Indian Parliamentarians, Journalists, & Interfaith Activists -July 2006

Project Interchange and Australia’s AIJAC collaborated with AJC’s India Representative to develop this seminar for Indian Parliamentarians, journalists, and interfaith activists. Arriving in Israel following the capture by Hamas of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, participants explored the strategic elements of Israel’s conflict with both Hamas and Hezbollah and visited areas in the south hit by missile fire. Israel’s development of the Negev was highlighted through trips to a desalinization plant, an absorption center and centers of Arab-Jewish cooperation such as NISPED; the Negev Institute of Strategies of Peace and Development. The delegation visited the Indian-Jewish community and met with India’s Ambassador to Israel, Arun Singh, who hosted a reception in their honor. Briefings were held with representatives of Israel’s high tech and agriculture sectors in addition to discussions of bilateral and strategic relations at the Foreign Ministry. Delegates prepared a moving statement of their support for Israel and expressed desire to promote continued dialogue and exchanges.

India’s growing importance as the world’s largest democracy, increasingly assertive foreign policy, explosive economic growth and recent signature of a civil nuclear energy development agreement with the US have established conclusively India’s place as a regional superpower and formidable ally.  Although areas of difficulty remain, especially in terms of India’s UN voting record, the rapid and comprehensive growth of the relationship between Israel and India in almost every conceivable policy area, as well as AJC’s solid network of contacts and activity within the country, made India the logical launching point for our Asian seminar series.

Members of India’s Parliament were recruited for this seminar, together with representatives of India’s largest and most influential English language newspapers.

With strong support from both the Israeli and Indian diplomats positioned in Washington, New Delhi and Washington, DC, AJC’s Indian, Washington and Israeli program staff were able to assemble with assistance from AIJAC, a seminar group that was balanced politically and represented several of India’s most populous states.  The inclusion of Farzhana Contractor allowed us the opportunity for us to reach Indian women, who make up the majority of Afternoon readership.

10-17 July 2006 Press