Is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to India Overrated?

Israeli technology in agriculture and defence along with intelligence sharing can help India but benefits accrued from trade will always be in Israel’s side. The symbolism overrides the pragmatic importance of Indo-Israel relationship and modi and Netanyahu.

Is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to India Overrated?
Is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Visit to India Overrated?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reached Mumbai today from New Delhi in the last leg of his 6 days India to visit. The purpose of coming to Mumbai is three fold:

  • To pay homage to the Jews who died during 26/11 as well as to the Indians who were killed because of the terror attack
  • For Business Summit in the second oldest 5 star hotel in India (Taj Mahal Hotel) to meet the business captains of India that will also be participated by PM Modi
  • To rejuvenate the sizeable Jewish population in Mumbai

The business leaders Netanyahu will be meeting includes Anand Mahindra, Ajay Piramal, Adi Godrej, and Chanda Kochhar. However, it has to be admitted that Israel is not United States. Neither is it European economic giants such as Germany, UK, or France. So, why is media going berserk in covering Netanyahu’s itinerary? One reason can be that Israel is probably the only nation who is all weather friend of India. The fact that India pitifully lacks genuine friends makes Israel a very attractive proposition to the Non-Muslim Indians. The statements such as, “Marriage Made in Heaven” is something probably no other nation’s head would say about India. Thus, this is Indian media’s token of gratitude towards Israel.

The Business Summit and the MoUs signed so far neither has nor likely to be laden with ground breaking opportunities and benefits for India. However, having said that there is no denial that Israel helps India in many ways and most notably in defense. Israel’s help during Kargil War had far reaching effect on the outcome of the Indian operation.

  • Yet, Congress government treated Israel like a mistress!
  • To make love with Israel without any public acknowledgement.
  • This gap is what Modi is compensating.
  • He is giving the relationship a public acknowledgement and a recognition that Israel sought for many years, but did not get from the successive Indian governments.  

Israel is small nation and there is limitation to what Israel can give India with 1.2 billion populations. However, India should give importance to Israel as their love for India is something no other nation is ready to extend to us. The vice of Israel of being the illegal occupant of West Bank and Gaza is something even many Muslim nations are ignoring.

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  • Egypt and Jordan has arms length relationship with Israel
  • Saudi Arabia has vibrant backchannel diplomacy with the Jewish state
  • Even Pakistan does not consider Israel as its enemy

However, the symbolic importance overrides the pragmatic importance of Indo-Israel relationship. India should ensure that it does not betray the Palestinians and does infuriate Iran too much. It must not be forgotten that Iran’s strategic importance to India is more than Israel’s.