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Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat – India, Israel and the Jewish People

Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat, Co-Chair of the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) Board of Directors, speaking at the book launch of “Israel and the Jewish People: Looking Ahead, Looking Back 25 Years after Normalization“. The launch event featured remarks from India’s Ambassador to Israel, Pavan Kapoor, Deputy Director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Former Israel Ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and co-author of the publication, Dr. Shalom Salomon Wald.

The following is a transcript of the video:

IT IS AN HONOR TO HAVE THE INDIAN AMBASSADOR SPEAK WITH US. IT COMES AT A PROPITIOUS TIME FOR SEVERAL REASONS: IT IS THE 25th ANNIVERSARY OF INDIA EXTENDING FULL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL IN 1992. IT COINCIDES WITH JPPI’S PUBLICATION OF AN IMPORTANT NEW BOOK BY SHALOM WALD AND ARIELLE KANDEL, “INDIA, ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE–LOOKING AHEAD, LOOKING BACK, 25 YEARS AFTER NORMALIZATION”, ITS IMPORTANCE EMPHASIZED BY THE FACT ISRAELI PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN HAS WRITTEN THE FOREWORD. HIS PRESENCE IS A REMINDER OF THE EMPHASIS JPPI HAS BEEN GIVING TO THE IMPACT OF GLOBALIZATION ON ISRAEL, THE JEWISH PEOPLE AND THE WORLD. AND THE AMBASSADOR IS REPRESENTING THE ENLIGHTENED, VISIONARY LEADERSHIP OF PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI, WHO HAS MADE DRAMATIC, POSITIVE INTERNAL REFORMS IN INDIA, DEEPENED RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES, AND DRAMATICALLY CHANGED INDIA’S POLICY TOWARD ISRAEL IN PROFOUNDLY POSITIVE WAYS.

THE IMPROVED RELATIONSHIP WITH INDIA IS A CRITICAL ELEMENT OF THE FOREIGN POLICY OF BOTH THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL.

INDIA IS ON THE MOVE

INDIA IS ON THE MOVE AS A MAJOR REGIONAL AND GLOBAL POWER, OFTEN UNRECOGNIZED AND OVERSHADOWED BY THE AGGRESSIVE RISE OF ITS NEIGHBOR CHINA. I BELIEVE THIS IS TO THE GREAT BENEFIT NOT ONLY OF ITS OWN PEOPLE, BUT OF THE UNITED STATES AND ISRAEL. IT IS PART OF THE ASIA-PACIFIC REGION, THE MOST ECONOMICALLY VIBRANT, FASTEST GROWING REGION IN THE WORLD. FOR EXAMPLE, IN 2014, THE ASIA PACIFIC COUNTRIES ACCUMULATED WEALTH AT A RATE MORE THAN FIVE TIMES THE RATE OF THE U.S. AND EUROPE (+29% COMPARED TO +6/6% IN EUROPE AND +5.6% IN THE U.S.). MANY ASIAN COUNTRIES HAVE ADOPTED A FORM OF AUTHORITARIAN CAPITALISM (E.G. MALAYSIA AND SINGAPORE), ANATHEMA TO THE U.S. AND ISRAELI MODELS. AND THAT IS WHY INDIA’S RISE AS A DEMOCRATIC, FREE MARKET COUNTRY IS ESPECIALLY WELCOME.

INDIA IS NOW THE SECOND LARGEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, AND ONE OF THE YOUNGEST, WITH 1.3  BILLION PEOPLE, AND A MEDIAN AGE OF ONLY 27 (COMPARED TO 36 FOR CHINA) AND IT IS PROJECTED  THAT IN 20 YEARS, INDIA’S POPULATION WILL EXCEED CHINA’S 1.5 BILLION VS. 1.45 BILLION) AS THE MOST POPULIST ON EARTH. STILL, SOME 60% OF ITS POPULATION LIVES OUTSIDE OF URBAN CENTERS. ITS VAST DIASPORA FROM DUBAI AND SINGAPORE HAS GIVEN INDIA AN INCREASINGLY GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE (WIKIPEDIA)

BUT IT IS NOT ONLY IN SHEER NUMBERS THAT INDIA’S DRAMATIC ASCENSION  IS MARKED. WITH THE REFORMS PRIME MINISTER MODI HAS IMPLEMENTED, AND A HIGHLY TALENTED AND EDUCATED POPULATION, INDIA IS NOW GROWING FASTER THAN ANY OTHER MAJOR COUNTRY IN THE WORLD–7 % PER ANNUM, COMPARED TO 6.5% BY CHINA. IT HAS BEEN ESTIMATED BY THE OECD THAT BY 2060, INDIA WILL MOVE FROM 7% OF  GLOBAL GDP TO 18%, (WHILE CHINA WILL INCREASE FROM 17% TO 28%, THE US WILL DECLINE FROM 23% TO 17%, AND EUROPE WILL PLUMMET FROM 17% ONLY 9%.  IT IS ESTIMATED THAT BY 2040, INDIA WILL SURPASS THE U.S. ECONOMY IN PURCHASING POWER PARITY. (MARGARET SINGH ANAND, “3 AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR THE U.S-INDIA RELATIONSHIP,”, THE DIPLOMAT, MARCH 2, 2017) JPPI, 2016 ANNUAL ASSESSMENT, CHAPTER 7, PAGE 77; DR. SHALOM WALD AND ARIEL KANDEL, “INDIA, ISRAEL AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE: LOOKING AHEAD, LOOKING BACK–25 YEARS AFTER NORMALIZATION, JPPI)).

