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June 30, 2017 4:47 pm

Israeli Diplomat: Indian Prime Minister’s Upcoming Visit Shows Jewish State’s Growing International Stature

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

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the Jewish state next week will be a manifestation of Israel’s growing stature in the world, Jerusalem’s New Delhi envoy said in a Makor Rishon interview published on Friday.

“People understand that not everything revolves around the conflict [with the Palestinians] and they want ties with the State of Israel,” Ambassador Daniel Carmon was quoted as saying.

Carmon pointed out the similarities between Israel and India, which are celebrating this year the 25th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations.

“These are two peoples with histories and ties going back thousands of years,” Carmon said, further noting that Israel and India were each former British domains that achieved independence at around the same time in the late 1940s. “Both countries are democracies, of which there are not many on the map in the region. They’ve built a nation in parallel to us and for them, what we’ve accomplished is something to emulate. So, in recent years, after previous restrictions were lifted, this curiosity about us erupted, and the process is irreversible. There has been a ‘click’ that I’m not sure historians will be able to explain. There is something between the Indians and us.”

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For example, Carmon pointed out, the most popular book about Israel among Indians is Leon Uris’ Exodus. “Every few days I meet people who read this book, and they want to be Ari Ben Canaan (the book’s Sabra protagonist),” Carmon said.

“Over the years, we didn’t look eastward enough and the Indians viewed us as an inseparable part of the West,” Carmon went on to say. “Today, we are looking eastward and they see us as part of the Middle East, not just as Westerners. Asia is now the objective [for Israel], while in the past it was a curiosity. We’ve opened a horizon for ourselves and this has strengthened us as a nation.”

Modi’s trip next week — the first to Israel by a sitting Indian prime minister — will be “much more than symbolic” and “reverberate” for years to come, according to Carmon.

The Indian prime minister — who took office in 2014 — does not see a contradiction in having strong relations with both Israel and other nations in the Middle East, Carmon said.

“His stated policy is to separate things that were once linked,” Carmon explained.

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