Israel- India relations

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1947-2023 Oct

Shubhajit Roy , Oct 10, 2023: The Indian Express

India’s political attitude towards Israel was set quite firmly shortly after independence in 1947, when Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi vowed to support the Palestinian cause as they rejected the idea of two nations on the basis of religion. While they had sympathy for the Jews, both were of the view that any State based on religious exclusivity could not sustain on moral and political grounds. This was in sync with their opposition to the partition of India.

India’s position with regard to Palestine was also guided by the general consensus in the Arab world, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the United Nations.

When the partition of Palestine plan was put to vote at the UN, India voted against, along with the Arab countries. When Israel applied for admission to the UN, India again voted against. New Delhi, however, recognised Israel on September 17, 1950, after two Muslim-majority countries, Turkey and Iran, did so. In 1953, Israel was allowed to open a consulate in Mumbai, but no diplomatic presence was granted in New Delhi.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) emerging as the representative of the people of Palestine under Yasser Arafat, India developed its engagement with the largest political grouping under PLO, Al Fatah.

On January 10, 1975, India recognised PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and permitted it an independent office at New Delhi.

While India was one of the last non-Muslim states to recognise Israel, it became the first non-Arab state to recognise the PLO.

Under Indira and Rajiv Gandhi

In 1980, when Indira Gandhi returned to power with a thumping majority, she continued her support to the Palestinian struggle. India upgraded the PLO office to that of an embassy endowed with all diplomatic immunities and privileges.

Arafat became a frequent visitor to Delhi through the early 80s, and the relationship between India and Palestine strengthened. In March 1983, when the NAM summit took place in India, it came up with a strong statement of solidarity for Palestine. In April 1984, PM Indira Gandhi visited Arafat’s headquarters in Tunis after a state visit to Libya. When she was assassinated six months later, Arafat attended the funeral and wept in public.

Rajiv Gandhi continued with India’s approach towards Palestine, and throughout the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada (uprising) in December 1987 in Gaza and West Bank due to the ‘iron fist’ policies of Israel, India maintained its steadfast support.

Ground shifts

However, by this time, there were critics of New Delhi’s Palestine policy and its outright support to the Arab world within India. The Arab countries’ neutral position during the 1962 India-China war and their support to Pakistan during the 1965 and 1971 wars did not go down well with many, including the BJP. On the other hand, Israel helped India with arms and ammunition in the 1962 and 1965 wars.

Things changed in West Asia when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. The PLO lost its political leverage on account of its support to Saddam Hussain. Around that time, the Soviet Union disintegrated, and this prompted India to make drastic changes in its policy towards West Asia.

It established full diplomatic relations with Israel in January 1992, days after the Chinese established diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv.

The end of the Cold War weakened the Non-Aligned Movement and reduced the ideological hostility towards Israel.

The emergence of the BJP as a powerful force in Indian politics in early 1990s also removed some hesitations about Israel.

On January 19-20, 1992, Palestinian President Arafat paid an official visit to India. During his meeting with Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, he was told that India’s establishment of a diplomatic relationship with Israel would be helpful for the Palestinian cause. New Delhi, he was told, could exert influence on Israel only if it had an ambassador in Tel Aviv. Arafat came on board.

After the bilateral conversation with Rao, Arafat in his press conference in New Delhi said, “Exchange of Ambassadors and recognition (of Israel) are acts of sovereignty in which I cannot interfere…I respect any choice of the Indian government”.

Military ties and the Kargil war

The establishment of full diplomatic ties with Israel came in especially handy during the Kargil conflict in 1999. The Indian Air Force desperately needed precision target bombs as Pakistani intruders were hiding in caves and bunkers atop mountains in Kargil. The IAF reached out to their Israeli counterparts, who wasted no time. They are understood to have dug into their emergency stockpiles and shipped the weapons to India, which proved to be decisive in the hour of need.

After this, the Vajpayee government sent Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh for the first bilateral visit in 2000. Home Minister L K Advani visited Israel in the summer of 2000, followed by more high-profile visits.

After Modi came to power, there has been much more visibility to the relationship.

During Modi’s visit to Israel in 2017 — the first Prime Ministerial visit — he skipped the customary stop at Palestine, which was the norm with previous ministerial visits.

The Modi government, however, had been quite careful about setting up this visit. South Block made sure that the Prime Minister visited Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar, and UAE — all regional rivals of Israel — between 2014 and 2017, before the trip to Israel. New Delhi hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in May 2017. In all public pronouncements, South Block officials maintained India’s position on its support towards the Palestinian cause.

Modi later visited Palestine in February 2018, but didn’t visit Israel — achieving a complete dehyphenation of the ties.

In the past decade

In the last decade or so, ties have deepened in security, defence, and connectivity with Israel, but also with partners in West Asia — Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Iran.

The Indian strategic approach to engage with all sides in the complex West Asian region is born out of necessity: the  90 lakh-strong Indian community in the region and connectivity to West Asia and Europe. Crucially, more than 50% of India’s energy imports are sourced from West Asia.

The spate of horrifying surprise attacks over the weekend puts India in a diplomatic tight spot. This is because the current hostility tests the Abraham Accords and the efforts towards rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, which held the promise of reshaping age-old fault lines in the Middle East. India was hoping to reap the dividends of the newfound peace in the region.

Why Gandhi opposed a Jewish nation-state in Palestine

Oct 10, 2023: The Indian Express

Gandhi’s article — ‘The Jews’ — has been the subject of intense debate over the years. It has been cited as evidence of his naivete by some, while others have seen it as further proof of his deep commitment to non-violence, regardless of consequences.

Amidst the latest bloody chapter in the history of Israel and Palestine, we look back at what Gandhi had to say on this, in Gandhi’s own words, “very difficult question”.

Gandhi was deeply sympathetic to the Jewish people.

The Mahatma always made it clear that he had deep sympathies for the Jewish people who had historically been unjustly persecuted for their religion.

“My sympathies are all with the Jews … They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close. Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them,” Gandhi wrote in ‘The Jews’.

He also wrote that “the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history”, and expressed his concern with Britain’s policy of placating Adolf Hitler at the time (before World War II broke out). The Mahatma declared that for the cause of humanity and to prevent the persecution of the Jewish people, even a war with Germany would be “completely justified”.

“If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany, to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified,” Gandhi wrote.

Yet, he did not support a Zionist state in Palestine.

“It is wrong and inhumane to impose the Jews on the Arabs … it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home,” Gandhi wrote.

His opposition to the creation of a Zionist state in Palestine was based on two principal beliefs. First, that Palestine was already home to Arab Palestinians, and the settlement of Jews, which Britain actively enabled, was fundamentally violent.

“A religious act [the act of Jews returning to Palestine] cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb,” he wrote. Gandhi felt that the Jews can settle in Palestine only “with the goodwill of Arabs”, and for that they had to “forgo the British bayonet”.

Second, Gandhi felt (and he was not unique in sharing this position at the time) that the idea of a Jewish homeland was fundamentally antithetical towards their fight for greater rights elsewhere in the world.

“If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled?” Gandhi wrote, adding that the Jewish claim for a national home afforded “a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews”.

