Archive for the ‘Israel and India’ category

The Palestinians’ Race to The Bottom

January 9, 2018

The Palestinians’ Race to The Bottom, FrontPage MagazineCaroline Glick, January 9, 2018

(Please see also, Egypt quietly urges Palestinians to accept Ramallah as capital. — DM)

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

The PLO’s behavior with Abu Ali and India indicates three things. First, that the PLO/PA is no longer immune from criticism in quarters where it received five decades of unconditional support. Second, it indicates that the PLO/PA is incapable of changing its behavior, even when it is aware that it ought to. Finally, the PLO/PA is still operating under the impression that nations will continue to support them forever because the basis of that support is unchanged.

The problem for the PLO/PA is that the world has changed fundamentally while they were busy embracing terrorists and getting away with it.

The economic and strategic realities of Israel cannot be ignored. Modi and his counterparts worldwide are now recognizing that the Palestinians have nothing to offer them, not even gratitude. When a critical mass of Palestinians recognize that the PLO’s jig is up, they will make peace with Israel. Until then, they will continue to serve as an irritating irrelevancy and nothing more.

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The PLO and the Palestinian cause more generally are sinking into irrelevance and rather than reform their policies to rebuild their position, they have adopted a scorched earth policy that only intensifies their race to the bottom.

On the face of things, the situation isn’t bad. Last month the PLO got 128 nations to vote in favor of their anti-American resolution rejecting US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. One of the states that voted with them was India.

Israel was shocked by India’s move.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly touts the growth of Israel’s bilateral ties with the largest democracy in the world. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s extraordinary visit to Israel last July highlighted the change. Netanyahu’s visit to New Delhi later this month will cement the new alliance.

Not only has Modi enthusiastically cultivated close ties with Israel, he has moved closer to Israel in its conflict with the PLO than any of his predecessors. In 2015, India abstained from an anti-Israel resolution at the UN Human Rights Council. Modi refused to visit the Palestinian Authority during his visit to Israel. And PLO chief and PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s visit to India earlier this year, Modi refused to say – as his predecessors have said – that the capital of a Palestinian state should be located in eastern Jerusalem.

And yet, last month at the UN, it felt like none of this had happened. India reverted to its previous posture of blind support for the PLO and joined the chorus in attacking America for recognizing that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

The Palestinians for their part were justifiably elated. Now, they thought, they were back in the driver’s seat. Trump is an aberration and the world – including India, continues to support them no matter what. They are today where they were in 1975 when the UN General Assembly passed Resolution 3371 defining the Jewish national liberation movement as a form of racism.

Then, less than a week after the UN vote, the PLO’s envoy to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, shared a stage in Rawalpindi with the mastermind of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Lashkar e-Taibi leader Hafiz Muhammad Saeed is wanted by India not only for the massacre of more than 160 people in the Mumbai attacks. He is also wanted for his involvement in terrorist attacks in the city in 2006, which killed more than 200 people, and for a shooting at the Indian Parliament, an incident in which another 14 were killed in 2001.

Abu Ali didn’t think there would be any price to pay for his decision to embrace a mass-murdering terrorist. It’s what the PLO has always done. And so he posted photos of himself with Saeed online.

But it turns out that despite India’s vote, things have changed. A lot.

Indian social media exploded in rage against the Palestinians and the PLO. The most common sentiment was, “This is how they pay us back for abandoning the US and Israel to support them at the UN.”

Abu Ali’s embraces of Saeed were widely and angrily reported in the Indian media.

In response, Abbas announced that he was recalling Abu Ali. This would have been fine if it were true.

But this week it was reported that Abu Ali is back in business in Islamabad.

The PLO’s behavior with Abu Ali and India indicates three things. First, that the PLO/PA is no longer immune from criticism in quarters where it received five decades of unconditional support. Second, it indicates that the PLO/PA is incapable of changing its behavior, even when it is aware that it ought to. Finally, the PLO/PA is still operating under the impression that nations will continue to support them forever because the basis of that support is unchanged.

The problem for the PLO/PA is that the world has changed fundamentally while they were busy embracing terrorists and getting away with it.

