For most Indians, it is hard not to feel a deep sense of historic gratitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. The State of Israel came to our military aid in just about every war India fought as an independent nation since 1947. Our elected leaders, in their vanity, polished their statesmanlike credentials denouncing Israel at every possible international gathering, even as they kept on turning to the Jewish State for help in times of dire need, whether civilian or military. From Golda Meir to Ariel Sharon, Israel never turned down any request.
Getting nothing in return, the tiny and beleaguered nation paid a price for its support for India. At times, adversely affecting its relations with China or annoying its most vital ally, the United States, by extending support to a "socialist" country at the height of the Cold War.
If there ever was a true sign of goodwill extended from one nation to another, Israel had shown it toward India and so many other nations, from Zaire to Haiti and elsewhere.
Despite this, it took India more than four decades just to treat Israel as an equal partner on the world stage -- when India established full diplomatic relations with Israel in January 1991.
India, however, had one redeeming quality. Although our political leaders hitched their wagon to the Soviet Union and the Pan-Arab nationalism in the early days of the Cold War, the Hindus of India, who constitute an 80% majority of the country's population, have been steadfast and consistent in their support for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. An international survey conducted by Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2009 found Indians having the most favorable opinion of Israel, even ahead of U.S. respondents by a small margin. In August 2014, at the height of Gaza conflict, the city of Calcutta staged a 20,000-strong rally in support of the Jewish State, making it probably the largest pro-Israel rally that Asia ever witnessed.
Finally, with the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014, the India's official policies have begun to reflect the desires and aspirations of the majority Hindu population of the nation.
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York, on September 29, 2014. (Image source: Israel Government Press Office)
To become a successful nation, we realize that we have to emulate the Jewish quest for spiritual and worldly learning. We need a nation of empowered men and women, free and fearless to develop social, technological, entrepreneurial and humanitarian creativity, even while under constant attack.
The homecoming of the Jews and restoration of the Jewish State in its historic land has been a source of great hope for us Hindus. When we see the restoration of Jewish State and revival of Judaism in its ancient land, we Hindus see ourselves.
If Judaism is incomplete without the Jewish homeland, the essence of Hinduism is indivisible with the geography of India. Just as Jews were forced out and in exile for millennia, Hindus too suffered a millennium of Islamic and later European subjugation in their own homeland.
After surviving the most vicious genocide in human history -- a brutal and systematic attempt by Nazi Germany to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Europe, claiming six million Jewish lives, the Jewish people worked to create a nation based on democracy, freedom, equality for people of all religions and ethnicities -- the only democracy in the Middle East.
Today, over a million Arabs enjoy equal citizenship rights in Israel, and a level of religious liberty and rule of law never seen before in the Middle East. Arab Israelis are present in all walks of Israeli life; holding top positions in business, academia, media, government as well as military leadership.
The tiny nation of Israel absorbed wave after wave of immigration, including a million Jews driven out of the Arab lands soon after the creation of Jewish State in 1948, Ethiopian Jews, and Russians escaping communism. Today, Israel is home to over 80,000 Jews of Indian origin. They have been fully integrated, and have excelled in all areas of society. They serve gallantly in the Israel Defense Force and bring glory to the country in sports. An IDF soldier of Indian origin, Barak Refael Degorker, was killed by Hamas during the Gaza conflict of 2014. Mumbai-born Sarah Avraham became Israel's 2012 women's Thai boxing champion.
As the nation-states of Europe drive toward an impending disaster in failing to assert their spiritual and national identity in the face of the massive influx of Muslim migrants, only the example of Israel offers us hope.
We must admit the failures, based on European liberalism, in our nation-building project. Western-style "affirmative-action" has failed to rid the country of caste-based discrimination, and all that the European style of hyper-sensitivity towards "Muslim sentiments" has done is stifle cultural freedoms in the country. India became the first nation to ban Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, before even Iran, Saudi Arabia and other theocratic Islamic regimes announced their fatwas and bans. For decades, India shied away from technological and academic cooperation with Israel. India seemed to have been trying to act even more Arab than the Arabs themselves.
Only an enlightened nation, built on a strong bedrock of Hindu unity, can ensure a secure and prosperous future for India. We cannot build a nation on foundations of an unjust and immoral caste system.
Just as the resurgence of Judaism in its historic and ancestral homeland means no threat to the Muslim faith, Hindu resurgence and unity should cause no harm to religious minorities of other faiths. Countries that would like to succeed and thrive would do well to follow the example of Israel.
The terrorism originating from neighboring Muslim lands must not only be countered militarily, but also with a renewed assertion of our on spiritual and national identity.
Arabs and Muslims might surely realize that they themselves have been the biggest losers of the wars of fanaticism they have waged, and turn their attention to rebuilding their societies and facing the real issues of violence, bigotry, ignorance and poverty -- to name just a few.
Until then, we all have a nation to build and a home to defend.
Recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, Mumbai, Paris, Istanbul and Ankara are simply what Israel has been living with for decades -- and India, France, Belgium and Turkey do not have "settlements." The conflict is not about "settlements". It is about one group of people trying imposing its will, culture, religion and way of life on another group. With Israel, the "settlements" are only the pretext. If you look at any map of "Palestine," it has the exact outlines of Israel.
It is beyond our scope, as Indians, to heal the pathologies of the Muslim world. We can only limit the damage by defending our home and securing our national borders.
Until that day comes, we would all do well to stand with Israel.
Vijeta Uniyal is an Indian current affairs analyst based in Europe.