Gandhi’s position on Israel influenced India’s foreign policy.

The Mahatma’s position was in no way was unique. Leaders across the Arab world and anti-imperialists beyond were appalled by Britain’s administration of Palestine, and the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised Jews a homeland in the British Mandate. As the late British author Arthur Koestler, a Jew himself, wrote about the Declaration: “One nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”

Gandhi’s opinions, and his own anti-imperialism had a profound impact on Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, and was responsible for shaping the nascent country’s foreign policy for decades. “In many ways, Nehru inherited this perspective from Mahatma Gandhi,” former Indian diplomat Chinmaya Gharekhan told The Indian Express.

India voted against UN Resolution 181 which partitioned Palestine between Jews and Arabs. While it did recognise the state of Israel in 1950, official diplomatic relations were not established till 1992, under Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao.

Gandhi’s advice of non-violence

With inputs from Reuters. Research- Rajesh Sharma, Oct 11, 2023: The Times of India

In 1938, Mahatma Gandhi advised “Jews to choose the way of non-violence to vindicate their position on earth”, while writing on the issue of the persecution of the community in Germany.He drew a parallel from the Indian satyagraha campaign in South Africa and said that while Indians had resorted to peaceful protests without any backing from other nations, the Jews in Germany were in a much better position as they had organised world opinion behind them.Despite his deep sympathy for the Jews, he did not mince words, arguing that “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French” and that it is wrong and inhuman to “impose the Jews” on the Arabs.Gandhi’s article was published in Harijan , a weekly magazine, in November 1938, almost 10 years before the Israel-Palestine conflict would start destablising West Asia.

The latest armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, triggered by the latter’s surprise attack on October 7, has so far killed over 1,600 people. And the death count is expected to grow as Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and sent Palestinians fleeing into UN shelters on October 10.The Times of India carried a piece titled, "Mr Gandhi on the Jewish problem" in its issue dated November 28, 1939. Edited excerpts:On the Palestine issueTouching upon the Palestine issue, Gandhi wrote that his sympathy for the Jews “does not blind him to the requirements of justice”. “Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews, partly or wholly, as their national home. It is wrong to enter Palestine under the shadow of the British gun.”“There are hundreds of ways", he said, “of reasoning with the Arabs, if they [the Jews] will only discard the help of the British bayonet.

“Several letters have been received by me asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question,” he wrote.“My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age-long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close.”A message to the Jews“What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home,” Gandhi asserted.“The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French.“'If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the National Home affords a colourable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews.“And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their National Home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. “A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart. The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart…The mantra of non-violence“I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly, regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.“Let the Jews, who claim to be the chosen race, prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home, including Palestine, not by aggression but by loving service.Then and nowThe state of Israel was established on May 14, 1948 to serve as an independent homeland for Jews fleeing persecution in Europe. Palestinians lament Israel’s creation as the Nakba, or catastrophe, that resulted in their dispossession and blocked their dreams of statehood.In the war that followed, some 700,000 Palestinians, half the Arab population of what was British-ruled Palestine, fled or were driven from their homes, ending up in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.Israel, a close ally of the United States, contests the assertion it drove Palestinians from their homes and points out it was attacked by five Arab states the day after its creation. Armistice pacts halted the fighting in 1949 but there was no formal peace.Palestinians who stayed put in the war today form the Arab Israeli community, making up about 20% of Israel’s population.

Major warsIn 1967, Israel made a pre-emptive strike against Egypt and Syria, launching the Six-Day War. Israel has occupied the West Bank, Arab East Jerusalem, which it captured from Jordan, and Syria's Golan Heights ever since.In 1973, Egypt and Syria attacked Israeli positions along the Suez Canal and Golan Heights, beginning the Yom Kippur War. Israel pushed both armies back within three weeks.Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 and thousands of Palestinian fighters under Yasser Arafat were evacuated by sea after a 10-week siege. In 2006, war erupted in Lebanon again when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers and Israel retaliated.In 2005 Israel quit Gaza, which it had captured from Egypt in 1967. But Gaza saw major flare-ups in 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021 that involved Israeli air raids and Palestinian rocket fire, and sometimes also cross border incursions by either side.As well as wars, there have been two Palestinian intifadas or uprisings between 1987-1993 and again in 2000-05. The second saw waves of Hamas suicide bombings against Israelis.Peace effortsIn 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty, ending 30 years of hostility. In 1993, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Arafat shook hands on the Oslo Accords on limited Palestinian autonomy.In 2002, an Arab plan offered Israel normal ties with all Arab countries in return for a full withdrawal from the lands it took in the 1967 war, creation of a Palestinian state and a "just solution" for Palestinian refugees.Peace efforts have been stalled since 2014, when talks failed between Israelis and Palestinians in Washington.Palestinians later boycotted dealings with the administration of US President Donald Trump since it reversed decades of US policy by refusing to endorse the two-state solution — the peace formula that envisages a Palestinian state established in territory that Israel captured in 1967.

Views of Gandhi and Ambedkar

Suraj Yengde, Oct 17, 2023: The Indian Express

The war in Palestine is as old as the biblical record. The Abrahamic faith is riven with faithful differences between the creator and the condemned. The Jewish people followed the direction of their prophet, Moses, to escape war. Their life has been that of displacement and recovery. In an amazing demonstration of calibre, the Jewish people have bounced back at an impressive speed.

The Jewish nature of work and industry has derived from their long biographies of oppression and violence. They have not forgotten and are neither made to forget. Their existence, it seems, is defined by being pushed into chambers of violence.

However, the right-wing crude elements running the government in Israel currently have no sense of solidarity and empathy for their own ancestry. Prime Minister Netanyahu has time and again proven that he is not the right man to hold peace accords together.

The most important sites for the ancient religions are in Jerusalem, where Judaism, Christianity and Islam stake their claim. The fight for their ownership has changed the region’s portfolio. The Jewish, Christian and Muslim conflict has overtaken the historical tribal relations that were essential for the region’s trade and history.

Mohandas K Gandhi had taken a principled position against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian land. He saw this as a recipe for long-term disaster. He pointed towards the culprit in charge, the British administration. However, there were sympathies with the condition of the Jews. He called them “untouchables of Christianity”, equating them with the “untouchables of Hindu faith”. He saw emigration into Palestine furrowing the divides between Arabs and Jews.

The hatred against the Jews is catastrophic. They are hated by their junior theological partners, the Christians, and their youngest cousins, Muslims.

This was so violent that mosques in my region, Maharashtra’s Nanded, were rife with toxic Yahuddi hatred. In Nanded, there would be public exhibitions with graphic photographs of mutilated bodies of children in Palestine. It was surprising that such an exhibition was being held in an otherwise disconnected city, far from the mainstream of even Indian politics, let alone global. Led by devout Muslim youth, such an event would educate us about a faraway country called Palestine. They had a visceral hatred for Yahuddis, calling them the most evil people. I did not know what this meant then or the consequences of it until I was exposed to the international politics of World War II.

