the third AWACS is inducted, India
plans to go for two more AWACS and a wide array of radars in its effort
to set up five nodes of Integrated Air Command and Control System across
the country with the first one in the Western sector facing Pakistan.
military, intelligence and counter-terrorism cooperation is extremely
close. Over the past several years, India has purchased military equipment
from Israel worth billions of dollars which also includes the Green
Pines radar system employed by Israel’s Arrow anti-ballistic missile
batteries. India’s defence-related purchases from Israel amount to
some $1.5 billion annually. This relationship has had a very positive
impact on the Israeli economy which is dependent on its defence industry.
Defence deals help fund the country’s research and development of
advanced weaponry. Israel has become India’s largest defence supplier,
and by some accounts has overtaken Russia. From anti-missile systems
to hi-tech radars and from drones to night-vision equipment, there has
been no limit to Indo-Israeli defence cooperation. According to figures
released by the Israeli Defence Ministry, India accounts for 50 per
cent of Israel’s military exports.
India-Israel military relationship
has transformed from a buyer-seller one to that of joint production
and research. Both the countries are working to upgrade their existing
weapon technologies and development of new technologies. Work on the
development of an unmanned helicopter has already been initiated by
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Israel Aerospace Industries’ unmanned
air vehicle division, Malat.
high level of cooperation clearly indicates long-term interest in joint
development between Israel and India on advance weapons technology that
has the potential uses as space weapons. India has already imported
and modified Israeli technology in missile defence. One such example
is the long range tracking radar (LRTR) which was used in the “exo-atmospheric”
BMD system that intercepted an incoming Prithvi missile in November
2006. This technology originated in the Israeli Green Pine radar and
India modified it making it capable of tracking intermediate-range ballistic
missiles. India has also decided to launch joint programmes with Israel
in the field of electronic warfare.
In July 2007, India’s cabinet committee
on security chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved a $ 2.5
billion defence project with Israel for the development of missiles
capable of intercepting aircraft and other aerial targets at a range
of 70 kilometres by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation
and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). In August 2008, both the countries
agreed to jointly develop a new version of the Spyder surface-to-air
missile system. In March 2009, IAI signed a $ 1.4 billion contract with
India for air defence systems, including seaborne and shore-based systems
against missile attack. G-550 “conformal” AWAC (airborne warning
and control system), the latest offering presented by the Israeli companies
during the Aero India 2009 show, was one of the main attractions.
Cooperation in the nuclear field is
another very important dimension of Indo-Israeli relations which has
been used to maintain qualitative superiority over Pakistan. Clandestine
cooperation in the nuclear field between India and Israel is traced
back to 1962 when the chairman of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission
visited India. India wanted to expand its nuclear armament programme
and in this regard Israel possessed the most advanced technical know-how.
On the other hand, Israel lacked the needed raw material and India had
the largest thorium reserves in the world. A group of Jewish financers
in Switzerland agreed to finance the two and a half million pound project
for an extraction plant in India in exchange for the use of facilities
and its products by Israel. This extraction plant was established at
is also speculated that the Indian nuclear tests of May 1998 were actually
conducted to test Israeli nuclear technology, as there are no testing
grounds available in Israeli territory.
Indo-Israeli relationship witnessed
yet another milestone with India launching an Israeli spy satellite
into space much to the distress of the Muslim countries, particularly
Pakistan and Iran. The TecSar satellite, also referred to as the Polaris,
is said to have enhanced footage technology which allows it to transmit
images regardless of daytime and weather conditions. This indicates
that both India and Israel also want to develop close relations in the
space sector with Israel reducing its dependence on the U.S. On April
20, 2009, India launched an Israeli border-control imaging satellite
that enables it to monitor its borders with Bangladesh, China and Pakistan.
India and Israel are also working on India’s next generation satellite
In the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks,
India also bought from Israel the aerostat radar system to help defend
its coastline in a deal worth $600 million. Israel was quick to despatch
two high-ranking security men to India to assist with the investigation
in Mumbai. It was also reported that an official of the Israeli foreign
ministry and another from the Shin Bet security service were already
in Mumbai taking part in the investigation and coordinating security
at Israeli sites in India with local authorities.
Both India and Israel have gone out
of their way to enhance and develop relations not only at the government
level but also in the private sector which has enabled them to concentrate
on and build strong defence ties.
The growing Indo-Israeli relationship
has not only raised alarm bells in Pakistan but also in the entire Muslim
world as it has given Israel access to and partnership with the main
Indian Ocean power. With one country policing the region of oil wealth,
the other is engaged in an effort to contain the growing influence of
China, thereby serving the interest of a third party, i.e., the U.S.
and Israel have come together on the common objective of weakening Pakistan
while, ironically, the U.S. turns a blind eye. India considers Pakistan
as an obstacle in its plans to extend hegemony to the neighbouring countries.
Pakistan, as a frontline State in the global war on terror, has been
a victim of terrorism itself, and despite making huge sacrifices in
terms of human and material loss, has repeatedly come under pressure
by the U.S. to “do more” to tackle the problem of growing militancy
in Afghanistan. The Mumbai attacks provided India a golden opportunity
to malign and isolate Pakistan.
on the other hand, has never been comfortable with Pakistan’s nuclear
programme. It fears that nuclear Pakistan is a source of strength to
the Arab world. Since Israel’s security lies at the base of American
foreign policy in the region, the U.S. wants to defend it against any
potential danger. For the U.S., a powerful and progressive India supported
by Israel is perhaps also a means to counter China. An India-Israel-U.S.
dialogue held in Delhi on February 6 and 7, 2003, concluded that the
three governments would set up “a joint trilateral mechanism to pool
resources, capabilities and experience of the three countries for concerted
action against international terrorism”. In this regard, the Indo-Israeli
lobbies in the U.S. have been playing an active role in launching an
anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan campaign and have brought in a socio-religious
dimension by equating the war on terror with war on Islam.
Following the suicide attack on the
Indian Embassy in Kabul in 2008, Pakistan and its intelligence agency
were blamed. The incident was used as an excuse by the Indian government
to announce that with increased security threat to Indian assets in
Afghanistan, India would send a fresh contingent of its Indo-Tibetan
Border Police troops to the war-torn country to enhance the security
of key Indian assets. There is also speculation that in order to control
this strategically important country linking Central and South Asia
and to sabotage Pakistan’s political and economic interests there,
India wants to deploy 150,000 troops in Afghanistan.
It is also believed that the unrest
in FATA and Swat regions of Pakistan has much to do with the Indian
presence in Afghanistan as arms and ammunition are allegedly being supplied
generously by RAW agents from there. The Indian Border Road Organisation
is being used to facilitate the supply of weapons to anti-Pakistan elements.
Apart from its embassy in Kabul, India has established four consulates in
cities which are close to Pakistani border and training camps in Afghanistan
where Indian intelligence officers are busy in their effort to destabilise
Pakistan by sending weapons to the separatist elements in Balochistan
as well as in FATA and the Swat region. This view was validated by an
independent and renowned scholar, Christine Fair of RAND Corporation,
who said that “having visited the Indian mission in Zahedan, I can
assure you they are not issuing visas as the main activity. Moreover,
India has run operations from its mission in Mazar (through which it
supported the Northern Alliance) and is doing so from the other consulates
it has reopened in Jalalabad and Kandahar along the border. Indian officials
have told me privately that they are pumping money into Balochistan.”
These Indian consulates provide cover
to the Indian intelligence agencies to run covert operations against
Pakistan. It is also said that madrasas of Indian Muslim clerics are
functioning under the patronage of RAW and Mossad where young boys including
Afghans, Uzbeks, Tajiks and Caucasians are recruited and trained to
become ideologically motivated terrorists and suicide bombers before
they are infiltrated into Pakistan where they join the Taliban militants
and fight against Pakistani security forces.
Theses militants are also responsible
for the unprecedented rise in sectarian violence in Pakistan, besides
destroying the social infrastructure and carrying out most heinous crimes
against humanity – all in the name of Islam. During Afghan President
Hamid Karzai’s visit to Pakistan, President Musharaf even presented
him maps of locations with suspected Indian activity and urged him to
rein in the Indians. Pakistan’s apprehensions of encirclement by India
rose with the establishment of the Indian Air Force’s new facility
in Farkhor, Tajikistan, which may house MI-17 helicopter gunships. The
Indian army is also providing training to the Afghan National Army.
The absence of diplomatic relations
between Pakistan and Israel has been exploited by India. The growing
cooperation between India and Israel certainly causes great discomfort
to Islamabad to the extent that Pakistan even reconsidered its policy
of non-recognition of the State of Israel. However, due to strong public
outcry, the government of Pakistan could not change its policy of non-recognition
After the Mumbai attacks, accusing
fingers were pointed by India towards Pakistan and the ISI. The purpose
was perhaps to tarnish the image of Pakistan and get the ISI declared
a rogue institution. There were some reports that Israeli intelligence
and military authorities were collaborating with their Indian counterparts
to work out a plan for surgical strikes inside Pakistan against militants.
Some quarters in the Indian establishment as well as some of the Israeli
experts also suggested that India should learn some lessons and emulate
Israel in dealing with Pakistan. They argued that, like Israel, India
also has a right to defend itself and has a duty to protect its citizens
against acts of terrorism emanating from Pakistan. Others suggested
deniable covert action as a means to teach Pakistan a lesson. Offensive
diplomacy was used by India by sharing the so-called evidence of Pakistan’s
support to the Mumbai attacks with other nations in order to isolate
Pakistan for allegedly supporting terror as an instrument of foreign
policy. It was also reported that Israel despatched a number of intelligence
officers to India to assist in analysing the terrorist plot.
The events of 9/11 quickened the pace
of Indian, Israeli and American strategic partnership. This is also
reflected in the increasing cooperation between the Jewish community
in the U.S. and the Indian diaspora. Jewish organisations in the U.S.
share a very close relationship with the Indian-American community and
together they have played a vital role in helping these two countries
develop their relationship. Following Mumbai incident, around 100 influential
Indian-American leaders of a newly formed task force of Indian American
Organisation (IATF) asked top lawmakers in Washington to reckon the
Mumbai attack as “your own problem and not merely an Indian problem”
and demanded that the U.S. pressurise Pakistan to act fast against those
responsible for the carnage. The IATF also emphasised that, unlike in
the past, Pakistan should not be simply let off this time. The group
also released its “information document” authored by U.S. India
Political Action Committee (USINPAC), a group founded in the aftermath
of 9/11 with the help of American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the American
Israel Political Action Committee (AJPAC). In recent years, the Jewish-Indian
lobby has been playing a vital role in silencing the voices that are
perceived as anti-Israel or anti-India. This lobby has worked together
on a number of domestic and foreign issues like hatred, crime, immigration,
anti-terrorism legislation and most importantly, backing pro-Israeli
and pro-India candidates in the political arena.
the Indian government’s success in securing a deal with the U.S. that
gave India access to civil nuclear technology despite the fact that
it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Indians
were also successful in removing the issue of Kashmir from the job description
of late Mr. Richard Holbrooke. This omission was seen as a significant
diplomatic concession for the Indians which reflected their warm ties
with the U.S. With the help of the Jewish lobby, the Indians have been
trying to distract the attention of the Obama administration from Kashmir
and highlighting the menace of terrorism relating to Afghanistan and
Pakistan thereby exaggerating Islamophobia in the U.S. and other Western
Using the phenomenon of terrorism and
the anti-Islam approach of the West, both India and Israel have been
convincing the world that a nuclearised Pakistan is sponsoring cross-border
terrorism in Afghanistan and India. According to some reports that appeared
in the media last year, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tried to
persuade President Obama that Pakistan has collapsed and its nuclear
assets are already partly in the hands of extremists and there is no
way to prevent them from taking control. He further added that Israel
and India have identical views about the situation. However, before
reaching any conclusion, the Obama administration and the international
community at large must keep in mind, the huge sacrifices made by Pakistani
people and the Army in the fight against the menace of terrorism.
a new phenomenon has emerged in the form a computer worm ‘Stuxnet”
that targets industrial and factory systems. This worm which is described
as one of the “most refined pieces of malware ever discovered”
has been most active in Iran. In fact, figures indicate that some 60%
of computers infected by Stuxnet are located in Iran. Security experts
believe that the likely target of the virus is the controversial Bushehr
nuclear power plant and it was created by Israel as apparently there
was no financial motivation behind the attack and the aim seems to be
to sabotage systems. There are speculations that Israel’s military
intelligence Unit 8200, which is known for its advanced Signal Intelligence
(SIGINT) capabilities is responsible for creating this virus. Iran had
to suspend work at its nuclear-field production facilities as a result
of Stuxnet virus and it will take Iran at least two years to fully recover
from this malware. It is being pointed out that Stuxnet has proved to
be even better than a military strike as there were no fatalities or
a full-blown war. This new development requires Pakistan to be on guard
as Pakistan’s nuclear programme has also been a source of concern
to Israel, India and the United States.
The India-Israel nexus has never been a secret, but in view of the current
scenario, this collusion is now presenting a real threat to the security
and territorial integrity of Pakistan. Recently, India allocated a huge
amount of Rs. 147,344 for the defence expenditure in the Union Budget
of 2010-2011. Pakistan is finding it increasingly difficult to match
the conventional military capability of its neighbour. It has especially
expressed its concern regarding the sale of the Arrow anti-missile system
that would neutralise part of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal by seriously
affecting its ballistic missile capability.
On terrorism front, before taking advice from Israel, India must keep
in mind that even after more than 60 years of military action, Israel
is still not able to suppress the Palestinians. The use of brutal force
against the innocent Palestinians clearly indicates the complete failure
of Israel’s anti- terrorism policy.
Taking advantage of the post 9/11 environment in the world, an effort
was made to equate the unrest in Indian occupied Kashmir with terrorism.
However, the recent turmoil in Kashmir where more than 110 people lost
their lives in less than four months clearly indicates the gravity of
situation. The fact that the uprising was purely indigenous and Pakistan
or any other country had nothing to do with it has already been acknowledged
not only by India itself but also the world at large which proves the
fact that the use of force will never be able to silence the cry
for justice. Both India and Israel along with United States needs to
understand that denying people their basic human rights would only result
in frustration leading to more terrorism and violence
Due to the presence of the Jewish lobby in the U.S., Israel exerts unprecedented
influence on U.S. policies which in the current situation has been benefiting
India. As an ally in the war on terror, Pakistan should pressurise the
U.S. to take care of its interests. Being the sole superpower in the
world, it is America’s moral responsibility to ensure peace in the
world which cannot be achieved without justice to the oppressed people
in Kashmir and Palestine.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, the fact cannot be ignored that in
order to deal with the growing challenges to its security, Pakistan
will have to first put its own house in order. The fast economic decline
coupled with security and political instability also poses a threat
to the country thereby hampering its ability to effectively deal with
the external threats and protect its interests.
