Bibi and Modi frolic in the Med, as the Indian-Israeli love affair deepens

July 06, 2017



[Note by Tom Gross]

The ongoing historic visit of India’s Narendra Modi to Israel (the first by an Indian prime minister), spanning three days, has not received as much international media coverage as it might – perhaps because Modi becomes the first world leader in living memory to refuse to also pay a courtesy call to the Palestinian leadership by visiting them in Ramallah or Bethlehem.

As part of an action-packed schedule, now in its third day, Modi and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu this morning waded into the Mediterranean Sea as they visited a revolutionary Israeli-invented Mobile Desalination Unit (photo above).

The series of desalination plants Israel has built along its coast now supplies most of the water to the country’s homes, relieving Israel of the chronic water shortages it once suffered, as it pumps increasing amounts of water from the sea.

Arid nations and states around the world – from California to Egypt – are expected to copy Israel’s world leading centralized water management system.

You can watch a video of the two leaders wading in the waters here.

Modi and Netanyahu also signed a wide-ranging series of economic agreements as India, soon to the world’s most populous country, seeks Israeli help in agriculture, medicine, aerospace, defense and other areas.

As Nirpal Dhaliwal, a writer for India Today, says in the Haaretz article below:

“India’s prime minister has declared independence from the limited, privileged worldview of previous Indian leaders who adopted wholesale the British left’s coldness towards Israel.”

I attach for article extracts and four articles below.

-- Tom Gross



1. “Modi and Netanyahu begin a beautiful friendship” (By Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal)
2. “India’s Pro-Arab stance was never rewarded by the Arab world” (By Harsh V. Pant, Indian Daily Mail, July 4, 2017)
3. Israel, India sign sweeping trade and research agreements (Israel Hayom)
4. Modi meets Israeli boy who survived terror attack on Mumbai Jewish center (Yediot Ahronot)
5. “Diplomacy in action: The India-Israel Breakthrough” (By Walter Russell Mead, The American Interest, July 3, 2017)
6. “Lovefest with Israel signals India’s final rejection of the Raj” (By Nirpal Dhaliwal, Haaretz, July 6, 2017)
7. “The touchy issue [Iran] left off the agenda of Modi’s visit to Israel” (By Barak Ravid, Haaretz, July 6, 2017)
8. “As India and Israel embrace, talk about a ‘Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy is spiking in Pakistan: Even though conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism are ubiquitous in Pakistan, Modi’s visit to Israel has led them to alarming new heights” (By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid, Haaretz, July 6, 2017)
9. “Modi is coming to Jerusalem” (By Prof. Efraim Inbar, Asia Pacific Bulletin, June 7, 2017)




Tunku Varadarajan writes in The Wall Street Journal:

No Indian premier considered visiting Israel for fear of upsetting India’s Arab allies - and, thereby, its supply of oil - as well as its sizable Muslim population. In truth, India and Israel have long done clandestine business. Israel helped India with weapons in its war with Pakistan in 1965. India returned the favor in 1967 when it gave Israel spare parts for its Ouragan and Mystere fighter planes. Israel played a key role in helping India win its war with Pakistan in 1999, with its supply of Searcher-1 drones.

With the global surplus in oil and gas, India no longer fears an Arab backlash to its embrace of Israel. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973, the Saudis ordered India to shut down Israel’s Consulate in Bombay or face a cutoff of oil. Indira Gandhi refused, and the country had to resort to a deal with the shah’s Iran that involved paying huge sums into a slush fund for a senior member of the shah’s household.

The world’s biggest democracy is now unabashedly in Israel’s corner. Modi and Netanyahu have formally acknowledged a civilizational bond between two peoples that share many of the same values and all of the same fears. India and Israel are allies for the long haul. The writer is a fellow in journalism at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.



Harsh V. Pant writes in The Indian Daily Mail:

India is no longer initiating anti-Israel resolutions at the UN and has made serious attempts to moderate the Non-Aligned Movement’s anti-Israel resolutions. This re-evaluation has been based on a realization that India’s largely pro-Arab stance in West Asia has not been adequately rewarded by the Arab world.

