Monday, July 17, 2006

Israel sympathizes with India

A lone little Democracy surrounded by Islamic dictatorships, Israel has had a difficult time since its birth.

Now Hezbollah Islamic terrorists (based in Lebanon but armed and supported by Islamic terrorist states Iran and Syria) have committed the latest outrage against Israel: capturing two Israeli soldiers.

They thought Israel would negotiate, but the little Democracy has been fighting back valiantly against its medieval Islamic fundamentalist enemies.

India, which has taken one Islamic terror attack after another lying down without any retaliation, has a lot to learn from the little Democracy.

Israelis express sympathy for the victims of the horrific blasts in Mumbai that killed over 200 and wounded over 700 innocent Indians.

Times of India reports:
Israelis feel Mumbai’s sorrow, India’s pain

JERUSALEM: In Israel, a country in a region where the vocabulary of terrorism has an unfortunately high currency, the 7/11 attacks have been followed with deep concern and interest. As rockets and bombs flying through the dust and smoke over the border with Lebanon threaten to turn the battle with Hezbollah into full-scale war, Israelis at every level seek to make common cause with India against the forces of terror.

An Indian delegation of MPs, business leaders and mediapersons, currently in Israel on an invitation from the American Jewish Committee, a powerful lobby in Washington , were met almost everywhere with expressions of sympathy and concern for the people of Mumbai.

Barely an hour before the 7/11 attack, Silvan Shalom, a former deputy prime minister of Israel, met the delegation for an informal discussion in a Tel Aviv hotel on the Mediterranean. Naturally, terrorism was central to the discussion.

Asked about how 9/11 had affected Israel, Shalom said, “In 9/11 the world realised that terrorism wasn’t Israel’s problem only. Until then they tried to convince us that Israel was being attacked because of the West Bank and Gaza). But after 9/11, they realised that there was a radical Islamist movement at work. It was the first time that the West came together to fight back.’’

India and Israel have been moving closer at many levels—from trade to strategic affairs—since the two countries established diplomatic relations in 1992. And thanks to some 70,000 Jews of Indian origin spread across Israel, India enjoys a kind of special status here. The Indian embassy in Tel Aviv issues 40,000 visas every year to young Israelis who flock to the Himalayas in the north and the beaches in Goa after they complete their three-year compulsory stint in the army.

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies and an expert on foreign relations, said he was delighted at the growing warmth between the two countries.

“For many years, India shied away from having relations with Israel. But after the Cold War was over, one of the adaptations was better relations with Israel,’’ he said. “We are a flourishing country, which is what makes Israel attractive to India. The main enemy of both countries is radical Islam. For India, Pakistan is an area of concern because of the weapons it possesses and its military dictatorship. We are less concerned about Pakistan, but Saudi Arabia is an area of concern for us, ‘’ he added.

Yael Guter, a research fellow at the Bar Ilan University, who has travelled extensively in India, especialy Cochin from where thousands of Jewish families emigrated to Israel, said, “India is not a country it’s a whole world. I express my sympathy for what happened in Bombay.’’

“I travelled in India for seven months and I loved it there. There was a tragic incident in India and a tragic incident in Israel,’’ she added, referring to the abduction of two Isreali soldiers by Hezbollah. At the Israeli ministry of trade and industry, it was pointed out that one of the common areas between the two countries was the resilience their peoples.

But those who were really rocked by the 7/11 news were Israel’s newest immigrant families from Mumbai. In the port town of Ashdod, at what is known here as an Absorbtion Centre, an institution where immigrants are put through a comprehensive orientation course including Hebrew lessons, the director had organised a short informal ceremony after she heard of the Mumbai blasts— the lighting of a candle placed before a poster which said: No Terror. At the centre were six families from Mumbai who have moved to Israel recently. They were anxious for news about the attacks.

Asher Gasulkar, a welder from Mumbai once an employee in the control panel division of a company owned by Madhuri Dixit and his family, were glued to CNN , watching in disbelief as the mangled anatomy of the seven trains flashed endlessly on TV. Another lady, formerly from the Sandhurst Road, also listened stunned when she heard of the death toll.

There is a large Marathi-speaking Jewish population in Israel, which even has its own newspaper. Many of the young generation do not speak Marathi any more, but when one of them heard of the blasts, she exclaimed in horror, “Kay boltes.’’



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