Namaste Netanyahu and Shalom Modi: A New Hope

‘Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Israel will be monumental’–Daniel Carmon

It will be the first-ever official visit to Israel by a sitting Indian prime minister.

Narenda Modi’s visit to Israel (rumours are it will be in July) is hugely significant in a number of ways, not least because it marks the most obvious indication that India will acknowledge-without a shadow of a doubt-that Israel exists in the upper echelons of political influence in the region as well as being an incredibly influential and commercially beneficial friend.

India has tentatively embraced this friendship after establishing diplomatic relations ever so carefully in the past. It was an illogical step to deny this commonality between the two and it was done in so-called national Indian interest when a more idealistic vision of the world assumed that the Palestinians simply had to be the victimised and wronged and that saying otherwise would fail to placate the domestic Muslim vote who the Congress-and Nehru-fell head over heels to pacify.

Narendra Modi and the governing Indian party, the BJP, play by a different rule book and comprehend that understanding the Palestinians does not mean negating a friendship with Israel.

It has slowly come to the attention of the Indian that Palestine currently does and has done absolutely nothing for India in a strategic sense while Israel has shown time and time again that it will work with the largest democracy in the world to safeguard both their interests.

Israel has gone to bat for India in the fields of defence, intelligence support and agriculture while Palestine has not even shared an iota of strategy and intelligence within the region to neutralise the radical Islamic threat of militants.

It took until 1992 for India to come out of the shadows and somewhat normalise relations with Israel and exposed the shame of the country in treating Israel as nothing less than a commercial and strategic ally. So now it is time that India embraces the relationship fully and it will be a glorious day for both countries once Modi commences his visit.

Modi and India quite simply have to cooperate with Israel due to the common ground both face together in a strategic context given that they are surrounded by hostile neighbours who have a score to settle. It is therefore imperative that they continue to consult the other along the lines of internal security, trade and defence.

During Modi’s trip, there is a strong opportunity for both to strengthen defence ties with firm belief that a $3 billion deal to jointly develop medium-range surface-to-air missiles, third generation guided anti-tank missiles, and purchase of two more Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems will come to fruition.

Quite simply, any Indian administration that at this point believes placating Indian Muslims or Palestinian interests over closer commercial and defence ties with Israel is living in a parallel universe.

It is Israel that has come to India’s defence when the threat of radical Islamic terror came sniping at its heels. In fact, in December 2001 when the Indian parliament was attacked by jihadis trained in Pakistan, the Prime Minister of India at the time-Atal Behari Vajpayee-along with the Indian army, navy and air force drew up plans summarily listing the kind of artillery and weapon power they needed to defend its territories. These plans included weapons and defence items from other countries.

It was Israel that responded swiftly, ahead of the US and ahead of Russia.

With Modi’s visit, this friendship comes out of the shadows and stands before the world and it is high time they did so.

About the Author
Saurav Dutt is a published author, lawyer and political columnist who has written for IB Times and been featured in The Independent, Sky News, BBC and more.