The final triumph for Dr Yehoyada Haim, Israel's ambassador to New Delhi (1995-2000), came when at the end of a successful posting he convinced home minister L.K. Advani, senior RS member Najma Heptullah, West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu and external affairs minister Jaswant Singh to visit Israel. These were the first high-level visits since Indo-Israeli ties were normalised in 1992. The outgoing ambassador talked to Janaki Bahadur Kremmer about mutual relations, international terrorism and other matters. Excerpts from the interview:
The BJP's admiration for Israel finally seems to be crystallising in official visits, defence ties and agreements to fight Islamic fundamentalism. What else binds the two nations?
I don't think the fact that the BJP is in power is the major factor in India and Israel coming together. Remember first we started relations in 1992 when the Congress was in power, it continued with the United Front government and now with the BJP. So I believe it was very natural. But there's also a great admiration and love for India in Israel and vice versa.... I felt it everywhere I went. There is a very unique affinity between Jews and Indians. But I can't precisely define just what that affinity is. The Indian president's best friend is Jewish (Aluf Har-Even, Narayanan's former roommate in London in the 1940s) and so is his second-best friend (the late Prof Eli Kaduri). Perhaps psychologists should try to find out what binds us. Personally, I think Indians have friendly faces.