This week, The Economist published its annual data on per capita GDP in countries throughout the world. For the first time, Israel’s GDP per capita has jumped above $40,000. According to the Economist’s data, per capita GDP in Israel jumped from $38,127 in 2016 to $44,019 in 2017. GDP grew 4.4% last year. Today Israel’s GDP per capita is higher than GDP per capita in Japan, Britain and France. The gap in Israel’s favor is expected to widen in the years to come as Israel’s GDP continues to grow and the GDPs of European states and Japan continue to stagnate due to negative fertility, continued migration of uneducated newcomers and lack of innovation.

In its own neighborhood, Israel’s neighbors remain economic and political basket cases. As Dr. Guy Bechor noted in his analysis of the data earlier this week, Egypt’s per capita GDP of $2,519 is one seventeenth of Israel’s. Jordan’s per capita income dropped last year from $4,648 to $4,135 and prospects for 2018 aren’t positive.

The situation is similarly bleak in the Gulf States, despite their oil and gas reserves. Iran, for instance, is poor and forecasts for the future are terrible. Last year, despite the $100 billion windfall the regime received from sanctions relief, per capita GDP in Iran dropped from $6,144 in 2016 to $5,879. Wars in Syria, Yemen, Iran, Lebanon and Gaza don’t come cheap.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states are drawn to Israel not only because of their joint security concerns about Iran. They are also eager to expand ties with Israel to benefit from its civilian technologies in everything from agriculture and water technologies to digital communications. And they are not about to allow the Palestinians to stop their cavalcade to Israel.

As The New York Times reported last week, Egyptian intelligence officer Capt. Ashrag al-Kholi called four different television hosts last and told them that Ramallah can serve as the capital of a Palestinian state just as well as Jerusalem. Kholi was also taped telling them that the Palestinians have to compromise for peace. In his words, “How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really? At the end of the day, later on, Jerusalem won’t be different from Ramallah. What matters is ending the suffering of the Palestinian people. Concessions are a must and if we reach a concession whereby… Ramallah will be the capital of Palestine, to end the war and so no one else dies, then we should go for it.”

Kholi explained that a new Palestinian campaign of terrorism against Israel will harm Egypt by strengthening Islamic State (ISIS), Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

So while it is true that 128 countries – including India, Egypt and Saudi Arabia – voted with the PLO against Israel and the US at the UN last month, it is also true that their votes don’t signify as much as they used to. It is equally true that the Palestinians can’t try their patience by pushing anti-Israel resolutions every day as they have for the past 45 years. Because as the Palestinians keep playing their old tricks, Israel is becoming a more and more significant regional and global power and the nations of the world aren’t interested in weakening Israel when Israel is helping them survive and prosper.

As Abu Ali’s continued tenure in Pakistan shows, rather than recognize the shifting power balance and update their positions to align with it, the PLO has become even more brittle and reactionary and extreme. If Egypt doesn’t support their war against Israel, then they will take their roadshow to Tehran, or its Lebanese satrapy.

On December 31, Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad met with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in Beirut. After meeting with al-Ahmad, Nasrallah told al Mayadeen TV that Fatah – led by Abbas – agreed to “activate a third intifada,” or terror war, against Israel. PA parliament members also visited Lebanon and met with Iranian-controlled Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Sunday night, Israel Channel 2 reported that terrorist incitement is rising steeply in the official PA media and social media networks. One video, of a faked shooting of a Palestinian teenage girl by an actor dressed in an IDF uniform, has gone viral. Thousands of viewers have responded to the fake scene with pledges to kill Israelis to avenge the fake death.

When later this month Netanyahu meets Modi in Delhi, India’s UN vote and Abu Ali’s embrace of Saeed will be on the agenda. And there is good reason to believe that Modi will recognize the linkage and vote differently in the future. Like Netanyahu, he recognizes that the PLO’s basic case is wrong. Peace is achieved by defeating terrorists, not by empowering them.

Moreover, Israel beckons. The economic and strategic realities of Israel cannot be ignored. Modi and his counterparts worldwide are now recognizing that the Palestinians have nothing to offer them, not even gratitude. When a critical mass of Palestinians recognize that the PLO’s jig is up, they will make peace with Israel. Until then, they will continue to serve as an irritating irrelevancy and nothing more.