OF COURSE, THERE ARE STILL HURDLES TO OVERCOME. MANY IN THE US BUSINESS COMMUNITY, FIND IT MORE DIFFICULT TO INVEST IN INDIA THAN CHINA; THERE IS A STIFLING BUREAUCRACY; AND ILLITERACY AND POVERTY ARE STILL WIDESPREAD.

THERE ARE SOME 3.5 MILLION INDIAN-AMERICANS, AND THEY ARE ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL MINORITIES IN THE U.S. ECONOMICALLY, EDUCATIONALLY, AND CULTURALLY. AND THEIR CONTINUED CLOSE TIES TO THEIR HOMELAND, REINFORCES THE STRENGTH OF THE U.S.-INDIA RELATIONSHIP.

AS SHLOMO WALD AND ARIELLE KANDEL NOTE, INDIA IS SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASING ITS PRESENCE AND IMPACT IN THE MIDDLE EAST, SIGNIFICANTLY BECAUSE OF ITS NEED FOR ENERGY–TWO-THIRDS OF ITS IMPORTED OIL COMES FROM THE MIDDLE EAST, AND AS A CONSEQUENCE, MIDDLE EAST TRADE REPRESENTS A QUARTER OF ITS TOTAL TRADE, TWICE AS MUCH AS INDIA TRADES WITH THE U.S. AND CHINA.. INDIA’S MIDDLE EAST TRADE IS TWICE ITS TRADE WITH THE U.S. OR CHINA. (JPPI, 2016 ASSESSMENT, P. 79), BUT THAT THIS IS NOT ENTIRELY TO ISRAEL’S DISADVANTAGE, BECAUSE WITH THE U.S. BECOMING INCREASINGLY ENERGY INDEPENDENT AND EUROPE, UNFORTUNATELY, BECOMING MORE DEPENDENT ON RUSSIAN ENERGY, ARAB OIL PRODUCERS NEED INDIA EVERY BIT AS MUCH AS INDIA NEEDS THEM.

INDIA’S RISE IS A MAJOR PART OF A PROFOUND SHIFT OF POWER AND INFLUENCE IN THE WORLD, FROM THE WEST TO THE EAST, FROM THE U.S. AND ITS LONGTIME EUROPEAN ALLIES TO ASIA. THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION RECOGNIZED THIS SHIFT, AND OPENLY TALKED ABOUT A “PIVOT TO ASIA”. THIS WAS DRAMATIZED BY THE TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT (TPP), AND BY A SUBSTANTIAL UPGRADING OF U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS AS A CORNERSTONE OF THE NEW POLICY.

INDIA IS NO LONGER ON THE SIDELINES OF GLOBAL STRATEGIC AFFAIRS. INDIA IS TAKING A MORE PROACTIVE ROLE IN ASIA, MODERNIZING AND DIVERSIFYING THE ASSETS OF THE STRATEGIC FORCES COMMAND; REACHING OUT TO ASIAN COUNTRIES TO COMPETE WITH CHINA’S “ONE BELT, ONE ROAD” INITIATIVE;  CO-DEVELOPING MANUFACTURING HUBS IN SOUTHEAST ASIAN COUNTRIES; SUPPORTING FUTURE MEGA-INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAMS, LIKE THE ASIAN HIGHWAY NETWORK; INSTALLING  OCEAN SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT TO SHELTER ITS PROTECT ITS STRATEGIC INTERESTS AND DIASPORA; AND INCREASING ITS SECURITY DIALOGUE AND MILITARY EXERCISES WITH THE U.S, VIETNAM, JAPAN AND AUSTRALIA. BUT AT THE SAME TIME, INDIA IS SEEKING TO IMPROVE SINO-INDIAN RELATIONS AND NOT BE SEEN AS PARTICIPATING IN A US-LED CHINA CONTAINMENT POLICY, WITH THE U.S. TIED DOWN IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ, INEFFECTIVELY COMBATTING RUSSIA IN UKRAINE, STRUGGLING TO MAKE ITS PRESENCE FELT IN SYRIA AND PULLING OUT OF THE TRANSPACIFIC PARTNERSHIP, AND UNCERTAINTIES ABOUT WHERE THE TRUMP FOREIGN POLICY TOWARD ASIA WILL LEAD. (WIKIPEDIA)

IT IS TOO EARLY TO KNOW WHETHER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WILL FOLLOW THROUGH, BUT THEY HAVE ALREADY UNCEREMONIOUSLY AND UNILATERALLY PULLED OUT OF TPP, A KEY ELEMENT IN COMPETING WITH CHINA, AND OF THE PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT, IN WHICH THE U.S. INVESTED A GREAT DEAL OF RESOURCES TO GET INDIA AND CHINA TO SIGN-ON.

