Modi in Israel: A new era for Indo-Israeli Relations
Each year, over 60,000 Israelis travel to India –many of them “unwinding” in the country after completing military service. Their presence is highly visible across much of the country. Indeed, the “giant shadow” Israelis cast in India is wildly disproportionate to the miniscule dimensions of their homeland. In some outlying locations, Israelis comprise a dominant percentage of foreign visitors. Even in central sites such as the main market in Old Delhi it is not uncommon to see Hebrew signs and encounter merchants able to converse with Israeli customers in fairly fluent Hebrew.
That Israelis seem to feel an instinctive affinity for India should perhaps not be surprising. Its history is virtually devoid of antisemitism. Indeed, the only significant incidents were the Moors’ attack on the Jews in 1524 and the Portuguese persecution of Jews in Cranganore (now the Kerala coast) some years later. Moreover, many Indian Jews achieved great prominence, among them the Sassoons (for whom the Sassoon docks, the Sassoon hospital, and other well-known sites have been named), Dr. E. Moses (a Jewish mayor of Bombay), Lt. Gen. J. F. R. Jacobs (a general in the Indian Army who oversaw the Pakistani Army’s 1971 surrender in Bangladesh and later served as governor of Goa and Punjab), Nissim Ezekiel (a poet/leading Indian literary personality), and Dr. Abraham Solomon Erulkar (the personal physician/friend of Mahatma Gandhi).