India has received no worthwhile backing from the Arab countries in the resolution of problems it faces in Kashmir. There have been no serious attempts by the Arab world to put pressure on Pakistan to reign in cross-border insurgency in Kashmir. On the contrary, the Arab nations have firmly stood by Pakistan, using the Organization of Islamic Conference to build support for Islamabad and the jihadi groups in Kashmir.



Israel Hayom Reports:

Israel and India signed a series of sweeping trade, commerce, and research and development treaties during Indian Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel. Representatives from large Indian corporations signed trade agreements in the fields of industry, security, energy and medicine. The two countries will collaborate on adapting Israeli technologies to the extreme conditions of outer space. Another treaty will see Israel and India establish an international network aimed at cultivating young leaders worldwide.



Yediot Ahronot reports:

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Wednesday with Moshe Holtzberg, now ten years old, whose parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, were murdered in the 2008 terror attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai. Moshe, who was 2 years old at the time, survived the attack thanks to his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, who came with him to Israel and was granted Israeli citizenship.



Diplomacy in action: The India-Israel Breakthrough
By Walter Russell Mead
The American Interest
July 3, 2017

This week, Narendra Modi will make history as India’s first Prime Minister to make an official visit to Israel. As the FT reports, he will be putting the Palestinian issue aside to forge closer ties on defense, agriculture, tech, and trade:

“Mr Modi’s trip, which begins on Tuesday, puts the seal on an increasingly close relationship, underpinned especially by billions of dollars in arms sales. […]

“During the three-day visit, Mr Modi will discuss trade with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as addressing a crowd of around 4,000 people of Indian origin in Tel Aviv.

“But he is not planning to travel to Ramallah to visit Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. While Mr Modi hosted Mr Abbas in Delhi last month, this trip will be focused on India’s expanding defence, technological and commercial ties with the Jewish state.

“Mr Modi is de-hyphenating relations,” says PR Kumaraswamy, who teaches on the Middle East at Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Its links with Israel are no longer merely an aspect of its policy towards the Palestinians.”

25 years after establishing formal diplomatic ties, the India-Israel partnership is stepping out of the shadows. In part, theirs is a relationship built on defense dollars: as India makes a mad dash to modernize its military and upgrade its arsenal, Israel has become its third-largest arms supplier, with $599 million worth of weapons sold last year. And if April’s $2 billion arms deal is any indication, that figure will only rise in years to come, as Delhi turns to Israeli expertise on missile defense and cyber technology to boost its own capabilities, particularly along the Pakistani border.

The bilateral economic relationship has been blossoming in other sectors, too. When Modi visits Israel this week, he will bring 15 top executives from Indian firms like Wipro and Reliant to establish a joint CEO forum with Israel. That is a sign of how innovative commercial exchanges are already transforming the relationship. In the agriculture sector, for instance, Israeli water recycling technology is helping India grow food more efficiently; Israel has also established 26 agricultural expertise centers in India to teach local farmers new tricks. In the cyber field, meanwhile, Israel Aerospace Industries is working with local Indian partners on space cooperation and developing high-res radar satellites. All this redounds to India’s benefit; expect more high-profile deals in crucial sectors to be announced during Modi’s trip.

But this is not just a story about a transactional exchange of arms, money, and expertise. It is also about the successful expansion of Israeli diplomacy away from Europe. From the Gulf to Africa to all across Asia, Israeli diplomacy is more active and diversified than ever before.

This is important for many reasons, but fundamentally it reflects a recognition that Israel is not a West European state. Much of Israel’s population consists of refugees from the Arab world, many of whom fled or were driven from their ancestral homes by Arabs enraged and humiliated by Israeli victories in 1949, 1957 and 1967. Others come from parts of Russia that were never part of the West.

Israel’s integration into the non-western world was delayed by Arab hostility. But Arab power is weakening: of the world’s major cultural and economic regions, only sub-Saharan Africa has had less economic and political development since World War Two than the Arab world. As OPEC’s power over world oil prices declines, and as sectarian war and political failure rip the Arab world apart, Israeli tech prowess and close links to the United States make it a valued partner for more and more of the postcolonial world.

