In the clashes between Israel and Hamas, Indians are being sympathetic towards Israel and standing in solidarity with them at this juncture. hashtag India stands with Israel was trending on Twitter. A lot of Indians tweeted in favor of Israel, calling Israel its most loyal friend. India is also the biggest buyer of Israeli arms.
It wasn’t like this between the two countries from the beginning. You would be surprised to know that in 1947 India voted against the creation of the Israel state. Again in 1949 India voted against Israel’s admission to the United Nations. The country whose creation India was against, are best friends now. Even when Israel is killing hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza, India is still siding with Israel. how did that happen? How did the animosity between countries turn into Friendship?
Let’s look at it.
In 1948, when Israel declared its independence, 20 countries including the United States and the Soviet Union recognized Israel. India which itself got independence in 1947, voted against Israel and tried to halt Israel from joining the United nations. India was itself a victim of British colonization, so it opposed Israel as it viewed the partition of Palestine as a colonial imposition so it opposed Palestine.
Another reason why India supported Palestine instead of Israel is that India wants to have a good relationship with the Arab countries. Pakistan who was India’s biggest rival in the region was maintaining good relations with all the Arab countries. So India wanted to do the same. At that time nearly all the oil reserves discovered were in the Persian Gulf countries. India didn’t want to mess its relations with Arab countries. At that time India has soo good relations with Palestine, that the chairman of Palestinian liberation organization Yassir Arafat used to refer to India’s prime minister Indra Gandhi as “my sister”.
India recognized the state of Israel in 1950, but it remains distant when it comes to diplomatic relations. When Israel, the United Kingdom, and France invaded Egypt and sparked the Suez Crisis of 1956, India expressed its support for Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and its stance against Western imperialism in the region. In 1974, India recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinians; it was the first non-Arab country to do so.
The cold war between USSR and the USA was at its boom.
Of course, Israel enjoyed the strong support of the West while India had political leanings towards the Soviet Union, so the two countries almost inevitably found themselves in opposing camps during the Cold War.
But with the fall of the Soviet Union, India embarked on a process of economic liberalization that included a drastic reduction in import tariffs and the removal of restrictions on foreign direct investment. India also saw this as an opportunity to reposition itself in the new world order and shifted itself towards the United States. The United States pressurize India to develop diplomatic relations with Israel. Americans told India that the road to Washington DC had to go through Tel Aviv.
So in 1992 full diplomatic ties were established between India and Israel. We see the relationship translate throughout the nineties and two thousand as a strong military one. Arms relationship between India and Israel begin after India’s 1998 nuclear testing which led the United States to put sanctions on India. India could no longer access American weapons because of sanctions, and Russian arms manufacturers were still suffering from the collapse of the soviet union.
And then Israeli steps into the ground saying that we can provide you with weapons with American quality arm, without the hypocrisies of the United States government.
In 2003 Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon visited India. The world has seen that how the relationships between Israel and India were evolving. In 2017 Indian Prime minister Modi was the first-ever Indian prime minister to visit Israel.
The current Hindu right government has an ideological view that is remarkably similar to the Zionist leadership in Israel. which is to say that it generally had hostility to Muslims.
Both the Modi and Netanyahu government are performing ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Kashmir and the west bank respectively. it is evident that the India-Israel relationship is no longer purely a matter of realpolitik; it is also being strengthened by a shared ideology.