ISRAEL-INDIA RELATIONS

FOR NEARLY FOUR DECADES AFTER EACH GOT THEIR INDEPENDENCE FROM BRITAIN WITHIN MONTHS OF EACH OTHER, INDIA AND ISRAEL POINTED  IN DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS.  INDIA WAS A LEADER IN THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT THAT MAINTAINED CLOSE RELATIONS WITH THE ARAB WORLD AND THE SOVIET UNION, WAS GENERALLY NEGATIVE TOWARD ISRAEL, WHILE ISRAEL LINKED ITS FUTURE TO THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE.  WITH ITS LARGE MUSLIM POPULATION, INDIA WAS CONCERNED  ABOUT CLOSE RELATIONS WITH THE JEWISH STATE. (JEWISH VIRTUAL LIBRARY, “ISRAEL INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: INDIA-ISRAEL RELATIONS )HISTORICALLY, AS WALD AND KANDEL NOTE, INDIA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH ISRAEL WAS DISTANT. INDIA VOTED AGAINST THE UN PARTITION PLAN, DID NOT RECOGNIZE ISRAEL’S DECLARATION OF STATEHOOD IN 1947, EVEN THOUGH BOTH WERE GAINING THEIR INDEPENDENCE FROM BRITAIN, AND VOTED AGAINST THEIR ADMISSION TO THE UNITED NATIONS IN 1949. INDIA REGULARLY SUPPORTED ANTI-ISRAEL RELATIONS IN THE UN. THIS WAS IN PART BECAUSE OF  THEIR LARGE MUSLIM MINORITY, TODAY 15% OF THEIR POPULATION, AND AT 180 MILLION THE LARGEST MUSLIM MINORITY IN THE WORLD, AND  THE SECOND MOST POPULIST MUSLIM POPULATION, NEXT TO INDONESIA. (JPPI, SUPRA) .

WHILE INDIA RECOGNIZED ISRAEL AS A STATE IN 1950, AND IN 1953, ISRAEL WAS ALLOWED TO OPEN A CONSULATE IN BOMBAY (NOW MUMBAI). FORMAL DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS BEGAN ONLY IN 1992. AND RESURGENT HINDU NATIONALISM AND A VIBRANT PROFESSIONAL CLASS IS CHANGING ATTITUDES. LIKEWISE, ARAB SUPPORT FOR PAKISTAN IS ANOTHER OFFSETTING FACTOR IN ISRAEL’S FAVOR.

BUT ALL OF THAT SEEMS LIKE THE DISTANT PAST. WITHOUT IN ANY WAY DIMINISHING ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE UNITED STATES, ITS ONLY GENUINE ALLY, ISRAEL HAS LONG RECOGNIZED THE SHIFT IN POWER TO THE EAST, AND THE NEED TO DEVELOP CLOSER RELATIONSHIPS TO THE RISING POWERS IN A MULTI-POLAR WORLD.

EVEN BEFORE MODI’S ACCESSION TO LEADERSHIP, RELATIONS GRADUALLY IMPROVED. EZER WEIZMAN BECAME THE FIRST ISRAELI PRESIDENT TO VISIT ISRAEL IN 1997. IN THE YEAR 2000, JASWANT SINGH BECAME THE FIRST INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO VISIT ISRAEL, FOLLOWING WHICH A JOINT ANTI-TERROR COMMISSION WAS ESTABLISHED. IN 2003, PRIME MINISTER SHARON BECAME THE FIRST ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER TO VISIT INDIA, LEADING TO RIOTS BY SOME MUSLIMS. BUT INDIAN PRIME MINISTER VAJPAYEE REFUSED TO BEND AND APPLAUDED SHARON’S VISIT AS AN IMPORTANT STEP TOWARD IMPROVED TIES. RELATIONS DEEPENED QUICKLY, WITH MORE VISITS BY SENIOR OFFICIALS.

