Prime Minister Narendra Modi has embarked on a three-day tour of Israel. H is the first Indian Prime Minister to do so. Besides being high on symbolism, the visit is also the center of attention by the Indians, especially the Muslim community. Modi might be happy to be a first, but the people are concerned for other reasons.
Muslims have voiced opinion against India trying to forge deeper relationship with Israel, a nation they claim has forcibly occupied Palestine. Shahi Imam Syed Ahmad Bukhari said, “The world knows how Israel first captured Palestine and is now torturing Palestinians. Israel is behind the terrorism conspiracies all across the globe and Islam and Muslims are maligned for it. In the past no Indian government had forged so close relations with Israel like the present government is doing. Not just Indian Muslims, but the entire Muslim population of the world is looking at this tour doubtfully.”
Ali Anwar Ansari says, “I wonder who are the advisors of Modi who have suggested to him that touring Israel and strengthening bonds of friendship with that country is a good idea, even though there are countries closer to home that do not enjoy such warmth. Friendship with Israel is akin to inviting trouble. If India gets close to Israel then other Muslim countries and countries like Russia will start moving away from India. Even Indians do not perceive friendship with Israel as a good thing.
Shahid Siddiqui threw a fresh light on the relationship. He said, “I think India and Israel have enjoyed close relations for the last 25 years. They have enjoyed closeness especially through secret agencies and defense matters. So if India has decided to come out then it is better.”
He added, “Now the world is changing. Saudi Arab has also established good relations with Israel. Keeping in view the current environment of the world, our Prime Minister’s Israel tour is neither surprising nor inappropriate.”
Siddiqui added meaningfully, “How nice it would have been if Modi also visits Palestine and plays a good role in bringing the leaders of the two places together.”