India-Israel Relations - Convergence &
Head, Department of International Studies
Stella Maris College
(M.A, M.Phil, PG Diploma in Journalism
& Mass Communication. Doing Ph.D. Specialises in Theory of
International relations,South Asia and Asia Pacific -with special
focus on China, International Security, India’s Foreign Policy.)
lay dormant for almost four decades, the transition in the global strategic
environment compelled India to renew her diplomatic ties with Israel.
The end of the cold war provided space for regional powers to create
policies that optimally suited their security interest.India’s move
toward liberalization forced her to open her markets and was convinced
that an assertive and independent foreign policy would enhance her on
the new mission that she has embarked .The changing international milieu
provided India with an opportunity to reorient her foreign policy. The
India-Israel entente in 1992 was a step towards reorienting India’s
foreign Policy a step moving from ideological and past rhetoric to one
driven by pragmatism and national interest. The India-Israel relationship
in the twenty first century can be termed as one of stable convergence
benefiting both the countries.
Four decades of Divergence:
Being a part of the Asian
continent Israel has always been keen to maintain cordial relations
with the Asian neighbours. The Arab-Israeli conflict made Israel the pariah of the region and forced her to find new friends and
markets1. Though India recognized Israel in September
1950 full diplomatic relations were not established till 1953. The idea
of Zionism was seen amongst the leaders in the Congress Party as a Western
enterprise. Israel was even less accepted in the Indian context as it
was seen as a State established out of Palestine2 . Right after
India’s independence in 1947, India had an opportunity to articulate
its independent position3 at the international level when the issue came
up before the United Nations representing Asia at the 11 member United
Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP)4, India’s
stand was one of sympathetic overtures towards the Arabs. This view
point culminated with the idea of the Congress that rejected the two
nation theory. However with the world recognizing by and large the creation
of the new state of Israel, reluctantly India too accepted Israel. However
the host of events in the Middle Eastern politics, the emerging friendship
between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egyptian President Gamal
Abdul Nasser turned India’s attention from Israel. Occasional military
assistance rendered by Israel to India during the 1962 confrontation
with China and the Indo-Pakistani war in 1965 and 19715 did not enhance
the diplomatic relations.
Prime Minister Indira
Gandhi in 1975 recognised the Palestine Liberation Organisation and
in 1980 she upgraded the Palestinian Mission in New Delhi to a full
fledged embassy offering them diplomatic privileges and immunities6.
Even after the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel was signed in 1979,
New Delhi’s approach towards Israel continued to be hostile. From
1982-1988 no full consular relations were allowed between the two countries7,
but a notable shift was seen during this period under Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi. The ideological rhetoric of the past had no attraction
for the young leader who sought to carry forward the country into the
next century as modern and technologically developed country8 . It was
during Rajiv Gandhi’s tenure there was a perceptible shift in the
India-Israel relations. But series of events stalled the process of
normalization. The Israeli response to the Palestinian intifada in the
1980 eroded the gains that Israel had made in the 1980s9 and India was also hesitant on her part to recognize Israel to the fullest
The end of cold war the
world witnessed a dramatic realignment and shift in the balance of power
politics and India had to accommodate herself to this strategic shift.
Economic liberalisation, new markets and new alliances was the need
of the hour and India was realigning herself to accommodate these changes.
The Middle East Peace process was yet another milestone in this pro
Israeli tilt wherein both the parties involved in the dispute were seeking
a solution to this protracted conflict10 . Despite criticism of abandoning the traditional
policy that Congress pursued towards Israel, Prime Minister Narasimha
Rao embarked on a new mission of normalizing relations with Israel.
On January 29, 1992 India announced the establishment of normal diplomatic
relations with Israel11.
Areas of Convergence:
As the Indian economy
moved on the path of liberalization the success of market economy depended
heavily on the financial investments and technological cooperation from
the West especially the US and since late 1940s US has been pressuring
India to modify its policy towards Israel12 . Strategic imperatives have been the key factor
in India- Israel relations. With the collapse of the Soviet Union India
was forced to look for reliable source for sophisticated weapons and
the obvious and pronounced choice was United States of America and Israel.
For Israel association with India was a two pronged approach one in
terms of huge market and second was to contain Pakistan who had committed
itself towards helping the states in the Middle East against Israel.
Step towards minimal
engagement in the India-Israel relations began with the visit of Israeli
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in 1993. Both India and Israel were firm
to enhance their strategic cooperation despite differences that persisted
on issues like the Middle East Peace process and Israel’s relations
with China. India and Israel relations revolve around certain broad
areas of security cooperation13. Israel assists India in
the designing and development activities like that of armaments and
combat vehicles, naval technology, rockets and missiles, communication
radars, electronic warfare, artificial intelligence, robotics, engineering,
terrain research, explosives, safety material, life sciences and nuclear
medicine14.There has been significant increase in the bilateral
relations between the two countries both in the field of defense and
in non-military goods. Israel is committed to enhance scientific and
technological ties with India. Israel’s long experience in training,
equipping and operating elite undercover units deployed in Palestinian
towns and villages to gather intelligence, spot targets and engage Palestinian
gunmen is useful for the Indian forces facing similar situation in Kashmir
Israel had in the mid
1980s embarked on a programme with substantial financial and technological
support from the United States to develop and produce a terminal phase
ballistic missile defense system16.The potential buyer of
this BMD technology is India and both the countries have been involved
in technological cooperation on missile defense since the late 1990s17.
Israeli President Weizman during his visit to India in 1996 expressed
keen interest in lending expertise in fields of missile technology and
avionics to India and offered both investment and technical cooperation
in production of military aircraft, reverse engineering and up gradation
of weapon systems18. Airborne surveillance has been one of
the key areas in the India-Israel defense cooperation. India’s attempts
to shore up its conventional defenses in order to counter its nuclear-armed
adversary, Pakistan, have been greatly supported by Israeli weaponry.
This includes surface-to-air missiles, avionics, and sophisticated sensors
to monitor cross-border infiltration, remotely piloted drones, and artillery19.
It is instructive to note that Israel sent its laser guided missiles
to India during the Indo-Pak Kargil war of 1999, making it possible
for the Indian Mirages to destroy Pakistani bunkers in the mountains 20. Also, when India was planning to undertake a limited military
strike against Pakistan in June 2002 as part of “Operation Parakram,”
Israel supplied hardware through special planes after a visit by the
Director-General of Israeli Defense Ministry21.
From the year 1998 onwards
the India- Israel defense ties gained momentum. In the year 1998 Israel
agreed to export the Green in surveillance/engagement radar system (which
is used in the AWS) to India22. Since 2000 India has bought
military hardware and software worth US $ 7 billion from Israel23.In
2001 it became known that India sought to purchase the interceptor of
the AWS-the Arrow II to be used in conjunction with its indigenously
developed Akash theater defense missile24. In 2004 India
had talks with Israel about joint production of a long range missile
under which Israel’s defense industry In September 2004, India had
talks with Israel about joint production of a long-range missile under
which Israel's defense industry was bidding for the upgrade of the Indian
Air Force's MIG-27 strike aircraft, the avionics upgrade of the Indian
Navy's Ka-25 anti-submarine helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft25.
In August 2007, India proposed defense collaboration with Israel in
developing sophisticated unmanned combat helicopters for the Navy, which
would need 40-50 such helicopters, and which was called a revolutionary
step for the navies of both countries26.The most notable
venture is the missile system under the US $ 2.5 billion project to
develop an advanced Barak medium-range surfaceto-air missile system
for the IAF and Army27. Israel
will provide "Phalcons"("eyes in the skies") to
detect enemy air intrusions 28. India had earlier bought 14 Barak-I anti-missile
defense systems for the Navy followed
by the Python air-to-air missiles, Crystal Maze PGMs, Derby air-to-air
missiles, Delilah-II air-launched cruise missiles and Gabriel-III sea-skimming
anti-ship missiles29. Israel’s defense industry has won
a global accolade in terms of integrating the old weapon system into
the new one, its technological advancement in the fields of satellite
imagery, rockets and nuclear fields has been widely areas of the
international arms market, even compared to American and European products30.
Israel's state-of-the-art weapon systems will help India in restructuring
its armed forces to meet the defense requirements of the 21st century31.
India’s T-72 tanks
and howitzers might also benefit from Israeli technology, and the army
considered buying Israeli unmanned air vehicles, including 16 hunter
and seekers at $1.6 million each, according to 1994 reports32.
A year later, the two countries signed a $50 million deal for Harpy
reconnaissance drones. India is considering Haron and Hermes vehicles
for border operations, according to the Deccan Herald33 India
operates around 70 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)-built Searcher
Mk 1 and Mk 2 and Heron UAVs, as well as 30 Harpy ground attack drones
designed to detect and destroy enemy radars34. India in 2008
launched the Israeli spy satellite. The launch of Tecsar satellite known
as Polaris opened a new stage in India-Israel strategic relations and
added a new factor in the complex security scenario in the Middle East35.India
launched an Israeli made spy satellite from Sriharikota, a twenty four
hour surveillance on its International borders and the 300kg radar-imaging
Israeli satellite was launched via India’s indigenous Polar Satellite
Launch vehicle (PSLV) and it will be positioned 500 km above the earth36 .In 2009
India signed a massive US $ 1.4 billion deal with Israeli Aerospace
Industry for the supply and joint development of medium-range surface
to air missile (MRSAM)37. Israel has proposed selling the
'Skylite-B' micro-UAVs for Indian Special Forces. Under the US$1.1-billion
AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) project, Israel will provide
"Phalcons"("eyes in the skies") from mid-2008 onwards
to detect enemy air intrusions38. Besides, India is keen
to procure four more EL/M-2083 Aerostat radars, similar to the radars
inducted in 2004-0539. India had earlier bought 14 Barak-I
anti-missile defense systems for the Navy followed by the Python air-to-air
missiles, Crystal Maze PGMs, Derby air-to-air missiles, Delilah-II air-launched
cruise missiles and Gabriel-III sea-skimming anti-ship missiles40.
On the strategic plane
India-Israel relations yield good benefits for both the countries. Given
the present economic constraints on both countries, India’s quest
for independence in technological expertise and Israel’s need to maintain
a sizable defense industry in order to preserve its current qualitative
superiority over its adversaries, are goals that are likely to be beyond
the reach of either of them individually41. On the civilian
level, there appear to be numerous fields where judicious meshing of
the two nations’ respective relative advantages in competitively priced
human resources, abundance of natural resources, geopolitical location
and geographical expanse, entrepreneurial ingenuity, technological and
scientific ability, technical know-how, and managerial skills could
produce synergetic benefits for both of them. Combining efforts could
result in productive agricultural and industrial R&D ventures, and
infrastructure ventures that would be beyond the reach of the individual
capacities of either India or Israel on their own42.
For Israel the association
with India would pay-off in terms of significant political, diplomatic,
bilateral and strategic benefits. Support from India would be crucial
for Israel, especially in asserting its interest in the international
organization. With the kind of threat matrices in the region Israel’s
defense requirements are high and it warrants Israel to maintain a strong
Military Industrial complex. Leaning on US for its huge military aid
would be extremely unfavorable for Israel and hence strategic diversification
seems to be extremely crucial and India presents herself as viable and
potential market. Israel instead of viewing India just as a market for
exports to subsidize its defense research and development could exploit
India’s desire to acquire advanced technological prowess based to
as large a degree as possible on indigenous and autonomous proficiency43.
This would involve embarking on a long-term development of technological
capabilities that serve the specific strategic needs of both nations
which are unlikely to be satisfactorily provided or developed from other
There is also an emerging naval cooperation between India and Israel
that would help in the development of the logistic infrastructure that
would facilitate sea-borne second strike capability45.
For India the pay offs
would be equally beneficial as this relationship with Israel would help
in synthesizing benefits to both civilian and military sectors. Collaborations
with Israel may help India to enhance its military capability and also
to develop a high level indigenous technological proficiency in the
long run46 . Israeli expertise in techniques of border surveillance,
sensor technology and electronic detection could contribute towards
the prevention of undetected incursions into sensitive regions along
the Indian frontiers47 . There are other areas of collaboration like
upgrading the Indian army. Avionics, radar equipment, missile technology
and other electronic systems48.
The events of September
11, 2001 and the subsequent ‘war on terror’ served to further
strengthen the relationship49. With the changing geo strategic
considerations in Asia, with US calling India its natural partner and
ally there is an emerging trilateral dimension to the India-Israel relations.
US is strongly committed to nurturing this collaboration and wants genuine
stability and peace in the region. For India also has financial concerns
as Israeli defense equipment is costly, and it is doubtful whether New
Delhi will be offered the generous financing terms it enjoys with Russia.
Israel’s defense industry, which has financial concerns of its own,
might be unable to offer such benefits50.There are foreign
policy concerns that India has to take care of, the Israeli’s assistance
to Chinese defense project such as F -10 fighter is a worrisome factor.
However the external security predicament that India faces pressurizes
India to acquire most advanced missile systems and Israel has always
remained the most trusted defense partner.
Efraim, The Indian-Israel Entente, Orbis, Winter 2004, p.1
P. R.(2002) 'India and Israel: emerging partnership', Journal of Strategic
DOI: 10.1080/01402390412331302915,URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01402390412331302915
P. R.(2002) 'India and Israel: emerging partnership', Journal of Strategic
25: 4,192 — 206 DOI: 10.1080/01402390412331302915,URL:
P.R., Strategic Partnership between Israel and India, Middle East Review
of International Affairs Vol. 2, No. 2 (May 1998)
V Harsh, India-Israel a Partnership: Convergence and Constraints, Middle
East Review of International Affairs, Vol 8, No.4, December 2004, p.4
Christopher, Arrows for India: Technology Transfers for Ballistic Missile
Defense and the Missile Technology Control regime, Journal of Conflict
& Security Law (2004), Vol 9, No.1, 103-125, p.2
Rabb Shamsur, Indo-Israel Defence cooperation: A step in the right direction,
23 December 2007,
V Harsh, India-Israel Partnership: Convergence and Divergence, http://www.bharatrakshak.