Editor Of ‘Al-Sharq Al-Awsat’: The Indian Prime Minister’s Visit To Israel – Cause For Arab Envy

July 24, 2017

Editor Of ‘Al-Sharq Al-Awsat’: The Indian Prime Minister’s Visit To Israel – Cause For Arab Envy, MEMRI,July 24, 2017

Following the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel and his failure to visit Ramallah, Ghassan Charbel, editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, published an article about the economic and cultural gaps between the West and the Arab world and about the contrast between Israel’s successes in science and technology and the weaknesses of its Arab neighbors, as reflected in Modi’s Israel visit. Charbel noted that the West pays close attention to issues such as human rights, protection of the environment, and public health, while the Arab world neglects them, which is why Arabs feel envious of the West. As for Israel, Charbel notes its scientific and technological capabilities and what it has to offer to a giant world power such as India, contrasting it with Israel’s neighbors, mired in extremism and internal wars. Charbel notes that in the past India was the first country to support the Palestinians in every way, while today its Prime Minister, upon visiting the region, ignored them completely. According to Charbel, this causes Arabs to feel not only envious but completely defeated.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (image: watanserb.com)

“The Arab feels envy when he comes into contact with the developed world. A friend of mine fled his country, which is sinking into darkness and despair, and settled in London. He bought a house [there] and waited for the war [in his country] to end. One day, a tree in his small garden bothered him and he decided to ‘execute’ it. He asked his British neighbor if he knew someone who could do the job, and the neighbor laughed [and said], ‘you have no right to kill the tree, even if it belongs to you. First, you have to submit a request to the local council and convince it of the reasons [for your wish to cut down the tree]. The law here protects trees. You have to obtain a permit, and only after that comes the job of the murderer.’

“My friend was astonished. He comes from a world in which an [entire] city can be razed and no one would bat an eyelash. A citizen can be killed, and neither his wife nor his mother will have the right to ask why… A tree here [in Britain] has more rights than a citizen of the [Arab] countries of torture and suffering.

“Envy is neither a useful nor a noble emotion and it usually opens the gates of bitterness and hatred, [yet] it is not unusual for an Arab to suffer from this malady [of envy]. If an Arab visits a museum in a developed country he immediately thinks about what happened to the antiquities in Iraq and in Syria… If he notices the attention paid in Oslo to public health he remembers where the sewage flows in some Arab capital or another.

“Trying to minimize his disappointment, the Arab sometimes searches for excuses for the yawning chasm between him and the developed world. We are in a completely different historical phase. Those countries [in Europe] are reaping the fruits of great events that occurred there and changed the face of the world: the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the ideas of the Renaissance, the separation of church and state, German philosophy, and the huge change in the status of women.

“The Arab feels envy again, [because] the Europeans experienced wars between nationalities and sects, border disputes and plans for conquering and wiping out [the other]. They painted the continent and the whole world with blood – but they emerged in the end with conclusions. The empires became [exhibits on] museum shelves and sentences in history books; borders were transformed into bridges, not walls; [the European] societies accepted the right to be different. Minorities are no longer thought of as mines that must be defused. The constitutions [in Europe] prevent the majority from erasing the characteristics of those who disagree with it. These countries no longer seek historic leaders whose biographies are soaked in blood; they seek governments that devote [themselves] to fighting unemployment, developing the economy, encouraging investments, protecting the environment, and [combatting] the problem of climate change. The visiting Arab is consumed with envy.

“Let us set aside talk of trees and antiquities, since there is worse to come. The Arab notes that [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled all his plans so he could graciously receive his guest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was the first visit by an Indian prime minister to Israel. Another thing that attracted attention was that the guest felt no need to visit Ramallah, which gladdened his hosts. We are talking about India, which was the first to express understanding for the aspirations of the Palestinians and did not hesitate to stand alongside them in international forums…

“Modi evidently sees Israel as a technological lighthouse, and spoke about the need for his gigantic country to benefit from Israel’s capabilities in this sphere. The result was that Modi and Netanyahu signed an agreement worth $2 billion, according to which India will receive the Israeli Iron Dome System to [detect and intercept] rockets and artillery. In addition, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to establish an India-Israel Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund. Other agreements included areas such as water, agricultural development in India, and partnership in economic projects in Africa and the developing world.