The unfortunate character of this was the fanatic propaganda driven by Islamist ideology that would only see a faraway land in Palestine as suffering but not lend an iota of sympathy for their neighbours fallen by caste atrocities.

Incidentally, the Hindu supremacist and Muslim radicals did not support the Jewish people but for very different reasons and points of reference. The Hindus found inspiration in Hitler’s agenda, while the Muslims hated them for the occupation of Palestine.

Dr Ambedkar had expressed his appreciation for Moses, drawing parallels to the Jews and Dalits. He admired how Moses worked hard to unite the Jews, providing them leadership in times of extermination under Pharaohs. Moses, who argued for “undertaking the thankless but noble task of leading Jews out of their captivity”, was an inspiration to Ambedkar. As Israelites followed their leader in desperation but with hope, Ambedkar also saw himself as the ‘Moses’ of his people. He was not wrong. He remains the prophet of his people who resurrect his memories at every catastrophe or celebration, seeking approval in his words.

We need to take Gandhi and Ambedkar’s position on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The idea of two states was imposed on the modern apparatus of Palestine. It did not mean that Jews had no relation or genealogy to that land.

In the war between the strong and the weak, our solidarity is with the weak. We can relate to the pains of resourceless people. Even though the fragmented Palestinian people, divided between PLO and Hamas, may not have the wherewithal to fight against the might of the state backed by the world’s most militarised country, they are the people with strong convictions for their future. The mothers birth their offspring into their own land, proudly asserting their right to belong.

The colonisation of land is a real matter. Since 1948, the size of Palestinian land has been shrinking, overtaken by the settler. The agenda seems to either expel the Palestinians, which has been happening since 1948, eliminate them or make them second-class citizens. These options are not viable and acceptable to any self-respecting human being whose sovereignty is tied to their motherland.

This does not cede the right of Jews to have their homeland.

The Dalit community has a moral and political responsibility as leaders to extend solidarity to the oppressed people of the Arab land, not just Palestinians but also those in Yemen’s war-torn hinterlands, with the native tribes of Arab countries who remain largely second-class citizens ruled by invading tribes that have established their rule, as well as the Jews. We do not support the terrorism imposed by minuscule ideologues who make the majority suffer.

Our politics has to align with sincere efforts to end warfare and advocate for absolute peace in international geopolitics for the Israelis, Arabs, and tribes of the dry land.

Suraj Yengde, author of Caste Matters, curates Dalitality and is currently at Oxford University

Einstein’s plea for support to Israel, Nehru’s refusal

Yashee, March 16, 2024: The Indian Express

Einstein wrote to Nehru on June 13, 1947, underlining the reasons India should support Israel. Nehru wrote back on July 11, 1947, with a polite but firm no. Here are excerpts from the two letters.

March 14 is the birth anniversary of Albert Einstein, who, almost 70 years after his death, remains the most famous scientist in the world. While Einstein was a genius with many scientific breakthroughs to his name, he was also a Jew, who could not escape the political and ideological currents of his time.

Einstein favoured the creation of a state of Israel for all persecuted Jews — the philosophy of Zionism — although he also wanted “reasonable agreement with the Arabs”. When the fate of Israel was to be decided at the UN in 1947, Zionist leaders were trying to secure support from across the world. To persuade the leader of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, they approached Einstein.

Einstein, thus, wrote to Nehru on June 13, 1947, underlining the reasons India should support Israel. Nehru wrote back on July 11, 1947, with a polite but firm no. Here are excerpts from the two letters.

What Einstein wrote to Nehru

Einstein began with congratulating Nehru for India recently abolishing untouchability. “May I tell you of the deep emotion with which I read recently that the Indian Constituent Assembly has abolished untouchability?… I read that the curse of the pariah was about to be lifted from millions of Hindus in the very days when the attention of the world was fixed on the problem of another group of human beings who, like the untouchables, have been the victims of persecution and discrimination for centuries.”

Elaborating on the plight of the Jews and why they deserved a home in Palestine, he then said, “…Long before the emergency of Hitler, I made the cause of Zionism mine because through it I saw a means of correcting a flagrant wrong. I refer to the peculiar disability suffered by the Jewish people by which they were deprived of the opportunity to live on the same basis as other peoples…Jews have been persecuted as individuals; the Jewish people has been unable to develop fruitfully as a cultural and ethnic group… Zionism offered the means of ending this discrimination. Through the return to the land to which they were bound by close historic ties…Jews sought to abolish their pariah status among peoples.”

He then pointed out the development Jews had brought to Palestine, “I find profoundly gratifying the fact that the reconstruction of Palestine has taken not through the exploitation of native workers — the usual pattern of imperialism — but through the heroic toil of Jewish pioneers. The once malaria-ridden swamps, the stony mountain slopes, the salt shores of the Dead Sea, now fertile and blooming, are evidence of a creative impulse whose thwarting would make mankind, as well as Jew and Arab, the poorer.”

He then ended with, “I trust that you, who so badly have struggled for freedom and justice, will place your great influence on behalf of the claim for justice made by the people who for so long and so dreadfully have suffered from its denial.”

What Nerhu wrote back to Einstein

Nehru affirmed India’s sympathy for Jews and horror at the treatment meted out to them, but raised the question of Arab rights too. “Where rights come into conflict it is not an easy matter to decide. With all our sympathy for the Jews we must and do feel that the rights and future of the Arabs are involved in this question,” Nehru wrote.

Foreshadowing what was to come, Nehru further said, “I do not myself see how this problem can be resolved by violence and conflict on one side or the other. Even if such violence and conflict achieve certain ends for the moment, they must necessarily be temporary. I do earnestly hope that some kind of an agreement might be arrived at between the Arabs and the Jews. I do not think even an outside power can impose its will for long or enforce some new arrangement against the will of the parties concerned.”

To Einstein’s claims about the development of Palestine, he said, “I know that the Jews have done a wonderful piece of work in Palestine and have raised the standards of the people there, but one question troubles me. After all these remarkable achievements, why have they failed to gain the goodwill of the Arabs? Why do they want to compel the Arabs to submit against their will to certain demands? The way of approach has been one which does not lead to a settlement, but rather to the continuation of the conflict.”

Historians have since documented how the “development” in Palestine had come at the cost of exclusion of the Arabs, with Jews neither employing nor mingling with them.

Nehru also pointed to the role played by Britain in exacerbating the trouble. “I have no doubt that the fault is not confined to one party but that all have erred. I think also that the chief difficulty has been the continuation of British rule in Palestine. We know, to our cost, that when a third party dominates, it is exceedingly difficult for the others to settle their differences, even when that third party has good intentions, — and third parties seldom, have such intentions!”

He ended with, “I would assure you, with all earnestness, that I would like to do all in my power to help the Jewish people in their distress, in so far as I can do so, without injuring other people.”

What happened at the UN, finally

The partition of Palestine was put to vote on November 29, 1947. Thirty-three countries voted for the creation of Israel, India was among the 13 that voted against. Ten states — including the UK, which had played a large part in bolstering the idea of a Jewish homeland in Palestine — abstained.