20 Ibid, http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/SRR/Volume14/harsh.html
21 Ibid, http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/SRR/Volume14/harsh.html
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Thomas, Israel and India partner up Vol. 57, No. 1, pp. 18-19,DOi:
Rahul, India readies large-scale UAV procurement programme, 15 October
Ninan, India-Israel Defence nexus deepens, http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1350.html
36 Ibida, http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1350.html
Ninan, India-Israel Defence nexus deepens, http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1350.html
38 Khan Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
40 Khan Rabb Shamsur, http://www.ipcs.org/article_details.php?articleNo=2447
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research, Policy paper No.89
Martin, Indo-Israeli strategic cooperation as a US national interest,
Ariel Center for Policy Research,Policy paper No.89
Ramananda, India’s Israeli-Arab tight rope walk, 29 August 2010
50 Ibid,DOi: 10.2968/057001007
The Cultural &
Educational Relations between India & Israel
Dr.Navras Jaat Aafreedi
Professor(CS)- International Relations,
Department of Social Sciences, Gautam Buddha University, Greater NOIDA,India
Ph.D. in Medieval &
Modern Indian History (University of Lucknow); and Post-Doctorate in
the History of the Jewish People (Tel Aviv University)
Teaching Areas : Modern Indian History, Indo-Israeli Relations, Indo-Jewish Relations,
Indo-Judaic Studies, Jewish-Muslim Relations, Anti-Semitism
Traditions of Israelite Descent Among Certain Muslim Groups in South
Asia The Indian Jewry and the Self-Professed ‘Lost Tribes of Israel’
: Jewish/Judaic Studies, Asian Studies, South Asian Studies,
Indian Studies, Indo-Judaica/Indo-Judaic Studies, Medieval & Modern
Indian History, Non-Jewish Claimants of Israelite Descent in South Asia,
Roma/Romanis, Religious Minorities in South Asia, Muslim Anti-Semitism,
Muslim Zionism, Judaizing Movements in India, Jewish-Muslim Relations,
People to People Interaction between Indians and Israelis, Israeli Tourism
in India, Chabad in India, Anti-Americanism, Comparative Study of Judaism
and Indic Religions
E-Mail : email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
one per cent of Israel’s Jewish population (around sixty thousand)
visits India every year as tourists1 such is India’s popularity
as a tourist destination among the Israelis. It has become a kind of
rite of passage for Israelis to spend at least six months in India after
the completion of their conscription tenure. This phenomenon of Israeli
tourism to India brings great benefits to the rural folk of the places
they visit. “From November until Passover,” as Cohen points out,
“Israelis flood cities like Manali and Kodaikanal by the thousands.
As a result, entire communities have been rearranged to attract Israeli
business. ‘Three hundred rupees a night per room is my average
rate for Israelis,’ says Samuel of the Vadakanal village in Kodaikanal.
‘If I put three Israelis in one room, that’s 900 rupees a day.
I have four rooms which earn me a total of around three lacks (300,000
Rupees a month).’”2 An Israeli organisation, Lev
Olam (Heart of the World) ropes in Israeli backpackers as volunteers
for a ten-day-programme aimed at providing training, transportation,
shelter and food to poor Indians in the major attractions for Israeli
backpackers such as Hampi, Pushkar, Rishikesh and Dharmasala. Lev Olam
collaborates with local NGOs “to better target their projects where
need is the greatest and to insure the long term feasibility of their
efforts”.3It is hard to say if there is any country where
love for Indian culture is as visible and omnipresent as in Israel.
Israel is dotted with restaurants that serve Indian food. It is a common
sight to see Israeli women sporting a bindi on their forehead
and Indian dupattas for scarves just as it is common to hear
Bollywood numbers as mobile ringtones. Every major Israeli university
offers courses in Hindi, which has emerged as one of the most popular
foreign languages among the Israeli youth. Hindi Day is celebrated at
Israeli universities with great fanfare. “Indian Studies, particularly
as taught by the illustrious Prof. David Shulman at the Hebrew University,
hit an all time high as backpackers emerged in a later reincarnation
as students and philosophers of Hinduism,” writes Weil.4 The Israelis of the Bene Israel Indian Jewish community hosted the fourth
world conference of the Marathi language in Jerusalem in 1996.5 They also published a quarterly literary journal, Maiboli (mother
tongue), in the Marathi language in the mid 1990s. The world’s only
Hebrew qav’vāl is an Israeli singer and musician, Shye Ben-Tzur,
who has settled with an Indian wife in Jaipur and has released two albums
of his fusion Sufi spiritual music. Israeli Indophiles have gone to
the extent of developing a new type of “New Age” religion, incorporating
elements of Hinduism as practiced in the ashrams of India, “which
combines meditation with Jewish practice”.6 A 2008 Oxford
University Press publication, David Shulman and Shalva Weil edited Karmic Passages: Israeli Scholarship on India confirms that Indian
Studies in Israel “have found a solid academic presence” at her
major universities.7And all this is in spite of the fact
that the two countries did not have any diplomatic ties for four decades
following the birth of the modern Jewish State of Israel in 1948.
Apathy towards Israel and Jews
sharp contrast to this Israeli love affair with India is India’s attitude
towards Israel, where Jewish & Israel Studies are non-existent in
the academia, resulting in a hysterical ignorance about Jews and Israel.
There is no paucity of such Indians who think of Israel as a Muslim
country and mistake Jews for Muslims or Christians or Zoroastrians.
Of all the encounters I have had with the Indians ignorant of Jews,
the one that stands out is of a professor who headed the department
of sociology at a university and was yet so unaware as to ask me if
the Jews were a sect of Christians. When documentaries on Jews are dubbed
in Hindi, those involved often fail to use Yahūdi, the Hindi
term for Jews, and continue to use the English word out of their ignorance.
The only chair of Hebrew Studies which the Government of Israel has
been allowed to establish in India, the one at the Jawaharlal Nehru
University, has been reserved for the visually challenged. Even at the
universities that give courses in modern European history, no question
is ever asked about the Holocaust in the examination. When I asked the
Head of the Department of Western History at the University of Lucknow,
Dr. Nina David, about it, she responded by saying: “Since this is
a topic which is part of the European history syllabus at the undergraduate
level, we definitely discuss the Nazi persecution of the Jews, popularly
known as the Holocaust, which has also been denied by many people. But
the fact is that Hitler did persecute the Jews. I do discuss it at length,
but we don’t generally ask questions specifically on the Holocaust
in the examination. It is just a part of Hitler and the Nazis, about
whom I teach in the class. It is just a small segment of it. I don’t
sort of magnify the Holocaust while I discuss the Nazis. I cannot spend
so much time on only one aspect of the Nazis... I have never thought
of setting a question on it and neither have any examiners set a question
on this.”8 Until 2002, the Holocaust did not find any mention
in the standard history textbook in Gujarat, which discussed in detail
the terms of the treaty of Versailles. In response to complaints from
the Government of Israel, the textbook was revised to only vaguely mention
that many Jews were killed during the war, without mentioning the Holocaust.9 When the present author organised a Holocaust films retrospective at
two universities in Lucknow in 2009,10 it was misrepresented
by a number of newspapers as a retrospective of films focussing on the
Second World War. Resistance to Jewish and Israel Studies and even to
the study of Indo-Israeli Relations is, in fact, so strong in Indian
academia, that Professor P. R. Kumaraswamy has been wary of discussing
his book India’s Israel Policy, 2010, in India, as reflected
in his Facebook status posted on 21st September 2010.
The Growing Popularity
of Hitler in India
ignorance of Jews and Judaism, as well as ignorance of the Holocaust
in academia explain the growing popularity of Hitler among the youth.
Jaico, the largest publisher and distributor of Mein Kampf in
India, has sold more than one hundred thousand copies in the last decade.
There has been a steady rise of ten to fifteen per cent in the book’s
sale (2000 – 2009). Some young people say they are attracted by Hitler’s
“discipline and patriotism” and that his leadership skills were
more important than his genocidal ways if they happen to be aware of
the Holocaust.11 In 2006, a Nazi themed restaurant Hitler’s
Cross in a satellite town of Mumbai called Navi Mumbai had to change
its name within a week of its opening to Cross Café when there
was an international outcry against the name.12 Recently
a Bollywood film project on Hitler’s last days, titled Dear Friend
Hitler!, got into trouble when the actor playing Hitler withdrew
from the project in the face of an outcry from Indian moviegoers and
historians, as it was seen as an attempt to project Hitler in a positive
light. The director, Rakesh Ranjan, said that his film “shows Hitler’s
love for India and how he indirectly contributed to Indian independence.”13 It is worth recalling that the Congress President from 1937 to 1939,
Subhash Chandra Bose had pro-Nazi leanings, who wanted to overthrow
the British rule with Nazi support.14
Strong Bridge between India and Israel
Indian Jews are a strong bridge between India and Israel. While seventy
thousand of them are in Israel, five thousand continue to live in India.
Despite their long presence of more than two millennia, the Jews of
India have ended up being marginalized as much on account of their small
numbers as due to the state policies. They had received preferential
treatment from the colonial British government as per their policy of
creating loyalists of small religious minorities in India. The fact
that India’s independence brought it to an end is significantly responsible
for their economic marginalization. Given their miniscule population
in India, it is only natural for them not to find any representation
in Indian cinema, the largest producer of films in the world, even though
they played a crucial role in its initial phase as Jewish women acted
in films at a time when it was a taboo for women from respectable families
to do so. They thus bravely paved the way for women from other communities.
However, perhaps the only Indian film to have an Indian Jewish character, Mr & Mrs Iyer (2002), only strengthened an already existing
stereotype of Jews among Indians by its negative portrayal, as Indian
Jewish writer Robin David wrote on his blog:
I was majorly offended
by a scene in Aparna Sen’s Mr & Mrs Iyer. There is
this part where rioters enter a bus scouting for Muslims to kill and
randomly pull down pants of passengers to check if they are circumcised.
One man gives away the identity of an old Muslim couple because he was
Jewish, circumcised and there was no way in hell that he would have
been able to explain to the rioters that he was not Muslim. This was
his way of distracting them from him. If I was in his place, I don’t
think I would have given away the identity of the old couple. ...I had
been put in the same situation in 2002.15
the film was screened at several film festivals in Israel and its director,
Aparna Sen was the Guest of Honour at the third International Women’s
Film Festival in Rehovot, near Tel Aviv, in 2006.
Efforts for the
Promotion of Indo-Israeli Friendship
there are several examples of Indo-Israeli amity. India and Israel have
an educational exchange programme under which both countries award scholarships
to each other’s students. There is an Israel-India Cultural Association.
Vadodara, Gujarat based organisation Friends of Israel is instrumental
in organising events with Israeli themes. A refereed journal, Journal
of Indo-Judaic Studies, is published from the USA and Canada, with
attention to Indo-Israeli relations. The life time conductor of Israeli
Philharmonic Orchestra is an Indian, Zubin Mehta. An Indian, Cochin
based Thoufeek Zakriya is a prominent Hebrew calligrapher. A few years
back a delegation of vice chancellors of certain Indian universities
visited Israel. There are also a number of Indo-Israeli friendship groups
on social networking sites, viz., India-Israel Friendship Club with
one hundred and thirty-five members and Friends of Israel with thirty-four
members on Orkut, and Indo-Judaica with one hundred and fifty-two members,
Indo-Israel Friendship Club with thirty-one members, Indo-Jew Alliance
with thirty-nine members, Jewish Studies in India with four hundred
and seventy-two members, Holocaust Education in South Asia with three
hundred and thirty-four members, The Ten Lost Tribes Challenge with
four hundred and ninety-eight members on Facebook.16
the above mentioned efforts would be in vain unless and until India
gets over its fear of offending her Muslim minority, which is the reason
for the absence of Jewish Studies in India and which is what has kept
Indo-Israeli cultural relations from developing to their full potential.
Markovich, Dalya and Ktzia Alon, “
The Sterilized Otherness: India in Israel, Israel in India”, Journal
of Indo-Judaic Studies, Vol. X, 2009, p.61, n. 2
2Cohen, Dr. Adam, “In
Search of Ecstasy: Israelis and Drug Abuse in India”, Asian Jewish
Life, Autumn 2010, p. 37
3 Daniels, Jana, “Backpacking
to Enlightenment: Lev Olam in India”, Asian Jewish Life, August
2010, pp. 9-11
4 Weil, Shalva, “The Influence
of Indo-Judaic Studies in Israel, or The Salience of Spirituality”,
The Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies, Vols. 7-8, Winter 2004-2005, p.
5Roland, Joan G., The
Jewish Communities of India: Identity in a Colonial Era, Second
Edition, Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick (USA) and London (UK),
1998, p. 297, n. 38
6Weil, op. cit.,
review of Karmic Passages: Israeli Scholarship on India in Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies, Vol. X, Summer 2009, p. 113
8 Interviewed by the author
on 1st January, 2011, in her office at the University of
“Fear your friend Hitler”, On the Bounce, 16 June 2010: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/On-the-bounce/entry/fear-your-friend-hitler [Accessed on 5 September 2010]
Ahmed, “Hitler memorabilia ‘attracts young Indians’”, BBC
News, Mumbai, 15 June 2010: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8660064.stm [Accessed on 5 September 2010]
12 Vijay Singh, “Eatery
named after Hitler”, The Times of India, 22 August 2006: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Eatery-named-after-Hitler/articleshow/1913952.cms [Accessed on 5 September 2010], Vijay Singh,
“Global ire against Hitler café”, The Times of India, Mumbai,
23 August 2006: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Global-ire-against-Hitler-cafe/articleshow/1917489.cms [Accessed on 5 September 2010] and “Mumbai’s
‘Hitler’s Cross’ restaurant to change name after uproar”, Haaretz, 24 August 2006: http://www.haaretz.com/news/mumbai-s-hitler-s-cross-restaurant-to-change-name-after-uproar-1.195789 [Accessed on 5 September 2010]
Baksi, “Dear Friend Hitler not based on Hitler’s love life”, Hindustan Times, 8 June 2010: http://www.hindustantimes.com/Dear-Friend-Hitler-not-based-on-Hitler-s-love-life/Article1-554773.aspx
[Accessed on 5 September
2010], Haaretz Service, “Dear Friend Hitler”, Haaretz,
12 June 2010: http://www.haaretz.com/news/features/dear-friend-hitler-1.295744 [Accessed on 5 September 2010] and Robin David,
“Fear your friend Hitler”, On the Bounce, 16 June 2010: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/On-the-bounce/entry/fear-your-friend-hitler [Accessed on 5 September 2010]
14 Kumaraswamy, P. R., “India and the Holocaust: Perceptions of the Indian
National Congress”, Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies, Vol. 3,
April 2000, p. 126
David, “The Reading”, posted on his blog City of Fear on
23 April 2007: http://cityoffearblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/reading.html [Accessed on 5 September 2010]. Robin David
is the author of the only Indian Jewish account of the anti-Muslim violence
in Gujarat in 2002, City of Fear, Penguin, India, 2007
16 All membership figures
are of 10th January, 2010, when checked at 8 p.m.
A policy of Opportunism
Dr K M Sajad Ibrahim
Ibrahim is Assistant Professor in Political Science. He joined as the faculty member in the University in 2005. He also served
as a Lecturer in the Sree Sanakarachariya University of Sanaskrit, Kalady,
Kerala, Research Associate in the Department of Politics and Public
Administration in the University of Madras, Chennai and Higher Secondary
Teacher under the Government Aided Service.