Westerners who judge Israeli leaders solely by their willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians have long considered Netanyahu a frustrating figure and a poor strategist. Frustrating he may be, but Israel’s steady progress in reducing its diplomatic isolation while diversifying its exports on his watch is a significant accomplishment. It’s difficult to think of any Western leaders who have done as much to advance their country’s interests. The fact that Netanyahu has done more to build Israeli ties with the third world than Obama managed to achieve for the U.S. is one of the ironies of the modern world.

As one of the world’s tech leaders, as a pioneer in cyberwar defense, as an emerging natural gas exporter, as a leader in desalinization and irrigation tech, and as one of the most accomplished arms producers in a world that is rapidly rearming, Israel is poised for a new era of diplomatic progress.



Modi visit: Lovefest with Israel signals India’s final rejection of the Raj

India’s prime minister has declared independence from the limited, privileged worldview of previous leaders who adopted wholesale the British left’s coldness towards Israel

By Nirpal Dhaliwal
July 6, 2017

Narendra Modi’s arrival in Israel marks not only an epochal moment in India-Israel relations, but also the final rejection of the psychological Raj that has hampered Indian diplomacy for so long - since independence in 1947.

While Jawarhalal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, fought for freedom from Britain, he and the wider political establishment that surrounded him were very much creations of the British and inheritors of their limited thinking.

A product of Harrow, Cambridge and London’s Inner Temple, Nehru swallowed the grandstanding logic of Britain’s bourgeois Left, adopting their ideas on many issues, from five-year economic plans to India’s foreign policy – including, of course, a coldness towards Israel, refusing diplomatic ties with a ‘colonial’ state and supporting the Palestinians instead.

This same pomposity compelled him to lecture the Americans on their moral failures while simultaneously asking them to give his people the food that his own policies could not provide: a tradition continued by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who also enjoyed lecturing the world while failing to meet her population’s most basic needs.

Narendra Modi, however, is a very different character. He is neither the product of privilege nor of a British education, but the barefooted son of a chai-wallah who has clawed his way to the Prime Minister’s office, with a clearer and far more authentic understanding of his people’s needs than any Indian leader to date. For him, the national interest will always take priority over any political fashion.

Some have remarked that this trip represents a cynical marriage of convenience between two nationalist anti-Muslim prime ministers, but any Israeli leader, not just Benjamin Netanyahu, would find a friend in Modi, who is attracted by Israel’s intellectual and economic dynamism and the contribution it can make to his country, rather than any shared bigotry. Those who think this relationship is part of a wider Islamophobic menage a trois that includes Donald Trump conveniently overlook Modi’s strong relationship with leaders across the Islamic world – Pakistan aside – and also with Barack Obama, who put up no resistance to Modi staging a gala for 60,000 Indian ex-pats in Central Park.

The strength of his position in the Muslim world is evidenced by the general silence from them regarding this visit. “Iran will not dictate to India who it should be friends with,” the Iranian ambassador to India respectfully acknowledged recently.

A major importer of Middle Eastern oil, with a huge ex-pat community in the region – doing $30 billion in annual trade with UAE alone – India is being wooed across the Arab world and has been visited in recent times by the leaders of Turkey, Morocco and Oman: none of them have raised the matter of India’s relations with Israel.

And those who think Modi’s visit is, in part, to humiliate his domestic Muslims should remember that Muslims in India are not Arabs, nor do they emulate Arabs, as Pakistanis do. They are Indians, with roots as deep in Indian history as any Hindu, and are the products of the same multicultural tolerance that is India’s native tradition. Anti-Israeli sentiment has never been strong among them, as the many young Israelis who’ve travelled among India’s 180 million Muslims can testify. That the world’s second largest Islamic population is so at ease with Israel is something that should be far more widely known and advertised.

Israel and India are compatible in so many ways. Both democracies are ancient civilizations that have endured a great deal and today stand in the world on their own terms, in full possession of the wisdom of their experiences. And, like the Jewish people, Indians are to be found all over the planet, making a success of themselves in every field of endeavor. The two peoples are exceptionally well suited to the challenges and opportunities of globalization, having a deeper tradition of productive co-existence than most others.