BUT THE BREAKTHROUGH IN IMPROVED RELATIONS WITH ISRAEL (AND ALSO THE US) BEGAN WITH THE VICTORY OF MODI AND HIS HINDU-ORIENTED PARTY IN MAY, 2014. DURING THE MARGINS OF THE 2014 UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, MODI MET WITH ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU, THE FIRST MEETING IN OVER A DECADE BETWEEN THE PRIME MINISTERS OF THE TWO COUNTRIES. MODI SENT GREETINGS IN HEBREW TO NETANYAHU ON CHANUKAH AND THE REPLY CAME IN HINDI. VISITS OF THE ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER IN 2015 (YA’ALON) TO INDIA , AND THE VISIT TO ISRAEL OF INDIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (SWARAJ) IN 2016, INCLUDED A TOUR OF YAD VASHEM. THIS WAS CAPPED BY THE FIRST INDIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT ISRAEL,  PRESIDENT MUKHERJEE, IN 2015, AND WAS INVITED TO ADDRESS A SPECIAL SESSION OF THE KNESSET (JOSEPH  PUDER). ISRAELI PRESIDENT RIVLIN RECIPROCATED BY A NOVEMBER, 2016 VISIT.

WHEN PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU MET PRIME MINISTER MOTI IN NEW YORK, HE DESCRIBED ISRAEL’S RELATIONS WITH INDIA AS “THE SKY’S THE LIMIT”. PRIME MINISTER MODI IS SCHEDULED TO VISIT ISRAEL IN JULY, 2017, THE FIRST EVER BY AN INDIAN PRIME MINISTER.

THESE HIGH LEVEL VISITS ARE SYMBOLICAL OF THE STUNNING AND BARELY RECOGNIZED DEEPENING  OF BILATERAL TIES ACROSS THE BOARD, NOT COINCIDENTALLY, AT THE SAME TIME THIS IS OCCURRING WITH THE U.S. THESE TIES ARE BASED UPON A SHARED SENSE OF VALUES AS FELLOW DEMOCRACIES AND STRATEGIC INTERESTS AGAINST ISLAMIC TERRORISM, WHICH THREATENS BOTH COUNTRIES.

INDIA NO LONGER REFLEXIVELY SUPPORTS  EVERY ANTI-ISRAEL RESOLUTION AT THE UNITED NATIONS, ABSTAINING FROM A VOTE IN THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION APPROVING A GAZA COMMISSION OF INQUIRY REPORT IN JULY, 2015, THE FIRST TIME EVER INDIA DID NOT SUPPORT PALESTINIAN INTERESTS AT THE UNHRC. (VIRTUAL LIBRARY)AND HAS MADE EFFORTS TO MODERATE THEM. ALTHOUGH IT HAS DONE SO ON SETTLEMENTS. BUT WITH PRIME MINISTER MODI’S LEADERSHIP, INDIA’S PARLIAMENT DID NOT DENOUNCE ISRAEL’S ACTIONS IN GAZA IN 2014 IN OPERATION PROTECTIVE EDGE. AND INDIA BEGAN DENOUNCING PALESTINIAN TERRORIST ACTS IN ISRAEL. (JOSEPH PUDER, “THE FLOURISHING INDIAN-ISRAELI RELATIONS”, FRONTPAGE MAGAZINE, APRIL 3, 2017)

FOLLOWING THE TRAGIC NOVEMBER 2008 ATTACKS IN MUMBAI (WHERE A CLOSE FRIEND OF MINE, ERIKA MANN, THEN A MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT WAS TRAPPED FOR HOURS), ISRAEL OFFERED TO SEND SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES TO ASSIST IN THE INVESTIGATION, AND MAGEN DAVID ADOM DISPATCHED A TEAM OF MEDICS AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS TO ASSIST WITH RESCUE EFFORTS.

FROM ALMOST ZERO IN 1992, BILATERAL TRADE IS NOW $5 BILLION , STILL SMALL, BUT IF A FREE TRADE AGREEMENT NOW BEING NEGOTIATED, CAN BE SUCCESSFULLY CONCLUDED, WITH  LIKELY  SOAR TO OVER $10  BILLION (JPPI). EVEN SO, INDIA IS ISRAEL’S 10th LARGEST TRADE PARTNER OF IMPORT SOURCE, AND 7th LARGEST EXPORT LOCATION.

THE DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED RELATIONSHIP IS ALSO AN EXAMPLE OF HOW ISRAELI TECHNOLOGY SKILLS, IN THIS CASE IN AGRICULTURE, CAN HAVE MAJOR GEO-POLITICAL IMPACTS. ONE OF THINGS THAT ATTRACTED THE PRIME MINISTER’S ATTENTION WHEN HE WAS CHIEF MINISTER OF GUJARAT STATE FROM 2001 TO 2014, WERE ISRAEL’S AGRICULTURAL CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE, TO HELP INDIAN FARMERS IMPROVE THEIR YIELDS THROUGH VERTICAL FARMING, DRIP IRRIGATION, AND SOIL SOLARIZATION, WHILE FOCUSING ON SPECIFIC FRUIT AND VEGETABLE CROPS. THERE ARE NOW OVER 30 THROUGHOUT VARIOUS STATES IN INDIA. ISRAEL IS ALSO INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING IN PRIME MINISTER MOTI’S “MAKE IN INDIA PROGRAM” AND IN INVESTING IN INDIA’S IT SECTOR, A STRENGTH IN BOTH COUNTRIES. AT THE SAME TIME, INDIAN STATES ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING ABOUT ISRAEL’S SUCCESS IN START-UPS.(TRIDIVESH SINGH MAINI, “HOW INDIA’S STATES BOOST ISRAEL RELATIONS”, THE DIPLOMAT, MAY 25, 2017)

