India- Israel relations have ancient roots when it comes to cultural exchanges. Few instances of this could be found in the Old Testament (1 Kings9:26-28 ,2 Chro. 8:17-18, 1 Kings 10:11-12, 22 ,2 Chro. 9:10-11, 21) and other historical documents. The trade relations have been the initial benchmarks which was later extended to lingual exchanges too. This relationship was active even during the Roman rule. During all these perennial and odd times Israel never fought the hospitality of Indians who embraced them. It is evident from the settlements in Kozhikode and Kochi (560BC), Tamil Nadu (1640s), Gujarat (1700s) and Maharashtra (1960s).
History must be examined independently in order to realize the similarities between the Jewish-Indian aspirations for independence. It is a fact that both the nations sought its Independence almost the same time (India-1947 and Israel- 1948). The birth of both the countries meant the revival of two communities where in India it is diversity which was preached and Israel which voted for the revival of Jewish nation/Israel/ Sons of Jacob. The wounds both have suffered have also been incorporated into their strategic thinking. During the nation building both had to follow the principle of pluralist democracy. The geographic vulnerabilities which are evident through refugee’s crisis, communal violence and massacres has forced both the nations to adopt certain measures. Territorial claims is another component where Jammu &Kashmir (between India and Pakistan) and Jerusalem and West Bank (between Israel and Palestinians). In both cases there is a residual territorial dispute – particularly in Kashmir, Jerusalem and the West Bank. Tensions remain high in the border areas on both sides, and the occasional outbreak of terrorism and violence is an equal tragedy that continues today.
Although historically Hindus, like Jews, have been forced to pay jizya taxes under Islam. Jewish nationalists reluctantly abandoned the dream of a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan River and adopted UN Resolution 181, which cut off Israel and gave two states to Jews and Muslims. The partition of Palestine is yet to be completed after the Arab side refused to approve the 1947 partition plan. From the very beginning, the Arab leadership rejected the idea of a Jewish state within any limits. This can be understood by looking at the charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Jews state that the threats to its existence are from the Arab nations. India also has a long history of contributing diverse ethnic and religious groups. India is like Israel, where Jews, Christians, Muslims and the Druze live most securely. India is also a great country where different religions live in harmony. Frequent border disputes and clashes cost the lion’s share of both countries’ economies for munitions. In recent times, the general consciousness of both countries has shifted more towards a right – wing ideology, and the main reason is that Islamic extremism is dangerous to both countries.
Israel helped India when the two countries did not have official diplomatic relations. In 1948, India voted against the creation of Israel. But despite Israel’s arms shortage, former PM Golda Meir decided to transfer the arms to India during the 1971 war which was supposed to be sent to Iran. In return of weapons, they demanded diplomatic ties. India approach to Israel during PM Nehru was leaning towards Palestinian. India has adopted a policy of nonalignment with the two powers USA and USSR (during the Cold war). India also has maintained good relations with Arab countries. But during the first India- Pakistan war, Arab countries were collectively on the side of Pakistan. India was shocked that they were organized on the basis of religion. Although India received USSR assistance at the time, India was isolated in the 1962 India- China War. At that time, India approached the US for supply of arms but the US did not offer them so India had to look to Israel for help. When the India-Pakistan war broke out again in 1971, the India-Israel arms deal was worked out by PM Indira Gandhi and she called for an intelligence mechanism between MOSSAD and RAW. There are those who say that this was an arms trade and an Israeli tactic, but history has shown that Israel’s aid in the war was crucial for India. With the collapse of the USSR in 1991, Israel-India relations strengthened. In 1998 when Vajpayee became the Prime Minister, this relationship became very active. Israel-India relation was further evidenced during the 1999 Kargil war. Israel helped India in the last quarter of the Kargil War, when India was on the verge of a major setback. We were denied the American GPS service during the war. Relations now are witnessed through laser-guided missiles to IAF Mirage 2000H fighter jets from Israel to India. Both countries are making a significant contribution to the technological development of the world. While the intellectual development of Israel is unparalleled, the technological prowess of the Indian youth is being used all over the world. The similarity between the hostile nations around them disturbs the peace of both nations. The Islamists who are waiting for the small country of Israel to drown in the Mediterranean Sea and the Jamaat-e-Islami, which wants to make India an Islamic state, have turned it into a restless country.