He received PhD from
the University of Kerala in 1995. His important areas of research include:
West Asian Politics, Issues of Muslims and Minorities in India, Terrorism
in India and the World, Environment issues, Human rights etc. He has
more than twelve years of teaching/research experience. Some of his
academic achievements are:
• Awarded Major Research Project
by the UGC (Rs.7.2 Lakh) in April 2009 for the topic: Impact of
Fundamentalism on Muslim Youth in Kerala: Role of Islamic Organisations
• Selection to the international programme(as
a sole representative from India)- the Study of the United States Institute
Programme of the US State Department, conducted by the Donahue Institute,
University of Massachusetts, USA, from 20 June – 31 July 2008
• Conferred Honorary Citizenship by
the Mayor of City of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA in recognition of
the friendship, cooperation and dedication to exemplary civic service
in July 2008
• First Rank in M.A. Political Science
•UGC-NET in Political Science
• Dr.Ramaswamy Mudaliar Gold Medal
of University of Kerala in 1990
• Prof. K.V. Nandan Menon Prize from
University of Kerala 1990
• Ph.D.Fellowship from Institute of
Objective Studies, New Delhi (1992-1994)
•Contact Email: email@example.com •Personal Blog: http://www.sajadresearchdomain.blogspot.com/
One of the
notable foreign policy reversals of India since 1990 was its relation
with Israel. It was generally viewed as an outcome of the post-cold
war scenario. With the demise of the Soviet Union, India was in need
of a strong military supplier. The case of Israel was very much appreciated
by the Indian policy makers by taking into account of multiple factors
other than a strong arms supplier. Israel was viewed as a potential
power to counter the threat posed by Pakistan. Another important dimension
in this respect was to learn many lessons from Israel how to combat
Islamic terrorism as Israel has been fighting with the Palestinian militants
since late 1940s. As a result of the diplomatic relations, India
showed keen interest in developing high level military and commercial
links with Israel, especially during the period of BJP led government
of 1998-2004. Israel is now the largest supplier of arms to India surpassing
Russia recently. It provides India with missile radar, border monitoring
equipment and other similar high-tech military hardwires. In addition,
several thousand Indian soldiers have been provided with “anti-insurgency
training in Israel”. It was an irony that for more than four than
four decades India condemned the Israeli aggressive policy against the
Palestinians by providing unstinting support to the latter. Since 1992
India not only changed its policy, but also going into the extent of
subsidizing the cost of Israeli war efforts against the Palestinian
national liberation movement. The geopolitical implications of the collaboration
between India and Israel are grave and manifold. India’s close collaboration
with Israel is fundamentally to woo the United States as well as to
build a new strategic relation vis-à-vis Pakistan and China.
Antecedents of India’s Attitude towards Palestine Question
relation with the West Asia was formulated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1930s.
Although Nehru took an impartial view regarding the Arab-Israeli differences
in the initial period, he later took the stand of supporting the Arabs
by taking into account of the denial of justice to the Palestinians.
In the 1939 Resolution adopted by the Indian National Congress, it stated
that “in Palestine the Jews have relied on British armed forces to
advance their special privileges”. 1 Even Gandhiji
was not ready to recognize the Jewish nationalism, which was artificially
created in Palestine at the cost of indigenous Arab population.2
Nehru indicted Zionism for fostering Jewish settlement in Palestine at
the expense of the Arab population. Jayapraksh Narayan
doubt the Jews were entitled as a persecuted people to compassion and
some compensation for the wrongs heaped upon their innocent heads through
the centuries. But it was certainly not the Arabs, least of all the
Palestinians, who were the persecutors. If the Christian peoples and
powers of the West, some of whom had tried mercilessly to exterminate
the Jews, were anxious at least to salve their conscience and do a good
turn to their victims, they had no right to do it at the cost of the
his letters to his daughter, Indira, during his prison days commented
the British tactics in Palestine in favour of the Jewish immigrants
violating the rights of the Palestine as another face of a colonial
power. He saw the English in Palestine pitting “Jewish religious nationalism
against Arab nationalism, and (making) it appear that (their) presence
is necessary to act as an arbiter and to keep the peace between the
two”.4 All these were some of the basic perspectives of
Indian leaders regarding the Jewish colonialism in the pre-independence
task before India in its post independence period was to examine an
appropriate solution to the Palestine question by becoming a member
in the Special UN Committee. India supported the minority plan which
recommended a federation of two Arab and Jewish states by opposing the
partition plan of Palestine. (During this period the third world countries
were not emerged as members of the UN General Assembly).5 The decision of India was influenced by the perception of Indian leaders
on the Palestine question as well as the partition of India.
became a reality in 1948, India had several reservations in granting
recognition to it. Nehru openly stated the reason as a gesture of supporting
the stand of Arab countries.6 Moreover, India opposed U.N.
membership for Israel in 1949. By 1950 a series of efforts had been
made to influence the Indian government to recognize the state of Israel
by the Jewish lobby as well as its counterpart in India. Finally, India
accorded its recognition to the State of Israel in late 1950 without
establishing any formal ties until 1992. 7
Policy towards the Arabs and the Palestinian Movements
the Israeli attack on Egypt in October 1956 as a re-imposition of European
colonialism in the Afro Asian world. India cosponsored resolutions in
the General Assembly urging the withdrawal of French, British and Israeli
forces from Egypt. The attack was a reaction against Egypt’s decision
to nationalize Suez Canal. In fact, the Suez crisis drew Egypt and India
closer together and its relation with Israel to low point and ended
all possibility for a bilateral tie. 8
hostility towards Israel increased even more after the death of Nehru
in 1964. It was evident from India’s refusal to accept Israeli assistance
in redeveloping the barren wastes of Rajasthan. Similarly, Israeli offer
of famine relief given in response to a plea by the UN Secretary General,
U Thant was declined by India for political reasons. 9 India
condemned the Israeli invasion of Arab lands of Palestine in the 1967
Arab-Israeli war. In December 1967, D.P.Dhar, a member of Indian delegation
to the UN Special Committee, reiterated Indian position, which recognized
the Palestinian as a people and not merely as refugees. It also emphasized
the need of for a lasting solutions to ensure the just rights of the
Arab people of Palestine on the basis of UN resolution 194 (III). 10
In the meantime,
the Indian political atmosphere was not fully supporting the views of
the government stand. The opposition parties in India, except the Communist
parties, demanded a cautious approach in the 1967 war, promoting a neutral
stand. The parties like Swathanthra party and Jana Sangh openly supported
Israel. It happened on account of the neutral policy of Egypt during
the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and Indo-Pak war of 1965.11 Similarly,
the Indian press also took a negative approach to official Indian position
in the 1967 war. The news papers like Times of India, Indian Express,
Statesman and Hindustan Times made critical remarks on Indian policy
of supporting the Arabs. 12
setback to India’s relation with West Asia came in 1969 when India
was denied participation on the Rabat conference of Islamic leaders
due to the opposition of Pakistan. The meeting was convened to condemn
the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Moreover, under the initiative
of Pakistan the meeting also condemned the communal riots in Ahmadabad.
As a reaction to these developments, India recalled its Senior Envoys
from Morocco and Jordan. Further, Indian Foreign Affairs Minister, Dinesh
Singh held a meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Abba Eban in New
York, as a first sign of improving relations with Israel.13
During the Indo-Pak war in November 1971, countries like Egypt and Syria
took a neutral stand while countries like Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia
condemned India. However, Israel took a pro-India stand by criticizing
Pakistan actions in East Bengal. 14
India continued pro-Arab stand even in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. At
the same time India gradually moved away from the policy of supporting
individual Arab countries by focusing exclusively on Palestine question. 15 Hence in the post-1973 war period India gave more importance
to support the struggles of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)
led by Yasser Arafat. In this respect, India played considerable role
in the UN to support the PLO’s bid for observer status in 1974. India
became the first non-Arab government to extend formal diplomatic accreditation
to the representatives of the PLO in January 1975. Moreover, India was
a cosponsor of General Assembly Resolution 3379, which equated Zionism
with racism in November 1975.16
party came to power in 1977, there were speculations about the shift
of India’s policy towards Palestine. It was during this period Moshe
Dayan, Israeli Foreign Minister made an unofficial visit to India.17
However, there was no official action in supporting the relationship
with Israel. When Camp David Accord was signed in September 1978 between
Israel and Egypt, India opposed it along with the Arab world. In 1980
Indira Gandhi returned to power with the continued support of Palestinian
struggle. It was during this period India accorded full diplomatic recognition
to the Office of PLO in New Delhi. Moreover, Yasser Arafat paid state
visits to India in 1980 and 1982.18 This line of Indian policy
continued until early 1990s. The situation in West Asian witnessed a
sea change when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. It was during this
period the Soviet Union was disappearing from the world map marking
the era of unipolar world. In the meantime, the P.L.O. lost its prestige
in West Asia on account of its support to Saddam Hussain. The United
States took the initiative of holding international Middle East Peace
Conference immediately after expelling Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991.
This marked new era in West Asia due to different varieties of diplomatic
manoeuvring. As a consequence to these developments, India also made
drastic changes in its policy towards West Asia.
of India’s foreign policy: Indo-Israeli Friendship since 1990s
It was during
the period of P.V. Narasaimha Rao’s Congress government India made
radical changes in its foreign policy. The most notable one was the
decision of establishing formal ties with Israel in January 1992. The
decision was a surprising one, although it looked like a long awaited
decision, as remarked by Indian media. In fact, the decision of India
to start formal relation with Israel was based on changes in the international
scenario. It was the beginning of post-cold war period war era with
the disintegration of the Soviet Union, India’s strong ally for a
long period. In the new situation India desired the support and
collaboration with major international powers like the United States,
especially in the wake of the political turmoil in Kashmir. In this
respect India had two objectives in promoting its relation with the
US. Firstly, to overcome the propaganda unleashed by Pakistan on Kashmir
situation. Secondly, India required strategic cooperation with the US
due to the demise of the Soviet Union, the leading exporter of arms
to India. It was imperative for India to modernise Indian weaponry.
At the same time India was fully aware of the complexities in establishing
strong ties with the US. In this context India found Israel as a best
option of appeasing the US line of policy. It is to be noted that India
announced its decision to formally establish relations with Israel on
the eve of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’s visit to the US.19
the P.L.O. had already recognised the state of Israel to join as a party
of the peace process in the Middle East. So India found a favourable
occasion in justifying its ties with Israel. It was also remarked that
India’s normal relation with Israel was helpful to get the status
of a mediator in the on going peace negotiations. India’s relationship
with Israel also marked the shift of India’s foreign policy from the
traditional line of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist to economic and
strategic developments. In the decade following this normalisation of
ties, successive governments of both the centrist Congress and the rightist
BJP, irrespective of party ideology, have rapidly forged extensive military,
economic and political relationship. In fact, the shift within the Indian
ruling classes from the official position of non-alignment and state-centred
economic development towards a pro-United States policy facilitated
and encouraged this change attitude towards Israel.
Developments in the Indo-Israeli Relations
important outcome in the Indo-Israel relationship was that in 2008 Israel
surpassed Russia as the main defence supplier to India after breaking
the $ I billion mark in new contracts signed annually over the past
years. 20 Israel is not, as Minister Antony claims, just
one among 45 countries with which India has defence deals. A Jerusalem
Post article on February 15, 2009 had a screaming headline: “Israel
now India’s top defence supplier”. 21 Although India’s
relation with Israel started at a low profile, a sea change took place
after the NDA came to power in 1998. India soon became Israel’s closest
ally in Asia with strategic, defence and intelligence cooperation growing
rapidly. India became the biggest market for Israeli arms. Israel supplied
not only military hard wares but also several high-techs, critical weaponry
such as wide array of surveillance items, electronic warfare systems,
a ground based Green Pine ABM radar, and phalcon airborne warning and
control systems. These arms sales were part of a declared NDA policy
to forge an alliance among India, United States and Israel. 22
States has given clearance to Israel’s delivery of phalcon reconnaissance
aircraft to India, in marked contrast to Washington’s vigorous opposition
to supplying them to China in 1998. The US forced Israel to cancel the
deal to sell the phalcons to China out of concern altering the balance
of power between China and Taiwan. In February 2003 an agreement was
made to supply advanced Israeli avionic systems for the Indian Air Force’s
new MIG-27 combat aircraft. There were reports about the collaboration
between India and Israel on a missile defence system based on the Israel
Arrow technology. 23
partnership has intensified since 1998 and later led to the visiting
of India’s Home Minister, L.K.Advani and India’s External Affairs
Minister, Jaswant Singh to Israel in quick succession in mid 2000. The
delegates of the Indian team with L.K.Advani consisted of Heads of India’s
intelligence agencies, RAW, IB, and Central Police Organisations fighting
terrorism. In addition to this, India’s National Security Advisor,
Brijesh Mishra and Services Chiefs have paid their visit to Israel since
1998, underlining the growing strategic cooperation between India and
Israel. The top officials of Indian Navy also conducted goodwill visits
to Israel. 24
aid during the Kargil war in 1999 was considered by India as a cementing
factor in the Indo-Israeli relationship. It was during the visit of
Shimon Pares to India in January 2002 India and Israel made major agreements
to fight ‘terrorism’. Ironically, the word ‘terrorism’
used by Israel was about the national liberation struggle of the Palestinians,
which had been strongly supported by India until late 1980s. An Indian
Foreign Ministry Spokesman said during the visit of Pares: “India
finds it increasingly beneficial to learn from Israel’s experience
in dealing with terrorism”. 25 This line of Indian
policy was in contradiction with the fundamental principle of Indian
foreign policy, supporting all national liberation movements.
significant event in the Indo-Israeli relationship was the visit of
Israeli Prime Minster, Ariel Sharon to India in September 2003. In fact,
the visit engineered much controversy in the wake of the assassination
of Palestinian leaders by Israeli military forces during the period.