INDIA IS THE WORLD’S LARGEST PURCHASER OF ISRAELI MILITARY ARMS, AND FOR INDIA, ISRAEL IS ITS THIRD LARGEST ARMS SUPPLIER. (TRIDIVESH SINGH MAINI, “INDIA-ISRAEL TIES: NOT JUST ABOUT DEFENSE”, THE DIPLOMAT, MAY 5, 2017) MORE BROADLY, INDIA IS ISRAEL’S THIRD LARGEST TRADING PARTNER IN ASIA.(JOSEPH PUDER) ISRAEL’S DEFENSE EXPORTS TO INDIA ARE AROUND $1 BILLION ANNUALLY (JPPI) AND IMPORTANTLY, THIS DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP IS NOT HAMPERED WITH THE KIND OF U.S. RESTRICTIONS THAT APPLY TO ISRAEL-CHINA DEFENSE RELATIONS. CERTAINLY, ISRAEL HAS NO SUCH CONCERNS WITH INDIA’S TENSE RELATIONSHIP WITH ISLAMIC PAKISTAN. INDEED, IN 1999, ISRAEL SUPPLIED WEAPONS TO HELP INDIA IN ITS KARGIL WAR WITH PAKISTAN. AND THE IDF SENT AN EMERGENCY RESPONSE DELEGATION TO INDIA FOLLOWING ITS DEVASTATING 2001 EARTHQUAKE.  THEY HAVE TESTED A JOINTLY DEVELOPED AIR AND NAVAL DEFENSE MISSILE SYSTEM IN NOVEMBER, 2014 (BARAK)(JEWISH VIRTUAL LIBRARY, SUPRA). AND ISRAELI DRONES WILL HELP SECURE INDIA’S BORDERS, OPERATED BY INDIA’S AIR FORCE. (VIRTUAL LIBRARY)

SINCE 2012, THE TWO COUNTRIES HAVE BOOSTED THEIR COUNTER-TERRORISM COORDINATION FOLLOWING THE VISIT OF INDIAN EXTERNAL MINISTER SM KRISHNA’S VISIT TO ISRAEL.

GIVEN THE HIGH TECH PROWESS OF BOTH INDIA AND ISRAEL, THIS IS A NATURAL AREA FOR DEEPENING RELATIONS. AND INDEED THIS IS OCCURRING. IN 2005, A JOINT FUND, CALLED “i4RD” WAS ESTABLISHED TO ENCOURAGE JOINT R&D PROJECTS, AND BETWEEN 2006-2014, THE FUND WAS USED FOR SEVEN PROJECTS. IN 2012, THE TWO COUNTRIES, SIGNED A FIVE YEAR, $50 MILLION ACADEMIC RESEARCH AGREEMENT TO PROMOTE COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH IN AREAS FROM MEDICAL TO INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. AND THERE IS EVEN COOPERATION IN SPACE TECHNOLOGY WITH IAI.

GIVEN THE DIFFICULT HISTORY OF THE INDIA-CHINA RELATIONSHIP, ALTHOUGH IMPROVING, ISRAEL NEEDS TO TREAD CAREFULLY, AND NOT ALIENATE CHINA AS IT DEEPENS ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH INDIA.

ONE POTENTIAL THORN IN THE BUDDING RELATIONSHIP IS INDIA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH IRAN, WHICH IS BOTH ECONOMIC AND STRATEGIC, WITH PRIME MINISTER MOTI’S 2016 VISIT AND THE AGREEMENT TO JOINTLY DEVELOP CHABAHAR PORT. PERHAPS INDIA CAN BE A FORCE TO MODERATE IRAN’S ANTIPATHY TOWARD AND SUPPORT FOR TERRORISM AGAINST ISRAEL, ALTHOUGH THIS IS FRANKLY UNLIKELY.

BUT AS WALD AND KANDEL NOTE, THE WEAKEST LINK IS THE CULTURAL AND INFORMATION LINK, WHERE BOTH PUBLICS KNOW LITTLE ABOUT THE OTHER.. 80) (JPPI, PA 2014 BBC COUNTRY RATINGS POLL SHOWED THAT ONLY 9% OF ISRAELIS HAVE A MAINLY POSITIVE VIEW OF INDIA’S INFLUENCE; 34% A MAINLY NEGATIVE VIEW; AND 57% ARE EITHER NEUTRAL OR GAVE NO RESPONSE. I AM CERTAIN PRIME MINISTER MODI’S VISIT WILL TURN THESE FIGURES AROUND. ALSO, SOME 40,000 ISRAELIS, MOSTLY AFTER MILITARY SERVICE, VISIT INDIA ANNUALLY ON THE INDIAN SIDE,  22% OF INDIANS HAVE A MAINLY POSITIVE VIEW OF ISRAEL’S INFLUENCE, 34% A MAINLY NEGATIVE VIEW, AND 44% ARE NEUTRAL OR GAVE NO RESPONSE.

