India is Fast Becoming a Central Player in America’s Recalibration in Asia

With all of the focus on President Trump’s new Afghanistan policy, the other sections of the speech given Monday hold within them a major shift in policy in Asia.

President Trump said the following:

“The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.”

“Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism.  We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices, but Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the same terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately.”

Then Trump spoke about India, as if to indicate America’s intention to shift away from Pakistan to India.

“Another critical part of the South Asia strategy or America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic harbor of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.”
This is seismic. In one speech, Trump realigns US foreign policy away from Pakistan and towards an ascending India. Furthermore, India is essentially dealing with the same threats as America. Both countries face a growing threat in China and of course India and the US are direct targets of radical Islamic terror, much of it grown in Shiite dominated Pakistan.
The fact that China and Pakistan have a growing partnership underscores the need for the US to recalibrate its approach in both Central and East Asia. India affords Trump the possibility to create a new order in Asia.  One that is not built around propping up despotic or corrupt governments that have a revolving door policy on radical Islamic terrorists.
Trump’s firm outreach to India instantly changes the nature of the game with China. The skirmishes with Chinese forces in Bhutan may seem like a prelude to the next war, but in reality Modi’s firm stance and now Trump’s clear backing will act as a deterrent.
Look for Israeli technology, especially in the UAV sector to become a critical part in monitoring China’s actions in the Himalayas. It is no accident that the three countries, USA, India and Israel share many of the same threats and have begun to build an alliance to push back on them.
Trump’s recognition that India’s position in the region can be utilized to dissuade China from making any destabilizing moves is important.  Furthermore, the most important part of this shift is the ending of what has been a presidential strategy spanning both Bush and Obama in partnering with Pakistan against terror and the Taliban.
The growing Israel, India, and US alliance may be a game changer in Asia. With threats on the Indian sub-continent growing daily, this alliance is key to safeguarding its peace and security.


Is Putin Ready to Throw Iran Under the Bus?

The announcement that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Russia’s President Putin are set to meet this Wednesday the 23rd of August in the Russian resort city of Sochi doesn’t seem to stand out as significant.  Afterall, the two men meet every few months to prevent any friction between their countries.

So what makes this meeting so different?

In the span of time between the their last face to face meeting, President Donald Trump acquiesced to allow Russian armed observers to man the borders of Israel and Jordan.  This was under the guise of ensuring a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebel forces. Although there were some rocky first moments, the plan has brought a modicum of quiet to the areas in question.

The challenge for Israel has been what the Syrian Regime and Iran are using the “ceasefire” for. It has become clear that Iran and Syria are seeking near control of the Golan border area.  This they have accomplished by way of their Russian allies.

What’s Next for Iran and Russia?

The prevailing assumption has been that Putin would give Iran enough of a leash to clear out the rebels in Syria, but not enough for either Iran or Syria to be dominant in the Levant without the go ahead from Russia.  While it is important to understand that any overt alliance puts Israel’s security at risk, the now quarterly meetings between Bibi and Putin mitigated much of this. Of course, all of this depends on Putin holding Iran and Syria back from placing game changing forces on the Syrian side of the Golan.

Iran and Russia have a working understanding that Iran can do what is necessary to clear the rebels and ISIS out, but given Putin and Bibi’s deconfliction understandings anything else would be deemed an abrogation of the working agreement between Tehran and Moscow.  The ceasefire agreement between Trump and Putin made during the G20 Summit is a good test of this.  For the first time Russia would open a corridor for Iranian troops to move right up to the Golan, yet the actual movement of those troops negates the deconfliction strategy with Israel.

Up until now Russia has allowed the IAF to strike where it needs to against Iran. More than that, sources tell us that Putin even relays targeting information personally to Bibi.  Iran and Syria maybe allowed utilize the ceasefire to move troops to the Golan, but if the past is any kind of predictor then they are on their own.

While most pundits believe these sorts of actions will eventually spell the end of the Iranian-Russian Alliance this is more of the same for Putin.  He relishes in playing multiple sides of each other in order to effectively control the situation.

Reaffirming the Deconfliction Understandings and More…

Bibi’s trip to Moscow is more about reaffirming the deconlfiction understandings in light of the new reality of Russia’s troops now manning the Golan border. Russia has no interest in allowing Iran to attack Israel, which would fully destabilize the region.  Putin wants recognition by Israel that Russia is the new player in the Levant and that it Israel will have to reevaluate how it relates to the fast changing Middle East.

Putin will keep allowing Israel to attack Iranian and Syrian targets. In Putin’s grand strategy this keeps the region in balance while he continues to take more and more control.

As America continues to minimize its overt involvement in the Middle East, the vacuum created is leading to a new order with its strings more or less being pulled by Moscow.

Israel’s goal is to hold onto to its security independence while treading carefully though a new Middle East.


