Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
India and Israel ties have been historically strong
In the preIndependence era, many senior Indian Army officers, doctors, teachers, lawyers and judges were Jews
Every Jew from India has always held India in great esteem right through our more than 2,000 years of peaceful sojourn in India. Even today, every Jew from India speaks, dresses and participates in every cultural activity, which reminds him of India: whether it is in songs, movies, dance or publication of a newsletter in Marathi. According to Sharad Pawar, the Indian-Jewish community has made Marathi an international language.
Israel has always sought friendship with India from even before the independence of both countries from the same imperial power that played the same biased game against both our people. But thanks to recent political events our countries have grown even closer. The bond will only grow stronger.
The Indian Jewish community has played an important part in fostering these relations. It should be noted at the time of independence, many senior officers in the Indian Armed Forces were Jews. Many founders of medical faculties, leading doctors, senior teachers, lawyers and judges were from the Indian Jewish community. Few people know that Bombay University was the first in the world to revive the teaching of Hebrew as a second language way before Herzl even dreamt of the creation of the State of Israel.
Mahatma Gandhi was operated upon at the Sassoon Hospital in Poona and his personal physician and friend was Abraham Solomon Erulkar and some of the best schools in Ahmedabad have been established by Jews. Even the signature tune of All India Radio was written by Walter Kaufman, a Jew. After the establishment of relations, the first Israeli Ambassador, Ephraim Dowek, worked on establishing strong diplomatic and cultural ties between our two countries.
The young people of our countries are no less enamoured by each other. From a small trickle of sceptical youth in the early 1990s, tourism from Israel to India has grown to several tens of thousands every year and the same is happening in the other direction. Many of them keep returning to India for a more enhanced experience of hospitality, kindness, cuisine and nature. Finally, many Jews may have left India for Israel but there is one community the Chitpavan Brahmins, known to be of Jewish descent. Their second names such as Savarkar, Mulgaonkar and Kolatkar have roots in Hebrew and ‘kar’ emerges from the Hebrew word for farmer.