Military Ties Unlimited. India and Israel

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By Rahnuma Ahmed

Our ties with India don’t have any limitation….” Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister (1997)

Ariel Sharon was the first Israeli prime minister to visit India. It was 2003, and the Financial Times, while reporting on the impending visit, had this to say: it is “one of the world’s most secretive relationships.” As for the reason of the visit: it was to be a “coming-out party” (`India and Israel Ready to Consummate Secret Affair,’ 4 September). The party, unfortunately, was cut short by two Palestinian suicide bombings in Jerusalem which killed 16 people.

Many more parties have been held since, but neither side has cared to shed any light on the nature of their relationship. It has remained a secret.

A status that has been vetted and certified by Mark Sofer, Israel’s ambassador to India. I quote his memorable words: “We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret. On the other hand, what is a secret is what is the defence relationship. And with all due respect the secret part of it will remain secret” (Outlook India, 18 February 2008).

What is one to make of that? That defence and intelligence co-operation, which includes sales of high tech weapons systems and mutual access to military facilities and training—is mere surface? What lies underneath then? Something which is so hidden, so momentous that His Excellency needed to utter the word `secret’ four times?

Whatever be the true nature of this `limitless’ relationship, it took time to develop, to mature. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1992, a good forty-two years after India had recognised the state of Israel. And, why?

Earlier, India had been supportive of anti-colonial struggles. It was one of the first non-Arab states to recognise Palestinian independence, to allow the setting-up of an embassy. There had been tactical reasons, too. To counter Pakistan’s influence in the Arab world. To safeguard its oil supplies. To ensure jobs for Indian migrants in Middle Eastern countries . Also, out of respect for its alliance and friendship with the Soviet Union. After all, those were the good old Cold War days and as a founder-member of the Non-Aligned Movement, India had maintained a self-respecting distance from US imperialism. But not everyone will agree, pointing instead to prime minister Indira Gandhi’s instructions to Rameshwar Nath Kao, founder of RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), way back in September 1968. Cultivate relations with Mossad, she had said. It’ll help monitor developments likely to threaten both nations.

Everyone agrees however that the Kargil war (May-July 1999) “cemented” the relationship between the two nations. Israel had leapt to India’s assistance. As Air Marshal PS Ahluwalia puts it, it had not been very easy to locate Pakistani intruders. They had merged into the stony terrain. Tel Aviv assisted with unmanned reconnaissance aircrafts. These UAVs, or drones, could not only fly longer i.e., 24 hours, but were able to “sense even simple movements on the ground.” The Israeli Heron and Searcher UAVs are now flown by the Indian Armed forces. It had also, reportedly, provided an emergency shipment of artillery shells to India, on credit.

These cementing steps were preceded by events which had caused alarm in New Delhi, had led to strategic re-assessments. Guerrilla warfare had begun in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the late 1980s, this had coincided with the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the face of  the ISI-trained and CIA-sponsored mujahidin insurgency, the subsequent collapse of the USSR. New Delhi’s re-assessment of its relationship with America and Israel led to the discovery of convergences; these mirrored assessments arrived at in both Washington and Tel Aviv. Realignments followed soon, ones that were vigorously pursued by Indian and Jewish lobbies in the US.

To modernise its Soviet-era arsenal, India plans to spend $100 billion on defense over the next decade. Having overtaken Russia, Israel is now India’s No 1 supplier of arms and ammunitions; 50% of Israel’s defence exports are to India, which relies on Israel for 30% of its imports. Israel supplies a range of defence products, which include Barak missiles, assault rifles, night fighting devices, radar network, hi-tech warfare systems and information technology related equipment. The growing defence ties were expressed by India’s launching of Tecsar, an Israeli spy satellite (also known as Polaris), from Sriharikota launch site, in 2008. According to Israeli press reports, the satellite will improve Israel’s ability to monitor Iran’s military activities. In early November last year, the signing of a $1.1 billion contract was announced while India’s army chief General Deepak Kapoor was in Israel for high-level talks. The sale of Barak-8 systems, an upgraded tactical air defence system, is expected to be delivered to India by 2017. Since Kargil, India has bought $8 billion worth military hardware and software from Israel. Some of the defense contracts however, have been dogged by controversy surrounding alleged kickbacks (the name of a London based businessman cropped up in the Barak deal; the director of India’s Ordnance Factory Board was arrested with others, on corruption charges).

Israel India arms trade copy India’s army chief General Deepak Kapoor visited Israel November 2009 to complete $1.1 billion deal to purchase upgraded tactical air defense system, Barak – 8. © Alexz/militaryphotos.net

Militarisation, armament, as feminists argue, is deeply gendered. The Israeli armament company Rafael, unveiled an ad at the Aero-India show in Bangalore (2009) a dance and music video, Bollywood style, to woo the Indian defence establishment. The 3 mt 21 sec video shows a man, presumably Rafael (Israel) wooing a woman (India) singing a song, accompanied by dancing shokhis:

We will never be apart, dinga-dinga, dinga-dee….Israeli armament company Rafael displayed this Bollywood dance number-based marketing video at Aero India 2009 in Bangalore.