“It is not enough to explain what happened by saying that Modi belongs to an extremist nationalist Hindu stream and that ‘jihadist’ terrorism increased his conviction that ties with Israel should be strengthened. The important point is that a country the size of Israel has something to offer the Indian army, beyond the role it [already] played in the past in developing the Soviet and Russian weapons that were owned by India; that it also has something to offer [in the spheres of] agricultural development and treatment of water problems, and [can maintain] a strategic military, security, and economic relationship with a country of the size and stature of India.

“The Arab was disturbed by the arrogance of Netanyahu’s speeches during Modi’s visit, but when he opened the map of the terrifying Middle East, he discovered that Israel had achieved a series of victories in recent years without firing a single bullet. Maps, countries, armies and economies around it have crumbled. Waves of extremism caused catastrophes in some parts of the Arab world compared to which the Palestinian Nakba is but one clause among many.

“This time the Arab felt not only envy, but felt the total defeat of the one who cannot join the [modern] era.”

 

[1]Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 10, 2017.

The Israel-India renewed friendship

July 7, 2017

Good News Friday Part I – The Israel-India renewed friendship | Anne’s Opinions, 7th July 2017

The visit this week of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first ever official visit of an Indian Prime Minister to Israel, is too important to relegate to a small item in a regular Good News Friday post, so this week you shall receive a double portion (just like the Manna in the wilderness 😀 )

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israel’s welcome of Modi was almost ecstatic. Not only the Prime Minister and the government, but the people of Israel too were delighted with the visit of this remarkable man. The warmth between the two nations was expressed right from the start, on Modi’s descending from his plane onto the tarmac. Watch just the first minutes of PM Modi’s (25 minute long) video to understand:

As Modi said:

Israellycool’s Aussie Dave remarks on Modi’s choice of clothing:

But there is even more to the level of respect and affection than meets the eye. The Times of India explains that even PM Modi’s fashion choice was meant as a tribute to Israel.

He wore a white suit with a blue handkerchief to represent the colours of Israel. What a beautiful gesture! What a mensch!

As to the substance of the visit, Vijeta Uniyal, writing at Israellycool, gives us some more background to the visit:

With bilateral relations at all-time high, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a 3-day visit to Israel today. Prime Minister Modi becomes the first ever sitting Indian premier to visit the Jewish State.

Developmental issues such as agriculture technology and water management will be high on agenda during the historic visit that marks the 25 years of bilateral diplomatic ties. Both countries are expected to sign an agreement setting up a $40 million innovation fund to finance joint research in agriculture, water, energy and technology during the prime ministerial visit.

“In the last few years the world has seen the India Israel relationship come out from the perception of just Defense related activities to showcasing a fantastic connection in agricultural, educational, entrepreneurial & cultural cooperation. It’s these new areas which are making this bilateral a model for the rest of the world to follow.” Rishi Suri, senior international affairs editor at Indian newspaper Daily Milap, told Israellycool.

Vijeta Uniyal wrote another piece at Legal Insurrection on Israel and India’s newly upgraded ties during the historic visit:

“Narendra Modi receives extraordinary welcome as he begins path-breaking visit to Israel,” noted Indian financial daily Economic Times. “The personal chemistry and the warmth between Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was apparent in their remarks and their hugs.” The newspaper noted the significance of the visit that goes beyond the impressive personal rapport that both world leaders have managed to forge:

Behind the overt affection and friendship, lies deep political significance as India for the first time has delinked its relationship with Israel from its traditional support to Palestine. But, India now hopes to leverage its relationship with Israel to attract more investment, and gain from Israeli cutting-edge technology and defence.

“Investments to boost tourism, education and cultural ties and building bridges with the Indian diaspora in Israel can help boost ties between the two countries,” wrote the leading Indian business daily Mint. “Indeed, these are the low-hanging fruits in the bilateral relationship that can be plucked right away.”

Indian PM Narendra Modi and Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu on Modi’s arrival in India

“Red carpet welcome done, PM Narendra Modi gets down to business in Israel today,” reported the Indian news channel NDTV. “Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, who usually meets visiting heads of government for a meeting and over dinner or lunch meeting, will accompany PM Modi to most engagements.”