There were series of protests in different parts of India against the
Israeli Prime Minister. However, the Indian government adopted a cautious
step of either displeasing Sharon or giving much honour against the
public sentiments.26 At the same time, there were many agreements
during his visit as Sharon was accompanied by a large delegation of
about 30 influential businessmen, eager to forge new contracts and open
new markets in India. 27
UPA government under the Congress leadership came to power in mid-2004,
it decided to follow the same line of the policy adopted by the earlier
NDA regime. During the NDA rule the Congress party had criticised some
of the close cooperation between India and Israel. But UPA government
followed its relations with Israel without changing any policies. India’s
Navel Chief Admiral Suresh Mehta visited Israel in January 2008 to finalise
several key defence projects. It was reported that Mehta had reviewed
efforts to enhance the Israeli-origin Barak missiles defence system.28 On January 21, 2008 an Indian space launch vehicle lifted off from the
Sriharikota spaceport on the Indian Ocean to put into space Israel’s
most sophisticated spy satellite ever launched, the Polaris. The commercial
launch of Polaris by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) underscored
the growing military and intelligence connections between Israel and
India. The United States helped inspire this relationship and has a
strong interest in its success. Though unique in the military cooperation
realm, this is but one of several evolving relationships between Israel
and great or emerging powers that deserves attention. 29
of an Israeli made satellite on April 20, 2009 came close on the heels
of an opaque missile deal of India with an Israeli company under investigation
both in India and Israel, raising further questions about India’s
Israeli ties and its implications. A.K. Antony, India’s Defence Minister,
found it hard to answer questions related to these deals while campaigning
for the Congress party in the Parliament elections in his home State
of Kerala. India signed a massive US $ 1.4 billion deal with the Israeli
Aerospace Industries (IAI) for the supply and joint development of medium-range
surface-to-air missiles (MRSAM). The deal signed on February 27, 2009,
just two days prior to the notification of elections to Parliament,
was wrapped in secrecy till the Israeli Aerospace Industries officially
announced it. The company explained that “early disclosure was liable
to cause material difficulties in execution of the contract and even
result in its cancellation”, according to the Israeli business daily
Globes. The company has claimed that the Indian Government wanted the
signing of the contract to be kept secret.30 Despite these
allegations of kickbacks the Indian Naval Chief, Admiral Nirmal Verma,
visited Israel in October 2010 to intensify the arms trade with the
Israeli companies. For instance, the Rs 2,606-crore project between
DRDO and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) to develop a supersonic
70-km range Barak-NG (next generation) missile defence system or LR-SAM
(long-range surface-to-air missile) system for the Navy is scheduled
for completion by May 2011.31
in the Indo-Israeli Relationship
important outcome in the Indo-Israeli relation is the aberration in
principle of Indian foreign policy. In the first four decades after
independence, successive governments sought to project India as country
dedicated to decolonisation. This posture offered the basis for the
principled foreign policy of Nehruvian state which drew its own legitimacy
from the tumultuous anti-colonial struggle that brought about independence
for the subcontinent in the late 1940s. But when India decided to establish
its ties with Israel, it had far reaching implications including military
and intelligence cooperation against Pakistan and Islamic terrorism.
In fact, India’s relation with Israel was not a normal one as it expanded
into different vital fields, even foiled India’s traditional relations
with Arab countries and Iran. It was viewed as a tactic used by the
US to bring India into its strategic orbit. As a result, it lost its
independent foreign policy initiatives in the post-cold war period.
and business lobby in India and Israel played a crucial role in fostering
the ties between the two countries for promoting their interests. The
Indian business lobby was not interested any matters regarding the case
of Palestinians. Since Palestine has little to offer financially or
technologically, while Israel can sell to India what the US refuses
to India, these pragmatists insisted that New Delhi had no option but
to court the more “valuable” Israel.32 The official
Israeli figures show that Israel exports to India valued $1.270 billion
in 2006 and imports $1.433 billion to Israel. Agricultural, water and
IT technologies in addition to fertilisers and diamonds are major mutual
trade concerns. The State Bank of India became the first foreign bank
to open a branch in Israel’s diamond exchange. 33
alliance strengthens the US strategic designs for India and the region.
India holds significant place in the September 20, 2002 National Security
Strategy of the US, a policy document to support the actions of the
current US President, George Bush.34 Like Israel in West
Asia, the US needed a close ally in South Asia to confront terrorists
in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as to overcome the challenges posed
by China. The Indo-US nuclear deal is the most significant outcome of
this kind of policy initiatives of the United States.
factor” was another aspect which cemented the relation between India
and Israel. For India, the growing nuclear arsenal of Pakistan and its
support to terrorism in Kashmir and different parts of India were most
important challenges. In the case of Israel, the nuclear capability
of Pakistan and its support to Palestinian extremists posed a threat
to its security. In this context Pakistan was a common threat to India
and Israel and any alliance in this direction was considered as most
valuable. There were reports about the Israeli clandestine support to
Indian nuclear explosion, Pokhran II in May 1998.35 Even
the Sangh Parivar was demanding for an alliance with Israel way back
in 1960s and 1970s to face the “Islamic threat” from Pakistan and
relationship with the West Asian countries, most specifically Iran,
has been a point of contention in the Indo-Israeli partnership. Israel’s
relationship with Iran is extremely antagonistic and unstable. Israel
viewed Iran as the most important threat to its security in the region
due to the kind of support it extended to Hezbollah and Palestinian
extremists. In the case of India, Iran is considered as the most important
ally in the region. India paid a lot of respect to Iran on account of
its support to Kashmir issue against Pakistan. So India treated Iran
as an ideal power in the region to counter Pakistan influence in West
Asia. But with the inception of Indo-Israeli ties India’s traditional
relationship with Iran badly damaged.36 Israel’s spy satellite,
Tecsar (Polaris), was launched by India in January 2008 to enhance Israel’s
intelligence gathering capability. In fact, the real objective behind
the launching of the satellite was to undermine the Iranian nuclear
programme. Moreover, India voted twice on the IAEA governing body against
Iran under the compulsion from the United States. All these created
rifts between India and Iran.37
it is not possible to follow a negative policy towards the Arab countries
by taking into account of many realities. It is estimated that more
than five million Indian expatriate work in the Arab countries. Moreover,
nearly $25 billion worth of Indo-Arab trade, including 60 per cent of
Indian oil and gas imports worth $20 billion, is the basic support of
Indian economy.38 In this respect, India had to follow
a soft policy towards the question of Palestine. In order to overcome
this dilemma an attempt had been made by Indian foreign policy makers
to separate its Israeli policy from the Arab-Israeli conflict. To realise
this objective, India has taken a more tactical neutral position on
the Palestine question, publicly stating its continued support for the
Palestinian case and making deliberative effort to further strengthen
ties with ties Arab neighbours.39
Israel as a role model of counter terrorist strategies. However, even
after 60 years of military actions against the Palestinians, Israel
still lives in an atmosphere of fear. Israel’s counterterrorism strategy
has been a complete failure which the Israeli government has been trying
to hide by brutally using its fire power against innocent Palestinians.
Two years ago, Israel marched into Lebanon thinking they would destroy
the Hezbollah but ended up retreating in disgrace. It is not in India’s
interest to emulate Israel counterterrorism strategy as this would pose
a serious threat to the stability of the entire South Asian region.
Instead of accusing and threatening Pakistan, India should investigate
the local support which enabled the attackers to carry out this gruesome
act of terrorism. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear states and should
understand the repercussions and consequences of war.40
new foreign policy since 1990s was a severe setback to Palestinians.
The Palestinians have been waging a struggle for their nationhood for
the last six decades against Israeli illegal occupation of lands. India
was one of the leading countries which extended all support to the Palestinian
cause. India had a strong critical approach to Israel’s illegal occupation
of West Bank and Gaza. However, India’s changed policy since 1992
is a blatant contradiction to its avowed policy of supporting the Palestinian
cause due to the transformation in the international politics resulted
in the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Moreover, India had enough
justifications in establishing ties with Israel by taking into account
of the factors like the recognition of Israel by the P.L.O. and some
Arab countries. However, the current phase of India’s relation with
Israel goes beyond the level of normalcy and reached a stage of much
clandestine cooperation for defence and strategic purposes. Ironically,
India wants to borrow the ideas of Israeli tactics of eliminating the
Palestinian leaders in its efforts to combat terrorism in Jammu and
Kashmir. For a long period India had been condemning these Israeli policies
against the Palestinians. Now the cooperation in the same field with
Israel is against its foreign policy principle and the support to the
India never used its relation with Israel to resolve the issue of Palestinians.
At present India is in a commanding position of using its good offices
to influence Israel. However, no attempt was made to pressurise Israel
to withdraw its forces from the occupied territories. It is very unfortunate
that on many occasions since 1992 India was not ready to condemn Israeli
atrocities against the Palestinians by sticking to a passive stand of
supporting a ‘peaceful solution’ to the crisis. The new
diplomatic initiatives of India target only its vested interest against
the traditional principle of solidarity with the third world countries.
The current trends indicate India’s keen interest to develop close
ties with imperialist global powers like the United States for economic
and defence benefits undermining its values and principles. In other
words, Indian foreign policy lost its direction as it is dictated by
the external powers to realise their objectives.
there were widespread concerns about India’s burgeoning support to
the war economy of Israel, the chief victims of which are Palestinians.
The spy satellite, also made by the controversial Israeli Aerospace
Industries fits into this. The defence and intelligence nexus between
India and Israel has strategic implications not only for West Asia but
also for South Asia especially through their collaboration in the US-led
war on terror. It is very unfortunate that while continuing to pay lip
service to the Palestinian cause India is subsidizing Israel’s war
1 N.V. Raj Kumar (Ed.) (1952), The Background of India’s
Foreign Policy (New Delhi: Indian National Congress,), p.57
2 Leonard A. Gordon (1975), “Indian Nationalist Ideas about Palestine
and Israel”, Jewish Social Studies, 37, Summer-Fall,
3 Jayaprakash Narayan (1969), “The Arab-Israeli Question”, Indian
and Foreign Review, Vol.6, July 15, , pp.1-2.
4 Jawaharlal Nehru (1962), Glimpses of World History (Bombay:
Asia Publishing House), p.789.
5 For details see United Nations, Official Records of the General
Assembly, Second Session, Supplement No.11, Document A/364 (UNSCOP
6 G.Parthasarathi (ed.) (1986), Jawaharlal Nehru, Letters to Chief
Ministers 1947-1964, Vol. 2, 1950-52, “1 October 1950”,
(Delhi: Oxford University Press for the Jawaharlal Nehru Trust,), p.217.
7 Subhash Kapila, India – Israel Relations: The Imperatives For Enhanced Strategic Cooperation,
South Asia Analysis Group : Papers, cited at http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers2/paper131.html
retrieved on 12-09-2008
8 Sudha Rao (1972), The Arab-Israeli
Conflict : The Indian View (Delhi: Orient Longman,), p.60
9 Arthur G. Rubinoff (1995), “Normalisation of India-Israel Relations:
Stillborn for Forty Years”, Asian Survey, Vol.35, No.5,
10 Krishna Gopal Swamy, n.9, pp.278-279
Naaz (2005), West Asia: Changing Perspectives (Delhi:
Shipra Publications,), p.95.
12 See Indian Opinion on the West Asian Crisis (Bombay: Indo-Israeli
Friendship League, 1967).
13 Arthur G. Rubinoff, n.10, p.498.
15 K.R.Singh (1999), “India and West Asia: Retrospect and
Prospects” in Nancy Jetly (ed.), India’s Foreign
Policy: Challenges and Prospects (New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House,). p.227.
“The Case against Collaboration between Indian and Israel”, MR Zine,
30-08-06 cited in http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/swamy300806.html, retrieved on 11-09-08
17 Moshe Dayan (1978), Breakthrough:
A Personal Account of the Egypt-Israeil Peace Negotiations (New
Delhi: Vikas,), p.28.
18 Hindustan Times (New Delhi), March 27, 1980.
19 New York Times , January 30, 1992.
Hindu, February 16, 2009.
21 Ninan Koshy (2009), India-Israel Defence Nexus Deepens, Mainstream,
Vol XLVII, No 20, May 2.
Koshy (2008), “India and Israel Eye Iran”, FPIF foreign Policy in
Focus, February 13, , cited at http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/4959 retrieved on 10-09-2008
Koshy (2003), US plays matchmaker to India, Israel, Asia Times
on line, June 10, cited http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/EF10Df03.html retrieved on 21-09-2008
24 Subhash Kapila, n.7.
25 Ninan Koshy, n.23.
26 Bansidhar Pradhan (2008), “Globalisation and the Shift in India’s
Palestine Policy”, in Anwar Alam (Ed.), India and West Asia
in the Era of Globalisation (New Delhi: New Century Publications,),
27Harsh V. Pant (2004),
“India-Israel Partnership: Convergence and Constraints”, The
Middle East Review of International Affairs, Vol8, No.4, December,
cited at http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/2004/issue4/jv8no4a6.html
28 Ninan Koshy, n.22.
29 Israel and India
New Allies see http://www.brookings.edu/profile/Portfolio/PortfolioHelper.aspx?ProfileItemId=e187dc42-b737-46c3-b21c-3ad0c62dffd0
30 Nainan Koshy, n.20.
Times of India , October 12, 2010.
32 Ramtanu Maitra (2003), “Palestinians Pay for Indian Ambitions”, Asian Times on line, September 10, cited at http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/EI10Df03.html, retrieved on 25-09-2008.
33 Nicola Nasser, n.21.
34 Ninan Koshy, n.23.
(1999), “Indo-Israeli N-Nexus”, The Hindu, February 10,.
36 Adam C Castillo, India and Israel: A balancing alliance, International
Relations and Security Network, cited at: http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details.cfm?ID=19199 retrieved on 23-09-2008.
37 Ninan Koshy, n.22.
38 Nicola Nasser, n.21.
Stakelbeck, Jr., "India and Israel Shape a New Strategic Relationship”, Global Politician , cited at http://www.globalpolitician.com/2345-israel
40 Mahwish Hafeez (2009), Indo-Israel Relations and the Mumbai
Attacks, Reflections, No. 1.
THE CHINA SYNDROME
GRAPPLING WITH AN UNEASY
By Dr. Harsh V.
Publisher - HarperCollins
About the BOOK
balance of power shifts from the West to the East, the relationship
between the two regional giants, China and India, gains significance.
Their relationship will determine to a great extent the new political
architecture that takes shape in Asia and the world at large. Nor are
the two powers unaware of this. As a Chinese premier meeting the Indian
prime minister is reported to have said,
‘When we shake hands, the whole world will be watching.’
The China Syndrome
seeks to decipher the complex, multi-layered relationship between the
two countries, and the strategy or lack of it in India’s China policy.
Given the emerging scenario, it is a subject of considerable
|Author : Harsh
V. Pant teaches in the Department
of Defence Studies London. He is also an Associate with the King’s
Centre for Science and Security and lectures at the UK Defence Academy.
He is the author of Contemporary Debates in Indian Foreign and Security
Policy and editor of Indian Foreign Policy in a Unipolar
World . His current research is focused on Asia-Pacific security and
||9788172239244 Format Hardback
||Rs. 399.00 Extent 280 pages
(1) Delhi Statement on Friendship and Cooperation
between India and Israel
September 10, 2003
issued on conclusion of visit to India by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
1. At the invitation
of the Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister
of Israel, Ariel Sharon, paid a State visit to India from September
8-10 2003, the first-ever by an Israeli Prime Minister.
2. Prime Minister Sharon
was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice, Yosef
Lapid, Minister of Culture, Education and Sport, Limor Livnat (-together
with a cultural delegation) and Minister of Agriculture, Israel Katz.
The large accompanying business delegation underscored the importance
the two countries attach to expanding their economic relations.
