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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 07, 2003

Updates on the I3 alliance

(News) - Trade between Israel and India reached the $1 billion mark and looks poised for further growth, and India touts its refreshing lack of anti-Semitism..
Israel also has provided India with military assistance during its wars with Pakistan. Additionally, the Indians have always taken pride that their country is one of the only places in the world that has no experience with anti-Semitism. There is no history of persecution or discrimination of the Jewish community, which dates back some 2,000 years. Some Indians like to compare this record to their neighbor, Pakistan, and its support for the Taliban and Al Qaida. In recent years, India has become one of Israel's largest trading partners. At a time when Israel's economy has been devastated by more than two years of Palestinian violence, trade with India has reached $1 billion per year.

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Last year, more than 60,000 Israelis visited India, constituting five percent of the total number of tourists..

I should clarify one point though.. the similarities between Israel and India that the author extols are mostly due to exigencies of history, and due to remarkable structural similarities between Judaism and Hinduism. Ready examples would be the non-proselytizing nature of both religions, and the ability of Indian Jews to find high positions in the caste system. The relative lack of anti-Semitism amongst Hindus in India is not necessarily reflective of a some sort of superior Hindu moral fiber.

For now the reality is this: These are two countries, two civilizations, both under siege by the same enemy. It makes them natural bedfellows, even close allies. But we should keep in mind that relationships between the two are still fragile even as they grow. Many events could stall this process.. the upcoming war against Saddam's regime, increase in sectarian violence in India, where exactly the 800-lb American gorilla decides to park it's considerable ass, are but a few examples.

Regardless, I view any improvement in relations between India and Israel, whatever the expedient reasons be, as welcome news for two striving and weary nations.