Why India did not support Israel’s creation

As is clear from Nehru’s letter, India, experiencing a bloody partition itself caused by colonial meddling, was not in favour of another nation being divided on religious lines.

Second, Indian Muslims were sympathetic to the cause of the displaced Palestinians, and the Indian government was conscious of this sympathy. With a certain conflict with Pakistan ahead, India also wanted the support of other Muslim countries.

Third, India’s own experience of colonialism made it wary of supporting the carving up of a nation backed by the power and money of the West. India instead advocated a federal state, where both Jews and Arabs had autonomy.

Tagore on Israel, Jews – and how he differed from Gandhi, Nehru

Oct 15, 2023: The Indian Express

Tagore was asked for his opinion, while he was in the US, about Zionism and the Jewish-Palestinian problem by The Jewish Standard in 1924. He replied, taking note of all the complexities. When he was returning from Japan in 1924, he supported the spiritual side of Zionism. Later, he realised that the complications were aggravated by the intervention of British imperialism. In his perception, the British attempt was to divide the Jews and the Palestinians in Palestine in the same way as what they were doing in India among the Hindus and the Muslims. He cautioned the Jews that the Palestine problem could only be solved by their joint effort — not by the intervention of a third party — through a direct understanding between the Arabs and the Jews. If the Zionist leadership insisted on separating Jewish political and economic interests in Palestine from those of the Arabs, an ugly eruption would occur in the Holy Land.

To a question as to whether Tagore supported the demand for a Jewish homeland, his reply was similar to that of Albert Einstein (1877-1955), who said he supported such a homeland “as an effort to preserve and enrich Jewish culture and tradition”. Tagore added that it “implies appropriate physical surroundings as well as favourable political and economic conditions”. Most importantly, he insisted that Jews include “Arabs in their political and economic programme” (The Jewish Standard, November 28, 1930). He proposed a joint Palestine Commonwealth government as that would help in building a new Palestine. He reminded us that both the civilisations had rich ancient roots. Given the rigid stance of both sides, any attempt to subordinate or change would be infructuous. The best would be to allow both to retain their respective identities, traditions and belief structures in a commonwealth of partnership of both. He stressed on firmer accommodative unity within diversity as the only model in heterogeneous societies divided by race, religion, ethnicity and culture.

Tagore’s formulae anticipated the consociational theory of democracy propounded after World War II. His observations negated J S Mill’s belief that homogeneity was crucial to the success of democracy. He was one of the earliest from India to reflect on the aforesaid problem. The Congress party deliberated on it only in 1936. When Tagore came to know about the atrocities on the Jews in Germany, which included Einstein, he issued a letter dated June 17, 1934, criticising the crushing of “free individual on the steps of whose sublime heresies humanity has ever been rising upwards” (Israel’s Messenger, August 3, 1934). He has always condemned racism and sectarianism.

On November 9, 1938, the Palestine Royal Commission published its report recommending the establishment of separate nations of Jews and Arabs and the division of Palestine into three areas keeping in view economic considerations. Jerusalem would be the third area under the direct control of the British. This announcement led to the expression of serious discontent and protest in both communities. Taking advantage of the turmoil, the British continued with its old mandatory authority provided by the League of Nations. This intensified the resentment. Nationalist newspapers in India condemned it. Gandhi, despite knowing about Nazi Germany’s annihilation of the Jews, endorsed Nehru’s and Congress’ view that did not support the Jewish demand for a separate homeland.

Tagore thought that the Congress resolution on Palestine was one-sided as it concentrated only on Arabs and not on Jews.

He reminded that the two communities “throughout history lived on good terms and cooperated in all fields of human activities” (The Madras Mail, October 5, 1936). He was convinced that with the arrival of the Jews, many welfare measures would be initiated. Their work culture, brilliance and acquisition of European education along with Arab bravery would lead to a new era in Palestine, whose effect would be felt throughout the East. He emphasised that the Arabs and Jews ought to learn to live together and reminded them that when a new set of people of a new race settled down in a new country, protection of the local population was also of prime importance.

He keenly watched the progress of the new Jewish establishments in Palestine in the 1930s and, to understand its details, he sent two representatives, Kali Mohan Ghose (1884-1940) and Amiya Chakravarthy, to Palestine. Chakravarthy submitted a detailed report, which was published in Prabashi, praising the constructive work undertaken by the Jews and asserted that they had a legal claim in Palestine.

A brief chronology


Chidanand Rajghatta | Jul 05 2017 : The Times of India

Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion assumed office as the country's first Prime Minister a few months after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Although the Mahatma disapproved of the violence that begat Israel, Ben-Gurion admired Gandhi. Inasmuch as there were many snarky rebukes in the newly found about how the Mahatma's non-violent methods would have fared against Nazi Germany , Ben-Gurion made known the esteem he held Gandhi in by keeping a frame photo of the Mahatma at his home, which is now a venerated museum in the Negev desert.

Shailaja Neelakantan | First Israel visas in India were issued from this MP's residence |TIMESOFINDIA.COM | Jul 4, 2017


India recognised Israel in 1950

Full diplomatic ties were established only in 1992

In 1992, Israel didn't have an embassy in New Delhi, it just had a consulate in Mumbai

India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru chose to not have full diplomatic ties established between India and Israel because he didn't want to "offend the sentiments" of Arab countries.

"We would have [recognised Israel] long ago, because Israel is a fact. We refrained because of our desire not to offend the sentiments of our friends in the Arab countries," Nehru said in 1950, when India recognised Israel, according to various accounts of that period.

In 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution stipulating that Israel be carved out of Palestine. Arabs in the region believed this arrangement to be unfair. India concurred with them.

The Indo-Israel Friendship Association's Shetty puts a different spin on Nehru's decision.

"The Congress government was always under pressure from Arab countries and the INDIAN MUSLIMS not to have full diplomatic relations with Israel. Strange!" he writes. (All emphases are Shetty's.)

So much so, that when India established full diplomatic relations with the Middle Eastern country in 1992 - as compared with merely 'recognising' it - the first Israel visas for Indians were issued from Parliamentarian Subramanian Swamy's official residence. An Israel flag was even hoisted on top of his house.

In 1992, Swamy was with the erstwhile Janata Party, and was a member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. But his support for full diplomatic ties with Israel began as early as in 1977.

In 1992 then, after the Narasimha Rao government announced full diplomatic ties, Israel set up a temporary visa office at Swamy's residence with the Israel consul general in Mumbai flying up to Delhi to officiate, writes Jagdish Shetty, member of the Indo-Israel Friendship Association, on TwitLonger.

Israel only had a consulate then, and not in Delhi, but in what was called Bombay.

In fact, Swamy recalled that in 1988 five Delhi-based journalists who wanted visas to visit Israel couldn't get them because they didn't have the funds to travel to Bombay.

Swamy has for long been advocating an India-Israel-US alliance.

In 2014, Swamy even suggested that the US, India, Israel and China come together to fight the Islamic State.