WITH MORE INTERACTION BETWEEN THE HIGH TECH SECTORS AND MORE JOINT PROJECTS, I AM CONFIDENT THESE NUMBERS WILL ALSO TURN AROUND, ALTHOUGH SYMPATHIES FOR THE PALESTINIANS WILL LIKELY BE A DRAG ON INDIAN PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL. INDEED, A 2015 POLL TAKEN IN INDIA SHOWED 705 OR MORE HAD FAVORABLE VIEWS OF ISRAEL. THERE ARE BETWEEN 35,000 AND OVER 40,000 INDIAN TOURIST TO ISRAEL EACH YEAR. STRENGTHENING ACADEMIC LINKS, STUDENT EXCHANGES, AND CULTURAL EXHIBITIONS WOULD DEEPEN THE RELATIONSHIP. AS OF 2016, ONE-TENTH OF ALL FOREIGN STUDENTS STUDYING IN ISRAEL WERE FROM INDIA, AND DURING PRESIDENT RIVLIN’S 2016 STATE VISIT, MOUs WERE SIGNED TO FURTHER ENHANCE STUDENT EXCHANGES. (MAINI, SUPRA, MAY 5, 2017). WALD AND KANDEL WISELY RECOMMEND INVITING LARGE NUMBERS OF INDIA’S BUSINESS ELITE TO VISIT ISRAEL, AND TO INCREASE UNIVERSITY TEACHING IN ISRAEL ABOUT INDIA AND IN INDIA, ABOUT JUDAISM AND ISRAEL.

THERE IS A BASE TO BUILD UPON, WITH 85,000 ISRAELI JEWS OF INDIAN DESCENT. MOREOVER, IN 2015, 40,000 INDIAN NATIONALS VACATIONED IN ISRAEL(JEWISH VIRTUAL LIBRARY, HISTORY AND OVERVIEW OF INDIA-ISRAEL RELATIONS).

BUT CRITICALLY  FOR ISRAEL, THERE IS A HISTORIC OPPORTUNITY DURING THE MOTI GOVERNMENT, TO EMBED THE RELATIONSHIP AGAINST FUTURE GOVERNMENTS WHO MAY BE LESS FRIENDLY.

 

UNITED STATES-INDIA RELATIONS

JUST AS RELATIONS HAVE DRAMATICALLY IMPROVED BETWEEN INDIA AND ISRAEL SINCE PRIME MINISTER MODI’S ELECTION, SO TOO THEY HAVE WITH THE U.S., AND I AM CERTAIN, OR AS CERTAIN AS ONE CAN BE, THAT THEY WILL CONTINUE TO IMPROVE IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AS A GLOBAL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP. TRUMP AND MOTI HAVE EXCHANGED POSITIVE MESSAGES; THE PRESIDENT HAS INVITED HIM TO WASHINGTON LATER THIS YEAR (WILLIAM J. BURNS, INTERVIEW, “PRESIDENT TRUMP AND U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS”, APRIL 3, 2017, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE), AND HAS CALLED HIM A “TRUE FRIEND AND PARTNER” (SREEMOY TALUKDAR, “DONALD TRUMP’S CALL TO NARENDRA MODI INDICATES INDIA-TIES ARE SET FOR A HIGHER ORBIT”, JANUARY 25, 2017). THIS IS ALL THE MORE REMARKABLE WHEN WE CONSIDER THAT UNDER PRESSURE FROM HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS, MR. MODI WAS NOT PERMITTED TO TRAVEL TO THE US  IN 2005 WHEN HE WAS CHIEF MINISTER OF GUJARAT, FOLLOWING THE SECTARIAN VIOLENCE THERE IN 2002, THE ONLY PERSON EVER BANNED TO TRAVEL TO THE US UNDER THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS FREEDOM ACT, A BUSH-ERA DECISION CONTINUED BY THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, WHICH WAS CIRCUMVENTED WHEN HE BECAME PRIME MINISTER. THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION HAS APPOINTED A NUMBER OF INDIAN-AMERICANS TO HIS ADMINISTRATION (WIKIPEDIA)

AND, AS WITH ISRAEL, BOTH COUNTRIES HAVE SHARED VALUES AND STRATEGIC INTERESTS IN COMBATTING TERRORISM, A MISTRUST OF CHINA, AND SHARED DEMOCRATIC VALUES. (TALUKDAR) MOREOVER, THERE ARE 3.5 MILLION INDIAN-AMERICANS IN THE US., WHOSE HOUSEHOLDS ARE THE MOST PROSPEROUS IN THE U.S. AND ACTIVE IN SUPPORT OF CLOSER U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS. (WIKIPEDIA; INDIA-UNITED STATES RELATIONS, JANUARY 2016). IN ADDITION, INDIA IS SEEN BY AMERICANS AS HEIR 6th FAVORITE COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, WITH 70% OF AMERICANS VIEWING INDIA FAVORABLY. (INDIA-UNITED STATES RELATIONS, WIKIPEDIA, QUOTING A 2015 GALLUP ANNUAL WORLD AFFAIRS SURVEY).

