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India, Israel and the Jewish People

The last three years, following the success of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the relationship between India and Israel has turned more friendly and transparent. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister elected in 2014, who heads the BJP, has never hidden his sympathy toward the Jewish state and has moved the relationship from cold and distant to a policy of warm cooperation.

Shalom Salomon Wald and Arielle Kandel’s strategy paper was conceived years ago as part of JPPI’s ongoing project on emerging superpowers without a Biblical tradition and no history of anti-Semitism. It follows a similar work completed by Dr. Wald, China and the Jewish People—Old Civilizations in a New Era, which was published more than ten years ago; it was translated into Mandarin Chinese and published by Elephant Press in 2014.

India, Israel, and the Jewish People looks back in history to better analyze and understand current developments. The leaders of the Zionist movement and especially David Ben-Gurion invested many efforts in nurturing the relationship with Asia, particularly the old civilizations with the potential to become the great powers of the future. India with its population of 1.3 billion with an average age of 27, and economic growth of seven percent a year is transforming this vision into reality.

For many years, India’s relations with Israel were in the shadow of Arab and Muslim pressure, but this year will mark the 25th anniversary of official diplomatic ties. Exchanges of state visits at the highest ranks culminated with the President of India Shri Pranab Mukherjee in Jerusalem and President Reuven Rivlin’s visit to New Delhi in the fall of 2016. This shows that the new Indian leadership is not intimidated by its major interests in Iran and in other Middle Eastern energy exporters, or by its own large Muslim minority.

Cooperation in science, technology, defense, and counter terrorism is at a very high level, but a truly flourishing relationship requires stepped up cultural, intellectual, and people-to-people encounters. Wald and Kandel emphasize these points while also focusing on the important role that Jews from around the world and American Jewish organizations have played in laying the ground for emerging relationships.

This comprehensive work integrates a strategic approach and prioritizes agenda setting and offers a wide selection of action-oriented policy recommendations.

I would like to acknowledge Dr. Shalom Salomon Wald and Arielle Kandel for their deep and thoughtful analysis of the evolving relationship between the State of Israel and the Jewish People and the Republic of India. Dr. Wald has been a JPPI Senior Fellow since its founding. He studied economics, sociology, and history at the University of Basle, Switzerland. After completing his PhD he joined the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), where he headed the Biotechnology Unit. At JPPI, Wald published Rise and Decline of Civilizations, Lessons for the Jewish People (Academic Studies Press, 2014) and many other policy papers.

Arielle Kandel, a past Fellow of JPPI holds a Master’s Degree in Law from the University of Aix-Marseille III (France) with a specialization in Humanitarian Action and International Law as well as an MA from Ben-Gurion University in Middle East Studies. As a young student, she volunteered for several months in northern India and immersed herself in Indian culture and politics. Together, they created a great team and following visits to India and extensive interviews with a long list of experts they created this volume.

I would like to thank JPPI’s Chairmen Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat and Ambassador Dennis Ross for their guidance and support. Special thanks go to Ambassador Mark Sofer, former Israeli Ambassador to India, whose advice and professional contribution were invaluable to the project.

The foreword written by President Reuven Rivlin shows at the highest echelons the deep understanding of the strategic importance of the relationship between the people of India, world Jewry and Israel at its core. President Rivlin chose to make India one of his first official visits, which illustrates the desire for a continuing thriving relationship. We very much look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Modi in Israel in the near future.

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