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Here’s Why Israel And India’s Leaders Couldn’t Get Enough Of Each Other

Clifford D. May
7th July 2017 - Quoted by Ron Kampeas - Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Barefoot walks on the beach, warm hugs, lots of mutual admiration, hesitant attempts to speak each other’s language. And giggles.

The bromance between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India and Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — culminating this week in Modi’s historic Israel visit — played out like a young adult summer novel.

But “India and Israel” was never written in the stars: One of the world’s largest democracies kept its distance from one of its loneliest for years. India recognized Israel in 1950, and Israel soon opened a consulate in Mumbai, home to a substantial Jewish community. But it took until 1992 for India to establish full ties, and until the middle of the last decade it was slow going.


The justification for the existence of a nonaligned movement has ebbed since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, said Clifford May, the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. America is now the only major power.

“It’s 2017,” he said. “With whom are you not aligned?”


May of the Foundation of Defense of Democracies recalled a meeting that Modi had a year ago with representatives of think tanks during a U.S. visit. The Indian leader asked all the representatives to say what was on their minds about the India-U.S. relationship, and an array of topics came up —  educational exchanges, trade, employment. Only May mentioned Islamist terrorism, and recalled that when Modi launched into his response, the terrorist threat constituted at least three quarters of his time.

“He was clearly concerned about threats from Islamists and jihadists in Pakistan,” May said. “That is part of the reason he would see Israel surrounded by jihadists who want to destroy it” and seek its expertise in preventing such attacks.


“There’s no good reason for Modi to be picking a fight or getting on Iran’s bad side,” said May, whose Foundation of Defense of Democracies is one of the leading think tanks that otherwise advocates Iran’s isolation.


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india, israel