On a historic visit that started with firm handshakes, hugs and a smattering of Hindi and Hebrew, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get down to business today with back-to-back meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders that will focus on cooperation on defence, security, water and more. Apart from the multiple pacts that the two strategic partners are expected to seal at Wednesday’s meetings, the two leaders are also expected to deliver a strong message against terrorism in their joint statement. Both leaders had yesterday spoken in one voice to resolutely combat terrorism and radicalism.

India-Israel partnership in the field of start-up alone has a revenue potential of $25 billion, projected NASSCOM, the association of Indian IT companies. Indian daily Financial Expresspublished the excerpts of a report compiled by NASSCOM and consultancy firm Accenture:

Revenue worth USD 25 billion can be generated in India and Israel through cumulative cross- border investment into start-ups in these two countries, a joint report by Nasscom and Accenture today said. The report titled ‘Collaborative Innovation: The vehicle driving Indo-Israel prosperity’ noted India and Israel’s innovation ecosystems share unique innovation complementary traits in three areas — temperament, talent and technology.

The reaction in India to Narendra Modi’s visit was surprisingly very positive across all sectors of the country, even among their large Muslim minority as Vijeta Uniyal reports:

In a stunning display, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel received favourable coverage from across the Indian media landscape. The Indian Prime Minister was in Israel on a 3-day visit, first ever by an Indian premier.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit lays “the foundation of a new chapter in relations with Israel,” commented the country’s leading business daily Economic Times. Both countries took “historic steps towards a new engagement,” wrote newspaper Hindustan Times. Like many Indian newspapers, The Hindu described the visit as “ground-breaking” and noted the “extraordinary welcome” Indian leader received in “the Jewish nation.”

“In reorienting India’s foreign policy, Narendra Modi is responding to history and realpolitik,” commented the often left-leaning Indian news website, FirstPost.

“It is time Muslims rethink their idea of Israel,” wrote the Indian-Muslim commentator Tufail Ahmad. “Muslims in India must keep in mind that their success lies in India’s prosperity. As India makes rapid progress, the fruits of economic development and growing educational opportunities will inevitably reach Muslims as well. However, India’s economic progress lies in its strong security partners: Israel and the US.”

There were prominent voices in support of Prime Minister’s visit, even within the main opposition Congress Party. The former Deputy Foreign Minister Shashi Tharoor praised Prime Minister Modi’s diplomacy on Israel. “[This] shows our relationship has reached a level of maturity which makes it possible for us to contemplate first ever PM visit [to Israel],” Tharoor said.

SwarajyaMag, India’s leading centre-right magazine with a young readership, praised Prime Minister Modi’s diplomatic initiative, urging the government to “disassociate itself completely from the Palestinian question” and seek greater strategic cooperation with Israel. Ahead of Modi’s visit, the publication was blunt in its assessment of India’s foreign policy, stating “[the Visit] does not upend India’s decades-long policy by betraying a tilt towards the Jewish state.” Criticising India’s track record at the UN and other international fora, SwarajyaMag wrote:

A truly historic moment would be if India were to disassociate itself completely from the Palestinian question – it is not as if it has contributed in any meaningful way all these years. The issue does not affect India and is best left to the concerned parties to resolve, much as India insists on Kashmir. If India’s voting at international fora were to shift to reflect this new position, such a move would give Israel much diplomatic room to manoeuvre.

Of course there was whining from the Palestinian camp, but that is hardly news. It would only be newsworthy if they had welcomed such a visit.

As for Israel, PM Modi’s visit and the deepening of bilateral relations has very important implications on the diplomatic front. Firstly, it shows that Israel can improve foreign relations even in the absence of a peace process, as Raphael Ahren writes in the Times of Israel:

But amid all the compliments paid and deals struck, perhaps most striking about Modi’s historic visit were the things that weren’t mentioned. Iran — a close Indian ally — for example. The Islamic Republic’s ongoing destabilizing actions in the region and continuous calls for Israel’s destruction were not raised, or at least not publicly.