[Man] “We have been together for long…

Trusting friends and partners…

What more can I pledge to make our future strong?”
[Woman] “I need to feel safe and sheltered…

security and protection, commitment and perfection,

defence and dedication.”

[Chorus] Dinga-dinga, dinga-dinga, dinga-dee.

Some of the shots show missiles, part of the set design, around which the dancers gyrate their bodies. The phallic symbolism was surely not lost on India’s elite defence establishment.  A senior defence officer—probably distraught at India’s depiction as a helpless woman, in need of a manly man, one that goes against its image as an emerging superpower, one which India would like its less fortunate South Asian kin to revere—told the Times of India, the ad was “quite tacky.” Like a “C-grade Hindi movie song.” The Times was more sophisticated. Its headline said, the ad had “raised” Indian eyebrows.

Arms sales can be tracked, says Vijay Prasad. “But this counterterrorism relationship is very, very covert” Prasad’s suspicions reverberate when Richard Boucher, US assistant secretary of state—described as Obama administration’s point man for South Asia—says, India will be “a key stakeholder” in Obama’s so-called Af-Pak strategy. After all, “They’ve made an important contribution in Afghanistan—I think their total (contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Afghanistan) is up to about $1.2 billion. They’ve been very instrumental in key areas like training, civil service, and helping build Afghan institutions,” but “they will not do anything militarily or put boots on the ground” because of regional issues involved with Pakistan.

The left’s opposition to India’s `limitless’ relationship with Israel seems to have died down after the Mumbai attack in November 2008, India’s 9/11. A fact compounded by the electoral results last year, one of the biggest wins for the Indian National Congress, “no longer under the pressure of the left front”. The Mumbai attack has made it easier for sentiments about Israel-India’s similarities to be voiced: both are targeted by Islamist fundamentalists. In one case, Palestinians/Hamas, in the other, Pakistanis/jihadists.

But, Jeff Gates writes, as Afghanistan and Pakistan join other nations in being destabilised one cannot help but raise questions about how the crises which have wracked the sub-continent in recent years, were so “well-timed”: Benazir Bhutto’s murder, Musharraf’s departure, the terror attack in Mumbai which served to draw Pakistani forces away from the western tribal region. Incidents which served the tactical goals of both Muslim extremists and Jewish nationalists. Did Mossad have any role to play? asks Gates.

Israeli writer and peace activist Gideon Levy recently wrote, the time has come to send Israel for observation. Only psychiatrists can explain Israel’s behaviour. Its acts have no rational explanation. It suffers from a loss of touch with reality. Temporary or permanent insanity. Paranoia. Schizophrenia. Memory loss. Loss of judgment.

Maybe, not having `any limitation’ is not a good idea, after all. Maybe, there is still time for India to part company with Rafael. To retrieve its sense of judgment.

Published in New Age 18 January 2010

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7 Responses to Military Ties Unlimited. India and Israel

  1. Dave Makkar says:

    Indians must look into their relationship with a Israel

    26/11 terrorist attacks were part planned in Bombay Chabad House so the Israelis knows what they are doing in India. Till 1991 India had no diplomatic, trade and cultural relations with Israel even Indian citizens were not allowed to travel to Israel. It was Prime Minister Narsimah Rao on the directives of Christian Vatican agent Madam Sonia Gandhi entered into a secret pact with Israeli’s. Together Christians & Jews with Muslims already in the laps of Congress Party controlled by Sonia Gandhi can very easily rule the majority Hindu population of India. BJP rather than using common sense also got into the trap with their messed up philosophy of enemy’s enemy is our friend for their hate for Indian Muslims and today consider Israelis to be their most trusted allies.

    Since Israeli’s entry into India in 1991 on the invitation of Madam Sonia Gandhi the ethnic violence in India has increased multifold mainly due to the demolition of disputed structure of Babri Masjid & Ram Janam Bhumi in 1992 at Ayodhya. It is a well known fact that Hindu Leadership full of cowards with a history of slavery for centuries; they can not demolish the disputed structure in fact it was Israeli Mossad who did it to bring the Muslim more closer to the ruling Congress Party of Christian Sonia Gandhi.

