Last night Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu met with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, within hours of Netanyahu’s arriving in the U.S. According to The Hindu, Modi’s reach-out to Netanyahu, which took place with a lot of wrangling and ceremony last night (see Avigdor Lieberman in the video above), represents a shift in the Indian position re the conflict, from supporting Palestinian freedom to keeping quiet.
Of course both Netanyahu and Modi have links to massacres of Muslims. Modi is widely believed to have stood by during a Muslim genocide in 2002 when he was the chief minister of Gujarat– actions that resulted in the U.S. barring him from this country for ten years till his party’s recent triumph. There were reports that human rights groups were planning to protest Modi’s visit, but Modi is going to the White House for a dinner tonight. And of course Netanyahu’s onslaught in Gaza that just killed 2100, 500 of whom were children, gets the red carpet treatment in the U.S.
Netanyahu said on meeting Modi:
We’re two old peoples, some of the oldest civilizations on earth. But we’re also two democracies… If we work together we can [seize the future]….We’re very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India. We think the sky’s the limit.
Modi said he had met yesterday with members of the Jewish community in New York, presumably the American Jewish Committee.
Excellency you are absolutely correct. I agree with you that India Israel relations are historical. I met this morning with people from the Jewish community, the American Jewish Council.
…India is the only country where anti-semitism has never been allowed to come up, and where Jews have never suffered, and lived as an integral part of our society.
Here is the Hindu‘s account of the Indian shift re Palestine:
Mr. Netanyahu has invited Mr. Modi to visit Israel soon, and if Mr. Modi goes he will be the first Indian Prime Minister to do so.
There are other factors that denote the shift in India’s position. To begin with, the Prime Minister will be meeting Mr. Netanyahu, but has not met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas who was here in New York at the same time. In the past few years, India has taken a more nuanced position on the Palestinian-Israel conflict, away from its pro-Palestine stance of the past. While India voted against Israel at the UN Human Right Council this year during the recent conflict in Gaza where more than 2,200 people were killed, for example, the government refused to condemn Israel’s actions in its statement.
Mr. Modi’s speech at the UN also saw a departure from the past years, when the Indian speech regularly made references to the “Palestinian struggle” in the past.
And Modi held a gathering at Madison Square Garden last night, which scores of elected US officials attended, including pro-Israel stalwarts congressmen Eliot Engel, Gregory Meeks, Steve Israel, Ed Royce (the last three just went to Israel). What a fortuitous triangle, the U.S., India and Israel.