In meetings with world leaders, even those with good relations to Tehran, Netanyahu usually doesn’t shy away from talking about Iran. Last December in Astana, for instance, he asked Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to send a message to Tehran. “Ask … why Iran continues to threaten us with annihilation. Don’t you understand: we’re not a rabbit. We’re a tiger,” he said.

Hosting Modi, Netanyahu refrained from belligerent statements directed at Tehran, despite the fact that Iranian terrorists were responsible for a 2012 terror attack in New Delhi, during which an Israeli was wounded. India never made any arrests in this case.

More importantly, the Palestinian issue was entirely absent from Modi’s visit. The Indian leader’s intention to separate Delhi’s friendship to Israel from its support for the Palestinians was evident once it emerged that Modi would visit Israel but skip the Palestinian Authority. But it was even more remarkable that in several speeches Modi made in Israel, he never cited the issue.

In a two-page joint statement the governments of Israel and India released Wednesday, the two leaders dedicated but one of 22 paragraphs to their discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “They underlined the need for the establishment of a just and durable peace in the region,” the declaration read. “They reaffirmed their support for an early negotiated solution between the sides based on mutual recognition and security arrangements.”

The premier of India — a state which in 1947 opposed the UN Partition Plan and, 65 years later, supported granting the “State of Palestine” nonmember state status at the UN General Assembly — did not endorse Palestinian statehood once during his time here. He did not mention the two-state solution or the principle of two states for two peoples.

Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post similarly notes that Narendra Modi spent over two days in the country – and never once mentioned the Palestinians, nor did he visit them.

But one of the most refreshing aspects for Netanyahu was certainly that Modi did not publicly lecture or hector about the Palestinian issue. Had he come here and not coupled his visit with a quick trip to Ramallah to see Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, that – in Netanyahu’s eyes – would have been enough.

But Modi did even more than that. He didn’t even mention the Palestinians in public. He didn’t slam Israel for the settlements. And in the joint statement carefully drawn up by both sides spelling out the underpinnings of the relationship, the Palestinians were not mentioned until the 20th clause of a 22-clause document.

And even there, India – which was the first non-Muslim country in 1987 to recognize “Palestine” – spoke only generically about a “just and durable peace in the region,” without explicitly calling for a two-state solution.

Netanyahu had to wish that all his guests – especially those from Europe – behaved like Modi.

Why? What happened? How come Modi, whose country for decades was at the forefront of championing the Palestinian cause, did not even give the issue public lip service while here.

There are many reasons, some having to do with how Asians do business, others with how Modi prepared the ground for the trip, and still others dealing with India’s emerging power and status in the world.

First a word about style. India, unlike many of the European countries, does not like “megaphone diplomacy.”

One of the reasons, the officials said, is that India detests when other countries lecture and hector it about its fraught relationship with Pakistan, an indication New Delhi has internalized – at least when it comes to Israel – Hillel’s famous dictum about not doing to others what is hateful to you.

Secondly, Modi could get away with making this a strictly bilateral trip because he carefully prepared the ground for it.

Elected in 2014, there was talk that he would come to Israel already in the summer of 2015. He didn’t. He waited. He first went to Saudi Arabia, Iran, Qatar and Iran, where he obviously explained the nature of India’s relationship with Israel, and that improved ties with Israel would not come at their expense.

He also invited PA President Mahmoud Abbas to New Delhi in May, publicly supported a Palestinian state, and pledged that India’s historical support for the Palestinians would not waver.

In other words, he got all his ducks in a row before making his historic trip to Israel, something important from an Indian perspective considering that more than seven million Indians live and work in the Persian Gulf.

One of the reasons often given in the past for the brakes the Indians put on the relationship with Israel, was that a high-profile relationship would infuriate India’s Muslims.

It doesn’t.

India’s Muslims did not take to the streets when it became clear Modi wanted to visit, they didn’t raise a hue and cry. One conclusion is that the resonance of the Palestinian issue on the Muslim- populations in non-Arab countries is not as great as is often imagined. Another conclusion is that with all the turmoil in the Middle East, with the hundreds and thousands who have died in the region since the Arab Spring, the Palestinian issue has simply dropped as a priority issue.

If only other countries could learn from India and follow their lead, how different would the world, particularly the Middle East, look today.

