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'Israel helped India during Kargil'
Rediff Foreign Affairs Bureau | September 08, 2003 13:53 IST
In an exclusive interview with the newspaper's News Editor Suman Guha-Mozumder, Isaacson acknowledged that the "Israeli involvement, the help that Israel was really able to give to India at the time of the Kargil crisis as a friend and ally, had not taken place before."
"It is becoming clear that democracies like India, Israel and the US have to stick together and nothing has made that clearer than the event [9/11] two years ago," he said in the interview published in the September 12 edition of the newspaper, which is owned by rediff.com
The AJC is one of the most powerful Jewish groups in the US, and claims over 125,000 members and supporters.
Isaacson organized the first AJC conference in New Delhi in 1997 to celebrate India and Israel's 50th anniversaries of independence, and has visited India many times.
A senior visitor at St Antony's College, Oxford, he was responsible for hosting the first-ever joint reception on Capitol Hill for the Israeli-American and the Indian-American communities, on July 16, in a bid to strengthen New Delhi's voice in Washington.
Terming the relationship among India, Israel and the US as "a natural alliance," Isaacson said it was not just about terrorism and strategic partnership of the respective countries but also about trade and about democracies joining hands.
Agreeing that it was only in recent years that the realization had taken hold in the public policy establishment, Isaacson said, "Obviously, people have recognized this and there have been forward thinkers in the US, India and Israel. It seems that a critical mass has been achieved in recent months and that is a very welcome and long awaited development."
Isaacson called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to India "extremely significant," since "a prime ministerial visit is the most significant gesture a country can make or two countries can make together of their desire to increase cooperation".
"It is the logical next step in our relation that has been increasingly developing in recent months," he told India Abroad.
Listing the milestones on the way to closer ties between the two democracies, Isaacson singled out the India's National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra's address to the AJC dinner in May. "I think that was the most open acknowledgement of the importance of this relationship."
Although diplomatic relations between the two countries were established during the Congress government on January 29, 1992, during P V Narasimha Rao's prime ministership, Isaacson agreed that "under the Bharatiya Janata Party, great strides have been taken to reach out and more publicly acknowledge and celebrate this relationship than we had ever before. The times obviously are changing and so are the trends."
Asked if there was a symbolism to the fact that Sharon will be in India -- in Mumbai, in fact, where the twin blasts occurred last fortnight -- September 11, the second anniversary of the terror strikes in New York City and Washington, DC, Isaacson said he could only speculate.
"But I do know it was on September 11 three years ago that there happened to be an Israeli intelligence team in New Delhi for consultations," he added. "I think it may not be a coincidence that two years later a decision was taken to come back on those dates. The fact remains that both India, Israel and the US are suffering at the hands of terrorists and all three are democracies. There is a natural reason for choosing those dates."