By Gedalyah Reback - March 12, 2015
Originally appeared here in Arutz Sheva
Many Israelis, particularly Israeli Jews, see India as a natural ally. Both countries face radical Muslim enemies, fighting for their continued independence as the only state for their respective Jewish and Hindu peoples. But that is not how Indians view it, and it might be critical for Israelis to understand that as Jerusalem looks to deepen its relationship with New Delhi.
"Indian abstained from voting for Israeli independence in 1947," says Arjun Ramesh Hardas, "because so soon after arguing against the Pakistani argument that Muslims needed a separate state, they could not accept the idea that religion should be the basis for independence."
Mr. Hardas is the American Jewish Committee's representative in India and was formally involved with The Israel Project as part of their now-defunct India desk.
"According to the Two-Nation Theory, Pakistan and India needed to be separate. India did not accept that idea because when you look at these two countries, everything is culturally identical."
Most Indians and Pakistanis speak dialects of the same language - what Indians call Hindi and Pakistanis call Urdu. Major lifecycle events like weddings are very similar. It was only on religion where they differed. This was not the case with Israelis and Arabs in 1947, but that wasn't what Indians perceived.
"Because Israel was seen as 'Jewish' and did not project itself as a secular state, they had trouble accepting the concept of Israel. It was not anti-Israeli."
It is Israel's identity as an open democracy that would have more appeal among Indians, including the majority Hindus. India might have a Hindu majority, but it has sizeable minorities of Muslims, Sikhs and Jains. Christians and Jews, though much smaller, have still found ways to represent themselves in society. Read More