Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon on Monday recalled the role of British Indian Army soldiers during World War I in liberating areas that later became Israel and said India was a country where Jews lived in equality for more than 2,000 years.
Gilon was speaking at a virtual event he addressed with Sanjeev Singla, the Indian envoy to Israel, to mark the launch of a commemorative logo for the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
The Israeli envoy recalled his visits last year with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar to “certain places commemorating more than 900 Indian soldiers buried in Israel”. They were soldiers “who fought in World War I as part of the British Indian Army to liberate that area which later became Israel”, he said.
Gilon said Jews had lived “for more than 2,000 years in India in complete and peaceful equality.” He added: “And as someone who arrived [in India] After spending long periods in Europe, I was very surprised at how much love and appreciation India has for Israel. There is another element – there is no anti-Semitism in India, this sentence simply does not exist.
The envoy’s remarks came against the backdrop of a debate in India over the role of Indian soldiers who served in the British military before independence and whether their heritage should be part of the Indian Army history. The debate began after the merger of the 50-year-old Eternal Flame or Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate with the flame of the adjacent National War Memorial (NWM) on Friday.
Gilon described the bilateral relationship as “truly exceptional” and said it was a strategic partnership “not only in name but also in action”. Both Gilon and Singla described the relationship as a civilizational bond.
“Israel and India enjoy very broad cooperation in many areas – economic, agriculture, water, security, innovation, health, tourism, education, culture and more,” Gilon said, adding that both sides hope expand their business and look to the future. to a visit by the Israeli Prime Minister and other officials.
The new logo includes the Star of David and the Ashoka Chakra – symbols that adorn the flags of both countries – forming the number 30 to represent the 30th anniversary of bilateral relations.
The two sides launched a logo design competition last year for students from Israel’s Holon Institute of Technology and India’s National Institute of Design. The winning design, created by Nikhil Kumar Rai, was chosen jointly by the embassies and consulates of the two countries.
Singla said the Jewish people had thrived in India for centuries and enriched the country’s composite culture. He said the large Indian Jewish community in Israel forms an “organic bond” between the two sides. After launching a strategic partnership five years ago, India and Israel are now eyeing greater cooperation in areas including innovation, AI and quantum computing, he added.
India and Israel established diplomatic relations on January 29, 1992. Today, they share a very close relationship that encompasses areas such as health, agriculture, trade, science and technology, defense and internal security. The 30th anniversary of the relationship will be marked by a series of cultural events throughout 2022.