BECAUSE THE U.S. IS A GLOBAL POWER, THE NATURE OF ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH INDIA WILL BE BROADER THAN ISRAEL’S, AS A REGIONAL POWER.  BUT BECAUSE OF THE UNIQUELY CLOSE U.S.-ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP., THIS CAN FURTHER ENHANCE THE INDIA-ISRAEL RELATIONSHIP.

TO HIS CREDIT, PRESIDENT OBAMA PLACED GREAT EMPHASIS ON IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH INDIA, CALLING IT A “DEFINING PARTNERSHIP OF THE 21st CENTURY”;  THE ELECTION OF PRIME MINISTER MOTI PROVIDED THE RIGHT PARTNER. OBAMA WAS THE CHIEF GUEST AT INDIA’S REPUBLIC DAY IN 2015, AND JOINTLY ISSUED A JOINT STRATEGIC VISION FOR THE ASIA-PACIFIC AND INDIAN OCEAN, AND CALLED INDIA A “MAJOR DEFENSE PARTNER”, A UNIQUE STATUS ENDORSED BY THE U.S. CONGRESS. THE DEFENSE TECHNOLOGY AND TRADE INITIATIVE (DTTI) IS A SIGNIFICANT STEP IN MAKING THIS A REALITY. A “HOTLINE” HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED BETWEEN THE PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE AND THE WHITE HOUSE. PRIME MINISTER MODI ADDRESSED A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS IN 2016.

THERE ARE MORE THAN 50 BILATERAL DIALOGUES BETWEEN THE TWO GOVERNMENTS, WITH EXTENSIVE COOPERATION ON COUNTER-TERRORISM, INTERNAL SECURITY, AND TRADE. MERCHANDISE TRADE HAS GONE FROM ONLY $5.6 BILLION IN 1990 TO $67 BILLION IN 2014, AND BILATERAL TRADE IN SERVICES IS OVER $58 BILLION. US DIRECT INVESTMENTS IN INDIA WERE ABOUT $28 BILLION IN 2014, THE SIXTH LARGEST SOURCE OF FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT INTO INDIA. INDIAN COMPANIES HAVE INVESTED $17 BILLION IN THE U.S. (INDIA-UNITED STATES RELATIONS, JANUARY, 2016)

THE DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP IS A MAJOR PILLAR OF THE STRATEGIC RELATIONSHIP, AND THE TWO COUNTRIES NOW CONDUCT MORE BILATERAL MILITARY EXERCISES WITH EACH OTHER THAN THEY DO WITH ANY OTHER COUNTRY.  EMBLEMATIC OF THE DEEPENING DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP, IN 2015, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY ASH CARTER (I SERVED ON HIS DEFENSE POLICY BOARD) BECAME THE FIRST AMERICAN SECRETARY OF DEFENSE TO VISIT AN INDIAN MILITARY COMMAND, AND IN THE SAME YEAR, INDIAN DEFENSE MINISTER MANOHAR PARRIKAR BECAME THE FIRST INDIAN DEFENSE MINISTER TO VISIT THE U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND. THE TWO COUNTRIES HAS WORKED TOGETHER THIS YEAR TO FOIL SEVERAL TERRORIST PLOTS.

THINGS HAVE COME A LONG WAY FROM 1998, WHEN MY TRIP AS UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE, TO PREPARE ONE FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON, HAD TO BE SCRAPPED BECAUSE OF INDIA’S NUCLEAR TEST, UNDER THE GLENN AMENDMENT. IN 2001, PRESIDENT BUSH LIFTED SANCTIONS UNDER THE 1974 NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION PREVENTION ACT, AND BY 2006 CONGRESS ALLOWED DIRECT NUCLEAR COMMERCE WITH INDIA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 30 YEARS. (WIKIPEDIA_

ONE WAY TO STRENGTHEN ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIPS WOULD BE A BILATERAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT TREATY (BIT) TO ENCOURAGE MORE INVESTMENT, BY AFFORDING THEM HIGHER LEVELS OF PROTECTION.

LATER IN 2017, THE U.S AND INDIA WILL CO-HOST THE GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP  SUMMIT. (MARGARET SINGH ANAND, “3 AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY FOR THE US-INDIA RELATIONSHIP”, THE DIPLOMAT, MARCH 2, 2017).

