Haifa Port and the Indian billionaire Adani who now owns it
Today, an Indian and Israeli flag fly alongside each other at Haifa Port.
The month of January has been a devastating one.
At least 35 Palestinians, including eight children, have been killed by Israeli forces across the occupied West Bank.
But when it comes to India and Israel relations, business is booming.
Not even stinging accusations of mass fraud and stock manipulation leveled against the Adani Group could stop Gautam Adani, one of the richest men in the world, from traveling to Israel to confirm the acquisition of Haifa Port.
The port, the second largest in Israel, had been purchased for $1.15 bn in mid-2022 by a consortium led by the Adani group. Adani will own 70% of the port and the local partner will own 30%.
In his address at the ceremony on Tuesday, Adani said that “our (India and Israel) friendships extends well before we became independent in 1947 and 1948.”
“Israel has always motivated me; you have rewritten the rules of what a population of less than 10 million can achieve. You have rewritten the rules by proving what a country with very little natural resources can achieve.”
“And you have rewritten the rules by focusing on what a country with a self-belief can achieve. The elasticity of Israel makes it the world’s most resilient nations [sic]; the proof is how this country has demonstrated growth. Israel is an outcome of its ability to beat all odds with the sheer power of science and technology. Your pace of innovation across multiple sectors amazes me. Your drive for innovations makes me wonder how we can learn from you.”
“You have focused on sustainable growth far before the world was thinking about sustainability. You focus on water, energy, soil conservation well before this became a mainstream trend. It is staggering to imagine how a nation with less than 10 million population can have a GDP of $500bn.”
He added that this occasion was the outcome of a lot of hard work over the past six years. He said that Adani has struck partnerships over the years with Elbit Systems, Israel Weapons Systems and Israel Innovation Authority.
You can watch the entire speech below:
PM Benjamin Netanyahu also attended the ceremony and addressed the crowd and the media:
“I think this is an enormous milestone...Over 100 years ago, and during World World I, it was the brave Indian soldiers who helped liberate the city of Haifa. And today, it's very robust Indian investors who are helping to liberate the port of Haifa, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said that he had communicated to his "good friend" Narendra Modi a vision of "having connectivity between our countries in many ways, transportation lines and air routes and sea routes...and it's happening today."
He also added that he hoped that the region would become an entry point and exit point for goods headed for Europe.
In other news:
LiveMint reported that Israel is now the biggest purchaser of petroleum products from India. In December 2022, Israel spent around $1bn on petroleum products from India. These products mostly originate from Russia.
At a Cybertech Global 2023 conference in Tel Aviv this week, India’s ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Kumar Singla said that the next decade belonged to India. “The digital revolution has been transforming India, and it isn’t only a solution for India but for the world,” said the ambassador. “This decade is largely expected to be India’s decade, as we are looking to enhance our share in the global digital economy.”
As you may know, my new book Hostile Homelands: The New Alliance Between India and Israel will be out in a matter of weeks.
The book, published by Pluto Press examines the making of an alliance between two countries - both born out of violence, partition, and displacement - and yet seen through remarkably different prisms for most of their history.
The book outlines the history of the relationship and how it evolved over the years.
It specifically examines the military-industrial complex, the links between Zionism and Hindutva, the ways in which the Israeli lobby has collaborated Hindu nationalists in the US and how both countries are using similar methods in Palestine and Kashmir.
And it is also full of unexpected stories from the past.
Here is one:
In 1962, India’s PM Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to Israel’s David Ben Gurion to ask for military aid when the 1962 war with China began. Ben Gurion replied and offered help.
But given that India were pioneers of the Non-Aligned movement, it did not want to offend its Arab and Asian allies.
So Nehru asked Ben Gurion to send the military aid on ships which did not fly the Israeli flag.
Ben Gurion refused. And the aid came. Around sixty years later, India and Israel regard each other as “strategic partners”.
The selling of Haifa Port to an Indian businessman so close to Modi speaks to that.
Pre-order from Pluto
Hostile Homelands will be released on February 23, 2023.
I am encouraging those interested in the book to pre-order it directly from Pluto Press. (Use Essa20 for 20% off).
We have am exciting schedule of book talks and interviews over the next few months. I will update you on these developments in due course.
If you are interested in reviewing the book or getting in touch for an interview or for a discussion at your book club or organisation, please do get in touch!
until next time,
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