2017: On PM Modi's official Israel visit - the first by an Indian Prime Minister -


Nirupama Subramanian, February 3, 2022: The Indian Express

India had recognised Israel as far back as 1950 but normalisation took another four decades. In the wake of the first Gulf War, equations in West Asia underwent big shifts. Arab support for the Palestinian cause began to weaken due to PLO’s backing for Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. Then came the breakup of the Soviet Union, which was until then India’s go-to country for military hardware.

From 1992, while there were defence deals, and co-operation in science, technology and agriculture, India was reticent about its ties with Israel as it balanced this with its historical support for the Palestinian cause, its dependence on the Arab world for oil, and the pro-Palestinian sentiments of the country’s Muslim citizens.

But the first high-level visits took place only when the NDA-1 under Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office. In 2000, L K Advani became the first Indian minister to visit Israel. The same year, Jaswant Singh visited as Foreign Minister. That year, the two countries set up a joint anti-terror commission. And in 2003, Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli Prime Minister to visit India.

Unlike his predecessors, Modi went all out to woo Israel, playing to Hindutva’s natural affinity for Israel as a muscular state that gives no quarter to its “terrorist” enemies. With the 2020 Abrahamic Accords that saw UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco normalising relations with Israel, and India’s own newly strengthened ties with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, New Delhi is now more confident about its key relationships in West Asia than at any other time.

India & the Palestinian cause

While the India-Israel embrace has eroded what once used to be New Delhi’s unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause, India does continue to walk a tightrope, between its historical ties with Palestine and its newfound love for Israel.

An indication of this came last year in India’s statement in the UN Security Council on the Israel-Palestine violence. The statement virtually held Israel responsible for the violence, and expressed India’s “strong” support to the “just Palestinian cause” and “unwavering” support for the two-state solution.

Earlier, the relationship with Palestine was almost an article of faith in Indian foreign policy for over four decades. India backed the Palestinian right to self-determination and rallied behind the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and its leader Yasser Arafat as the sole representative of the Palestinian people.

In 1975, India invited PLO to open an office in Delhi, giving it diplomatic status five years later. In 1988, when the PLO declared an independent state of Palestine with its capital in East Jerusalem, India granted recognition immediately. Arafat was received as head of state whenever he visited India.

And even as India opened a diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv, it set up a Representative Office in Gaza, which later moved to Ramallah as the Palestinian movement split between the Hamas (which gained control of Gaza) and the PLO.

During the UPA’s 10 years in office, Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority that administers the West Bank, visited four times — in 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012. India voted for Palestine to become a full member of UNESCO in 2011, and a year later, co-sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution that enabled Palestine to become a “non-member” observer state at the UN without voting rights.

India also supported the installation of the Palestinian flag on the UN premises in September 2015, a year after Modi was voted to power.

Shift in policy

The first big shift in India’s policy came during the visit of Mahmoud Abbas in 2017 when India in a statement dropped the customary line in support of East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. When Modi visited Israel, his itinerary did not include Ramallah, as had been the practice by other visiting dignitaries.

But the balancing act continued. Modi made a separate visit to Ramallah in February 2018, and called for an independent Palestinian state. Even as it abstained at UNESCO in December 2017, India voted in favour of a resolution in the General Assembly opposing the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. At the UNHRC’s 46th session in Geneva earlier in 2021, India voted against Israel in three resolutions – on the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people; on Israeli settlement policy; and on the human rights situation in the Golan Heights. It abstained on a fourth, which asked for an UNHRC report on the human rights situation in Palestine, including East Jerusalem.

In February 2021, the International Criminal Court claimed jurisdiction to investigate human rights abuses in Palestinian territory including West Bank and Gaza and named both Israeli security forces and Hamas as perpetrators. Then PM Netanyahu wanted India, which does not recognise the ICC, to take a stand against it, and was surprised when it did not come. The Indian statement in the UNSC was another disappointment for Israel. But it did not affect the relationship as both countries weigh their long term interests against the fast changing geopolitics of West Asia. Both will be hoping that the Pegasus episode will similarly blow over without any major impact on bilateral ties.

On January 30, India and Israel marked 30 years of full diplomatic relations. Israel opened its embassy in Delhi on February 1, 1992. The Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv opened on May 15 that year. The anniversary comes at a time the steadily growing relationship is in the spotlight over Pegasus, the surveillance software made by the Israeli company NSO. The company has said it sells the licence for use only to governments, and only after approval from the Israeli government’s Defense Export Control Agency.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that Pegasus and a missile system were the “centrepieces” of a package of sophisticated weaponry and intelligence equipment that India purchased during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2017 visit to Israel.

If the NYT report indicating a secretive deal for surveillance tech that would be used against Indian citizens cast a shadow on the anniversary, neither Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who succeeded Benjamin Netanyahu last year, nor Prime Minister Modi allowed that to mar their exchange of congratulatory messages of the January 30 anniversary.

Bennett addressed “all the people of India” on “30 years of a wonderful partnership, deep cultural connection and economic and military co-operation”, and described as “endless” the opportunities for collaboration between the two countries. Modi spoke about setting new goals to take the relationship forward, and referred to Jewish communities in India who had lived here without discrimination for centuries.

Under the radar

Modi’s famous visit in 2017 was the first by an Indian Prime Minister, and with that, he took full ownership of a relationship that had mostly grown under the radar for over a quarter century.


1960: Nehru’s plane was intercepted by Israeli jets over Gaza

Man Aman Singh Chhina, Oct 30, 2023: The Indian Express

On May 19, 1960, there was an international incident when Israeli air force aircraft intercepted a UN aircraft carrying the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who was visiting the UNEF in Gaza.

India has played an important role in the Arab-Israel peacemaking efforts of the United Nations. Gaza, the site of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, had a strong contingent of the Indian Army peacekeeping force under the aegis of United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) from the 1950s till mid-1960s.

On May 19, 1960, there was an international incident when Israeli air force aircraft intercepted a UN aircraft carrying the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who was visiting the UNEF in Gaza.

The UNEF commander at the time was Lt Gen Prem Singh Gyani, incidentally, the first Indian officer to be commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery. He also was the first Indian officer to command an Artillery field regiment. He remained the Commander of UNEF in Gaza from December 1959 to January 1964 before moving to another UN assignment in Yemen.

Nehru was visiting Gaza on his way back from the Commonwealth PMs’ Conference. In order to land in Gaza it was necessary for the UN aircraft to overfly Israeli territory for a short while. This was a standard practice for UN aircraft which flew into Gaza and the Israelis were in the know of this. No formal intimation was given in advance of any such routine flight. Since the impending visit of Nehru to the Indian military contingent was published in various newspapers in Arab countries and Israel, the Israeli authorities were aware of it.

The archival documents of the Ministry of External Affairs show that at the time of the flight two Mystere jet fighters of the Israeli Air Force intercepted the UN aircraft carrying the Indian PM. The Israel fighters flew, what one UN observer called, “dangerously close” to the Prime Minister’s plane and then withdrew. They are also reported to have flown twice near the Gaza airfield after the Prime Minister had landed. The records state that as it was a United Nations plane that was involved in the incident and as the Prime Minister’s visit was arranged by the UN authoritles, the Government of India considered that it was up to the United Nations to look into the matter and refrained from expressing any opinion or taking any action.