TEMPLE MOUNT SOLUTION: History Shows that Islam Shared the Dome of the Rock with the Jews

One of the biggest misconceptions about the near cyclical tumult on the Temple Mount is that the shrine called the Dome of the Rock, built in 691 by the Umayaad Caliphate is a Mosque.  Nothing can be further from the truth. Until the later Islamic period the Dome of the Rock was never treated as a Mosque. Mosques point to Mecca, the Dome of the Rock does not.

Extensive research shows the Dome of the Rock folds in on itself in veneration of the Foundation Stone below.  Not only that, the building shares four pillars in a similar placement to the pillars shown on coins minted by the Jewish leader Bar Kochba.

The connection is more than a mere coincidence. Muslims at the time, were ordered by Abd el-Malik, the Umayyad ruler of Damascus and an ally of the Jews to build the Dome of the Rock as a House of Prayer for Jews. One can clearly see the attempt by Malik to mimic the Jewish Temples by using blue stone for the building and adorning the Dome with pure gold as King Solomon did. The blue gives of a wave appearance similar to the Temple.


The Umayyads were very friendly to the Jews and historical evidence shows that the dynasty invited Jews to pray on the site.

Lost Islamic History says the following about Jewish access to the Temple Mount:

“One of Umar’s guides in Jerusalem was a Jew named Kaab al-Ahbar. Umar further allowed Jews to worship on the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall…”

With these facts in mind, one can already arrive at a solution to the tension involving the Temple Mount.  Using Islamic history as a guide it would seem appropriate that the House that Malik built serve not as an affront to Jews and a place that is politicized by the Arabs, but rather a meeting point and placeholder for Jews and their cousins to pray to the Almighty.

In a world where history is honest there would be no need for metal detectors or police. The children of Yitzhak and Yishmael coul once again come together.  As the sages said: Yishmael will return to proper path at the end. The time for a real solution to the Temple Mount is now. Understanding that the Dome of the Rock was meant to be a shared space for prayer by the children of Abraham until the arrival of the Messiah is an important step forward to a lasting peace and true coexistence.

Does Russia Have a Deal With Israel on Quneitra De-escalation?

With Russian forces moving into Quneitra as early as July 16th, the realization that Israel is being cornered by Iranian and Hezbollah contingents has now become apparent.  Local Quneitra community councils welcomed the opportunity to force “militants associated with Zionist entity” to lay down their arms.

Russia is aware that the Netanyahu government is not happy about the ceasefire deal hammered out between Trump and Putin at the G-20 on July 7th.

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister had this to say:

“I can guarantee that we have done everything and the US side has done everything to ensure that Israel’s security interests within this framework are taken fully into account.”

There is more to this statement than just acknowledgment.

Former National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror said the following on Monday in relation to the Iranian presence so close to the Golan:

“Israel may need to take military action to prevent Iran or Hezbollah from setting up permanent bases in Syria.” 

This is no accidental comment. Amidror is a close confidant of the Prime Minister and his comment was meant to send a message to the Russians.

The idea that Iran and Hezbollah is setting up permanent bases so close to Israel’s Golan Heights may appear to be a dangerous step for Israel.  The Russian forces that have now entered the region have only complicated the situation. The peril for Israel cannot be overstated.  However, Amidror’s comments contain a hint of possible solution to the menace forming on Israel’s border.

The Russian’s have at times allowed Israel to take out Hezbollah and Iranian arms transfers, with analysts observing that Russia itself tipped off the Israeli airforce to the location of the hidden arms and gave it fly by capabilities to destroy the targets.  If Israel can convince Putin it is far better to let Israel defend itself by destroying Iranian and Hezbollah fighters on its border than making the IDF attack covertly, then a similar relation can develop even within the framework of the current ceasefire.

More than 18 months ago I wrote the following:

Many analysts believe that Russia, in the long-term, has no interest in allowing Iran to take over the Middle East. Russia views its relationship with Iran as a tactical necessity to prop up Assad and destroy Sunni radicals. After this task is done, the experts in this particular camp believe their paths will diverge.  

If this is so, then logic lends itself to believe Putin wants relationships and long term strategic partnerships with countries that are not only stable, but also share similar security and economic outlooks with himself, and yet will not step in his way. Israel is one of these countries.

We are about to see if this theory holds weight.  If Russia does not prevent Iran and Hezbollah from building up their forces on Israel’s border, then Russia either will have to allow the Israeli airforce to neutralize the growing threat or risk losing leverage over Israel.

Putin has spent much of the Syrian Civil War navigating a variety of local interests while cementing Russia’s control over the Northern Levant. The question remains: At what point does Putin jettison his relationship with Iran in favor of a more moderate and stable relationship with far more rational actors?

If Russia truly wants a stable Middle East then we may be about to see the beginning of a Russian-Iranian divergence.


