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October 20, 2016 1:09 pm

Indian PM Draws Media Ire, Praise Over Comparison of Country’s Military to IDF

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu meets with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in New York City in September 2014. Photo: Avi Ohayon / GPO via Flickr.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in New York City in September 2014. Photo: Avi Ohayon / GPO via Flickr.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s positive comparison this week of his country’s military to the Israel Defense Forces drew mixed media reactions on the subcontinent.

Referring to recent pinpoint strikes carried out by India against terrorist targets on its disputed border with Pakistan in the Kashmir region, Modi said on Tuesday, “Earlier, we used to hear of Israel doing things like this. Now everyone knows our army can do it, too.”

In an editorial on Thursday, India’s Tribune newspaper took Modi to task, saying, “Surely the Prime Minister’s intention was not to equate the Indian armed forces with the trigger-happy Israeli army. Israel’s military actions have created a permanent sore the world over and motivate generations of Palestinians to settle scores with a much superior enemy.”

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Writing in The Wire on Thursday, journalist Manoj Joshi asserted, “Modi should have realised that comparing Indian action ‘along’ the Line of Control with Israeli covert and military operations was hyperbole, pure and simple. But the fetishisation of Israel runs deep in the Sangh parivar and its reason is no secret — deep anti-Islamism.”

On the other hand, Swarajya contributing editor Aravindan Neelakandan praised the PM. “Predictably Pavlovian, the barons of old media establishment decried the comparison,” he wrote. “India born American leftist journalist Siddharth Varadarajan in his article criticising Modi’s comparison claimed that ‘the vast majority of Indians believe India should stand with the Palestinians in their just struggle.’ Nothing can be further away from reality. As a test one can go to any tea shop in any part of India, except perhaps those zones where radicalised Islamists stalk, and start a conversation about the topic of terrorism. Five minutes into the conversation you will find Indians, irrespective of their religion or language, appreciate and admire Israel’s bold stands on terrorism.”

Furthermore, Neelakadan said, “Whatever cuckoo land India’s old media barons prefer to live in, Israeli commando operations like the one in Entebbe have set the standards for the expected state response to terrorism in common men and women.”

Israel and India enjoy a burgeoning relationship in the defense field. For example, as reported by The Algemeiner in August, the Indian military plans to equip itself with an Israeli radar system that will enable Indian troops to detect terrorists hiding in dense forests.

And in September, India conducted a successful test of a long-range surface-to-air missile system it co-developed with Israel.

In an interview with The Algemeiner in May, Ohad Horsandi, a spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, said, “BDS is far from the Indian mentality.” His comment was in the context of a discussion of the intricacies of what he called the “improving, but delicate” relations between the two countries, in light of a report in The Hindu at the time that Modi was planning to visit Israel in the coming months.

Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1992 establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and India.

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