Israel explore new partnerships in culture and education
New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) India and Israel are exploring new
partnerships in culture and education to consolidate bilateral
An India-Israel Colloquium 'Preserving Cultural Identities
in Today's World' Wednesday probed the intellectual synergy
between the two nations in the context of the historical relationship
between the two countries.
"Israel and India are similar in many ways. Education
has always been a priority both with the Jews and Indians.
We are trying to create institutional links between institutes
of higher learning in Israel and in India," Eli Belotsercovsky,
deputy chief of mission, Embassy of Israel, told IANS.
Belotsercovsky said a delegation of vice-chancellors of Indian
universities visited Israel July and interfaced with their
counterparts in the country.
"We will soon establish a chair of Israeli and Jewish
studies in one of the universities in India. We are looking
at Delhi since it is the seat of education," he said.
Israel has seven universities of which three have faculties
of Indology. "In some, we teach Indian languages like
Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam. We cannot teach other languages
because we don't have teachers," the envoy explained.
Israelis, he said, identify with Indians, in three areas.
People who have been to India carry memories of its rich culture
and colours back home. Every year, nearly 40,000 Israelis
Others know India from Bollywood movies which, he said, are
very popular in Israel.
"Israeli cable television offers Zee TV as an Indian
option which telecasts Hindi movies, including classics. A
number of students from Israel come to India to study arts,
culture and philosophy and vice-versa," Belotsercovsky
Israel is seeking to cooperate with India in education, tourism,
spirituality and culture. "Like most educated Indians,
Jews also believe that education is the most valuable asset
that one can carry from one place to another in case circumstances
force them to migrate. The outlook has its origin in history
and the birth of the Jewish nation," the envoy explained.
Two other areas include spirituality and tourism. "There
is tremendous amount of interest in Israel towards India,
which is considered a major spiritual centre. We are planning
to boost tourism and bring more cultural performances from
Israel to India," he said.
Addressing the colloquium, Ashok Vajpeyi, chairman of the
Lalit Kala Akademi, quoted Jewish poet Yehuda Amichai saying
the Jews were not a historical people, but a geological race,
who have grown along with their land.
Indians too, Vajpeyi said, were not a historical people but
a race that has grown over the centuries and with the progress
Putting the India-Israel ties in historical perspective, professor
Himanshu Prabha Ray of Jawaharlal Nehru University traced
the roots to the Ganizah Papers, old Jewish trade and religious
accounts written in Hebrew, Arabic and Aramaic, which were
stored in a synagogue in Fustat in the 18th and the 19th century.
"It delves into Indo-Jewish trade links in context of
Beniju, the trader from Tripoli who traded in spices and silks
and his slave Bama, an Indian from the Carnatic coast,"
she said. Novelist Amitav Ghosh had interpreted the Ganizah
Papers in his 1992 novel, "In An Antique Land".
The colloquium was addressed by Ashok Vajpeyi, Himanshu Prabha
Ray, Benjamin Kedar, chairperson of the Israeli antiquity,
and Aliza Shenhar, former rector of the University of Haifa,
Indo-Asian News Service