The day after the incident, United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru explaining that the overflight of Israeli territory was technically necessary to enable the plane to land on the Gaza airstrip and that these conditions were well-know to the Israeli authorities. Hammarskjold deeply regretted the incident while pointing out that the United Nations personnel shared no blame for it.

Lt Gen Gyani had also written a report on the incident blaming the Israelis, in a rebuttal to which Israeli Prime Minister Ben Gurion made scathing comments on Lt Gen Gyani. The Israelis also claimed that four MIG aircraft were seen flying with the UN aircraft on the radar screens of Israeli military and due to this the Israeli aircraft had been tasked to intercept the aircraft. The Israeli PM also told the UN Secretary General that the Israeli Air Force had no knowledge of the occupants of the UN aircraft. The UN Secretary General rejected the criticism of Lt Gen Gyani by the Israeli PM and instead wrote to Nehru mentioning the same and expressing appreciation of the spirit in which the Prime Minister had reacted to the incident.

The archives mention that according to Lt Gen Gyani’s report there was no UAR (as Egypt was called then) air force escort for the UNEF plane carrying the Prime Minister to Gaza and the four MIGs sighted on Israali radar were separately going to Al Arish airport.

“The Israeli excuses are quite evidently manufactured to try and put the blame on the United Nations. Since the UN had not formally informed the Israelis of the overflight and since the presence in the neighbourhood of UAR jets has given the Israelis a pretext for what they quite clearly knew was an unnecessary attempt at interception, there is little to be gained by pursuing this case,” the records state.


India's right wing’s awe of Israel

Abhishek Dey, Oct 20, 2023: The Times of India

Palestinian armed group Hamas crossed into Israel on October 7 and launched aerial and ground attacks, which eventually triggered the ongoing Israel-Hamas war that has claimed more than 4,000 lives on both sides so far.Hours after videos of the attack surfaced on the internet, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed solidarity with Israel. He posted on X: “Deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.”By then, hashtags with phrases such as 'India is with Israel' were already trending on social media platforms.On October 11, Modi said that India strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, even as he expressed support for Israel.But, on October 12, spokesperson for the Union ministry of external affairs Arindam Bagchi said: “Our position on Palestine has been long-standing and consistent. India has always advocated the resumption of direct negotiations towards a sovereign independent and viable state of Palestine, living within secure and recognised borders, side by side and at peace with Israel. That position remains the same.”

However, that does not seem to have dampened the gush of support for Israel.Social-media platforms are full of photos and videos showing men and women offering prayers in support of Israel in the ghats of Varanasi, people getting Israel tattoos on their bodies and cricket fans waving placards expressing support for Israel in the stadium while watching the recently held India vs Pakistan World Cup match. Several Hindu organisations have so far offered to participate in the ongoing war, fighting for Israel.When did it start and how?The Hindu nationalists’ deep admiration for Israel predates 2014, when the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government came to power with Narendra Modi as prime minister.If Modi became the first Indian PM to ever visit Israel in 2017, BJP’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first Indian PM to host an Israeli Prime Minister in 2003. Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli prime minister to visit India.

The connection is much deeper and has links with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (R S S), which is the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, which has been supportive of the Israel model of nation state for decades.In 2015, R S S chief Mohan Bhagwat was all praise for Israel in his speech while addressing a gathering of Sangh volunteers in Madhya Pradesh, expressing dissatisfaction over how India has failed in following the Israel model of tit-for-tat action against hostile neighbours. In 2014, he had said at an event that India should learn from and follow the Israel model to serve the cause of nationalism.Watch: Mohan Bhagwat says India can learn from Israel.

Even the R S S’s admiration for Israel predates Bhagwat. In 1992, fourth R S S chief Madhukar Dattatreya Deoras, popular as Balasaheb Deoras, is believed to have played a role in convincing the then Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao to establish formal diplomatic relations with Israel.In his 1965 lecture Why mighty nations of antiquity perished , Bharatiya Jana Sangh leader and R S S ideologue Deendayal Upadhyaya said, “Nations do not come into existence by mere cohabitation. There was never a time in the lives of the citizens of these decadent nations [referring to ancient Greek, ancient Egypt, Babylonian and Syrian civilisations], when they stopped living in a group. On the other hand Israeli Jews lived for centuries with other peoples scattered far and wide, yet they did not get annihilated in the societies in which they lived because of cohabitation. It is clear therefore that the source of national feeling is not in staying on a particular piece of land, but [it] is in something else.”An old connectionIn 1947, Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar was very upset when the Indian delegate in the UN General Assembly argued for a binational Arab-Jewish state in Palestine and voted against the proposal to partition Palestine into a larger Jewish state and a smaller Arab state, writes Sumantra Bose, professor of international and comparative politics, London School of Economics and Political Science, in The Conversation.In his book We or Our Nationhood Defined published in 1939, nine years before Israel was officially declared a nation, M S Golwalkar, the second chief of R S S, highlighted how the Jews “had maintained their race, religion, culture and language, and all they wanted was their natural territory to complete their nationality”.Golwalkar was also against the global support behind Palestine over the years. He described Jews as victims of Islamist forces which forced many of them into leaving their homeland (referring to Israel) and settling in other countries, including India. Unlike Muslims and Christians, Golwalkar described Jews as a community which could peacefully coexist with Hindus.

MS Golwalkar, the second chief of R S S, described Jews as victims of Islamist forces

“R S S has a very similar conception of India as a Promised Land [for] the Hindus as the Zionist do for Jews,” Sanjay Srivastava, British Academy Global Professor at Department of Anthropology and Sociology in SOAS University of London, tells TOI+.“The idea of Arabs as second-class citizens within Israel is also one that matches R S S ideas towards religious minorities. The idea of 'emasculation' and 'remasculinisation' is shared by both the R S S and Zionists. The Judeo-Christian antipathy towards Islam is one shared by the R S S,” he says. “The R S S also has a similar historical project to the Zionists: that there has been no mutual dependence or cultural overlap between Hindus (Jews) and Muslims (Arabs). Though Hindus have never suffered the kind of persecution faced by Jews, Israel provides a ready-made model of victimhood for the R S S.”



December 28, 2017: The Times of India

In July, India signed several agreements with Israel on science, agriculture and technology as part of Narendra Modi's visit to the country.

The agreements included the creation of a $40 billion innovation fund for research in industrial development, and to forge a strategic partnership in water, water conservation and agriculture.

As per the Action Plan 2012-2015, Israel agreed to set up 26 Centres of Excellence — demonstrating an integrated and scientific approach to farming — across nine Indian states. Fifteen such centres have already been commissioned.

Attacks on Israelis/ Jews in India


Rajshekhar Jha, January 30, 2021: The Times of India

A blast had taken place on February 13, 2012 when the wife of an Israeli diplomat was targeted on Aurangzeb Road by a bike-borne man. The bomber had taken a flight out of the country the same night. Israel had blamed Iran for the attack and probe by Indian agencies had also found the role of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. A Delhibased journalist was arrested on charges of being a part of the conspiracy.


