Israel and India have always been close along numerous strands of culture, political approach and industry of thought. The most apparent reason for both to embrace their friendship like never before is clearly the direct threat of terror on their very borders and which threaten their very existence.
Let’s take the cultural prism in the first instance, both Judaism and Hinduism have historically looked down upon the idea of conversions or proselytizing, instead facing direct threat from larger organized religions.
Judaism in fact was welcomed into India as the first foreign religion, both existing harmoniously alongside one another, neither trying to convert the other. From an Indian standpoint this was simply because Hinduism considers any religion that doesn’t wish to grow at its expense as a friend; hence why Hinduism and India considers Judaism and Zoroastrianism with utmost respect.
Jews have never been discriminated in India during their years of existence. This has been recognized by the Jewish religious leaders. Every year India and Israel send religious and cultural delegates to each other’s country to promote people to people contact.
Two aspects of late changed the dimension of Israel/India politics. The first change came via the more pragmatic Narasimha Rao who wanted Israel’s help in growing the economy and technology. Then, the Kargil war came that changed India’s foreign policy. The Indo-Israeli relationship went to the next level when the Israeli government provided the Indian government with an emergency supply of ammunition during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan. No other country offered to assist us but only Israel did. This incident increased the respect of Israel in the eyes of majority of Indians. While the Left and Muslims continue to oppose India’s association with Israel, the larger Hindu population supports this strong relationship at all levels with Israel.
Then there is the industrious mindset that is common to both Indians and Jews and finds parity within both countries. Israel continues to spearhead development in technology and India is tech hungry; given its agricultural infrastructure, India has so much to gain from technology transfers and sales of capital equipment and India is one of the greatest clients India can have.
Unfortunately, terror unites both countries. India has to deal with the issue of Kashmir and violent Pakistan sponsored terror groups and despises Hamas as much as Israel does. Indeed, speaking to Fox News as the Sean Hannity Show, the son of the founder of Hamas even opined that Hamas is not just against Israel, but wants to take a broader fight to a lot of other nations including India.
From an Indian standpoint supporting Israel, while difficult under some circumstances, is the only option for the country, not only because they are our friends, but also because they’re fighting a bigger evil.
Israel and India understand the threat of terror on its doorstep. Israel completely understands our border issues with Pakistan. Terror emanating from Pakistan continues to bomb Indian borders, using terrorism as a constant threat, juxtaposed alongside a political ideology that continues to berate both countries internationally for not moving ahead with the peace process. Israel faces a more compounded issue and can completely relate to what India has had to experience since its very creation too.