This understanding of the dynamics of globalization have, I think, brought the two countries closer together more than any other consideration. Just as Israel has kept itself intimately connected with its diaspora, Narendra Modi has reached out to India’s thirty million-strong ex-pat community to enhance his country’s engagement with the world. While being deeply rooted in their own traditions, both Indians and Israelis are extremely international in their outlook and sensibility.

“India wants the world not just to be interconnected but also that it should be sensibly run,” said Angela Merkel during Modi’s recent trip to Germany. And in his later meeting with Emmanuel Macron, he pledged that India would go “above and beyond” its commitments in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Modi is committed to India responsibly taking its rightful place in an increasingly integrated world, and in Israel he sees a partner that is uniquely equipped to make that happen: a democracy that shares India’s own deep cosmopolitanism and international mindset, and that seeks to capitalize on the opportunities of a fast-changing world through enterprise and innovation. Such a proudly independent program is indeed a thorough repudiation of the Raj mindset.

(Nirpal Dhaliwal is a British-Indian writer whose work has appeared in India Today)



The touchy issue left off the agenda of India PM Modi’s visit to Israel

Netanyahu didn’t exaggerate when he called Indian PM Modi’s visit ‘historic.’ Wishing to avoid discord over India’s ties to Iran, visit focuses on civilian issues

By Barak Ravid
July 6, 2017

As soon as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi disembarked from his giant 747 aircraft at Ben-Gurion Airport he gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu one of his famous warm embraces. Netanyahu was in a very good mood and even appeared excited. “This is a historic day,” he told his Indian counterpart, shaking his hand for a long time.

As opposed to many instances in the past, this time Netanyahu wasn’t exaggerating. This is the first visit of an Indian prime minister to Israel. The atmosphere and the political context of the visit are also historic. Modi severed the permanent connection that India had made between promoting and openly displaying its ties with Israel and its position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He even elegantly skipped a visit to Ramallah. Netanyahu would want this trend to manifest itself in India’s voting in the United Nations – it’s too soon to tell whether it will.

The visit’s itinerary was also unusual. The subjects to be discussed are almost entirely civilian – a visit to a flower farm and discussions on cooperation in agriculture, talks on joint space projects and meetings with dozens of directors of companies in the private sector to encourage business. This is refreshing normalcy around here.

A diplomatic-security issue that is expected to come up is cooperation in the fight against terror. Both Netanyahu and Modi mentioned this in their public statements at the beginning of their dinner together. When Modi talks about terror, he means Jihadist groups identified with Al-Qaida and the Taliban which, encouraged and backed by Pakistani intelligence, commit terror attacks against India. The Indians are glad to accept any Israeli assistance in this area – both on the practical level and in terms of Israeli diplomatic support.

But there is terror that the Indians are not anxious to discuss. Five and a half years ago, Iranian agents carried out an attack against Israeli diplomats in New Delhi – within spitting distance of Modi’s office. The wife of the Defense Ministry attaché in India, Tali Yehoshua-Koren, was wounded in the attack and Israel’s ambassador to India, Daniel Carmon told the mass-circulation Hindustan Times last February in an interview that Israel would not rest until the last of the assailants stood trial. But the fact is that the Indians have not yet tried even the first of those involved.

In the months after the attack the Indians investigated and even arrested and indicted an Indian citizen on suspicion of assisting the assailants. But a short time later the Indians let the investigation disintegrate. The suspect was released and no verdict has been issued to this day. Moreover, although the Indians know full well that Iran was behind the attack, they still refuse to admit it officially and point a finger at the regime in Tehran.

Ahead of Modi’s visit the Foreign Ministry treated questions about India’s conduct in the attack like radioactive waste. “The government of India is not covering up the investigation of the attack,” Ambassador Carmon said when asked about it in a press briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Monday. “We continue to raise the matter,” he added.

But off the record, senior officials in the defense establishment and the Foreign Ministry concede that the issue has been covered up and made to go away by the Indians, who acted anemically toward the Iranians due to a long list of other interests that were more important. The Indians, who maintain close ties to Tehran in the areas of trade and energy, politely asked the Iranians not to commit any more attacks on Israeli targets in India, and swept the matter under the rug.