MODI IN ISRAEL: Bonding the biggest & most beleaguered democracies

Clearly reflecting the impact of the change in Indian policy towards Israel was the chagrin expressed by the Palestinian envoy to New Delhi: “We were shocked…”

A curious Indian stops a passing Israeli backpacker on a New Delhi street. “Tell me,” he asks, “how many Israelis are there?”

“I’m not quite sure,” the backpacker answers. “About six million.”

“No, no no,” retorts the Indian, “not just in New Delhi. I mean all together.”

The humor of this well-known joke reflects a remarkable reality which helps understand the huge enthusiasm this week’s landmark visit of the Indian Prime Minister Nahindra Modi generated, and clearly heralded a “change of gears” in relations between the two countries.

Hindu-Jewish affinity

Each year, over 60,000  Israelis travel to India –many of them “unwinding” in the country after completing military service. Their presence is highly visible across much of the country. Indeed, the “giant shadow” Israelis cast in India is wildly disproportionate to the miniscule dimensions of their homeland. In some outlying locations, Israelis comprise a dominant percentage of foreign visitors. Even in central sites such as the main market in Old Delhi it is not uncommon to see Hebrew signs and encounter merchants able to converse with Israeli customers in fairly fluent Hebrew.

That Israelis seem to feel an instinctive affinity for India should perhaps not be surprising. Its history is virtually devoid of antisemitism. Indeed, the only significant incidents were the Moors’ attack on the Jews in 1524 and the Portuguese persecution of Jews in Cranganore (now the Kerala coast) some years later. Moreover, many Indian Jews achieved great prominence, among them the Sassoons (for whom the Sassoon docks, the Sassoon hospital, and other well-known sites have been named), Dr. E. Moses (a Jewish mayor of Bombay), Lt. Gen. J. F. R. Jacobs (a general in the Indian Army who oversaw the Pakistani Army’s 1971 surrender in Bangladesh and later served as governor of Goa and Punjab), Nissim Ezekiel (a poet/leading Indian literary personality), and Dr. Abraham Solomon Erulkar (the personal physician/friend of Mahatma Gandhi).

Dispersing ideo-political cloud of “post-colonial” prejudice

However, Indo-Israeli relations were not always characterized by such warmth.

On the political and diplomatic fronts, the two nations were largely estranged for the four decades following their independence in the late 1940s. Thus, although India recognized the State of Israel in 1950, the then-ruling Congress Party eschewed full diplomatic relations, siding with the Palestinians and denouncing what many in its ranks termed the “Zionist enterprise” as an imperialist creation of Western colonial powers.

Additional factors also weighed against close and cordial bilateral bonds:  New Delhi’s fear of antagonizing its large Muslim population; pressures from the Islamic world, India’s major source of energy; the fate of the many Indian workers in the Gulf States, and the anti-Israeli attitude of the non-aligned movement, in which India was a leading member.

Moreover, in terms of strategic allegiances, an additional rift between the two states existed: Israel aligned itself firmly with the United States, while India, then traditionally suspicious of American foreign policy, opted for close links with the Soviet Union. The significant disparity between the two countries hardly boded well for mutual cooperation between them. However, since the early 1990s, with the fall of the Soviet bloc and the accelerating liberalization of the Indian economy, considerable changes began to take place, bringing with them a marked convergence of Indo-Israeli interests.

The culmination of this process took place in 1992, when full diplomatic relations were established. Since then, a burgeoning relationship has blossomed, whose vigor, cordiality and durability have taken both its proponents and its opponents by surprise.

Removing the reticence

The establishment of full diplomatic ties between Jerusalem and New Delhi allowed the underlying Indo-Israeli affinity to express itself. Yet, until the Modi government came to power there has been a perceptible reticence, or at least reserve, on the part of India with regard to its relationship with Israel.

One particular sore point was India’s consistent support of anti-Israel resolutions in international forums, such as the UN. One commentator characterized the Israeli perception in the following terms: Israel has long complained that India treats it like a mistress: glad to partake of its defense and technology charms, but a little embarrassed about the whole thing and unwilling to make the relationship too public.”

But with the rise to power of the Modi government, this restraint is beginning to fade discernably, and India has ceased to support a number of motions of censure against Israel in several UN bodies. Clearly reflecting the impact of this change was the chagrin expressed by the Palestinian envoy to New Delhi, at India’s decision not to support a resolution condemning Israel: “We were shocked. The Palestinian people and the leaders were very happy with the UN resolution, but the voting of India has broken our happiness.

Indeed, Modi’s effusively warm physical embrace of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as he descended from the plane that brought him to Israel, seems to have unequivocally melted away any residual reticence that might have remained.