Both countries have never invaded any of their neighbors since 1947 except for defense. The situation in Israel is worse than in India. Despite the constant opposition of petro dollar and terrorism from the 52 Islamic countries, it still exists today because of their determination, hard work and technological excellence. India is not enjoying its peace with its neighbors like China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan, just as Syria and Lebanon are constantly at war with Israel. Just as India is one of the largest contributors to South Asia and a major component of the SAARC countries and has an active presence internationally as a shadow of many countries under one umbrella, Israel also provides technical and financial assistance to many countries in the world. Israeli technology is used in many African countries for agriculture and water supply.
Agreements have already been reached on a number of key arms deals, including a joint fund to promote India-Israeli business cooperation, the expansion of cooperation in water management and agriculture, and the promotion of tourism. The geopolitical world sees a more promising future for India-Israeli relations. Israel is known as the “start-up nation” with more than 5,000 start-ups. Israel is the third best start-up hub in the world. Since independence in 1948, Israel has pursued an encouraging development policy and provided tax breaks and concessions to foreign investors. Accordingly, there are no restrictions on the shares held by expatriates in Israeli companies. In 2018, Israel rated the OECD ‘FDI Regulatory Restriction Index’ at 0.118, which represents an open FDI economy. Although the fast-growing Israeli economy is often plagued by internal conflicts, it still bodes well.
Although India has a large population of 1.3 billion and a growing consumer market with a unique demographic distribution, periodic political movements have adversely affected our economy. Benjamin Grossman writes; When India’s GDP is declining abnormally after corona. India has targeted indigenous innovation and research and development as the main focus of the Indian economy, with the aim of building a strong environment for start-up businesses. “Make in India” – as a global design and manufacturing hub. “Digital India” – The Government of India’s policies towards the digital empowerment of society and the economy are expected to ease FDI restrictions, liberalize foreign investment, promote cooperation with Israeli technology companies and provide new opportunities for them to expand into India. Van Hope also provides glimpses of Israeli ties in areas such as IT, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, telemedicine, renewable solar energy, water technologies, and agriculture. The simplification of visa policies can be expected to lead to more deals and cooperation between Indian and Israeli companies of various sizes and sectors. The world acknowledges that the Israeli-India relationship as two victims of similar distress is essential to combat global terrorism, and that India’s internal problems are shaping a more critical ground, and it is doubtful whether this relationship will do any good, but it is inevitable in India’s foreign policy and national security.
China has surpassed even the United States in the forefront of joint ventures involving foreign companies, including Israel’s famous high-tech startup companies. Chinese investment in Israel reached $ 16.5 billion in 2016.” “Money has flowed into the country’s Internet, cybersecurity and medical device startups, but India’s annual trade with Israel is still $ 5 billion (excluding $ 4.5 billion in defense in 2016). In other words, China is ahead of India in utilizing Israel’s trade and investment.” (Aravindan Neelakandan)
The Left and extremists here are the most vocal opponents of the Israeli relationship. It is a fact that jihadists oppose Israel as a threat to their Islamic state dreams, but the Left’s opposition in Kerala and India is not in the name of any ideology. It is obvious that this is just a marketing ploy aimed at the Islamic minority vote bank. But many Islamic countries are entering into agreements with Israel. Many African countries are using Israeli technology. Islamic countries have changed their positions, but only a handful of extremists in India oppose it. The world is looking at this difference in the Islamic world with optimism. This friendship is a good sign for India. Indian relations with many Arab countries have also been strengthened after this. The Israeli relationship is essential to strengthen India’s strength in international relations.
By Mathew Nilampoor
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