And lastly, some highlights from PM Narendra Modi’s visit via the ToI link above:

The three-day visit was brimful with grand gestures — including plenty of Modi’s trademark hugs — and mutual declarations of love and admiration. Modi’s jam-packed itinerary comprised political talks with the government and the leader of the opposition, and secret talks on improving counter-terrorism coordination. There was an emotional meeting with an 11-year-old Jewish boy who lost his parents in the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. Modi addressed a Bollywood-infused concert/rally for Israelis with Indian roots. And after paying his respect to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, he spontaneously visited the nearby grave of Zionist visionary Theodor Herzl.

A floricultural center named a flower after him, and he took a stroll with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the beach. The photos of the two leaders, their bare feet in the water as they chatted about Israeli desalination techniques, will go down in history as one of the most iconic images to come out of Israel since Netanyahu and Barack Obama took off their suit jackets at Ben Gurion Airport in March 2013.

 

Watch the two leaders at the beach. 🙂

 

On the economic front, too, the visit will have an impressive lasting impact. Israel and India established a $40 million Industrial R&D and Innovation Fund, and individual companies from both nations signed deals worth millions. Jerusalem and Delhi signed seven bilateral agreements, covering technology, agriculture, water and even space research. “We already agreed that the sky is not the limit because we’re doing it in space, but I think that the talents that we have in India and Israel are amazing and the possibilities are amazing,” Netanyahu said Thursday at the launch of the Israel-India CEOs’ Forum.

Modi formally invited Netanyahu to visit India, something the Israeli leader had dreamed about for years.

On a more serious note, in a very moving and emotional moment , Modi met with Moshe Holzberg, the little boy who was saved by his Indian nanny during a terror attack in Mumbai in which his parents, Chabad emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holzberg Hy’d, were killed.

The 11-year-old son of Chabad emissaries who were murdered in a 2008 jihadist rampage in Mumbai told visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he loves India and wants to return to complete the mission of his slain parents, during an emotional meeting Wednesday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C-L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C-R) meet with Moshe Holtzberg (C), and his nanny Sandra Solomon and with other relatives at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on July 5, 2017. ( AFP PHOTO / POOL / ATEF SAFADI)

Modi met with Moshe Holtzberg, pulling the boy close for an embrace and telling him that he would always be welcome in India.

Moshe’s nanny, Sandra Samuel, escaped from the Nariman Chabad House carrying 2-year-old Moshe in November 2008 after the building came under siege. Four Jewish victims were killed, including Moshe’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. Samuel has remained in Israel and was at the meeting as well.

At their meeting at a hotel in Tel Aviv, Modi immediately embraced Moshe, pulling him close and cupping his head against his chest before inviting him to come back to India.

The boy, accompanied by his grandparents who are raising him, welcomed the Indian premier to Israel.

Wearing a lapel pin with Indian and Israeli flags, he read out a message in halting English, telling Modi, “I hope I will be able to visit Mumbai, and when I get older, live there. I will be the director of our Chabad House” in place of his murdered father. “With God’s help, this is my answer.”

“Dear Mr. Modi,” Holtzberg concluded, “I love you and your people in India.”

I challenge you to have a dry eye at seeing this courageous little boy, all grown up, speaking two or three languages, and having developed so well thanks to his brave nanny Sandra Solomon and his wonderful grandparents and family.

And one more item from Modi’s visit to conclude this enjoyable post:

The Indian-Israeli community went gaga over Modi’s visit, celebrating in a jubilant fashion:

On Wednesday, thousands of Indian Israelis gathered in the city to greet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a glitzy, wild welcome for the first premier from their home country to visit the Jewish state.

Brightly colored Indian saris mingled with jeans and t-shirts — and not a few kippot and religious headscarves — at Wednesday’s event, which began with several Bollywood dance acts and a concert.

Members of the Indian community in Israel celebrate during the official visit of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Convention Center in Tel Aviv, on July 5, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

 

Bollywood dancing at festivities celebrating Modi’s visit to Israel

“It gives me chills,” said Naomi Yakub, who immigrated to Israel from India in the early 1970s and is part of a community of some 100,000 Indian Jews living in the country. For the Jewish community in Israel, “a meeting like this we haven’t had in 45 years,” she said.