Modi’s landmark visit

The visit of Indian Prime Minister Modi is undeniably a landmark event of potentially historical proportions. Attesting to this is the virtually unprecedented attention he has been given by the media and the public in Israel—far beyond that accorded most visiting heads of government.

As the first Indian premier to visit the Jewish State, Modi has unabashedly cast aside any restraint in forging future relations with Israel. Indeed, despite his country’s heavy reliance on oil from the Middle East (or “Western Asia” as the Indians tend to call it)—chiefly Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran—Modi appears to have come to the conclusion that India has more to gain from throwing in its lot with Israel than with the Arab States, who seem to consistently lend their support to India’s rival, Pakistan.

Two of Modi’s decisions on this trip—perhaps more symbolic than substantive—seem to distil out the essence of the new Indian approach to Israel: The one, political; the other, humanitarian.

The first was the Indian PM’s decision not to include the customary visit to Ramallah, made by virtually all visiting senior statesmen to maintain the appearance of scrupulous even-handedness in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Landmark visit (cont.)

Thus despite the fact that the Indian government continues to declare its ongoing support for the “Palestinian cause” there can be no glossing over the implicit message in Modi’s decision to skip—some might say, snub—the Palestinian Authority by excluding any meeting with any of its senior representatives.

In this, he showed commendable courage in flouting the bonds of the constrictive conventions of political correctness—and the willingness to break from past patterns, which bodes well for the independent development of bilateral relations in the future.

The other defining event was Modi’s decision to visit  Moshe (Moish) Holtzberg, the boy whose parents,  Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, were murdered in a 2008  attack on the Chabad center in Mumbai by an Islamist terrorist group based in Pakistan. The attack was one of a dozen carried out throughout the city in late November, 2008, that left 164 dead and at least 308 wounded.

In making this moving gesture, Modi not only showed a laudable sensitivity on a personal level, but also underscored the common threats/enemies faced by both countries and the joint perils that menace both Israelis and Indians.   

So although the visit included a dizzying array of sites and installations, highlighting  Israel’s capabilities and achievements in culture, technology, agriculture, and security it was these two events—resolute moral clarity on the one hand and human empathy on the other—that imparted a distinctive quality to the visit—making it one of the most memorable in years.

Indeed, as one scholar of Indo-Israeli ties, Souptik Mukherjee, pointed out:  “While the visit has many dimensions, the most important aspect is not the joint development of arms, not the prospect of free trade agreement but rather the shared values and historical ties.” 

Marrying “Make in India” with “Make with India”

The visit also produced some interesting rhetorical innovations.  

In September 2015 Modi launched his “Make in India” initiative to encourage foreign corporations to manufacture their products in India.  To date it appears to be an impressive success, with India emerging as the top destination globally for foreign direct investment, surpassing the United States and China!

In his effusive welcoming address on Modi’s arrival, Netanyahu  mentioned  Modi’s “Make in India” project and added  a twist, suggesting  an additional project: ”Make with India” in which both countries, would exploit the synergies of Indo-Israeli cooperation and engage in joint ventures across a range of civilian and military fields.

Given the huge nascent consumer demand in India, its burgeoning middle class, the daunting security challenges it faces from both state and non-state actors innately hostile to Israel as well, there is little doubt that both formulae—Israeli manufacturing plants in Israel, and joint Indo-Israel projects in either country—offer almost boundless prospects.

Referring to ongoing cooperation in the field of space, Netanyahu underscored–with a touch of hyperbole—the almost limitless opportunities a marriage of “Make in India” and “Make with India” could create.  He recalled: I remember what you told me in our first meeting – when it comes to India and Israel relations, the sky is the limit. But now, prime minister, let me add [that] even the sky is not the limit. We are also cooperating in space.”

A personal sense of vindication

While the Modi visit and the surge in Indo-Israeli ties is an historic event for the Jewish State at a national level, it is for me, at a personal level, a gratifying vindication of many years of my prior efforts.

With all due (im)modesty, I was—to the best of my knowledge—the first Israeli to write, in detail, about the strategic importance of India’s international ascendency for Israel.

Almost two decades ago, in early 1999, I published a policy paper, together with a prominent Indian scholar, the late Prof. M. L. Sondhi, one of the original pro-Israeli voices in India. The paper we collaborated on was entitled “Indo-Israeli cooperation as a US national interest. It was a paper that predicted/prescribed much of the later developments between the two countries, across a range of various fields.

We saw the resilient nature of the democratic governance of the two countries, which straddle a vast area of unbroken tyranny, as an important element in bolstering the bilateral bond between the two nations.

The durability and sustainability of democratic governance in both Israel and India should not be taken for granted. Indeed, it should be recalled that both countries’ democracies have faced serious challenges that could well have been conducive to more authoritarian forms of government. Both India and Israel are countries ringed by hostile enemies; the societies in both countries include potentially fractious and rivalrous ethnic groups, creating fertile grounds for internal strife. Both have weathered the trauma of political assassination and external wars on their borders. Yet despite these severe challenges, the commitment of both countries to democratic governance, societal pluralism and official respect for religious diversity have never wavered.

