Israel supplied weapons to India against China in 1962

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Indian PM Narendra Modi on his visit to Haifa, Israel stands before ‘Islamic Kalima’ ingrained plaque in 2017. Photo Courtesy: India Today

By  Haider Abbas

There has always been a ‘veil of secrecy’ when it came to relations between India and Israel, as India never wanted to antagonize the Arab nations, who were loathsome for Israel, and Pakistan, made in the name of Islam, was always ‘next-door’ to foment anti-India perspective into the Arab states, but, now after seventy-years hence, it is coming clearly out of the closet that India-Israel ‘had both been equally close’ despite all the apparent façade and camouflaged relationship of the last seven decades.

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The Indian-Israel bonhomie, today is ‘raring to go’ in the open, without any constraints of internal or external considerations, as has been announced by India’s EAM S Jaishankar, who on the launch of the Gujarati translation of his book The India Way: Strategies for an Uncertain World,, in New Delhi on September 5, expressed that ‘the days of vote bank politics dominating foreign policies are gone, citing India’s present stand on Israel as evidence of change in stance. “Due to some political reasons, we had to restrict ourselves from enhancing relations with Israel. PM Modi was the first Indian Prime Minister who went to Israel… The time has gone when we used to keep national interest aside for vote bank politics,”’ he said.

EAM took to a jibe at vote-bank-politics, in a bid to scuttle Congress party rule, which also had to seek Muslim vote support, but what also lies in-between the lines is the ‘Hindu vote bank’, the core of the ruling party dispensation, and which, totally shares the idea of the Israel expansionist agenda, and now has long, bid adieu to Palestinian solidarity and proximity with the Non-Align-Movement. What assumes particular importance is the reference towards Israel and not towards any other nation? The answer perhaps, now lies more in ideology of both the nations, as today’s India is far more in alignment with the ideology of the state of Israel, and no wonder, PM Narendra Modi became the first to visit Israel in the same capacity, something very rightfully referred by EAM.

It is also ironic that EAM has stated that it was time for India to keep national interest at the highest priority and debunk the vote-bank considerations, but it will also be better to reflect that India under its first PM JL Nehru had sought help from Israel PM David Ben Gurion, when India was at war with China in 1962, and believe it, Israel also did help India! It is not therefore debated in our media-discussions of today, how very astutely JL Nehru carved way for the Israel help to reach India, informed a report published in The Hindu on May 27, 2017 . It has been uncovered, after browsing classified files from Israel that after the call for help from JL Nehru, as per ‘documents in the Israeli archives in Jerusalem, at the peak of the 1962 India-China hostilities, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion wrote to Nehru expressing Israel’s “fullest sympathy and understanding”, and provided weapons to the Indian forces.’ It is also leant that JL Nehru wanted weapons be sent to India not wrapped in Israeli flag, so as not to antagonize Arab friends, towards which David Ben Gurion, did not agree and finally Israeli weapons landed in India with Israel flags atop.

Israel has met to India’s concerns when it came to China and this strategy is still the same as Israel recently cancelled a contract (2020) with China’s company over what was called as world’s largest desalination project inside Israel, whereas, Israel has gone much ahead to put its (only one outside Israel) water attaché in India, to advise the best usage of Israeli practices and technologies in water management sector in India. China’s contract was annulled due to outgoing President Donald Trump direct threat to Israel.

Israel also wants to befriend India at the cost of China, as with literally ‘no price in consideration’ Israel offered a deal to India’s Adani group to acquire Haifa airport in Israel, and on September 8, as reported by Business Standard it came to light that ‘Adani-led group gets extension to complete Haifa Port purchase. Israel announced in July it would sell Haifa port, a major trade hub on its Mediterranean coast, to winning bidders Adani Ports and local chemicals and logistics group Gadot for $1.2 bn.’ What however, does come also as a surprise is that Adani port has been known, recently for the notoriety as nearly 3000 kgs of heroin worth around Rs 21,000 Cr, was seized from Adani port in Mundra, Gujarat! Supposedly it has been the largest seizure in India ever! What Adani, now after acquisition of Haifa port has in-store is only the time would tell.

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu before Islamic plaque in Haifa in 2017 .
Photo Courtesy: Narendramodi.in

Haifa is also quite fixed in India’s ‘imagination’ of Israel as PM Modi, on his visit to Israel had paid special tributes to the Indian soldiers who had laid down their lives, fighting as a part of British contingent against the Ottoman empire in 1918-to protect Haifa! It is for this sake, the Indian army celebrates September 23 as ‘Haifa Day’ every year, and pays respect to the two Indian Cavalry Regiments, Jodhpur Lancers and the Mysore Lancers. But, despite the prevalent trend of politics in India-and-Israel, where the Muslim past is to be ‘eroded and erased-out’, yet PM Modi had to lay the wreaths to the Indian soldiers who liberated Haifa, along with Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu, and stand solemn to the commemorative inscription of ‘Islamic Kalima’ at Haifa! For any nation, it is to find its ‘interests’ and BJP does the same with credulity, instead of Congress craftiness and guile. India had always been in stride with Israel notwithstanding the ‘dynamics of delayed diplomacy’, whatsoever with Israel.

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The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner .

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