Raj Shekhar, January 30, 2019: The Times of India

Attacks on Israelis/ Jews in India, 2012 and 2021
From: Raj Shekhar, January 30, 2019: The Times of India

A low-intensity blast took place near the Israel embassy in New Delhi around 5pm on Friday [29 Jan 2021] , coinciding with the anniversary of India and Israel establishing full diplomatic relations on January 29, 1992. No one was injured, but window panes of three cars were damaged.

Defence technology

Medium range surface-to-air missiles/ 2022

March 28, 2022: The Times of India

New Delhi: The Army version of the next-generation medium range surface-to-air missiles (MRSAMs), developed jointly with Israel to destroy hostile aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones at a range of 70-km, was tested twice from the Chandipur integrated test range off the Odisha coast.

The flight tests of the MRSAM, developed jointly by DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), were conducted as part of the ‘live firing trials’ against high-speed aerial targets. “The first launch was to intercept a medium-altitude target at a long range and the second wa s to prove the capability against a low-altitude target at short range. The missiles intercepted the aerial targets and destroyed them completely, registering direct hits at both the ranges,” a DRDO officia l said. While Navy and IAF have begun inducting their MRSAMs, the trials for Army are currently underway. TNN


Rohit E David | Modi's Israel visit breaks a long-term political taboo in India | Jul 05 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Nicolas Blarel, assistant professor of International Relations at Leiden University and author of `The Evolution of India's Israel Policy', spoke to Rohit E David

The India-Israel relationship has become public and normalised over the last decade.

Ariel Sharon visited India in 2003.

Manmohan Singh barely mentioned Israel during his 10 years.

The main achievement of this visit is just going there.Most of the chief ministers in India have pushed for better ties with Israel.

India has been buying Israeli surveillance drones ­ Heron-1, Searcher, Harpy ­ since the late 1990s. All of these are from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) which has also designed the Heron armed drones. Procurement of armed drones had been under consideration for a decade but there was no political backing under the previous UPA governments. Final clearance happened under Modi's government. India purchased 10 Heron TP armed drones in September 2015 but these still need to be delivered. Delivery could be announced during the Modi visit. While there have been some rumours about possible joint production and technology transfer, it is not clear if this was part of the initial 2015 deal.

Both countries established a joint working group to counter terrorism back in early 2000. There has been a lot of cooperation on surveillance and intelligen ce. India has purchased a lot of materials from Israel to prevent cross border infiltration inclu ding drones. Beyond this technical cooperation, there hasn't been any strong counter terrorism strong counter terrorism effort. Both countries are dealing with two different types of terrorism.

As in 2017

December 28, 2017: The Times of India


Israel is among the top three to four arms suppliers to India, notching up sales worth almost $1 billion every year. The arms acquisitions range from Phalcon AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and Searcher, Heron and Harop UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to Aerostat and Green Pine radars, Barak anti-missile defence and several types of missiles and laser-guided bombs.

In November 2017, India dispatched a C-130J 'Super Hercules' aircraft along with a 45-member contingent, including Garud commandoes, to Israel to take part in a multilateral 'Blue Flag-17' exercise. The exercise was the first instance of an Indian contingent participating in a military exercise in Israel. This was also the first occasion when the air forces of the two nations came together in a multilateral exercise setting.

In February 2014, India and Israel signed three important agreements — Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, Cooperation in Homeland and Public Security, and Protection of Classified Material. Under Cooperation in Homeland Security, four working groups in the areas of border management, internal security and public safety, police modernization and capacity building for combating crime, crime prevention and cybercrime were established. Israel was one of the main suppliers of weapons to India during the 1999 Kargil War with Pakistan.


[Ramallah]: Until now, when Indian ministers and President Pranab Mukherjee visited this region it was always part of a joint visit to Tel Aviv and Ramallah. The major signal this time is that it is a standalone visit. We have seen a slight move in India's voting pattern towards Palestine in international fora. India has been taking more neutral stands rather than consistently opposing Israeli operations in Gaza.

India's relation with Palestine will not be hampered by [Modi’s] visit. Modi had invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to India earlier this year [2017]. India had reiterated its support to Ramallah for the peace process.

There has been cooperation on agriculture in arid lands, especially drip irrigation, since the early 1990s. Since 1992, drip irrigation projects launched by various Israeli private companies in India have grown from $1million worth to more than $1 billion. Israeli companies represent about 75% of the Indian market.

2018: $500 m missile deal off; 131 Barak sam’s on

Israel's Rafael says India has cancelled order for Spike anti-tank missiles, January 3, 2018: The Times of India

The deal had been worth about $500 million

India has called off an order to buy Spike anti-tank guided missiles from Israel’s state-owned defence contractor Rafael, the company said. The deal was worth about $500 million and its termination came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to India.

However, India will buy 131 Barak surface-to-air missiles built by Rafael. An Indian Defence Ministry spokesman declined comment on the cancellation.

Local media reported that India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation was developing a domestic anti-tank missile the government was keen to support.

“Rafael regrets the decision and remains committed to cooperating with the Indian Ministry of Defence and to its strategy of continuing to work in India, an important market, as it has for more than two decades, to provide India with the most advanced and innovative systems,” the firm said in a statement.

However, India’s Defence Ministry said separately it had cleared a plan to buy 131 Barak missiles. The 4.6-billion-rupee ($72 million) order follows up an earlier purchase of Barak missiles, meant to protect Navy vessels against sea-skimming missiles and aerial threats.

The two countries have grown closer since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, widening commercial cooperation beyond their longstanding defence ties.

Mr. Modi became the first sitting Indian Prime Minister to visit Israel last summer, and Mr. Netanyahu will fly to India on Jan. 14.

Rafael, whose CEO will join Mr. Netanyahu on his trip, said the cancellation was made prior to the signing of the final supply contract and despite its compliance with all of India’s wishes.


Trade/ 2017

December 28, 2017: The Times of India

The bilateral trade between the two countries grew from USD 200 million in 1992 to USD 4.16 billion in 2016.

Trade in diamonds constituted almost 54% of the bilateral trade. As many as 40 diamond dealers have opened offices in Israeli Diamond Exchange in Ramat-Gan. Investment

FDI inflows from Israel to India from April 2000 to September 2016 totalled USD 107.6 million, according to figures released by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, India. Over 300 Israeli investments are present in India in the field of agriculture and high-tech.

Expatriate workers from India

Why Israel is sought after/ 2023

Shaju Philip, Oct 11, 2023: The Indian Express

An estimated 18,000-odd Indians are employed in Israel and the vast majority of them, perhaps up to 14,000 individuals, are caregivers to the elderly. What qualifications are required, and how much money do the caregivers make?

As Israeli forces continued to battle Palestinian militants in areas bordering the Gaza Strip two days after the Hamas invasion that has left at least 700 Israelis dead with about 150 taken hostage, there is concern in India about its expatriate population in Israel.

Here is a look at these caregivers, who they are, their journey to Israel from India, and their life in the West Asian Jewish nation.

Why is Israel an attractive destination for caregivers from India?

As Western countries age, nursing offers career opportunities for Indians around the world. What makes the job of a caregiver in Israel especially attractive is the pay and other benefits, some of which are not available in other countries.