“We love India, because we were born there and our parents are there,” added her friend Tal Shulamith, now a resident of Be’er Yaakov in central Israel. “It’s very emotional.”

But the culmination of the community’s raw elation was reserved for the moment Modi and Netanyahu walked on stage to Academy Award-level applause and a solid two-minute standing ovation. The leaders — Modi dressed in blue-and-beige, Netanyahu in a blue tie — clasped hands triumphantly in the air.

“Modi! Modi! Modi!” chanted the observers, some of whom wore “I am a fan of Narendra Modi” t-shirts.

Hailing the strong bilateral ties between the two countries for 25 years, Netanyahu noted that “we always remember that there’s a human bridge between us — you. We admire you, we respect you, we love you.”

Taking the stage after Netanyahu, Modi gave a lengthy speech in Hindi to the crowd of mostly Indian immigrants.

“For the first time in 70 years an Indian PM has got an opportunity to visit Israel,” his office wrote on Twitter in English simultaneously. “This is a matter of joy.”

For Israel’s Indian community, it certainly was.

Not only for Israel’s Indian community. For all of us.

Safe journey home Mr. Modi. May our two countries continue on the path to deep and warm relations for our mutual benefit.

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

Modi’s visit: Strategic leap in Indian-Israeli ties

July 4, 2017

Modi’s visit: Strategic leap in Indian-Israeli ties, DEBKAfile, July 4, 2017

Narendra Modi’s three-day visit Israel on 4 July is imbued with symbolism, breathtaking benefits to the two countries and an era of promise for both. Its timing underlines the slow upswing in ties from years of aloofness to the establishment of diplomatic ties 25 years ago and the onset of flourishing relations ever since.

Modi stands out for Israel – not just as the first Indian prime minister to visit, but also as a prominent world leader willing to skip the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, thereby removing the automatic bracket attached to most foreign visits. This gesture is appreciated in Israel no less than booming defense deals totaling more than $1 billion a year and the joint projects in water management, cyberspace, data protection, agricultural innovation, medicine, digitalization and numberless other fields with the world’s fastest growing major economy. Fighting terrorism and sustainable development are watchwords shared by one of the largest and one of the smallest Asian nations.

On the eve of his visit, the Indian leader spoke of Israel’s innovativeness, high technological attainments and economic success against all odds, in the face of few natural resources and decades of near-isolation. He saw his visit as a turning point for catapulting the two countries to new horizons.

Since Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party stormed to power in 2014, New Delhi has signed more big-ticket defense deals than ever before for his program of updating his country’s Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing rivalry with China and Pakistan.

While Russia – followed by the United States in recent years – remains India’s top defense supplier, Israel is fast catching up. In April 2017, Israel Aerospace netted its biggest ever contract to supply the Indian armed forces with $2 billion worth of the groundbreaking Barak 8  Medium Range-Surface to Air Missiles as well as Long Range-Surface to Air Missiles for India’s warships and its first indigenous aircraft carrier, the Vikrant.

The two-way trade between the two countries amounting to $4.16 billion gives Israel a large surplus of $2.4 billion in exports compared with $1.7 billion of imported Indian products.

Prime Minister Modi will certainly want to discuss with Israel’s leaders ways to correct this imbalance. Many of the defense deals already signed include military components to be manufactured in plants established in India for this purpose. The two governments also work together in a joint industrial R&D fund which provides funding for industries carrying out bilateral research projects.

While computerized drip irrigation developed by Israel is gaining extensive use in India, New Delhi is also interested in the Israeli start-up ecosystem and incubation centers.

It was in a far-distant age, that Prime Minister Indira Ghandi authorized the Indian army to buy weapons from Israel during India’s 1971 war with Pakistan. But the sale had to go through Liechtenstein after Ghandi turned down Golda Meir’s request for India to recognize the fledgling Jewish state. It took 21 years and a new era for both countries to correct that omission..

While in Jerusalem, the Indian prime minister plans to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial center. Touching a moment in past history, he will also pay his respects to the memory of the Indian soldiers who laid down their lives for the liberation of Haifa by the British army in 1918. From Jerusalem, Modi travels to Hamburg, Germany, for the G-20 summit beginning later this week.