For the past eight years, the Iranian issue has been at the top of Netanyahu’s agenda in almost every meeting with foreign leaders, especially key powers. Since the signing of the nuclear agreement with Iran, and more so in the past year, the prime minister has spoken repeatedly about Iranian involvement in terror in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world. Netanyahu and his officials in the Foreign Ministry protest every trip of a European foreign minister or economic minister to Iran.

But ahead of the Modi visit, Foreign Ministry officials made every attempt to take the Iranian issue off the public and media agenda. Even if the issue comes up in the talks to be held in closed rooms during the visit, it is not expected to dominate the conversation. The reason is the desire to avoid any dispute during Modi’s visit, especially a public one, as well as to promote economic interests with India. One can understand the Indian cover-up; less understandable is why Israel is lending it a hand.



As India and Israel embrace, talk about a ‘Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy is spiking in Pakistan

Even though conspiracy theories and anti-Semitism are ubiquitous in Pakistan, Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel has led them to alarming new heights

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid
July 6, 2017

The three most popular articles on Dawn, Pakistan’s most popular English newspaper, this Wednesday, related to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Israel visit. That level of interest, and its frequently conspiracist turn, isn’t surprising for anyone familiar with popular Pakistani narratives on most issues, domestic or foreign.

That a ‘Zionist-Hindu’ conspiracy is behind most of Pakistan’s problems is an idea held by many of the country’s officials, and that the jihadists targeting the state are actually Jews or Hindus, a popular conspiracy theory.

That the Indian intelligence agency’s Research & Analysis Wing is trying to enforce radical Islam through these jihadist groups, is the implied narrative of the Pakistani state, which stresses that the likes of Taliban are funded by India and linked to the Mossad as well.

The Pakistani Defense Minister issued a nuclear threat to Israel last year over a fake news report, and it isn’t uncommon for state officials to highlight proximity to Israel as a feature of its nuclear-capable ballistic missiles’ reach.

It is under this backdrop that the mainstream news channels have been busy underlining the ‘joint Indian-Israeli plot to destroy Pakistani nuclear weapons’ or Israel’s long-held desire to ‘rule the world’ with New Delhi’s help, as the actual reason behind Modi’s visit.

While some English publications covered the Israeli foreign ministry’s recent statement that there was ‘no difference between Lashkar-e-Taiba or Hamas’, the mainstream media, especially the popular Urdu publications, interpreted the Israel: India alliance against terrorism as a hostile Israeli declaration against Pakistan.

With Pakistani nationalism deemed synonymous with Islam, and perpetuated as such in school curricula, the Modi-Netanyahu meeting was commonly characterized as a ‘declaration of war against Islam’ in the Pakistani media and among mainstream opinion makers as well.

While the conspiracy theorists are interpreting the meetup as the formal Indo-Israeli announcement of the ideological – and nuclear – war against Pakistan and Islam, the more realistic discussion on developments in Tel Aviv has centered around the arms deals between the two states, which of course have direct strategic implications for Pakistan.

Where the realists and conspiracists overlap is in delineating the commonalities in the Modi and Netanyahu-led governments, and the occupations of Kashmir and Palestine respectively. Underscoring the ‘troika’ of Trump, Modi and Netanyahu and their ‘anti-Muslim agendas’ is also an area in which the two camps find common ground.

Even though the Israeli Defense Force’s actions are often used to create a false equivalence between Zionism and Islamism among the progressive circles in Pakistan, the critique of state brutalities in Kashmir or Palestine is mostly based on genuine human rights concerns among the liberal opinion-makers.

Pakistan is among the 31 states that don’t recognize Israel. While the liberal sections of the population, and those representing the country overseas, would have you believe that this is owing to the occupation of West Bank and Gaza – which doesn’t explain the refusal to recognize Israel between 1948 and 1967 –popular opinion in the country is against Israel’s right to exist.

Like most Muslim countries, this sentiment is rooted in the prevailing anti-Semitism in the country, which is inherent to Islamism – an ideology which dominates Pakistani policymaking. This is why yahoodi, the Urdu word for Jew, is a common slur in the country, and yahoodi saazish (Jewish conspiracy) a ubiquitous two-word explanation for most of its ills.

