I have written here before to highlight the work of my colleague Sadanand Dhume, who has also penned this important piece for COMMENTARY a few years back. Dhume’s most recent essay in Tablet, “Coalition of the Nerds” should also be a must-read. Dhume begins:
So, the conspiracy theorists were right: Indians and Israelis really have been plotting world domination. In a 20-day contest in Moscow that ended last week, 42-year-old Chennai native Viswanathan Anand and 43-year-old Israeli Boris Gelfand battled for the 2012 World Chess Championship. Anand, the defending world champion, held off his challenger, but not before being taken to a tie breaker.
Indians and Israelis ought to savor this rare moment of sporting glory. Not to put too fine a point on it, but try to imagine an Indian-Israeli final in any other sport.
Take soccer, the so-called beautiful game. India is ranked a lowly 158th in the world; Israel last qualified for the World Cup in 1970. Or how about the Olympics? In Bejing four years ago, Israel snagged a single bronze … for wind surfing. With one gold (shooting) and a pair of bronzes (wrestling and boxing), India didn’t exactly set the medals table alight either.
The whole article is worth reading. Dhume highlights the growing economic ties, as well as the two states’ mutual strategic interests. Both are democracies which battle the scourge of Islamist terrorism, but in which substantial Muslim minorities enjoy greater rights than their co-religionists do in many other countries in which they are the majority.
My own two cents: Colin Rubenstein at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is right when he argues that for too long, Israeli politicians and diplomats ignored the importance of developing ties with Asia. There was too much hand-wringing in Israel about who let ties with Turkey collapse. Israeli officials’ belief that they might have done something differently was misguided. The simple fact was that Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would stop at nothing to unravel Turkey-Israel ties out of his sheer hatred for the Jewish state. But, rather than grieve at Turkey’s loss, Israel should be celebrating its new partners in Asia, especially those like India with which it shares pluralistic, democratic values.