3. During the visit,
Prime Minister Sharon called on President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, and held
talks with Prime Minister Vajpayee. He also held separate meetings with
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Lal Krishna Advani,
Minister of Defence George Fernandes, Minister of Finance Jaswant Singh,
Minister of External Affairs Yashwant Sinha and Leader of the Opposition
4. As ancient cultures
and societies, India and Israel have left their mark on human civilization
and history. As democratic countries since their inception, both nations
share faith in the values of freedom and democracy. Both countries gained
independence during the same period and embarked on a course of nation
building to advance the well being of their respective peoples and to
build modern democratic states able to face difficult challenges.
5. The two Prime Ministers
discussed a range of important bilateral, regional and international
issues. They reiterated their commitment to further advance the bilateral
relations between the two countries and increase the scope of trade
and economic exchanges.
6. The shared ideals
draw both peoples into a natural amity in pursuit of common goals. Since
the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1992, there has been rapid
expansion and deepening of bilateral relations. Both sides attach great
importance to strengthening their long-term cooperation in the political,
defence, economic, commercial, cultural and science and technology areas.
7. In the presence
of the Prime Ministers, Ministers from both sides signed the following
- An agreement on Environment
- An agreement on Cooperation
in Combating Illicit Trafficking and Abuse of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic
- An agreement on Visa Free
Travel for Diplomatic, Official and Service Passport Holders.
- An agreement on Cooperation
in the fields of Health and Medicine.
- Exchange Program on Cooperation
in the field of Education
- Exchange Program on Cooperation
in the field of Culture.
These agreements will
further enhance the institutional framework created by those which have
already been signed between the two countries.
8. Both sides agreed
to increase the frequency of bilateral visits by Ministers and officials
and to consolidate the ties between business communities of the two
countries. People-to-people relations will also be encouraged, in order
to increase and deepen understanding between the societies.
9. Both sides expressed
their satisfaction with the impressive growth in bilateral economic
relations. They believe that there is considerable untapped potential
to enhance these relations, particularly in fields such as hi-tech and
infrastructure where there are synergies, in order to encourage the
private and public sectors to expand the scope of mutual trade and investments.
Israel expressed its interest in and willingness to participate in key
national Indian Projects. Indian companies were invited to expand their
activities in Israel - to encompass the field of investment - and to
participate in the process of privatization in Israel. Both sides will
explore together the best ways to strengthen and implement these goals.
10. Both sides noted
the scientific and technological cooperation between the two countries
and expressed willingness to enhance participation in the joint fund
for scientific research established in 1994, as well as explore the
possibility of the establishment of a bi-national research and development
fund in the industrial fields, particularly in bio-technology, information
technology, telecommunication, agricultural research and the civilian
use of outer space.
11. Both sides expressed
satisfaction with the relations between the countries in the field of
tourism, and called for the expansion of these relations as an additional
tool for strengthening the bond of familiarity between their peoples.
12. Israel and India
expressed their desire to work together, along with other countries
and the international community, to create a new and better world -
a world of peace, prosperity and welfare, for the benefit of all peoples
13. Terrorism undermines
the very foundation of freedom and democracy, endangers the continued
existence of open and democratic societies and constitutes a global
threat; therefore, there cannot be any compromise in the war against
terrorism. Together with the international community and as victims
of terrorism, Israel and India are partners in the battle against this
scourge. In line with their adherence to UNSCR 1373, they strongly condemn
terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and call upon the international
community to take decisive action against this global menace, and condemn
states and individuals who aid and abet terrorism across borders, harbour
and provide sanctuary to terrorists and provide them with financial
means, training or patronage.
14. India and Israel
called for the establishment of a just and durable peace in the Middle
East. The two sides expressed their respective views, and called for
a complete cessation of violence, so that a conducive environment is
created for continuation of the dialogue.
15. India and Israel
share the goal of advancing peace, security and stability in their own
region and respect for democracy in the entire world, and will continue
efforts to encourage this trend.
16. Both sides paid
tribute to the contribution of the Jewish community in India and the
Indian community in Israel in providing a bridge of understanding and
in strengthening the ties of culture and trade between the two countries.
The shining example of the freedom always given to the Jews of India
to practice their religion and give expression to their culture is a
tribute to Indias religious tolerance and secularism and sends a vital
message of coexistence and harmony to the international community.
17. Prime Minister
Sharon invited Prime Minister Vajpayee to visit Israel. Prime Minister
Vajpayee accepted this invitation with pleasure.
18. India and Israel
believe that the State visit of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will further
expand and enhance the framework of bilateral cooperation in various
fields, and will contribute to strengthening the friendship between
the two countries.
Minister Ariel Sharon’s Speech at the Israeli-Indian Business Conference
in New Delhi.
Shalom to all of you.
Mr. Jaswant Singh,
Minister of Finance
Mr. Joseph Lapid, Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Justice from Israel
Mr. Israel Katz, Minister
Mr. Anand Mahindra,
President of the Confederation of the Indian Industry,
Mr. Modi, Vice President
of the Confederation of Indian Chambers of Commerce Ambassador of India
Mr. Avigdor Itzchaki,
Director General of the Prime Ministers Office
Mr. Amos Yaron, Director
General of the Ministry of Defense
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to greet
all of you who arrived at this joint gathering of Indian and Israeli
I consider this meeting
between business-people to be very important, and hope that this gathering
will bear fruit and bring about better and stronger business ties between
I am in the midst of
an extended and productive visit, during which I met with the political
and economic leadership of India, and have had a small taste too small
a taste of the human and historic landscape. It was very short from
the beginning, and it became shorter. We had to cancel this time our
visit to Mumbai due to the current terror events in Israel. I had to
go back today, but at least I am happy that there are many things I
would like to see here, and I am sure that I will be here again, and
then well be visiting Bombay, as other places in this a beautiful, great
Since the renewal of
our relations, 11 years ago, our countries have forged close, warm contacts.
I see my visit to this grand and impressive country, which is the first
visit to India of an Israeli Prime Minister in office, as the climax
of our relations. It is my hope that following this visit, we will continue
to develop our relations, and thereby contribute greatly to both Israel
Both our nations have
ancient cultures and legacies which had a great impact on the development
of civilization in the entire world. Both our countries gained independence
towards the second half of the 20th century, and chose to base their
national sovereignty on the principles of freedom and democracy. If
we take all the area from India across the Middle East, I think we are
the only two democracies that exist here. If Israel were surrounded
by democracies, I believe that we could have taken more risks, but we
are the only ones there in our part of the world.
I am confident in the
enormous potential for cooperation between our countries toward prosperity,
and for the benefit of the entire human race.
During my visit here
we decided to launch an Israeli space telescope on an Indian satellite.
It is symbolic that two nations which are so deeply rooted in history
are working together in fields which will help ensure a better future
for us all.
During my meetings
here, we discussed a wide variety of topics strengthening our bilateral
relations in various fields and the advancement of regional and global
Yesterday we signed
a series of agreements between our countries, in order to improve and
cement our ties, and increase cooperation between our peoples.
I was happy to hear
from Prime Minister Vajpayee that he too attaches great importance to
promoting the values of freedom and democracy around the world, and
that he also sees terror as a serious threat, which requires a determined
and uncompromising battle by the entire international community. Terror
is the enemy of freedom and democracy. Israel and India, as countries
who believe in these values, will, together with any other ally, combat
this evil. Only a relentless struggle against terror will ensure a better
future a future of peace and prosperity for ourselves, our children,
and generations to come.
Israel is a peace-seeking
country. Despite the repeated attacks against us, we have not lost the
hope of living in peace with our neighbors. As a matter of fact, Israel
has been facing the threat of terror for over 120 years. It didn’t
start now. I have already stated that for genuine, durable, real peace,
we will be willing to make painful compromises. But we will never compromise
on the security of the citizens of Israel. It is my intention to make
every effort to reach an agreement which will ensure security and stability,
and will hopefully lead to peace in our region in the near future. But
that, of course, depends upon the situation in the region. We cannot
move forward in the political process unless there is full cessation
of terror, hostilities and incitement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I firmly believe in
relations between peoples, not only between leaders. My meetings here
with Indian leaders are of great importance. However, the developing
relations between our peoples are no less important. Therefore, when
I was invited to India by Prime Minister Vajpayee, I decided to bring
with me a delegation of the most senior and successful business-people
in Israel, and also a delegation of representatives of Israels culture.
The intention is that they use this visit for direct contact with their
Indian hosts, get to know them and establish business and cultural ties
between our countries.
Israel does not have
natural resources. We have no gold, no oil, and no diamonds. There is,
however, one resource which Israel is blessed with a resource which
we have always nurtured and developed. This priceless resource, our
greatest natural resource, is our human capital.
Although today Israel
is mainly recognized around the world for its ongoing struggle for security,
thanks to our wonderful people, we are also known throughout the world
for the things we take pride in, such as the fact that we are the country
which has the largest number of patents per capita, or as the country
where the percentage of national investment in research and development
from the GDP is the highest in the world. Israel has more engineers
per capita than any other country in the world. We have a double number
of engineers per capita in Israel, in comparison with the United States.
Thanks to the citizens
of Israel we have succeeded, during the past fifty-five years, in reaching
the cutting edge of the high-tech and scientific industries in the global
markets. The signing of free trade agreements with the major economies
in the world allows investment and trade to flourish. Israel has global
leaders in scientific and medical research, computer and electronic
technologies, bio-technology, agro-technology, and many other fields
and in the future nano-technology. Many foreign universities and research
companies have found Israel to be a natural partner in joint projects.
We have creative methods of agriculture which have successfully coped
with the harsh climate and environment of the Middle East. We decided
to begin negotiations on the establishment of an additional joint agricultural
farm in India, which will deepen our relations in this field and further
improve the agricultural capabilities of Indian farmers.
I attach great significance
to Israeli-Indian cooperation in these fields. Being at the forefront
of cutting-edge technology, Israeli companies are always ready to answer
global needs. In todays world of global markets and the electronic communications
revolution, the geographical distance is no longer an obstacle to increasing
trade between our countries. We are interested in advancing Indian projects,
and would like Indian companies to expand their activities and invest
in taking part in the privatization process which the Israeli economy
is currently undergoing. I believe in reciprocity. We want to learn,
and we believe that we can learn everywhere, we can learn many things
here, and we are willing to share our know-how. We are ready to help
and would like to be helped. I believe that relations should be based
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you know, politicians
are not great business-people. If they were great business-people, I
am sure they would not be in politics. They would not waste their time.
So I will leave you to do what we believe you do best business. I am
convinced that the personal ties which will be forged at this gathering,
will lead to further meetings and visits between both countries, and
to the strengthening of business ties between India and Israel.
We, the politicians,
on our part, will do everything in our power to create fertile ground
for business-people to cooperate with their counterparts, and provide
better and more attractive conditions for realizing the tremendous potential
of the relations between Israel and India.
I wish you a productive
and interesting gathering, and hope to see you visiting Israel soon.
I can assure you that you will be coming to a very friendly country.
Its not only that the government and myself want to establish and strengthen
and deepen our relations. I believe that there is great sympathy in
Israel to India. I think one of the signs is that at the present time,
we have 30,000 young Israelis visiting India.
I felt the friendship
here in the last two days, I could not have expected a better or more
beautiful reception than I had, and I invited the Prime Minister to
visit Israel. I know one thing it will be very hard for us to reciprocate
the most beautiful meetings and friendly atmosphere.
Again, I would like
to thank the Prime Minister and the members of his cabinet, and everyone
that we met with.
Thank you again, thank
you so much.
(3) India, Israel to work towards signing FTA
JERUSALEM: India and Israel have agreed to kickstart talks on signing
a financial pact next month to promote bilateral trade and lay the ground
work for signing a free trade agreement (FTA), a media report said.
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz met his Indian counterpart Pranab
Mukherjee in Washington on the sidelines of last week's semi-annual
meeting of the IMF and World Bank , business daily Globes reported.
The two leaders have agreed to prepare the ground for an FTA, it added.
Besides, the daily said, Steinitz would visit India in early 2011 with
the heads of leading Israeli companies.
Indo-Israel trade has grown from USD 200 million in 1992, when diplomatic
relations were established between the two nations, with projections
of USD 5 billion this year.
India has jumped from the eighth position to second as the favoured
destination for Israeli exports in the first half of 2010, according
to Israel's Export and International Cooperation Institute.
Israeli exports to India in the first half of this year were worth USD
990 million, an increase of 102 per cent compared to last year.
"Israel cannot rely just on the markets in the US and Europe. We
need new markets. We must look eastwards especially to India and China.
I am interested in a closer connection between India and Israel, similar
to the economic ties we have with the US and Europe," Steinitz
was quoted by the business daily as saying.
"I want to see Indian investments in Israel, just as there are
investments by Israeli companies in India," he added.
Steinitz dismissed apprehensions that an FTA with India would lead to
jobs moving away from Israel to that country.
India has leaped to become Israel's second largest export destination,
only next to close ally the US, as the Jewish state focusses at tapping
potential in Asian markets.
The reason for this year's sharp jump in exports to India was a 63 per
cent leap in shipments by Israel's mining, minerals and quarrying sectors,
which exported USD 228 million worth of products, mainly fertilisers.
One of the biggest exporters to India in this sector was Dead Sea Works,
a subsidiary of Israel Chemicals.
Exports of electronics equipment, including warfare systems, to India
grew from less than USD 10 million in the first half of last year to
USD 160 million this year, the institute reported.
Major exporters in this sector included ECI Telecom and Comverse, TowerJazz,
Elbit Systems and Rafael .
Israeli exports to India of metals and metal products also increased
from USD 21 million to USD 130 million, a sharp increase of 524 percent.
- DOCUMENTS /Events –Non-official
DELHI – In a message to the Palestine Liberation Organization
(PLO) President, Yasser Arafat, on the occasion of the International
Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, PM Narasimha Rao reaffirms
India’s unequivocal commitment and unstinted support to the legitimate
aspirations of the people of Palestine.
DELHI – EAM Madhavsinh Solanki rules out early restoration
of diplomatic ties between India and Israel, stating any further recognition
of Tel Aviv will depend on a “genuine settlement” of the West Asian
DELHI (RS)– India will consider establishing full diplomatic
relations with Israel depending on the settlement of Palestine question
the talks for which were to be held soon. We will have to await the
progress of the talks between Israel and the Arab states including the
Palestine Liberation Organisation (MS for EA Eduardo Faleiro).
(29 -11-1991) New Delhi : A function was held in New Delhi to observe the Indian
Solidarity Day with the Palestinian people. Shri Eduardo Faleiro, Minister
of State for External Affairs, in his address reiterated the Indian
solidarity with the Palestinian people. Dr Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairman
of the Rajya Sabha, recalled the background of the Palestinian struggle
and India's consistent support for the Palestinian rights.
