India and Israel Share a Strategic Agenda, and the U.S. Can Benefit

Last month, Benjamin Netanyahu paid an official visit to India, reciprocating a summer 2017 visit to Israel by his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi. Efraim Inbar explains the geopolitical logic that brings the two countries together, and its significance:

Both [countries] have waged major conventional wars against their neighbors and have experienced low‐intensity conflict and terror, as they are both involved in protracted conflicts characterized by complex ethnic and religious components not always well understood by outsiders. Weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of their rivals.

Both regard parts of the Arab world as hubs for Islamic extremism—a common threat. Moreover, India fears the Pakistani nuclear arsenal might ultimately fall into the hands of Islamic radicals, while Israel sees the mix in Iran of Islamic zeal and nuclear ambitions as an existential threat. The offshoots of Islamic State threaten the stability of Egypt and Jordan—Israel’s neighbors—and are increasingly sources of concern in South and Southeast Asia. . . .

Washington is important for [both] Jerusalem and New Delhi. India, a major player in the international system, has [of late] improved its relations with the U.S. Nevertheless, New Delhi’s links with Jerusalem have the potential to smooth over some of the difficulties in dealing with the U.S. Working with Israel fits into Modi’s plan to deepen relations with the U.S. given the U.S.‐Israel friendship. . . .

Gradually, India has overcome its reservations about security cooperation with Israel— not only on counterterrorism, which preceded the establishment of diplomatic relations and has been conducted away from the public eye. . . . [It is] noteworthy that Modi’s trip to Israel was not “balanced” with a visit to the Palestinian Authority, indicating that India has decoupled its relations with Israel from its historical commitment to the Palestinian issue. India has even occasionally refrained from joining the automatic majority against Israel in international forums.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, India, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, U.S. Foreign policy

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