The Australian Who Convinced India to Give Up Its Hostility toward Israel

Jan. 27 2016

After India gained independence in 1947, its foreign policy centered on efforts to create and lead a bloc of “non-aligned nations” consisting mostly of former European colonies. Animus toward Israel inevitably resulted from this orientation, which was in practice anti-American and pro-Arab. Not until 1992 did the two countries established formal diplomatic ties. The breakthrough, which paved the way for what is now a warm relationship, came after over a decade of behind-the-scene efforts by the Australian Jewish businessman and community leader, Isi Leibler. Suzanne Rutland tells the story:

During a business trip in December 1981, Leibler managed to meet with Indira [Gandhi]. After a five-minute presentation, in which he spoke about Jewish concerns, she responded: “You are politically on dangerous ground here in India. I am under enormous pressure. It is not only Pakistan. I have a potential catastrophe with [Indian] Muslims.”

She then said: “Tell me why the American Jewish-dominated press hates me . . . [and why] Jews concentrate their spite on me as if I were their worst enemy.” She ended by saying that she felt that Israel “hated” her and stressed that she liked Jews. . . .

In November 1991, at the request of Israel’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Leibler visited India in the hope of meeting with its prime minister, Narasimha Rao, who had been elected in June 1990. . . . They met on November 21, the first such meeting at this level with a Jewish leader and an Indian prime minister for many years. . . . Rao was much more positive than his predecessors.

After a second meeting a few months later, India announced that it was establishing full diplomatic relations with Israel.

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More about: Australia, India, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Israel-India relations

Israel Should Try to Defang Hamas without Toppling It

Feb. 22 2019

For the time being, Hamas has chosen to avoid outright war with the Jewish state, but instead to apply sustained, low-intensity pressure through its weekly border riots and organizing terrorist cells in the West Bank. Yet it is simultaneously engaged in a major military build-up, which suggests that it has not entirely been deterred by the previous three Gaza wars. Yaakov Lappin considers Jerusalem’s options:

In recent years, the Israel Defense Force’s southern command, which is responsible for much of the war planning for Gaza, identified a long-term truce as the best of bad options for Israel. This is based on the understanding that an Israeli invasion of Gaza and subsequent destruction of the Hamas regime would leave Israel in the unenviable position of being directly in charge of some two-million mostly hostile Gazans. This could lead to an open-ended and draining military occupation. . . .

Alternatively, Israel could demolish the Hamas regime and leave Gaza, putting it on a fast track to a “Somalia model” of anarchy and violence. In that scenario, . . . multiple jihadist armed gangs lacking a central ruling structure would appear, and Israel would be unable to project its military might to any single “return address” in Gaza. This would result in a loss of Israel’s deterrent force on Gaza to keep the region calm. This scenario would be considerably worse than the current status quo.

But a third option, in between the options of leaving Gaza as it is and toppling Hamas in a future war, may exist. In this scenario, the IDF would decimate Hamas’s military wing in any future conflict but leave its political wing and police force in place. This would enable a rapid Israeli exit after a war, but avoid a Somalia-like fate for Gaza with its destructive implications for both Israelis and Gazans. . . .

On the one hand, Hamas’s police force is an intrinsic support system for Gaza’s terrorist-guerrilla forces. On the other hand, the police and domestic-security units play a genuine role in keeping order. Such forces have been used to repress Islamic State-affiliated cells that challenge Hamas’s rule. . . . Compared to the alternative scenarios of indefinite occupation or the “Somalia scenario,” a weakened Hamas might be the best and most realistic option.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security