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Israeli and Indian societies embody the histories and aspirations of ancient nations that were colonised, regained their independence amidst turmoil in the late 1940s, and continue to face threats of war and terror. Like India, national independence and self-determination are central to Israel’s ethos. After 2,000 years of stateless exile and vulnerability, the political Zionism that began in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century galvanised Jewish populations throughout the world. Jews came to their ancestral homeland in order to restore national independence, and as a result, attacks on this sovereignty result in strong counter-reactions. This background provides the basis for cooperation between Delhi and Jerusalem, which will be celebrated during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to Israel, marking 25 years of full diplomatic relations.

In addition to these parallels, Israel and India share the distinction of being targets of political manipulation by powerful non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and their funders, which operate outside the democratic process, with no checks and balances. These activities, although often presented in altruistic and moral terms – such as peace, human rights, economic development, and humanitarian aid – are widely perceived in both countries as a form of neo-colonialism. NGO power is also enhanced by an image of altruism and morality (known as the “halo effect”) that protects the organisations and their funders from critical analysis. International journalists, diplomats, and academics give NGOs automatic support, without examining details and hidden agendas, which undermine hard-won national sovereignty and independence.