The irony in Pakistan’s ideological position on Israel is that these are the only two post-colonial states founded on religious nationalism. This is what has prompted arguments in favor of Pakistan reviewing its stance on Israel being published in the local media as well.

This, however, remains a fringe opinion even in liberal circles, with support for Pakistan’s ties with Israel being deemed synonymous with ignoring the Palestinian plight – although no such sensitivity is on display for Tibetans, Turkestanis, Cypriots or Kurds, with China and Turkey among Pakistan’s closest allies.

This taboo on diplomacy with Israel, coupled with prevailing anti-Semitism and ensuing conspiracy theories, have ensured that any meetings between officials of the two states have remained behind the scenes.

In 2012, former president Pervez Musharraf said in an interview with Haaretz that ‘relations with Israel could help Pakistan’. It was Musharraf’s foreign minister Khursheed Kasuri’s meeting with his Israeli counterpart in 2005 that remains the only publicly acknowledged talks between the two states.

But while the then mulling of diplomatic ties with Israel might’ve been a corollary of Pakistan firmly being in the U.S. camp, Washington’s recent snubbing of Pakistan and the growth of its relations with New Delhi, seemed to have closed that particular window for Islamabad, which has put all its bets on Beijing.

Even so, with Pakistan militarily spearheading the Saudi ‘Islamic’ coalition aligned against Iran, Tel Aviv and Islamabad’s interests in the Middle East shouldn’t clash. But the growing Indo-Israeli defense ties, and conflation of militancy affecting the two states, could mean Pakistan upping the ante vis-à-vis Palestine, as a global vehicle for its Kashmir narrative – especially among the Arab states.

This should mean ‘Zionist-Hindu conspiracies’ skyrocketing in the near future.

(Kunwar Khuldune Shahid is a Pakistan-based journalist and a Correspondent at The Diplomat.)



Modi Is Coming to Jerusalem
By Prof. Efraim Inbar
Asia Pacific Bulletin
June 7, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The first trip to Israel by an Indian prime minister reflects the significant expansion in relations between the two countries that has taken place since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992. The burgeoning relationship is based on similar strategic agendas and buttressed by extensive defense ties. Modi’s government has shed its predecessors’ reservations about regular public discussions regarding India’s ties with Israel and has even modified voting patterns at multilateral fora.


At the beginning of July, Narendra Modi will arrive for a first-ever visit by an Indian PM to Israel. This trip reflects the significant expansion in relations between the two countries that has taken place since the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1992.

Since Modi and the BJP came to power in May 2014, his administration has shed its predecessors’ reservations about regular public discourse regarding India’s ties with Israel. It is worthy of note that Modi’s trip to Israel is not planned to be “balanced” with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has freed its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. Indeed, India has modified its voting pattern at international organizations by refraining to join the automatic majority against Israel.

India and Israel display high levels of threat perception and share a common strategic agenda. Both have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low‐intensity conflict and terror, as they are both involved in protracted conflicts characterized by complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Both face weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the hands of their rivals.

The two nations share a common threat: radical offshoots of Islam in the greater Middle East. Israel regards parts of the Arab world – Saudi Arabia in particular – as hubs for Islamic extremism, while India views Saudi‐Pakistani relations with suspicion. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals.

For Israel, Islamic radicals in the Arab world and in the Islamic Republic of Iran constitute a constant security challenge. This challenge has become more acute as Iran’s nuclear potential has grown. The more recent ISIS phenomenon has ramifications beyond the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, as its offshoots threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan – Israel’s neighbors – and are increasingly sources of concern in south and southeast Asia.

India has gradually overcome its inhibitions and engaged in security cooperation with Israel. In the wake of diplomatic normalization in 1992, then Indian Defense Minister Sharad Pawar admitted to having already cooperated with Israel on counterterrorism. This cooperation, which involves exchange of information on the finances, recruitment patterns, and training of terrorist groups, is conducted away from the public eye. The November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks underscored the need for better counterterrorism preparations in India and elicited greater cooperation with Israeli agencies.