An idea whose time has come…

Significantly, one of the areas which we identified as being of particular potential was that of cooperation in the naval sphere, especially in regard to security in the Indian Ocean, predicting that, in light of the specter of a potential non-conventional threat, it would become an increasingly important theatre of operations for Israel. This has indeed proved true in light of Iran’s nuclear program, greatly enhancing its strategic importance for Israel’s navy and especially its submarine arm, which has become a vital component of Israel’s second-strike capability and its deterrence posture vis-a-vis a nuclear rival.

It is, of course, most satisfying to see many of the recommendations which Sondhi and I made come to fruition.

French poet Victor Hugo famously wrote: “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

This certainly appears to be the case with the flourishing Indo-Israeli nexus. Indeed, Sondhi and I concluded the executive summary of our paper thus: “…it appears that the time is right for Israel to establish a special relationship with the world’s largest democracy, similar to the relationship that it has developed with the world’s strongest democracy. ..[This], is likely to have a vital role in advancing the principles of liberty and pluralism, and insuring regional stability in an extensive and important portion of the world where such principles are under continual siege.”

Surely, then, this is an idea whose time has come.

AFRICA RISING: Rwandan President Kagame Meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Rwandan President Paul Kagame arrived in Jerusalem, Israel today for a three day working visit.  The Rwandan President was greeted warmly both by President Rivlin and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu.

The Prime Minister said the following to Kagame:

“You are coming back here; this is not the first time. But I can say that in one of our earlier meetings, I voiced the hope that Israel could come back to Africa in a big way, and that Africa could come back to Israel in a big way. We discussed this for some time. And you said, well, I think I can help. And in fact, you did help. I would say you were the indispensable bridge on which we marched to make our return to Africa, step by step, with very sound advice, very, very wise counsel. And together we chartered this course, coming first to East Africa, where we visited among other things your beautiful country, which is making impressive progress under your leadership, and then other countries as well; and then West Africa; and we’ll be making a third trip very soon, in one year. But I have to say that it began with my conversations with President Paul Kagame. So I want to thank you, Paul, for helping Israel, helping Israel and Africa, helping Israel in general. Thank you Mr. President.”

Israel has been a big supporter of Rwanda for over a decade, supplying solar energy, agricultural know-how, and even helping to jumpstart the landlocked country’s own set of startup hubs. Rwanda in turn has been clear that it views Israel in an inspirational light and wants to see itself as the Israel of Africa.  Kagame has been credited in stopping the genocide Rwanda experienced in the early 1990’s and took over  a divided country only to unite and cause it to thrive in a near miraculous turnaround.

The Prime Minister himself touched on this as he spoke further with President Kagame to his side.

“President Rivlin has already mentioned the fact that both of our peoples have a tragic legacy. Ours in the Holocaust, yours in the great genocide that befell your people. I’m not sure how many of my Israeli compatriots know that President Kagame personally led the military effort that put a stop to this carnage after more than a million people were butchered, a million children, women, defenseless men. And, with your courage, you put an end to this and began rebuilding this torn nation. We can see the impressive gains that you are making. In fact, it is one of our deepest pleasures to be able to cooperate with you in rebuilding your state, rebuilding it in agriculture and water and so many other areas, and security as well.
“We have pledged, I think both our peoples, one simple pledge: ‘Never again.’ Never again – we, who witnessed the greatest holocaust in history, you who witnessed perhaps one of the most recent ones – never again. That’s another great bond between us. You have been a consistent friend to us. First in our bilateral relations. We don’t forget that your foreign minister visited us during our travails in Gaza. You sent her as a show of friendship and solidarity.” 

From 42Kura to Energyia Global, Rwanda is seen as one of the top destinations for Israeli technology as Kagame has opened up the country’s doors to Israeli tech and innovation.

Rwanda and much of East Africa have grown in trade relations with Israel.  The power of these partnerships are far bigger than just financial or even geo-political.  Africa and Israel are both former colonies.  Just like India, Israel and much of Africa were controlled by one or more European countries.

By partnering together decades after independence, they have been capable of reversing the European backed Islamic erasure of indigenous history in many of these areas.  Israel has become a symbol and a beacon for many of these former colonies who have risen and conquered the neo-colonialist attitudes of the once strong European continent.


WORLD CHANGE: Why the Modi Visit to Israel is set to Radically Reshape the World

We are living in amazing times. History will show that this three-day visit by Neandra Modi to Israel was a moment in world history when two of the most ancient cultures decided to leave the prism of their past behind and work together in order to build a strategic partnership that would not only benefit one another, but the world.