A caregiver in Israel has a take-home salary of at least Rs 1.25 lakh a month. Food, accommodation, and health care expenses of the caregivers are free. There is extra money for overtime work, and many employees opt to do that. On Sabbath, from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon, caregivers are entitled to leave as per government norms.

Normally, a caregiver visa for Israel is issued for a period of four years and three months. The visa can be extended or renewed. When the visa runs out and the caregiver has to leave, they are paid a one-time amount, which depends upon the duration of their work in Israel.

Typically, a caregiver in Israel would have to spend their entire day at the home of the elderly. They have separate facilities in the client’s home. Most caregivers in Israel are required to look after only a single person, whereas their counterparts in other countries have a rather heavy workload.

If the caregiver’s client dies, the caregiver is free to look for a new employer. Even otherwise, they are free to change the employer after a year of employment. Also, a job seeker with a valid visa can fill short-term vacancies created by caregivers going home on annual leave.

What are the qualifications required for a caregiver’s job in Israel?

Caregivers in Israel are professionally qualified nurses who give home care to the country’s aged and disabled. However, an aspiring Indian caregiver need not be a nursing graduate (BSc Nursing) as is the requirement in several other countries. Even a person who has completed an ANM (Auxiliary Nursing and Midwifery) or GNM (General Nursing and Midwifery) course can apply to be a caregiver in Israel.

Caregivers must complete a short-term, mostly one-month, course to learn the basics of Hebrew. While nursing professionals scouting for jobs in other countries have to often clear the tough IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or OET (Occupational English Test), these English-language proficiency tests are not required to be a caregiver in Israel.

The Israeli embassy in India conducts a language proficiency test before the final recruitment. Scores of agencies and institutes offer short-term courses in Hebrew.

What is the process of recruitment for a caregiver in Israel?

The flow of migrants as caregivers to Israel began in the mid-1990s, after the government enacted a law in 1986 under which the aged and disabled were entitled to receive home care, or care that would supplement that provided by family caregivers, who were bound to care for elderly family members.

The process of recruitment of a caregiver starts when an Israeli elderly citizen or his/ her family raises a demand for a caregiver with their local government authorities. Anyone who needs care or support can make the demand. Would-be clients can be indisposed, disabled, someone who has lost their life partner, and requires support in their day-to-day living.

Once the government ratifies the demand for a caregiver, the family/ person concerned approaches the designated agencies, who in turn take the process to India and other countries through recruitment agencies, who are their sub-agents. Apart from Indians, nurses from the Philippines also form a large share of caregivers in Israel.

In India, they mainly belong to Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra. The caregivers are paid directly by the employers. Almost all Israel citizens are covered by health insurance, which too can pay the salary of the caregiver.

Indian nursing professionals get meagre salaries in Indian hospitals. Many of them are women who, after taking a break from the profession after marriage, find it difficult to get back in with a reasonable salary in Indian hospitals. Also, those with ANM or GNM certificates are not in demand in hospitals in India, especially in Kerala, where there are large numbers of nursing graduates in the job market. A nursing professional seeking to work in Israel may have to spend around Rs 8 lakh on agents at various levels and other expenses, but they are often able to recoup the money after some time.

Space technology

Surendra Singh | Decade-old space dosti goes on: Nations ink 3 more pacts | Jul 06 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Israel- India cooperation in Space technology, 2008-17

Isro and Israel Aerospace Industries had a decade-long mutual cooperation in satellite development and launches.

On January 21, 2008, Israel had preferred India's trusted PSLV C-10 to launch its reconnaissance satellite, TecSAR, instead of using its own indigenous Shavit rocket. Israel had selected India's reliable launch vehicle because of several reasons. Any launch from Israeli territory must be directed westwards (towards the sea) in order to prevent the launcher's first stages from falling on populated areas or foreign territory . But a westward launch, against the direction of the earth's rotation, seriously restricted the weight of the satellite that the launch vehicle could carry .The second reason was that earlier launches of Israel's Ofeq series of spy satellites from its own soil had put constraints on satellite orbits.Third, Israel wanted to send TecSAR to an orbit (at 450580km altitude) which was not possible from its own rocket. As a result, PSLV carried TecSAR (from west to east direction) from the Sriharikota launchpad unlike all other Israeli surveillance satellites (which were launched towards the west direction) launched from Israel itself.TecSAR was fitted with a large dish-like antenna to transmit and receive radar signals that can penetrate darkness and thickness of clouds. A year after TecSAR's launch, India launched its reconnaissance satellite RISAT-2 on April 20, 2009. The satellite's main sensor, an Xband synthetic aperture radar, was built by Israel Aerospace Industries. The 300kg satellite possessed day-night as well as all-weather monitoring capability .

Israel was also part of Isro's historic mission on February 15 2018 when the agency's PSLV-C-37 launched 104 satellites in one go. Out of the 104 satellites, three of the nano satellites--BGUSat, DIDO-2 and PEASS--belonged to Israel. While BGUS was solely built by Israel, DIDO-2 and PEASS were developed by Israel in collaboration with other European countries.

PM Narendra Modi's visit to Israel in 2017 deepened co operation in space technology between the two countries as the two sides on Wednesday signed three agreements. The first memorandum of understanding was between Isro and Israel Space Agency for cooperation in electric propulsion for small satellites. The second was on cooperation in GEO-LEO optical links and the third pact was on cooperation in atomic clocks (which provide highly precise measurements of time in a satellite).


December 28, 2017: The Times of India


During the PM's visit, cooperation pacts were also signed between their respective space agencies, for work in areas including atomic clocks and electric propulsion for small industries. This year, the government-owned aerospace giant Israel Aircraft Industries signed deals with India totalling over $2.6 billion.


2018: Indian tourist arrivals into Israel on a double-digit growth

Manju V, January 16, 2019: The Times of India

Israel recorded a 21% growth in Indian tourist arrivals with around 70,800 travellers visiting the country from January to December 2018. It a jump from the 58,700 Indian tourists who visited in 2017 and 44,700 in 2016.

It marks a 58% growth from 2016 to 2018, as per the statistics released by Israel ministry of tourism (IMOT). Over 4.12 million tourist entries have been recorded in Israel in the period from January – December 2018, an increase of about 14% compared to last year. This has resulted in $5.8 billion revenue from tourism in 2018 alone with India on the twelfth position for incoming tourism.

In March 2018, Air India introduced direct air operations from New Delhi to Tel Aviv to become the fastest nonstop flight between India and Israel taking a straight route between the two countries. The national carrier then upped its frequency to five flights a week by November, 2018. In addition to this, Israeli carrier El Al introduced a new Boeing 777-200ER aircraft in November last year with increased seat capacity on its Mumbai-Tel Aviv route.

"On the visa front, the country reduced its visa fee to Rs 1,100 from its previous Rs 1,700 charge for Indian citizens along with the initiation of Fast Track visa processing," said a release issued by Israel, ministry of tourism. "The Embassy also opened a Kolkata Israel visa application centre for West Bengal and North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura," it added.

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