India Israel relations have always been affected by the Muslim politics pursued by various Indian governments. Indeed, the ties between the two countries never ever achieved their true potential until Narendra Modi made his historic trip to Tel Aviv yesterday.
India Israel relations – the past
Do you know that India had actively helped in the liberation of Jerusalem in 1917? Even I was not aware of this fact until I read a tweet of the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.
Isn’t this amazing?
Until 1917, Jerusalem was under the control of the Islamic Caliphate. Indian forces freed this Israeli city from Muslim occupation.
Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities for Israel.
No wonder, when Narendra Modi landed in Tel Aviv, he was welcomed with great warmth by the Israelis.
When was Israel formed?
Israel is a new country. It was formed in 1948 after Britain and a few other countries carved out a territory for the Jews from some Middle East nations.
The Israeli territory is the site of several Jew, Christian, and Muslim civilizations. The Jews are an ancient people and ruled over large parts of the Middle East until 3rd century AD.
Meanwhile, Christians were gaining ground and this led to the Jews losing their political influence in the Asia Minor region.
The Jews were finally reduced to a non-entity after the arrival of Islam. From the 7th century to the late 19th century, Jews were under the Ottoman Empire.
The British captured the area from the Muslims in the early 20th century and finally, in 1948, the Jews got their homeland in the form of Israel.
Origin of the word ‘Israel’
Some historians think that the word, ‘Israel’ is 3,200 years old. This word is found in the Merneptah steele which is an inscription in the honor of an Egyptian pharaoh.
When Israel was formed in 1948, this led to several conflicts between the Arabs and the Israelis. This brand new and young nation had to fight several wars with its neighbors for its survival.
Israel had to fight against Syria, Jordan, and Egypt to ensure its survival. These three countries, Syria, Egypt and Jordan are Arabs and follow Islam.
Except for Egypt, no other Muslim country recognizes Israel. Almost all the Muslim countries in the world think that Israel is evil and anti-Islam.
It is important to understand and know the origin of the Palestine state.
Israel today occupies several territories of Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. These territories act as a buffer for Israel against enemy attacks as most of the people who live there are Arabs.
A few years back, Israel has granted autonomy to these Arabs so that there can be some peace between them and the rest of the Israelis. As a result, the area where these Arabs live is now called as Palestine, which is autonomous country but under the control of Israelis.
The idea behind the setting up of the Palestine state was to ensure that there is peace in the Middle Eastern region.
India recognizes Palestine and Israel and so far was favoring Palestine more.
India Israel relations, therefore, have been significantly influenced by our relations with Palestine.
But, why is this?
Israel, Palestine, and Muslims
As said before, our relations with Palestine have largely determined the Indo-Israel ties.
Palestine is a Muslim country and all the Muslims favor this country because of religious issues. It is the bounden duty of every Muslim to help his or her Muslim brother or sister in distress. And this has led to problems in India Israel relations.
Many successive Indian governments have ignored Israel to keep their Muslim voters happy.
For nearly 60 years, Congress has ruled India and its core vote bank was made up by the Muslims. This community actively opposed any ties with the newly formed Jewish nation.
Even though India had recognized Israel in 1950, there were no full diplomatic relations between the two countries for a long time.
Israel had just a token diplomatic presence in India in the form of a consulate in Mumbai! All the visas for Indians were issued from that office so anyone who wanted to travel to Israel had to go to the Mumbai office.
Things changed in 1992
It was Narasimha Rao who established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992.
What changed? Perhaps, Prime Minister Rao understood that the Muslim voters were not going to remain behind the Congress for a long time.
He also understood very clearly that the time for Hindu vote consolidation had come.
It is also possible that Rao had realized that the time had come for India to restore the 2,500-year-old India Israel ties.
You will be surprised to know that the Hindu-Jew relations have lasted more than 2, 500 years.