Israel and India are thousands of years old.  Judaism and Hinduism are the two most ancient spiritual paths in the world. It is under this backdrop and the geopolitical turmoil in which we see the old power structure of the west and its colonial and neo-colonial influences collapse that these two countries have begun to rise.

Modi’s visit comes after more than a decade worth of growing ties between the two countries.  These political ties are built on the back of thousands of years of personal relationships between Jews and Hindus.  These relationships were built on respect of one another.  Jews have been living in India for more than 2000 years and during that time no tinge of anti-Semitism was expressed.

In a world that has seen the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the weakening of the post cold-war order these cultural ties have grown far more overt as more and more Israelis have spent time in India backpacking and taking a breather after the army.  Indians have taken the opportunity to visit the only Jewish State, to learn and admire another ancient culture.

Technology Partnership Built by the People

Israel, being the technology powerhouse it is has built many of its tech partnerships with other countries through government introduction.  With India it has been built by the people itself. Indian programmers have become the go to source for Israeli teams for the last decade.  Both groups have worked together on virtual teams and learned how to achieve success an ocean away.

It is no accident that as Prime Netanyahu said, “The two most spoken languages in Silicon Valley are Hebrew and Hindi.”

Strategic Importance

During Modi’s visit to Israel and after several closed-door sessions that lasted four hours each, the two countries elevated their relationship to a Strategic Partnership and signed seven MOU’s.  Beyond these developments as well as the announcement of a direct flight between Tel Aviv and Mombai/New Dehli, the partnership erases the false narrative of “Palestinian” indignity and rightful rebellion against the “Jewish Occupier.”

India has always been admired by third world countries in Africa and the Middle East as the leader against the International European colonial regime.  The Jewish State was seen as part of this unwanted colonial regime. With the growing ties and Modi’s about-face on Israel’s place within the broader neo-colonialist dynamic it is the Palestinians who have been exposed as the European tool to divide and conquer the Levant.  Afterall, the Palestinians are supported and funded by the EU.  It is also the Europeans who have bolstered Islamic regimes and totalitarian governments, which have burned a path through indigenous communities from Africa to the MIddle East, to the Indian Sub-Continent.

For Indians, who have known for decades if not more, that the mentality of Jihad is just another form of colonialist aspirations, the Modi visit is only natural in exposing the lie of Islamic indigineity in Africa, Israel, and India.

It is no accident that India and Israel’s embrace of one another has come after tens of Sub-Sahara African countries have turned to Israel as a partner and friend. India’s partnership is an erasure and exposure of European implanted lies within the context of their own need to exploit and expand using the land of ancient cultures in Africa, the Middle East, and India.  The Europeans did this by unleashing the Islamic hordes within the wider Arab world through turning one against another and finally setting them upon non-Islamic Africans, Jews, Druze, Arameans, Kurds, Indians, native Pashtun in Afghanistan, and more.

Modi’s visit is about the future and it is about rectifying a narrative that was injected by a self-serving Europe who sought to twist history for its own purposes.

In three days, India and Israel have found themselves again.  They have taken a path away from their former colonial masters who wanted only to divide the two in order to conquer. This partnership will be built on true friendship and goodwill.

To see a touch of just how genuine this is, Netanyahu and Modi met Moshe Holtzberg – an Israeli child who as a toddler survived the 2008 terror attack at a Jewish centre in Mumbai. Moshe, now 11, read out a welcome note for PM Modi, saying “Dear Mr Modi, I love you”.

Modi tweeted this moving image during the visit.

Friendships are built on the little things. It is those little things, from basic respect, mutual work relationships, and truly feeling another’s pain that India and Israel find themselves in a relationship that is both ancient and entirely innovative.  This is the partnership that the next phase of world development can and will be built on.

BIBI NETANYAHU TO MODI: “I welcome you here to our home in Jerusalem. Welcome friend.”

PM Netanyahu: We face common challenges, the first of which is to defeat the forces of terror that rampage through the world and threaten both our countries. We must stand together in this battle, much as we work together to perfect the future.

Below is the full statement (Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser) given by Prime Minister Netanyahu to Prime Minister Modi of India who is visiting Israel in a historical visit as both countries cement their global partnership.

“Thank you. Welcome to Jerusalem, my friend, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. You know, you have only been here a few hours and you have already visited Yad Vashem, you paid your respects at the tomb of the founder of our national movement, Theodor Herzl and you’ve seen some of Israel’s cutting edge technology. We went to a greenhouse on a warm day, believe me it was a warm reception.

So, you’ve had a glimpse of our painful past but also of our promising future. And we’re very excited to host you here. We have a great admiration for the people of India. I told you about my late uncle, Professor Elisha Netanyahu, he was a mathematician at the Israel Institute of Technology and he told me many times about his admiration for the great Indian mathematician Ramanujan. He said he was the greatest mathematician of the 20th century but he said he was perhaps the greatest mathematician in many many centuries. And this symbolizes the talents of the people of India. As we know, we have the talents of the people of Israel. And we believe in this partnership of talent.