THERE ARE SEVERAL AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT. THERE COULD BE A CLASH BETWEEN  PRESIDENT TRUMP’S “AMERICA FIRST” . :”BUY AMERICAN, HIRE AMERICAN” AGENDA AND PRIME MINISTER MOTI’S “MADE IN INDIA” PROGRAM (VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI, “EXPERTS CLASH OVER INDIA-US RELATIONS UNDER TRUMP”, DEFENSE NEWS, MAY 3, 2017):

THE LONG-STANDING US-PAKISTAN RELATIONSHIP IS AN IRRITANT, UNDERSCORED BY THE SALE IN 2016 OF NUCLEAR-CAPABLE F-16 FIGHTS AND OTHER SOPHISTICATED MILITARY GOODS.  FROM THE AMERICAN SIDE, THE POSITIVE INDIA-IRAN RELATIONSHIP, AND FROM INDIA’S PERSPECTIVE,  THE US-PAKISTAN RELATIONSHIP. THE PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT THAT HE WOULD BE OPEN TO MEDIATING THE INDIA-PAKISTAN DISPUTE ON KASHMIR WAS NOT WELL RECEIVED IN INDIA, WHICH TRADITIONALLY REJECTS INTERNATIONAL INTERFERENCE ON KASMIR. BUT HIS CAMPAIGN COMMITMENTS CRITICIZING PAKISTAN FOR ITS SUPPORT OF TERRORISM WAS WELL RECEIVED IN NEW DELHI, AND HAS TALKED ABOUT INDIA AS A MEANS OF KEEPING PAKISTAN IN CHECK, ONLY TO SAY AFTER THE ELECTION THAT PAKISTAN’S NAWAZ SHARIF WAS A “GREAT GUY”, AND THAT PAKISTAN WAS A “FANTASTIC COUNTRY”. (TALUKAR) PRIME MINISTER MODI’S DECISION TO COUNTER THE MOST RECENT TERRORIST ATTACK AGAINST INDIA WITH A SURGICAL STRIKE IN PAKISTAN DEVIATED FROM INDIA’S LONG-STANDING PATTERN OF NOT RETALIATING MILITARILY ACROSS THE “LINE OF CONTROL”. AN ESCALATION WOULD CREATE A DANGEROUS CRISIS IN SOUTH ASIA. INDIA WILL ALSO HAVE A GREAT INTEREST IN AMERICA’S CONTINUED PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN (ANUBHAV GUPTA, “THREE CHALLENGES FOR U.S.-INDIA RELATIONS UNDER PRESIDENT TRUMP”, ASIA SOCIETY, NOVEMBER 22,2016).

MOREOVER, AFTER MAKING A MAJOR DECISION TO JOIN THE PARIS CLIMATE CHANGE AGREEMENT, PRESIDENT TRUMP’S DECISION TO UNILATERALLY LEAVE CANNOT BE A POSITIVE STEP.

ALSO, INDIA HAS A LARGE TRADE SURPLUS ($23 BILLION) WITH THE U.S., AND MIGHT BE IN THE CROSS-HAIRS OF THE ADMINISTRATION’S PROTECTIONIST TRADE POLICIES. INDEED, AFTER GROWING STEADILY FROM 2000 TO 2013, TWO-WAY TRADE HAS STAGNATED.

ANOTHER AREA OF CONFRONTATION COULD COME IF THE PRESIDENT SEEKS TO REDUCE THE NUMBER OF TEMPORARY WORK VISAS UNDER THE H1-B STATUS, ON THE GROUND THEY ARE TAKING AMERICAN JOBS, WHICH HE CRITICIZED DURING THE CAMPAIGN. BUT I HOPE THAT WITH U.S. HIGH TECH COMPANIES TELLING THE PRESIDENT OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS PROGRAM–INDIANS GET AT LEAST 50% OF THEM–AND WITH PRIME MINISTER MOTI STRESSING IT, THE PRESIDENT WILL CONTINUE THIS IMPORTANT PROGRAM UNIMPAIRED.

BUT I BELIEVE THE ECONOMIC RELATIONSHIP IS SO STRONG AND GROWING, AND THE STRATEGIC AND DEFENSE RELATIONSHIP SO CRITICAL,  THAT IT WILL DETER ANY UNILATERAL ACTIONS AGAINST INDIA. THE U.S. IS INDIA’S SECOND LARGEST TRADING PARTNER AND INDIA’S LARGEST INVESTMENT PARTNER WITH DIRECT INVESTMENT OF $9 BILLION (IN 2015 THE US EXPORTED $21.5 BILLION TO INDIA AND IMPORTED $44.8 BILLION OF INDIAN GOODS, AND INDIA IS AMERICA’S 11th LARGEST TRADING PARTNER.

SO INDIA IS INCREASING CLOSE TO BOTH THE U.S. AND ISRAEL, AND TO EVERYONE’S MUTUAL BENEFIT. WE ALL LOOK FORWARD TO PRIME MINISTER MODI’S HISTORIC VISIT TO ISRAEL IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS, AND THE NEW ERA IN INDIAN-ISRAELI PARTNERSHIP IT WILL USHER IN.