Narendra Modi’s natural sympathies for Israel, as a Hindu nationalist with a dim view of Muslims, including those who wish to destroy Israel, have now meshed with a new kind of realpolitik calculation: that Israel can do far more for Indian security, than any other potential partner, against a common Islamic enemy that consists of terrorist groups and state actors. Israel is now able to supply India with advanced weaponry, including anti-tank and surface-to-air missiles and drones that in some cases, is superior to what either the U.S. or Russia is willing to sell, and to share with India technology, know-how, and intelligence that is of immense value to that country as it continues to develop its own weapons industry. And Israel has also been willing to share its expertise to build the Indian economy. This includes every aspect of irrigation and water management, especially advances in drip irrigation (which Israelis were the first to use), in desalinization plants (where Israel is a world leader), in its expertise in using treated sewage in agriculture (ditto). Israel has also become a pioneer in many aspects of agricultural research and technology, with innovative work in developing crop cultivars suitable for arid climates, and otherwise reducing the water consumption of crops. This Israeli know-how, and technological advances in water use and crop management, have become an important part of its exports to India.
Finally, India has something to learn from Israel about how best to encourage innovation, how to nurture, promote, and sustain a climate of innovation and of entrepreneurship, and what legal and financial frameworks most effectively encourage the ”start-up.”
In every aspect of Israel’s relations with India, the Jewish state has consistently proven its worth.
When Modi’s party won in a landslide, this past May, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a great booster of ever-closer ties with India, was the first foreign leader to congratulate Modi. Relations between India and Israel have been so spectacularly on the upswing for both sides during the past five years that it is impossible to imagine any undoing of this new alliance, and it certainly will not happen as long as Modi’s BJP is in power. But will this military, and security alliance, and these ever-closer economic ties, lead to a different Indian policy at the U.N.? Will India finally break publicly with the kangaroo court that sits, in continuous session, at the U.N., with Israel always in the dock?
Modi visited Israel in July 2017. That visit, the first by any Indian Prime Minister, should be noted not just for the evident sympathy and admiration for Israel that Modi repeatedly expressed, but also for what he did not do. He did not bother to visit, as so many other visiting dignitaries to Israel routinely do, the “Palestinian Authority” in Ramallah, only 30 minutes from Jerusalem. He did not once mention “Palestine” or the “Palestinian people.” The “Palestinian” leaders in Ramallah were no doubt in a rage, but what could they do? Modi’s studied indifference will only make similar treatment of the “Palestinians” by other world leaders visiting Israel more likely — no one wants to be the first, but now that Modi has done it without any consequences, others — seeing there were no repercussions — can, if they wish, follow suit.
The India-Israel love affair has been a long time in the maing. But it is a real one, that goes deeper than arms sales and trade. A shared history of being victims of Islamic aggression, in having their lands seized and their own histories rewritten by Muslims, an awareness in both Israel and India that Hind India was one of a very few places in the world where there never was antisemitism, even the Israeli awareness that it was an Indian regiment that drove the Muslim Turks out of Haifa in 1918, and the Indian awareness that Gandhi’s indispensable first supporters were South African Jews, and the fascination with India of young Israelis who after their military service so often choose India as the place to travel and decompress, and the admiration of Hindus for what the Jews in their tiny state — with less than 1% both of India’s population and its land area — have managed to accomplish, and the recognition that Israel and India are the only true democracies in western Asia, all contribute to this alliance of interest, of affection, of esteem.
Now India under Modi can do something besides sign contracts and arrange deals with Israelis, do more than have Prime Minister Modi exchange with Prime Minister Netanyahu those extravagant words of praise and bear hugs. In 2015, under Modi, India began to abstain from, rather than vote in favor of, anti-Israel resolutions, at the U.N., UNESCO, and the U.N. Human Rights Commission, including those having to do with bringing Israel before the I.C.C. for supposed “war crimes” in Gaza. It has continued to abstain on similar resolutions in 2016 and 2017. This is an important shift, from Yes to Abstain. But it has not been across the board. In 2016 India still voted in favor of a new resolution that would set up a database of Israeli and international firms working in the “illegal Israeli settlements.” Such a database, of course, could be useful for enforcing threats of retribution against those found to be listed.
This May, an anti-Israel resolution at UNESCO denying Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem (including the Western Wall) was again proposed. In April 2016, a similar resolution had garnered 33 Yes votes; in October 2016 there were only 24 Yes votes. In the latest, May 2016 vote, only 22 countries voted yes. The most important shift was that of India, from Yes to Abstain, much commented upon at the time.
And after that vote change, the sky did not fall for India. Expressions of dismay came from Ramallah. But the Muslim states did nothing. After all, what could they have done? In a buyer’s market, could they have refused to sell India oil, thereby pushing India still more in the direction of renewable sources of energy? Could they have threatened to support the Kashmiri Muslims more than they already do? How, exactly? Could Indian Muslims threaten to vote against the BJP? They already do, and Modi won in a landslide. Modi is not indifferent to Muslim desires; he is openly hostile to them, and has no intention of hiding it.
Owing nothing to Muslim voters, deeply conscious of the wound inflicted on Hindu India by its Muslim conquerors, Modi is in a position to solldify and strengthen, from the Indian side, the new alliance with Israel. The Israelis have done everything possible to aid India, supplying military aid during three wars, sending technology and knowhow to improve Indian agriculture, helping India to develop its high-tech industry, and supplying its military in peace-time with top-of-the-line weapons and intelligence. India, in turn, has signaled a shift in its diplomacy, from being reflexively anti-Israel under the rule of the Congress Party, to choosing to abstain on anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.
Now India can, and should, go further. Instead of continuing to abstain on those endless anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N., India ought to go one step further, and from now on, cast forthrightly a series of “No” votes.. This will signify that India is no longer going to placate Muslim states. They will shrilly object, but that’s about all. Muslim terrorists, based mainly in Pakistan, are already doing their best to “strike terror in the hearts” of the Hindu infidels; they will not do more because of India’s votes at the U.N. There is no oil weapon with which to “punish” India. And Israel, in what it provides both in peace and in war, is more valuable to India than all the members of the O.I.C. put together.
Along with casting its “No” votes on every anti-Israel resolution, India could also undo some of the damage done to Israel when the Congress Party held power in New Delhi. It could end its recognition, and close down the Indian office, of the PLO, an organization that long ago reverted to its terrorist ways (having briefly ceased them, for cosmetic reasons, during the heyday of the Oslo Accords), and that has been officially named as a terrorist organization by the governments of the U.S. and Israel. Even more important would be a change by the newly-elected Modi government, so that irt would withdraw the earlier recognition by a Congress-ruled government, in 1988, of the “state of Palestine.” Such a startling reconsideration would greatly improve Israel’s diplomatic position and damage that of those whose aim is not to create a state “living in peace side-by-side with Israel” as some of them so mendaciously insist, but to create a state that will continue to carry on, from a more favorable position, the Jihad against what remains of Israel, until Arab Palestine controls all the territory “from the river to the sea.” India owes the Muslim states nothing; Islam over many centuries brought misery and death to Hindus; tens of thousands of Hindu temples and temple complexes were destroyed; between 70 to 80 million Hindus were killed by their Muslim conquerors, according to the Indian historian K. S. Lal. India could reject its previous position of recognizing “Palestine,” a would-be state whose whole reason for being is to destroy the Jewish state, and by that reversal, India might thereby cement its alliance with Israel, from which it has already gained so much.
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