Arms supply and technology transfer have become important components in the bilateral relationship. Initially, Russian failure to deliver promised weapons at expected prices and/or schedules led India to turn to Israeli companies to upgrade some of its aging Soviet platforms, such as its Mig‐21s and T‐72 tank fleet.

Difficulties in the development of weapons systems at home have led to the purchase of Israeli products and to partnership in developing advanced military technology. New Delhi purchased advanced radar and communications equipment from Israel, as well as portable battlefield radars, hand‐held thermals, night warfare vision equipment, and electronic fences to improve border monitoring. A long list of Israeli military items, such as ammunition, UAV parts, and even missiles (Spike anti‐armor, the Python‐4 air‐to‐air, naval Barak‐8 surface‐to‐air) are being produced in India.

Examples of high-end items include the airborne Phalcon radar Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) , which is mounted on the Russian IL‐76 transport aircraft, and the long-range Green Pine radar. The sale of the Phalcon by Israel to India required American approval, which was finally secured in May 2003. India signed a contract for the purchase of two additional Phalcon/IL‐76 AWACS valued at $1 billion during the November 2016 visit of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin to India. Israel was the third‐largest arms supplier to India in the three years ending March 2016.

In April 2017, India signed a contract worth about $2 billion to procure anti‐tank missiles and air defense systems from the Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI). This was the largest order in Israel’s history. One month later, the IAI secured another contract for $630 million to supply Barak‐8 missiles for the Indian Navy. Both deals involve technology transfer and production in India. These deals are part of PM Modi’s $250 billion plan to modernize the armed forces by 2025 amid tensions with neighbors China and Pakistan.

The Indian‐Israeli nexus has various Indian Ocean implications, particularly in response to China’s growing presence. The Indian Ocean, where India is an important actor, has become an area of growing interest for Israel because of its apprehensions about Iran and Pakistan.

While India, a major player in the international system, has improved relations with Washington, New Delhi’s links with Jerusalem have the potential to smooth over some of the remaining difficulties in dealing with the US. Working with Israel fits into Modi’s plan to deepen relations with the US given the US‐Israel friendship.

New Delhi believes its normalization of relations with Israel in 1992 had a positive effect on the American disposition toward India. The often‐exaggerated power of the Jewish lobby in America was appreciated in New Delhi. In the 1990s, the American Jewish organizations valued the importance of India for the US and for Israel, as well as the potential advantages of nurturing good relations with the Indian community in America, whose congressional power is on the rise. Many members of the Indian lobby, the US‐India Political Action Committee (USINPAC), which was formed in September 2002, expressed the desire to emulate American Jewish groups and showed interest in cooperation.

The Jewish and Indian lobbies worked together to gain the Bush administration’s approval for Israel’s sale of the Phalcon to India. Moreover, in July 2003, they were successful in adding an amendment to a bill giving aid to Pakistan that called on Islamabad to stop Islamic militants from crossing into India and to prevent the spread of WMD. In the fall of 2008, Jewish support was important in passing through the US Congress the US‐India nuclear deal, which allowed India access to nuclear technology for civilian use despite its not being a party to the Non‐Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Two strategic developments of the 21st century are likely to strengthen the strategic glue between India and Israel: the decline of the US and the rise of China. In the Middle East, the Obama administration projected weakness and encouraged Iran’s quest for hegemony. US weakness is inevitably having ripple effects in other parts of the globe. Indeed, Asian states view the declining American role with concern. It is not clear whether new American president Donald Trump will adopt a more assertive foreign policy than that of his predecessor. Nor is it known how he will go about confronting China, as he displayed isolationist impulses during his election campaign.

India and Israel represent two ancient civilizations. They share a British colonial past and were the first to become independent (in 1947 and 1948, respectively) in the post‐WWII decolonization wave. Both were born as the result of messy partitions and have maintained democratic regimes under adverse conditions ever since. Nevertheless, it took over four decades to establish a fruitful bilateral relationship.

For Israel, good relations with India reflect awareness of structural changes in the international system as the center of gravity moves to Asia and the Pacific Rim. India is an extremely important protagonist that requires Israel’s utmost attention.


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