Taking bilateral relations to a higher level

Indian ambassador Navtej Sarna came to Israel to celebrate 20th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between 2 countries.

PM Netanyahu and Indian FM S.M. Krishna 311 (photo credit: Alex Kolomyski)
PM Netanyahu and Indian FM S.M. Krishna 311
(photo credit: Alex Kolomyski)
Indian ambassador Navtej Sarna hosted a reception at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv in honor of visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna, who is the highest-ranking Indian official to visit Israel in well over a decade. Krishna, who came to Israel to take bilateral ties to a higher level and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Israel, said that he had been looking forward to the visit for quite some time, especially because this was such an historic occasion. Twenty years may appear to be a short period, he said, but the impressive and multi-layered relationship shows how much can be achieved with commitment and goodwill. Noting the commonalities between the two countries, such as democratic values, a strong judiciary and a free media. He also noted that Israel and India have shared the pain of loss of innocent lives to the forces of terrorism. Both Krishna and Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman were optimistic that within 10 years the bilateral trade between the two countries would double from $5 billion to $10 billion, especially in view of current negotiations towards a free trade agreement. Krishna made a point of meeting with Issa Sarid, the grand niece of Hermann Kallenbach, Mahatma Gandhi’s close Jewish associate from the time he spent in South Africa.
While he would like to see young Indians coming to Israel, he was not sure, given the huge difference in size between the two countries, whether there would be enough hotel rooms to accommodate them. Lieberman expressed Israel’s appreciation for India’s responsible attitude to international problems and announced the opening of a new Israeli Consulate General in Bangalore.
He said that Israel and India would continue their open dialogue and cooperation.
It is customary at diplomatic events in Israel that the non-Israeli expresses a wish for peace in the Middle East and endorses the two state solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Krishna did neither. While India is traditionally pro- Palestinian, wishing for peace in the Middle East embraces both the Palestinians and Israel, so the lacuna was somewhat noticeable.
■ CONSPICUOUS IN her absence was Reena Pushkarna, India’s unofficial ambassador.
Her husband Vinod was there and explained that his wife was in India for a wedding and would continue on to Macao for the Chinese version of the Oscars. He also revealed that their recently opened restaurant in Singapore is doing very well and that they are currently in negotiation for the opening of a kosher Indian restaurant in Marseilles.
The Pushkarnas were present in the President’s residence 20 years ago when India’s first ambassador E.K. Singh presented his credentials to President Chaim Herzog.
Vinod Pushkarna recalled that conductor Zubin Mehta, who had also been present, had wept with joy that the two countries he loved so much had finally established a bond.
■ THE AWARD-WINNING Israeli documentary The Violinists, directed by Alexander Gentelev and produced by Nurit Kedar, will be screened on Channel 10 on Saturday night, January 15 at 11 p.m. Last year, the film, which had already won prizes in Israel, was the recipient of the International Gold Panda Award at the Sichuan TV Film Festival.
The film focuses on gifted Israeli children who study music in the village of Migdal in the Galilee under the direction of Dr.
Anna Rosnovsky, the former first violinist of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The project was initiated by world renowned violinist Maxim Vengerov who, like Rosnovsky, was trained in Russia. He wanted talented Israeli children to receive the same kind of musical education that he had received and could think of no one better than Rosnovsky to give it to them.
Although in existence only since September 2006, Musicians of Tomorrow have already made an impact in Israel and abroad. The youngsters have given concert recitals overseas and played at prestigious events on the home front. They have also played on separate occasions for President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The documentary has been acquired by television stations in Sweden, Estonia, Poland, Germany and the Netherlands, a factor that contributes to the status of the Musicians of Tomorrow as cultural ambassadors of Israel. Children, especially child musicians, always have more appeal than adults do.
■ TWO OF the people that aspiring politician Yair Lapid can always depend on are former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former Ma’ariv editor Amnon Dankner, who encouraged him to throw his hat into the political arena and who, as the best friends of his late father former justice minister Tommy Lapid, will always be there as adoptive uncles. Their combined counsel should serve the younger Lapid well.
■ THE CLOCK turned back temporarily for former MK and current president of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce Uriel Lynn, his deputy Arieh Zeiff and former MK Naomi Blumenthal when they met in Lynn’s office with Liberation International president Hans van Baalen, Israel Chamber of Commerce president Oren Shahor and chairman of the ICC’s Food Division Reuven Shlissel. They discussed the influence of the 100 worldwide branches of Liberal International on the European parliament to ease trade regulations between Israel and member countries of the EU. Van Baalen was also eager to learn about Israel’s economy and how Israel has withstood the global economic crisis. Lynn was happy to fill him in.
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