(12-12-1991) New Delhi (LS) – Normalisation of relations with Israel was contingent
upon progress in the ongoing peace process in west Asia. India
was committed to support all efforts to bring about a just and comprehensive
settlement in West Asia. (EAM – Madhavsinh Solanki)
(20 - 22 January,
1992) NEW DELHI : President Yasser Arafat visited India from 20
to 22 January 1992 on a State visit. Besides calling on the President,
he had discussions with the Prime Minister and also met with the Vice
President, the Minister of State for External Affairs, and the Ministers
for Finance and Human Resource Development. Leaders of some political
parties i.e. CPI, CPM, Janta Dal and BJP, also called on him. During
his stay, President Arafat was also presented the Indira Gandhi International
Award by the Indian Council for World Affairs. He held a Press Conference,
at which he clearly articulated the Palestinian stand that the presence
of India at the Middle East peace talks was desirable and that any sovereign
step that India might take by way of establishing diplomatic relations
with Israel would be totally within India's prerogative.
(29.01.1992) Israel and India established full diplomatic relations.
(First week of February
1992) J. N. Dixit, Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs
of India, briefed Arab and Muslim ambassadors, after the Indian decision
to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. He told them that ‘There
was no change in India’s policy on the Palestinian question or on
the importance that we attached to nurturing close friendship with Arab
(28 -10-1992) India's first Ambassador to Israel presented his credentials .
(26 -11 1992) Israeli Ambassador to India presented his credentials in New Delhi.
Election Manifesto Manifesto
has watched with great interest the unfolding of the peace process in
West Asia. It will play whatever role it Is called upon .to play in
placing this process on .a more solid footing. India’s traditionally
close links with other countries in the Middle East and the Gulf will
not only be preserved but also expanded.
‘The Congress -----
will revive the country’s close ties with West Asia and other non-aligned
(23-05-2004) Common Minimal Program of the UPA : When the new UPA coalition government
was formed by the Congress party in May 2004, the following proclamation,
as part of the Common Minimal Program of the UPA, was made: “The UPA
government reiterates India's decadesold commitment to the cause of
the Palestinian people for a homeland of their own.:”
Express)- The Indian Defence Minister in the UPA government,
Pranab Mukherjee, declared: “There will be no change in the existing
defense ties between India and Israel”
(12-07 -2004) (Times
of India) -In May 2004 the Indian government changed,
replaced by the newly formed UPA coalition. Natwar K. Singh,
Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement at the time of its 1983
summit, and Minister of State for External Affairs in Rajiv Gandhi’s
government (1986-1989), became India’s Minister of External
Affairs. In opposition he had been critical of the NDA governments’
promotion of Israeli–Indian relations at the expense of the Palestinians
. In his new position he made it a point of maintaining India’s traditional
ties with the Israeli-Indian relations. He summarized this policy: “We greatly value our relationship with Israel but this will not and
should not affect our relations with Palestine”
resolution on External Security and International Affairs-Introduced
by Shri Pranab K. Mukherjee –(Congress Sandesh)
“The Indian National
Congress recalls the long association with the struggle of the people
of Palestine and mourns the passing away of President Arafat. The continuing
distress of Palestine despite the peace process remains a concern for
India. The Indian National Congress hopes that the Government will do
its utmost to help in the resolution of the conflict Meanwhile, India's
friendly relations with Israel and meaningful cooperation between the
two countries have facilitated India's efforts to help in the process.”
Meeting -POLITICAL (OMNIBUS) RESOLUTION
“The AICC recalls
that right from the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, the Congress has remained
unwavering in its support to the Palestinian cause. The Congress has
always supported the establishment of a sovereign, independent viable
state of Palestine, within well-defined and recognized borders, living
side-by-side at peace with the state of Israel through a negotiated
solution to the conflict there. The AICC calls upon the Congress-led
UPA government to expand its aid and emergency relief programme to the
reply to the debate on the Motion of Confidence in the Lok Sabha
‘I state categorically
that our foreign policy, will at all times be determined by our own
assessment of our national interest. This has been true in the past
and will be true in future regarding our relations with big powers as
well as with our neighbours in West Asia, notably Iran, Iraq, Palestine
and the Gulf countries.’
(2009) Lok Sabha
Elections -Manifesto of the Indian National Congress
‘The Indian National
Congress has always championed the legitimate and peaceful aspirations
of the long-suffering Palestinian people and urges that a viable Palestinian
state be established at the earliest. ’
(19-12-2010)- FOREIGN POLICY RESOLUTION -AICC session –Burari,New Delhi-
“India’s ‘India has remained
steadfast in providing its unwavering support for the legitimate rights
and aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign state of their
own. A just settlement of the Palestinian issue and the creation of
an independent and stable Palestine is an imperative for enduring peace
in West Asia.”
Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)
key area of cooperation with Israel: Vajpayee
DELHI : The Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, called on the
President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, and held 40-minute-long "restricted"
and separate delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari
Vajpayee, this evening. Mr. Sharon also met the Deputy Prime Minister,
L.K. Advani, and had a 75-minute-long interaction with the External
Affairs Minister, Yashwant Sinha. The National Security Adviser, Brajesh
Mishra, also called on him.
Mr. Vajpayee, who hosted
a banquet for Mr. Sharon after the formal talks at Hyderabad House,
said the Israeli leader's visit was an "important landmark"
in bilateral relations. "The people of India and Israel have a
long history of civilisational contact. Our lands have supported the
birth of great and ancient religions and civilisations. Jewish communities
in India have, over the centuries, painted rich colours into the mosaic
of Indian society." Mr. Vajpayee said that in the relatively short
span of 11 years of formal diplomatic relations, India and Israel had
established a "vibrant" partnership. "India is one of
Israel's strongest trading partners in Asia today."
"Our defence cooperation
rests on a foundation of mutual understanding of security concerns.
Our people-to-people interaction has been enriched through tourism,
student exchanges and cultural contacts. All these strands are tied
together by a political understanding between us," he said.
a key area of cooperation between the two countries, Mr. Vajpayee said
and added that "another aspect" of "our common experience"
is the menace of terrorism. "Bilaterally and on the international
plane, we are contributing to the global fight against terrorism. It
is a menace that particularly targets democratic societies, which have
to fashion a global and comprehensive response to it," he said.
"Simultaneously, we are engaged in the process of improving relations
with all our neighbours. West Asia and the Gulf region are a part of
our extended neighbourhood, with which we have long-standing cultural
and civilisational links," he said.
Without making a direct
reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Vajpayee said that
India would "very much like" to see an end to violence and
restoration of "peace in these troubled lands".
BJP President, Nitin Gadkari on a Goodwill visit to Israel-(13-12-2010)
BJP President Shri Nitin Gadkari left for Israel on 13 December
2010 to study joint Indo-Israel research and development projects of
mutual interest in the field of agriculture, irrigation, water management,
renewable energies, crop production, nanotechnology and biotechnology.
During his six-day
goodwill visit, Shri Gadkari was accompanied by a delegation of
senior BJP leaders including General Secretary (organization) Shri Ramlal,
General Secretary & former Rajasthan Chief Minister, Smt. Vasundhara
Raje Scindia and Shri Om Prakash Dhankar, President, BJP Kisan Morcha.
Other members the delegation include, Shri Satpal Malik, Shri Subhash
Deshmukh & Shri Manvendra Singh (all ex-MPs) and Shri Vijay Jolly,
Joint Convener, BJP External Affairs Cell.
The BJP President’s visit also aimed
at further promoting the people-to-people contacts between India and
Israel. According an international opinion survey conducted in to 2009
on behalf of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, India is the most pro-Israel
country in the world.
Parliament welcomes BJP President, Nitin Gadkari
: The Israeli Knesset (Parliament) welcomed the visiting BJP President
Nitin Gadkari when he arrived in the distinguished visitors gallery
along with his party delegation.
The Speaker welcomed
the BJP President and his party delegation to the Israeli Knesset and
he was joined by Treasury as well as the Opposition benches who applauded
Mr. Gadkari with thumping of desks.
Later, the Israeli
Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Dan Meridor MK, told Mr. Gadkari that the
rules of procedure prohibit applauding any visiting dignitary in the
House. But members of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) belonging to
all political parties set aside the rules and greeted the BJP delegation
with thumping of desks because of the strong friendly Indo-Israeli relations.
BJP President Nitin Gadkari condoles the death of 42 Israeli citizens
in devastating fire in Northern Israel
(16-12-2010)Jerusalem : The visiting BJP President Nitin Gadkari
has expressed his profound grief and sorrow over the loss of 42 lives
in the devastating fire in northern Israel last week.
Mr. Gadkari conveyed
his sympathies for the bereaved families of the fire victims when he
met the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Dan Meridor MK here.
Mr. Meridor thanked
the BJP President for his sympathies and said "I know you brought
the rain with you. I wish you had arrived here a week ago, perhaps there
would have been no damage."
Most parts of Israel experienced heavy
rains the day Mr. Gadkari arrived along with a BJP delegation on a six-day
goodwill visit to Israel. There have hardly been any rains in Israel
in the last six months.
(5)BJP President, Nitin Gadkari calls for promoting political level
contact with Israel
Aviv : India and Israel need to enhance political level dialogue
and promote people-to-people contact between the two countries with
a view to further cementing their bilateral ties in a wide range of
areas of mutual interest.
A broad consensus to
this effect emerged at a series of meetings the visiting BJP president
Nitin Gadkari had with leaders of the ruling as well as the opposition
parties of Israel during the course of his current goodwill visit here.
Mr. Gadkari, who is
accompanied by a delegation of senior BJP leaders, met the leader of
the opposition in Israeli Knesset (parliament) and former Foreign Affairs
Minister, Ms. Tzipi Livni and head of the Parliamentary India-Israel
Group, Ms. Rachel Adatto, both belonging to the principal opposition
The BJP president and
his delegation had met the leader of the ruling Likud Party and the
Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Dan Meridor yesterday.
The last high level
political contact was in 2003 when the then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon paid an official visit to India.
Mr. Gadkari said Prime
Minister Sharon was accorded a warm welcome by the then NDA Prime Minister
Atal Bihari Vajpayee who had hoped that the visit would pave the way
for further consolidation of the bilateral ties.
The BJP president said
his party has always accorded high priority to promoting bilateral relations
between the two countries at all levels.
Mr. Gadkari is having
a hectic schedule here visiting several research and development joint
ventures of mutual interest in the field of fisheries, food processing,
dairy industries and agro-tech industries.
During his interaction
with the experts in these fields, the BJP leader evinced keen interest
in the Israeli technology for quality seeds which play an important
role in determining yield level and in turn augmentation in the level
of crop production.
Speaking at a reception,
Mr. Gadkari told Israeli entrepreneurs that India has emerged as a land
of opportunities for investments in the field of infrastructure, Information
Technology, health services, pharmaceuticals and agro-tech industries.
"We are promoting research and development joint ventures and collaborations
in these sectors in all the NDA ruled states", the BJP President
A large number of Israeli
entrepreneurs were present at the reception hosted by Reena Pushkarna,
a leading promoter of Indo-Israeli relations.
President Nitin Gadkari talk over phone with Israeli Prime Minister,
Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu
reaffirms support to India in its fight against terrorism
Jerusalem : The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu,
today reaffirmed his government's commitment to promote Indo-Israel
cooperation in fighting terrorism in all its manifestations.
Mr. Netanyahu told
the visiting BJP President, Mr. Nitin Gadkari that Israel shared India's
security concerns and was cooperating with New Delhi in this regard.
The Israeli Prime Minister
spoke to Mr. Gadkari over phone and thanked him for visiting Israel
at the invitation of his government.
Mr. Gadkari appreciated
the warm welcome extended to him and his party delegation by the Israeli
government and reiterated the BJP's strong commitment to friendly relations
The BJP President apprised
Mr. Netanyahu of the research and development projects he had visited
in the fields of homeland security, agro-tech industries, including
fisheries, irrigation, water management etc.
Mr. Gadkari assured
the Israeli Prime Minister that he would explore the opportunities for
collaborative research and development and training in these areas in
respective institutions of the two countries, particularly in the NDA
Mr. Gadkari also met
the governor of Israeli Central Bank Stanley Fischer and explored the
trade potential between the two countries in untapped areas.
about 41.9 % of the bilateral trade in the year 2009. Other major export
items from India to Israel during the year 2009 were diamonds, plants
and vegetable products, textiles and textile articles, base metals and
Major items exported
by Israel to India were mineral products, diamonds, base metals, machinery,
transport equipment and telecom and software products and services.
According to figures
available from the department of Industrial Policy & Promotion,
Government of India, FDI inflows from Israel to India from April 2000
to April 2010 totalled US $ 51.87 million. Many Israeli companies also
invest in India through the US and Europe.
Communist Party of India (CPI)
(1) NEW AGE WEEKLY
Central Organ of the Communist Party of India
September 13, 2010
Building the Party
Our First Priority
the text of the Political-Organisational Report adopted in the National
Council meeting held in Bangaluru from December 27-29, 2009:
Tilt Towards US
27. In the international
sphere, the government is seeking to draw India into a strategic partnership
with the US, the most powerful imperialist aggressor of the present
time. It is even ganging up with Israel. At the same time, India’s
eminent position in the developing world obliges it to develop relations
with China, Russia, Brazil, South Africa etc. We the Left have to and
are striving to end this dilemma and draw India away from any strategic
partnership with imperialist US and its surrogate Israel.
Whether it is in relation
to the WTO negotiations on the Doha Round or the Climate Change negotiations,
the government constantly tries to placate the US and yield to its pressure
at the cost of India’s national interests. In doing so at Copenhagen
it has broken ranks with the group of developing countries. We have
to resist this.
28. It would however
be an exaggeration to think that India’s sovereignty is being surrendered
or compromised as a result of the several agreements and deals with
the US and Israel. The Indian people will never allow it. But the policy
pursued by the Government is harmful and leads towards dependence in
several fields. Basing on our traditions of anti-imperialism, non-alignment
and solidarity with all people fighting for freedom and progress we
must firmly oppose these compromising policies of Government.
Central Organ of the
Communist Party of India
September 15, 2010
Against Israeli Aggression on Relief ships to Gaza
NEW DELHI: Hundreds
of citizens of Delhi under the banner of Solidarity with Palestine staged
a protest demonstration on Israeli Embassy condemning the reckless and
senseless bombing on the Relief Ships for the people in Gaza. The inhumane
bombing is continuing and shameless regime of Israel has no remorse
in killing of innocents. The protestors were stopped on Shahjahan Road
by police barricades.
The protestors included
the activists of Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of
India (Marxist), Lok Jan Shakti Party, Milli Council, AISA and several
intellectuals and students from Delhi University and Jawaharlal Nehru
University. The procession was led by Amarjeet Kaur and Atul Kumar Anjaan,
secretaries CPI, Sita Ram Yechury member politbureau CPI(M), Pushpinder
Grewal CPI(M), Shoaib Iqbal, MLA, Zafar Ullaha Khan of Milli Council,
Kamal Mitra Chenoy and Prabir Purukayasth among others. The protestors
demanded end to the war activities of Israel and vacation of Palestine
and other forcibly occupied territories of Arab nations.
