India Has Finally Acknowledged That Israel Is a Friend Worth Having

Jan. 23 2018

Last week, Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to India, met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and concluded nine trade deals between the two countries. The visit is just the latest manifestation of the growing alliance between Israel and India, a country that was long hostile to the Jewish state, and refused to have formal diplomatic ties until 1991. To Swapan Dasgupta, New Delhi’s reluctance to improve relations with Jerusalem came from its excessive fear of provoking Muslim rage:

For the longest possible time, Indian diplomacy has run scared of facing the truth over Israel because of the fear of a Muslim backlash at home and recriminations against migrant Indian workers in the Islamic nations of West Asia. Someone had to take the bull by the horn and end this nonsense. The Modi government took the step in 2014, culminating in the Netanyahu visit last week.

There may have been a few angry editorials in the [mostly Muslim] Urdu press, some inflammatory sermons in mosques, an isolated black-flag demonstration or two in some cities, and some snide comments about the hug [with which Modi greeted Netanyahu upon his arrival]. However, in the main, the visit was a spectacular success. If tomorrow India starts making preparations to shift its embassy, now in Tel Aviv, to Jerusalem—as I believe it should—the protests will be insignificant.

The lessons should be obvious. The veto of a handful of activists should not deter governments from doing what is right and what is in the national interest. Fear should never be the reason for inaction.

Israel may be a tiny country, perhaps even equal in size to some of India’s larger parliamentary constituencies. Yet the popular respect it commands is disproportionate to the area it covers on the world map. This may have partly to do with Israel’s status as the custodian of an ancient Jewish civilization and partly with its doughty battle to survive while being surrounded by implacably hostile countries. Israel today epitomizes a gritty determination that is a source of colossal admiration. It is a friend worth having.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, India, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy

Israel’s Nation-State Law and the Hysteria of the Western Media

Aug. 17 2018

Nearly a month after it was passed by the Knesset, the new Basic Law defining Israel as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” is still causing outrage in the American and European press. The attacks, however, are almost uniformly incommensurate with this largely symbolic law, whose text, in the English translation found on the Knesset website, is barely over 400 words in length. Matthew Continetti comments:

Major journalistic institutions have become so wedded to a pro-Palestinian, anti-Benjamin Netanyahu narrative, in which Israel is part of a global trend toward nationalist authoritarian populism, that they have abdicated any responsibility for presenting the news in a dispassionate and balanced manner. The shameful result of this inflammatory coverage is the normalization of anti-Israel rhetoric and policies and widening divisions between Israel and the diaspora.

For example, a July 18, 2018, article in the Los Angeles Times described the nation-state law as “granting an advantageous status to Jewish-only communities.” But that is false: the bill contained no such language. (An earlier version might have been interpreted in this way, but the provision was removed.) Yet, as I write, the Los Angeles Times has not corrected the piece that contained the error. . . .

Such through-the-looking-glass analysis riddled [the five] news articles and four op-eds the New York Times has published on the matter at the time of this writing. In these pieces, “democracy” is defined as results favored by the New York Times editorial board, and Israel’s national self-understanding as in irrevocable conflict with its democratic form of government. . . .

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. . . .  The New York Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said [that] “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish state.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israel's Basic Law, Israeli democracy, Media, New York Times