We both seek a better future for our peoples. Doing so requires a lot of work. It won’t happen overnight but Prime Minister Modi and I have the same trait – we both want it to happen overnight. We are tireless reformers and I want to congratulate you, Prime Minister, on the reforms that you’re doing to change India’s economy and we both believe that we can do together great things for the betterment of the future of our peoples.

I have to confess to you that I’ve been inspired by Prime Minister Modi’s enthusiasm for yoga to begin. He said to me: you can start at a low level, choose your level. So I’m starting at a low level and here’s what we’re going to do. When I do a relaxing Tadasana pose, in the morning I’ll turn my head to the right, India is the first democracy that I’ll see. And when Prime Minister Modi does a relaxing pose of Vasisthasana and he turns his head to the left, Israel is the first democracy that you can see. So, in fact we have India and Israel are two sister democracies. In fact, together we account for about 20% of the world’s population. But although we are unequal in size, we’re equal in spirit. We believe we can accomplish great things. We have accomplished great things and we have many many more opportunities to seize together in the future.

But I have to say that we also face common challenges and the first of it is to defeat the forces of terror that rampage through the world and threaten both our countries. So we must stand together in this battle, much as we work together to perfect the future.

Prime Minister, we share a bond of democracy and creativity, a deep respect for the past, a boundless optimism for the future and it’s in this spirit, my friend Narendra, of close cooperation and deepest friendship that I welcome you here to our home in Jerusalem. Welcome friend.”

Modi and Israel’s Coming of Age

Modi’s historic visit is a good opportunity for Israel to understand where it now stands and what it must do to maintain and expand its current success into the future.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel this week marks more than the 25th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

It marks as well Israel’s coming of age as a nation.

When in 1992, India and Israel forged full diplomatic relations, the Indian government was reacting to a transformation in the international arena, rather than to changes that were specifically related to the Jewish state.

In 1991 and 1992, in response to the US victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, a large group of countries restored or inaugurated full diplomatic relations with Israel. These states – including the Russian Federation and China – had by and large been either on the Soviet side of the war, or leaned toward Moscow. Their refusal to forge full ties with Israel, a key US Cold War ally, became a liability in the US-dominated post-Cold War global order. Hence, they abandoned their Cold War rejection of Israel and instead embraced it.

Although ingratiating themselves with Washington loomed large in the considerations of most governments involved, they also took the step due to Israel’s independent power. If Israel had been a strategic basket case facing an uncertain future, then even in the face of the demise of the Soviet Union, Moscow and its allies could well have had second and third thoughts. Why anger the Arab world by recognizing a soon-to-be gone Jewish state?

Had Israel recognized and built on the sources of its power and attraction for other governments, it would have spent the rest of the 1990s strengthening itself still further – defeating Hezbollah in Lebanon, weakening the Iranian regime and working with the Americans to end its ballistic weapon program. It would have moved quickly to liberalize its economy to enable the million new Israelis from the former Soviet Union to immediately transform Israel into the global innovator rather than waiting for this to gradually occur over decades.

Instead, in 1993, then prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin and then foreign minister Shimon Peres decided to go off on a strategic tangent.

Ignoring or failing to understand the implications of the US Cold War victory and the economic and national security implications of the aliya wave from the former Soviet Union, Rabin and Peres decided the key to everything was appeasing the PLO – a terrorist organization whose declared intention was to annihilate Israel through a mix of terrorism and political warfare.

As far as they were concerned, nothing that had just happened in the world had strategic implications for Israel. Rather, Israel’s diplomatic, military and economic power were all contingent on making peace by appeasing the PLO.

To implement that strategy, Rabin and Peres and their government lobbied foreign governments to support the PLO militarily, financially and politically (not that anyone needed much convincing).

And they transformed the IDF. Rabin and Peres instructed the IDF General Staff to “change its diskette” in relation to the PLO and to fighting terrorism.

No longer were Israel’s generals to aspire to defeating terrorists. They were instead ordered to facilitate appeasement – through the transfer of land and military power to the PLO. The PLO, Rabin told them, could defeat terrorism more effectively than the IDF could. And all Israel needed to do to induce Yasser Arafat to defeat the forces he built, paid and commanded was shower him with money, territory, firepower and international legitimacy. The PLO was not Israel’s enemy. It was Israel’s peace partner.

Not surprisingly, this didn’t work out at all.

Israel’s diplomatic position collapsed. The international community effectively sided with the PLO against Israel when it rejected peace and initiated its terror war against Israel in 2000. Since then Israel has found itself targeted by political and economic warfare from the EU, its second largest trading partner and its previously fairly supportive strategic ally. Following Europe’s lead, the American Left has incrementally abandoned its pre-1993 embrace of Israel.