    Then it is the Israelis who have made China a very serious threat to India by selling them advanced Satellite & Missiles technology after stealing it from America. For India they have substandard military hardware but no technology at highly inflated prices with 30-40% kick back for Indian politicians in Congress as well as BJP. That is the reason a tiny country of 5.5 mil people has become the biggest military hardware supplier to India with 1.2 billion people; not because of technology edge but because of their ability to pay 30-40% kick back in all arms deal to Congress & BJP governments. That is the reason Rs 1,150 crores Barack Missiles with Rs.450 crores kickback scandal of BJP government was not investigated by the Sonia & Manmohan government of Congress. Israeli’s have put all defense research in India on the back burner by corrupting the Indian politicians. They were behind all the bribes to get the Nuclear Deal passed in the Parliament which is not at all good for India .

    After 26/11 terrorist attacks in Bombay overnight Israeli’s sold portable satellites & other military hardware worth hundreds of millions of dollars to India. Congress government of Sonia Gandhi never bothered to call for international bids for a simple reason it is only Israeli’s who can give 30-40% kickbacks; no other country will ever do it. Israeli’s must have some big plans with their current warnings of upcoming attacks to sell large quantities of substandard military hardware to India running into billions of Dollars.

    After 26/11 terrorist attacks in Bombay mega million dollars celebrations with chartered flights from USA, Europe & Israel were arranged for Hanukkah rather Israeli’s success in scaring the 3RD largest Army of the world. Not to be left behind Indian Consulate in New York also celebrated Hanukah in Dec 2008 when they have never celebrated Budha Purnima, Mahavir Jayanti, Gurupurab and Eid which represent the religions of over 350 millions of Indians. (after my blog in Dec. 2008 this year in 2009 Indian Consulate celebrated Eid in NY)

    As far as Rosh Hashanah & Hanukkah celebrations are concerned all over India that is another joke. For under 1,500 official Indian Jew population of India such elaborate and multi million dollars expansive celebrations raises some serious questions and doubts. May be Israeli’s wants to increase the Jewish population and land holding for Jews in India?

    Then the Israeli are also manipulating the Tribals in North East region of India by declaring them one of the 10 lost Jew Tribes of Biblical Time. Openly Israelis are promoting religious conversions in India with the tacit support of Indian Christians especially prominent Christians like Sonia Gandhi. Israelis are also promoting India tourism in big way for drug addicts and sexual perverts from Jewish community in Israel, Europe, America etc. to exploit the poor and innocent people.

    Remember the East India Company? They were mainly Jewish traders who ruled India for centuries in the name of British empire with Benjamin Disraeli twice its Prime Minister from 1868-1882. First independence mutiny was sabotaged by Jews. Then Indians are forgetting during East India Company’s rule more than 50 mil Indians were starved to death by Jewish traders from 1876-1943 during 25 big and some major famines in India. 1876-1879 famine 20 million Indians died of starvation. In the last famine in 1943 alone more than 4 million Indian Bengali victims including new born children perished alive under inhuman, atrocious and cruel British Rule. British Rulers inhuman attitude towards human disaster & sufferings of Indians became more visible in 1943 when in a response to an urgent request by the secretary of State for India, Leo Amery and Wavell to release food stocks for India, Prime Minister Winston Churchill responded with a telegram to Wavell asking, “If food was so scare, “why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.”

    On the other hand every where Organized Zionist Leadership wants the whole world to talk 24/7 about the holocaust in which 3.5-5 million Jews were killed by Hitler rather than their illegal colonization of Palestine Land. Hitler killed more than 20 mil people but according to Zionist only Jews were human beings. They want the whole world to feel guilty for this and they have made Holocaust a big money making business for their own benefit. This Leadership does not wish to address current failed socio, economics & political policies of Israel and illegal colonization of Palestine Land with 3.5 million Arab Muslim Slaves since 1967.

    Indians must decide can they trust Israelis who have brought a super power America on its knees; financially, economically, ethically, morally and militarily?

    Dave Makkar
    USA 973 416 1600

  2. Blessen gt says:

    Talk of israel arranging de mumbai attacks are totally outrageous an incorrect.i do not believe the jewish state would want any storms in its relationship with india.The jews are merely the friends of indians and wellwishers. Anybody who believes that israel would bring harm to india is either profoundly stupid or gravely misinformed. I do believe that only muslims would make such an allegation. The people of india and israel stand together in their fight against terrorism. I dont think a muslim should make allegations of this nature as they are responsible for all the terrorism and large scale violence in both countries.muslims do not have the right to comment on the relationship between india and israel as they themselves have a lot of infighting within their own religion. To conclude i would like to say that the muslims pose the most dangerous an growin threat to the people of the world. The indian christians an hindus stand solemnly in support with our jewish brothers for a peaceful and safe world. Dont you think that if there were no muslims in this world,this world would have been a much safer an peaceful place.moreover we as human beings should believe in living with peace an mutual respect for one another. Thank you

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  7. bharat says:

    mr.dave makkar need to his head examined……………americnas are coward not indian’s……… post with some dignity and well done reaserch on matter

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