According to Arutz Sheva, a reputed website, the first Jewish settlers came to India in 562 BC. Perhaps these people were sent by the famous King Solomon.
Jews were settling in India at the turn of the millennium also. When the Christians started burning down Jewish temples, the Jews came to India and settled on its western coast.
In the 11th century AD, some Jews came to Kerala and started living in that state. The then Kerala king, Kulshekhara Ravi Verma granted land to these Jews for an unlimited period.
Similarly, Jews from the Middle East came and settled in the Konkan area of Western India.
Let me inform you, all these people were free to worship and pray as they liked. These Jews were never forced to abandon their faith and accept any other religion.
The Second World War
During the Second World War, many Jews escaped Europe and came to India. They were escaping Hitler and his murderous policies, and concentration camps.
The Gujarat king, Digvijaysinhji Jadeja gave refuge to the Jews fleeing from Germany, Poland and many other countries from the German occupation. Ever since Jews have been living peacefully in India without facing any persecution.
Hence, we can see that the India Israel relations are not just limited to the 20th and 21st centuries but go back to more than 2,500 years.
Importance of India Israel relations
India is as important for Israel as vice versa.
So far, Israel and the United States have been stable partners. The US has been the largest weapon supplier to Israel as well as its best friend. One reason behind this that the policy makers in the United States have been Jews.
Of late, Israel has realized that the United States is an unstable partner. A few months back, the US had backed a proposal in the United Nations that put Israel in a tight spot.
This country has realized that India can become a stable weapons buyer and military partner of Israel.
Similarly, India has also understood that Israel is a very important political and military partner.
Let us understand why this relationship is important.
It is an open secret that Mossad has always worked closely with the Indian security agencies. This association has helped India ward off several terrorist attempts. The India Israel relationship is closely related to this intelligence association.
Secondly, Israel is a major weapons supplier and manufacturer. Its small and medium range arms are effective in major conflict situations. Israel always makes drones that are effective surveillance systems. It is expected that Israel will sell billions of dollars of arms and ammunition to India during Mr. Modi’s visit to Israel.
However, defense experts also point out that Israeli components may not work properly with the Russian weapon systems.
Israel is not just a military capable country; it is also a technologically advanced country. You will be surprised to know that this country is one of the major hubs for start-ups. The Israeli start-up ecosystem is indeed very robust.
Finally, Israel has worked wonders in the field of agriculture. Its drip irrigation technology can help India increase its agricultural output leaps and bounds. One reason why India should improve its relations with Israel is that of this technology.
Made in heaven
India Israel relationship is literally being made in heaven. Both the countries have signed a pact on space technology. Israel uses its space tech for not just its security but also for economic development.
Read this- India-Israel ties are made in heaven
The Iron Dome technology of Israel can destroy any incoming missile and this has indeed helped the country to defend itself from its neighbors. We hope that India too will be able to use this technology for improving its security and economy.
To conclude, India Israel relations are not based on just immediate political gains. These ties go back for more than 2, 500 years and are based on shared values and heritage.
India and Israel also share a very important icon- the Star of Solomon. This Star is considered a holy symbol among Hindus as well and it represents the union of Purusha and Prakriti.
India has always helped Jews who were fleeing persecution from Nazis and Muslim rulers. Many Jews came to India during the Second World War.
Though Israel became an independent country in 1948, India did not establish full diplomatic relations with it till 1992. Unfortunately, relations with Israel were put in cold storage by successive Indian governments for more than 60 years.
The first visit of any Indian Prime Minister to Israel has happened only yesterday. The reason why this visit took so late was that the Indian politics has changed significantly and the ruling party is no longer dependent on Muslim voters. The Indian Prime Minister has noted that the improvement in India and Israel ties could be made possible also because both the leaders are younger in age.
India Israel ties now cover various areas like defense, technology, agriculture, space technology and intelligence sharing.
We, at Social Chumbak, hope that there will be better and closer relationships with Israel and Israelis in the times to come.