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No Anti-Semitism in India, says envoy Gilon as Indo-Israeli ties complete 30 years

New Delhi: “There is no Anti-Semitism in India, this phrase doesn’t just exist”, said Israeli envoy to India Noar Gilon as both sides begin the official celebration of the establishment of ties of 30 years.

Gilon’s statements came as anti-Semitism, or discrimination against Jews has been seen in many parts of the world.

“Jews have lived in India for over 2000 years in total equality and peacefully and as someone who arrived after serving quite an extensive period in Europe, I was very much surprised how much love and appreciation there is in India towards Israel,” the top Israeli envoy in India explained.

India and Israel established full diplomatic relations on January 29, 1992, and this year both sides will celebrate 30 years of ties together to give further thrust to this fast-evolving engagement.

At a virtual event on Monday, a commemorative logo was launched. The logo features the Star of David and the Ashoka Chakra and forms the numeral 30 depicting the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.

Calling relations between India, Israel as “exceptional”, Israeli’s envoy to India Naor Gilon said, “relationship did not start just 30 years ago” and “more than 900 Indian soldiers buried in the land of Israel, those who fought during first world war as part of the Indian British army, to liberate the area which later became Israel.”

Gilon recalled that he once saw a picture of Gandhi on David Ben-Gurion and called “Gandhi and India as a sister liberation movement”. David Ben-Gurion was the founding father and first prime minister of Israel.

The role of the Indian soldiers during the 1918 battle of Haifa has been well documented. During the 2018 visit of the then Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, the name of Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk was formally rechristened as Teen murti Haifa Chowk in honour.

The 3 statues at the chowk in the heart of Central Delhi belong to the Hyderabad, Jodhpur and Mysore Lancers who were part of the British India forces who helped win the battle of Haifa.

Indian envoy to Israel, Sanjeev Singla was also present at the event and highlighted how, “Our people are connected by civilizational bonds, that go beyond trade and economic ties. Jewish people have thrived in India for centuries and in fact, enriched the composite culture of India.” Maharaja Jam Sahib of Nawanagar saved the lives of several Jewish children during world war 2 by providing them shelter and taking care of them.

The Indian envoy said large India-Jewish community forms an “organic link and bridge that continues to grow” between the 2 sides. There are approximately 85,000 Jews of Indian origin in Israel, who are Israeli passport holders.

The majority of them are from Maharashtra (Bene Israelis) and relatively smaller numbers are from Kerala (Cochini Jews) and Kolkata (Baghdadi Jews). In recent years, some Indian Jews from the North-Eastern states of India (Bnei Menashe) have been immigrating to Israel.

2022 marks 5 years of a strategic partnership that was established during the visit of PM Modi.

“2022 provides us an opportunity to not only to look back and take account of the bilateral achievements of past 30 years but also 5 years when the relationship was put on a qualitatively high trajectory,” said Gilon.

As part of 30-year celebrations, several high-level visits are planned, including by the new Israeli PM Naftali Bennett. Both Indian PM Modi and New Israeli PM met last year on the sidelines of the Glasgow summit. External Affairs Minister Jaishankar had visited the country last year.