Jewish Exponent, March 14, 1996
So believes Professor M.L. Sondhi
, who is running for a seat in the Indian parliament in the upcoming elections in April.
There are already a great number of joint projects under way between India and Israel, dealing with irrigation and agriculture, some of them begun even before the two countries resumed normal diplomatic relations four years ago.
"It is a very important message that Israel has for the world," Sondhi
"Because Judaism is based on very strong ethical ideas, what Israel does is to create an excellence.
You expect them to do wonders because they have such high standards."
remarks recently to a group of Jewish journalists from American and Israeli newspapers who had been invited by the Indian government to tour the subcontinent.
B'nai B'rith in Washington co-sponsored the trip.
30 years at Nehru University
A professor of international relations for more than 30 years at Delhi's Nehru University, Sondhi held parliamentary office from the late '60 to the early '70s and has served as an Indian diplomat.
He is a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, which is in opposition to the ruling Congress Party.
, which stresses Hindu nationalism, has never been as popular as Congress with the majority of voters in India, who are more secular-minded.
During the Cold War years, "the Congress Party was pro-Soviet - or at least pro the Soviet experiment," Sondhi
"They were for regimenting the economy as the party tilted more toward the communist ideal, even as it said it was intellectually opposed to it.
, on the other hand, is conservative in many areas.
But we have to come to power and then see where we are."
According to other governmental officials interviewed in India, the BJP
has a good chance of winning the election especially since the Congress Party and Prime Minister P.V. Narashimha Rao are embroiled in a kickback scandal, along with a lesser number of BJP members.
When asked about his
party's chances, Sondhi
would only say, "That party will win which gives the best chance to its citizens.
If we can create certain policies realistically, we may have a chance to win."
For all his
positive words about Israel, Sondhi
did have criticisms of the Jewish state.
Despite the nation's considerable achievements, he
feels that Israelis have yet to reach their full potential when they venture out into the world.
What holds them back is what Sondhi calls "the Jewish psyche of insecurity.
Where other people might look at a situation and see potential, Sondhi
said, Israelis are sceptical and often see danger and ill will.
This is understandable, Sondhi
said, considering the long history of persecution the Jews have suffered, all of which culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust.
But the post-Cold War world is a different place, Sondhi
insisted, one filled with promise and potential.
"If Israelis get the opportunity, if the hostility around them dies down, they can create so much," he
did not deny that there was a legacy of opposition to Israel in India's past, and that, in the Cold War period, his
country was viewed as a friend of the Soviet Union.
But that kind of thinking is losing its currency, he
"Here are two ancient cultural streams, and I believe something creative can come of them together," Sondhi
said of Israel and India.
believes that Jerusalem should not be divided.
The Israel-Indian relationship will benefit both parties in a number of ways - some good for the economy, others good for the soul, Sondhi
"We can't be satisfied, though, with just euphoria," he