Israel-India Cooperation Is Here to Stay

Sept. 14 2016

Since Narendra Modi became prime minister of India in 2014, his country’s relationship with Israel has warmed considerably. This development can be credited in part to the rapport between Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu and in part to the generally pro-Israel stance of Modi’s Hindu-nationalist BJP party, which, when previously in power, took steps to reverse New Delhi’s traditional pro-Arab stance. But actually, argues Harry Hoshovsky, the relationship is not dependent on any one party or leader, but is the result of long-term changes:

[I]t was under the leadership of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao [of the long-dominant Indian National Congress (INC)] that India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992. Given prior Indian hostility or indifference toward Israel, diplomatic normalization was a major shift in Indian foreign policy toward the Middle East. The end of the cold war and the initiation of the Oslo peace process afforded New Delhi the opportunity to recalibrate its engagement with both Israel and the Palestinians. Normalization allowed for increased economic, cultural, and security cooperation between Israel and India, while still allowing [the latter] to advocate on behalf of the Palestinians. . . .

After the BJP lost power in 2004, there were concerns that the INC-led [coalition] might roll back some of the diplomatic gains. These fears proved largely unfounded: the government deepened and broadened India’s relationship with Israel, . . . because of an important ideological shift in India regarding its diplomatic balancing act vis-à-vis Israel and the Palestinian Authority: . . . starting in 2004, [India] quietly started to disconnect [its] foreign-policy calculations toward Israel from the vagaries of the peace process.

[In addition], Modi’s anticipated visit to Israel [which will be a first] represents a historic opportunity to accomplish two interconnected foreign-policy objectives. India will demonstrate to its Arab partners that a new era of Indo-Israeli relations is under way. And by establishing a new diplomatic status quo, Modi and the BJP will make it very challenging for the INC or any other political party to reverse it.

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

 

The Proper Jewish Response to the Pittsburgh Massacre

Nov. 21 2018

In the Jewish tradition, it is commonplace to add the words zikhronam li-vrakhah (may their memory be for a blessing) after the names of the departed, but when speaking of those who have been murdered because they were Jews, a different phrase is used: Hashem yikom damam—may God avenge their blood. Meir Soloveichik explains:

The saying reflects the fact that when it comes to mass murderers, Jews do not believe that we must love the sinner while hating the sin; in the face of egregious evil, we will not say the words ascribed to Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” We believe that a man who shoots up a synagogue knows well what he does; that a murderer who sheds the blood of helpless elderly men and women knows exactly what he does; that one who brings death to those engaged in celebrating new life knows precisely what he does. To forgive in this context is to absolve; and it is, for Jews, morally unthinkable.

But the mantra for murdered Jews that is Hashem yikom damam bears a deeper message. It is a reminder to us to see the slaughter of eleven Jews in Pennsylvania not only as one terrible, tragic moment in time, but as part of the story of our people, who from the very beginning have had enemies that sought our destruction. There exists an eerie parallel between Amalek, the tribe of desert marauders that assaulted Israel immediately after the Exodus, and the Pittsburgh murderer. The Amalekites are singled out by the Bible from among the enemies of ancient Israel because in their hatred for the chosen people, they attacked the weak, the stragglers, the helpless, those who posed no threat to them in any way.

Similarly, many among the dead in Pittsburgh were elderly or disabled; the murderer smote “all that were enfeebled,” and he “feared not God.” Amalek, for Jewish tradition, embodies evil incarnate in the world; we are commanded to remember Amalek, and the Almighty’s enmity for it, because, as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik explained, the biblical appellation refers not only to one tribe but also to our enemies throughout the ages who will follow the original Amalek’s example. To say “May God avenge their blood” is to remind all who hear us that there is a war against Amalek from generation to generation—and we believe that, in this war, God is not neutral.

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More about: Amalek, Anti-Semitism, Judaism, Religion & Holidays