The speakers deplored
the UPA government’s continuous policy of making bridges with Israeli
aggressors. Indian government being one of the largest buyers of armaments
from Israel and also developing trade relations in the fastest pace
is actually extending in direct help to the regime of aggression, expansion
and occupation, they alleged.
The UPA government
has forgotten the lessons of history when our freedom fighters and national
leaders even in pre-independence era stood with the cause of Palestine.
Today the government
is shying of even naming Israel as aggressor on Palestine and on the
They demanded that
Indian government should cut of its relationship with Israeli government.
in Solidarity with Palestine appealed to the people to consistently
pursue these protests to force the Indian government to change its stand.
(3) CPI CONDEMNS ISRAELI ATTACK ON GAZA AID
SHIPS JUNE1, 2010
The Communist Party
of India strongly condemns Israel's piratical attacks on the high seas
on a flotilla of civilian aid ships for Gaza strip which is facing a
blockade. This deadly attack in the International Waters has left a score
of people dead and many injured.
The belligerent act
of Israel has once again proved that to what extent Israel could go
defying the world public opinion and humanitarian values. It is a fact
that Israel is fully backed by US in its war against the Palestinian
While the whole world
condemns the Israeli attack, the response of the Government of India
is weak. This is due to its multiple cooperation with Israel including
military one. The Party demands that India should take a firm stand and
The Communist Party
of India calls upon all peace loving and anti imperialist forces to
condemn Israeli attack and express solidarity with the people of Palestine.
PARTY OF INDIA –MARXIST (CPI-M)
(1) COMMUNIST PARTY
OF INDIA (MARXIST)
MANIFESTO FOR THE
15TH LOK SABHA ELECTIONS, 2009
WITH THE UNITED STATES
The biggest betrayal
by the Manmohan Singh government was to forge a strategic alliance with
the United States of America and to resile from the commitment to pursue
an independent foreign policy.
• The Congress-led
government signed a ten-year Defence Framework Agreement with the US
for military collaboration. This was done secretly without any discussion
or information given to the country.
• The Manmohan Singh
government shamelessly lined up with the United States to vote against
Iran in the IAEA in order to get the nuclear deal through the US Congress.
• In place of the
CMP, the agenda of the Indo-US CEO Forum, which recommended FDI in retail
trade, insurance, banking, education, etc., became the guiding light
of the Manmohan Singh government.
• The Manmohan
Singh government has pursued the US-Israel-India axis, an idea mooted
by the BJP-led government. It has entered into deep security and military
collaboration with Israel. Israel has become the biggest supplier of
weapons to India and the billions of dollars spent by India helps Israel
suppress the Palestinian people.
BREAK WITH UPA GOVERNMENT
The Left parties withdrew
support from the UPA government on July 9,2008 after the government
decided to go ahead with the Indo-US nuclear deal as part of its ongoing
quest for a strategic alliance with the United States. In December 2007,
when the matter was debated in parliament, it became clear that a majority
of Members of Parliament were not for the deal. The Manmohan Singh government
concentrated its entire energy to pursue the deal without caring for
the people’s suffering due to galloping price rise and the growing
rural distress. The CPI(M) and the left parties could not support a
government which was so intent on acting at the behest of the US agenda
for India to the detriment of an independent foreign policy and strategic
TOWARDS AN INDEPENDENT
CPI (M) will work for:
• An independent
and non-aligned foreign policy, which defends India from imperialist
pressures; Initiatives for South-South cooperation and reviving the
Non-Aligned Movement on a new basis
• Promoting multipolarity
in international relations; strengthen BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India,
China and South Africa) cooperation, improve relations with China and
expand trilateral cooperation between Russia, India and China
• Opposing US military
interventions; distancing from US-sponsored “war on terror”
• Strengthening multilateral
forums like the UN to deal with all disputes between countries; democratizing
the Security Council and the UN structure
• Amending the Constitution
to make legislative sanction mandatory for any international treaty
• Promoting people
to people relations between India and Pakistan; Resuming Indo-Pak dialogue
at a suitable time
• Diplomatic and
political efforts to protect the lives of Tamil people in the war zone
in Sri Lanka; Working for an immediate political settlement based on
autonomy for the Tamil speaking areas withinthe framework of a united
• Giving special
attention to promote SAARC cooperation and improving relations with
all neighbouring countries in South Asia; coordinate efforts with South
Asian countries to combat terrorism and religious extremism
• Building close
ties with West Asian countries; pursue Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline
resisting US pressure • Extending support to the Palestinian cause;
severing military and security ties with Israel
• Pursuing the Look
East policy; strengthen economic cooperation with South East and East
• Reviewing and reworking
the 123 Agreement with the US for civil nuclear cooperation to remove
the harmful clauses; Pursuing selfreliance in civilian nuclear energy
based on domestic uranium and thorium reserves
• Pursuing universal
nuclear disarmament through the UN; Providing parliamentary sanction
for moratorium on testing; Striving for a denuclearised environment
in South Asia; Seeking removal of nuclear weapons from the US military
base in Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
• Abrogating the
Defence Framework Agreement with the US and cessation of Indo-US joint
• Promoting the policy
of no foreign military bases in South Asia
• Creating a national
security apparatus, which will work within the framework of the parliamentary
(2) Indian Govt Should Sever Defence Ties with Israel:
Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
(Vol. XXXIV,No.40,October 03, 2010)
(By Srinivasan Ramani,
Dhananjay Tripathi & Indranil Mukherjee)
Noted academics, political
leaders and activists from the different parts of the world gathered
for a two day conference in New Delhi on ‘A Just Peace for Palestine’.
The conference held on September 23-24, 2010 was jointly organised by
the Committee for Solidarity with Palestine, Palestine BDS National Committee,
All India Peace and Solidarity Organisation and other like-minded organisations. Speaking
at the open session on September 24, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash
Karat came down heavily on the Indian government for deepening defence
and security ties with the Zionist regime in Israel. The Indian government
has deliberately not namedIsrael in the statement issued by the external
affairs ministry after the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla. There
is an impression among ordinary Kashmiris today that the Indian government
is seeking advice from Israel on handling the situation there. All this
goes against what Indian political opinion has always been, since the
days of freedom struggle, Prakash Karat said. He alleged that the multi-billion
dollar defence deals with Israel have become a major source of corruption
and kickbacks, corroding the integrity of Indian defence establishment.
Currently, there is a move to give a clean chit to the Israeli defence
firms, which were blacklisted earlier by the government for being involved
in kickbacks. All this is happening because the voices in solidarity
with the Palestinian people in India have weakened inside the Indian parliament.
Prakash Karat urged upon the leaders of other parties present on the
dais (Mani Shankar Aiyar, D P Tripathi etc.) to join the Left Parties
in demanding steadfast official support for the Palestinian cause and
severing of military ties with Israel. He said that the Left will launch
a campaign in India to support the international campaign for boycott,
divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. The Left will appeal to
the trade unions to collectively boycott Israeli ships in the Indian
ports and docks, like what has already happened in Kochi, he said.
The concluding session
was chaired by senior journalist Seema Mustafa. As the first speaker,
Bangladeshi trade union leader Rashed Menon expressed support for the
Palestinian struggle on behalf of the people of Bangladesh. The chairman
of the Communist Party of Bangladesh, Manzurul Khan said that the history
of Israel is the history of violence and violations of human rights. He
asserted that the people of the world were for peace in Palestine and
these voices needed to be strengthened. The president of the Jatiya
Samaj Kranti Dal and member of parliament of Bangladesh, Moinuddin Khan
said that Israel is a Zionist state and a stigma in the face of humanity
and that our subcontinent can do a lot for Palestine. He urged upon India to
take a bold stand in favour of Palestine.
Dr Mustafa Barghouti argued that peace in Palestine can never come with
the continuing expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian
land. He said that while in 1947, Palestinian settlements amounted to
45 per cent of the total land; this had reduced to merely 11 per cent
in 2005. There was no scope for peace until Israel halted the construction
of the apartheid wall. The military arms that Israel was supplying India,
were tested on the Palestinian people in Gaza, he said. Indiawas the largest
buyer of Israeli arms and the international BDS campaign would not succeed
unless a strong people’s movement in India was launched to change the
Indian Government’s pro-Israel shift.
Mani Shankar Aiyar,
Rajya Sabha member, said that India was the only major non-Muslim country
in 1947 which opposed the partition of Palestine. Gandhiji had said that Palestine belonged
to the Palestinian Arabs, as much as England belonged to the English.
Indian democracy has demonstrated with its plurality that unity is possible
through diversity. Yet, the Indian establishment is going against India’s
long held position on Palestine. He said that he was deeply moved by
the sufferings of the Palestinians and would continue to raise the issue
D P Tripathi, general
secretary of the Nationalist Congress Party, said that every person
who believes in democracy and stood against apartheid, should supportPalestine.
There is a continuous social, economic and psychological blockade of
the Palestinian people by Israel and that a new flotilla from India involving
South Asian people for Palestine has to be initiated.
CPI general secretary
A B Bardhan said that if the current peace process is only meant to legitimise
Israeli oppression, he was opposed to it. He asserted that solidarity
with the Palestinian people had no meaning unless there was a concerted
opposition to the military alliance with Israel. He argued that Indian
intelligence was in cahoots with Israeli intelligence and that Indian
democracy was under threat because of this.
like Jamal Juma and Jamal Zahalka also spoke on the occasion. The meeting
ended with the adoption of a resolution calling for an intense BDS campaign
against Israel in India.
The two day session
began on September 23. Father Miguel Brockmann, former president of
the UN general assembly, while addressing the gathering emphasised that
Palestinians live under the conditions of apartheid, whereby their basic
livelihood rights are brutally curtailed by the Israeli authority. Israeli
oppression is in complete violation of the UN Human Rights Charter.
He emphasised that the explicit recognition of Israeli oppression by
the international community is a prerequisite to any genuine peace process
in the conflict ridden region of West Asia. He further said that the
MDGs set by the UN are bound to fail because they are set as ‘goals
and targets’ and not ‘rights’, and nobody is held accountable
for failing the targets. He emphasised that recognition of basic rights
of Palestinian people is essential.
Jamal Zahalka, a member
of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), pointed out that Palestine is the
only nation in the world which is geographically segregated and in each
of the segregated part of the nation, Israeli authority exerts varying
forms of oppression to assert its hegemony. He vehemently opposed Israel’s
claim to be recognised as a Democratic Jewish state. He explained that Israel wants
to establish the Jewish state by physically eliminating the Palestinian
people living in Israel. This is fundamentally contradictory to the notion
of democracy. Any formal recognition of Israel as a democratic state would
firmly establish Zionist hegemony and delegitimize the struggle of Palestinian
people, he said.
Professor Aijaz Ahmed
said that the resolution of the Palestine issue is central to lasting
peace in West Asia. He pointed out how the position of the leadership
of the Indian National Congress on Palestine has changed over the decades.
Gandhi had unambiguously recognised the rights of Palestinian people
on their land, a view which was later championed by Nehru and his followers
in the Non-Aligned Movement. However, the official Indian position has
shifted since the 1990s towards closer ties with Israel. He linked the
shift with the emergence of Hindutva and neo-liberalism and fall of
the socialist block.
Professor Richard Falk
of Princeton University sarcastically termed India’s lack of voice on
Palestinian cause as ‘geopolitical laryngitis’ at a time when India enjoys
greater geopolitical significance. He emphasised that self determination
of Palestine can be achieved only through political struggles. He explained
the need for soft power instruments against the hard power dominance
of the Israel and US combine, drawing inspiration from the non-violence
movement of Gandhi.
Professor Falk and
Professor Aijaz Ahmad opined that unless an objective assessment of
historical events of 1948 and 1967 are done and the crimes committed
against the Palestinian people are recognised, the present problem cannot
of the Delhi Science Forum, drew attention to the increasing Indian
defence purchases from Israel and greater dependence on Israeli Intelligence
and emphasised the need to build up a strong movement in India for the
academic, cultural and economic boycott of Israel. Other speakers, including
Jamal Juma, co-ordinator of Stop the Wall Campaign, Lisa Taraki of Birzeit University and
Ilan Pappe of University of Exeter, explained the significance of the
boycott campaign as an effective non-violent weapon to delegitimize
the Zionist establishment in Israel and counter their propaganda.
The first session of
second day was on an Asian response to the Palestinian peace issue and
it was chaired by Professor Upendra Baxi. As the first speaker of the
session, Professor Achin Vanaik of Delhi University said that we have to
provide a critical but unconditional support to Hamas. He focused on
the US geopolitical strategies in West Asia to maintain its domination
through supporting Israel. He cautioned against over-dependence on Turkey as
it is one of the member-countries of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
aspiring as well to join the European Union. Exposing the irrational
demands of the US, Professor Vanaik said that it is an imperialist country
which had invaded Iraq and Afghanistan recently. A country with imperialist
designs will never attempted to find a solution for Palestine, he asserted. He
also said that civil society resistance to American imperialism is intensified
in the recent past and we should strengthen it further. He suggested
the organisation of another flotilla with US citizens on the board and
to have an international musical concert supporting the Palestinian
cause, in one of prominent US cities.
a candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority, described
the specificity of empire building in the region. According to him peace
initiatives will fail because it is aimed at domestication of Palestinian
political process and issues. The peace process cannot take place without
acknowledging the suffering of the Palestinian people. With the help
of maps and illustrations, Mustafa Barghouti explained how Israeli settlement
in Palestinian territory has slowly increased recently. Earlier areas
belonging to the Palestinian settlement was 45 per cent of the total
land, which had now shrunk to 11 percent. The peace process must focus
on settlements, he argued while asserting that Israel had a vested interest
in delegitimising the democratic process in Palestine. Barghouti appealed
to the Indian people to support the Palestinian cause. He reminded that India had
stood steadfastly against the apartheid regime of South Africa. Today Israel is
the biggest violator of international law and Israel is the instrument
of all imperialist design providing enough reason to oppose Israel.
Walden Bello , co-founder
of Focus on Global South, Ilan Pape, professor of history in the University of Exeter,
also spoke on this occasion. The second session of the day was on an
Action Plan for Ending the Apartheid and was chaired by Professor Richard
Falk. The first speaker of the session Ms. Lisa Taraki a sociologist
at Birzeit University of Palestine said that BDS must be intensified
and cautioned against the brand Israel campaign. The Israeli academic
and cultural institutions are major instruments of Zionist propaganda,
he mentioned. Dr. Mordecai Briemberg also addressed the session., All
the speakers emphasised that until the Israeli oppression of Palestine
people ends, the much sought after ‘two-state solution’ will never
get realised. The Conference gave a united call for academic and cultural
boycott of Israel.