As for security, in the seven years of the peace process that ended with the PLO’s rejection of peace and instigation of its terror war against Israel, the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists was twice what it had been in the previous 15 years. More than 1,500 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terrorists since 1993. More than 10,000 have been wounded.

Buffeted by the utter and complete failure of the appeasement strategy, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power in 2009, he has gradually restored Israel to the classic notions of national development.

Building on the market reforms he initiated in his first tenure as prime minister from 1996 to 1999 and his stint as finance minister from 2003 to 2006, Netanyahu has overseen the continued liberalization of the economy and expansion of Israel’s international markets to ensure the continued expansion of the economy and increase Israel’s attractiveness as a trading partner and investment hub.

Abandoning the PLO appeasement strategy, which made Israel’s diplomatic standing contingent on PLO approval, Netanyahu has based his diplomatic strategy on Israel’s economic and attractiveness and stability. He has emphasized the aspects of Israel’s economy – technological and agriculture prowess – among other things, where Israel has a comparative advantage to draw international actors to its shores.

While decoupling Israel’s diplomacy from the PLO, he has also gradually rolled back the legitimacy Israel unwisely conferred on the terrorist group 24 years ago.

The fact that Modi has opted not to visit the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority in Ramallah demonstrates the wisdom and success of the strategy. Modi may or may not be interested in establishing a PLO state, but he is very interested in developing his own economy. Modi recognizes the synergies between Israel’s comparative advantages in military and economic technologies and India’s needs.

As the leader of a democracy, his first interest is advancing his country’s needs. Whether or not there will be peace between Israel and the Palestinians has no impact on India’s security and prosperity.

Modi’s historic visit is a good opportunity for Israel to understand where it now stands and what it must do to maintain and expand its current success into the future. We must never again be seduced into believing that our nation’s fate will be determined by eternal factors. Whether Israel continues to prosper in security in the company of friendly trading partners and strategic allies is largely in our hands.

If we continue the hard work of growing our economy and defeating rather than appeasing our enemies while basing our diplomacy on what we have to offer the nations of the world we will ensure our prosperity and build a peaceful future for ourselves and all of our neighbors.

Originally Published in the Jerusalem Post.

Modi’s Arrival to Israel Next Week Marks a Pivot for Both Countries

The arrival in Israel of Narendra Modi, will not only be the first visit of an Indian Prime Minister, it will mark a huge shift in India’s foreign policy as the Hindu country home to one billion people will openly pivot to the only Jewish State. India has always kept a balanced approached in the Middle East in order to build relationships with Israel and Arab countries.  When Modi was elected in May of 2014, he entered office under a wave of populism and Hindu nationalism.  Many Indians are wary of their Shiite neighbors in Pakistan as well as the dispute over Kashmir.

Modi made no secret of his admiration for Israel and saw his long time relationships in the private sector with Israeli tech companies as a blueprint to build a serious long term partnership on.

But perhaps the most important part of this trip is not where Modi is going or what Defense and other development deals he signs with Israel it is where he is not going.

An article in the Indian Express expresses the pivot perfectly:

“The fact the PM will not visit the Palestine territories – especially Ramallah, which is only a few kms away from the Israeli Knesset – is a major departure for India’s foreign policy. Essentially this indicates that India is ready to break from the past and de-hyphenate its relationship with Palestine from Israel. The Ministry of External Affairs has been advocating this strategy for some time, but New Delhi’s hesitation has cut across party lines. Balancing Israel and Palestine had become the hallmark of India’s diplomatic dance since relations were normalised in 1992.

It is in this context one should read the important Indian shift vis-à-vis Israel. During Abbas’ recent visit, Modi announced India’s support to the Palestinian cause and said that there should be “a sovereign, independent, united and viable Palestine, co-existing peacefully with Israel.” In the previous decade, the Indian statement was always caveated with the phrase, “with East Jerusalem as the capital”, but Modi chose to omit it altogether.”

India’s shift away from a Palestinian centric foreign policy will have deep ramifications on the Palestinian leaderships ability to play an anti-colonial PR game. For years third world countries saw India as a beacon for other former colonies. It is no accident that in recent years as Africa has grown closer to Israel, that India and Israel have also forged a unique alliance.

The more “Palestine” is seen as the real artificial presence residing in the heartland of the Jewish people subsisting from international assistance, then real peace can be achieved.  Modi’s visit destroys the “Palestinian” narritive and recalibrates the focus on India’s 2000 year old relationship with Israel and the Jewish people. This burgeoning partnership enhances Israel’s position as a world leader and boosts development in India.

Modi’s focus on building relationships with countries that are likeminded and valuable to the giant Hindu superpower will not only boost Israel, but rehape world geopolitics for years to come.