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Maina Chawla Singh, a professor at the University of Delhi, spoke about "Culture, Self-Image and Community Organization: Indian Jews in Contemporary Israel."

Apr 8, 2009 — The numerous commonalities between India, the world’s largest democracy, and Israel, the smallest, were the subject of a conference, “Israel and India: A Relationship Comes of Age,” sponsored by Yeshiva University’s Center for Israel Studies and Institute for Public Health Sciences on March 30-31. The conference brought together academics and political leaders to address the two countries’ ties throughout history and in the current arenas of politics, business and medicine.

“India and Israel have many common values: democracy, open societies, advanced economies, all based on foundations that date back thousands of years,” Congressman Gary Ackerman said in the conference’s keynote address. As chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia in the U.S. House of Representatives, he has worked to promote the relationship between the two countries for a long time.

Congressman Ackerman also pointed to their common enemy in Islamic extremist groups. “India has a long history of combating terrorism,” he said. “They have seen so many leaders and citizens killed by terrorists. The attack in Mumbai is significant because it links the attackers with the larger Jihad movement.”

The conference, held at the Yeshiva University Museum, was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the Mumbai attack of Nov. 26, 2008. “It is against this backdrop in global terrorism that we are here to discuss the flourishing India/Israel relationship,” Congressman Ackerman said.

Ambassador Arun K. Singh, deputy chief of the Mission at the Embassy of India in Washington, D.C., who served as Ambassador of India to Israel from 2005-2008, highlighted economic interests between the two nations. Trade between them rose from $80 million in 1991 to $3.5 billion in 2008. “Israel has invested in IT, pharmaceuticals, real estate, infrastructure and equipment manufacturing,” Ambassador Singh said. “There is also a strong cooperative relationship in defense.”

Benjamin Krasna, the Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York, evoked the memory of David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, who believed that “in order to guarantee stability in our region, we have to look to those like-minded countries that have similar missions,” he said. “Democracies are under threat constantly. We must remain committed to addressing the threats of these challenges.”

P. Kumaraswamy, India’s leading expert on Israel and a professor of political science at Nehru University in Delhi, explained that while India has an unblemished record when it comes to anti-Semitism, the “political relationship is an entirely different scheme of things.” He characterized the period from the signing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 until 1992 as “an aberration of our relationship, not reflective of how it was either before or after.” In 1975, for example, India joined others who equated Zionism with racism at the U.N. General Assembly. Realpolitik seems to have become the order of the day after 1992, when “India began to look at the world differently,” Kumaraswamy said. “It was necessary and possible to have an engaged relationship with both Israel and the Palestinians.”

The conference also dealt with contemporary business relations. Gadi Ariav, associate professor at Tel Aviv University, spoke about the reciprocal global opportunities between the two nations, and Amit Kapoor, honorary chairman of the Institute for Competitiveness and professor of strategy and industrial economics at the Management Development Institute in India, assessed his country’s economic competitiveness.

Public health and medical perspectives were offered by Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of Hadassah University Medical Center and Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India.

While political, business and public health relationships between Israel and India are a product of recent decades, cultural and historical ties go back millennia. Bringing a cultural perspective to the conference, Nathan Katz, professor at Florida International University, spoke about the Jews of Kochi, and Maina Chawla Singh, professor at the University of Delhi, discussed the place of the nearly 70,000 Indian Jews in modern-day Israel.

A reception at the Indian Consulate on the evening of March 30 brought dignitaries and members of the University community together for a more informal sharing of ideas. “Our relationship goes from strength to strength,” said Ambassador Prabhu Dayal of India. “The scope for development is endless. Conferences like these are important so that the academic community adds its support.”

“As our two states begin their seventh decade, I look forward to our peoples becoming even closer, culturally and politically, as democratic societies committed to building a better world,” said Asaf Shariv, Consul General of Israel in New York.

President Richard M. Joel told the crowd that, as an academic host of ideas and a great American university committed to the world, “we must be willing to engage, give the gift of listening and advance civilization.”

Steven Fine, director of the Center for Israel Studies and professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva College, said that the conference was informed by President Joel’s vision “to place Israel at the center of YU’s academic agenda. The India-Israel relationship is vital to Israel today as never before. I am excited that our Center for Israel Studies is at the vanguard in the exploration of this relationship.”

Sonia Suchday, co-director with Paul Marantz of YU’s Institute for Public Health Sciences and associate professor at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, concurred. “We need to create a space to get past the boundaries and create solutions for our world,” Suchday said.

The conference is part of a broader yearlong initiative to underscore the relationship between Israel and India, including an exhibit at the YU Museum sponsored by the Center for Israel Studies, “From Malibar and Beyond: The Jews of India,” which opened March 30. A symposium sponsored by the Institute for Public Health Sciences, “Global Partnerships in Interprofessional Health Education,” brought together scholars from India, Israel and the U.S. at Albert Einstein College of Medicine on April 1.


Mar 16, 2009 — With cultural, political, economic and military ties never stronger and more apparent between Israel and India, international leaders and scholars will convene at Yeshiva University for a two-day conference, entitled “Israel and India: A Relationship Comes of Age,” on March 30-31. In light of the recent tragedies in Mumbai, the conference will be dedicated to the memories of those who lost their lives in the attacks.

A project of YU’s Center for Israel Studies (CIS) and the Institute for Public Health Sciences (IPHS), the conference, a highlight of a year-long program at Yeshiva University celebrating the deepening ties between Israel and India, will explore the many facets of this evolving relationship. The discussions will promote a social climate of tolerance, understanding, partnership and growth.

The conference, open to the public at no cost, will be held at the Yeshiva University Museum, 15 West 16th Street, beginning at 9:30 a.m. on March 30.

“What better way to celebrate 60 years of independence than to build upon the already rich, connected history that these two countries share,” said Dr. Steven Fine, director of YU’s Center for Israel Studies. “We are honored to host leading Israeli and Indian authorities from the worlds of business, politics and medicine to discuss advancing this relationship for the betterment of both countries.”

Israel and India face a number of common challenges and have a shared interest in fostering alliances to bolster economic growth. Dedicated sessions led by Israeli and Indian business leaders and scholars will explore these various challenges and discuss opportunities for the development of strategic partnerships that continue to strengthen each country.

“At a time when terrorism is challenging bonds of cooperation and friendship between various parts of the globe, the conference is a celebration of democracy and friendship,” said Sonia Suchday, PhD, co-director, Institute of Public Health Sciences at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology.

Congressman Ackerman, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he plays major leadership roles in flash point areas of the world, will give the featured address March 30 at 10 a.m. Ackerman is heavily involved in U.S. policy involving national security, nuclear proliferation and terrorism issues in areas such as the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Latin America.

Scholars participating in panels throughout the two-day conference include:
- Dr. Nathan Katz, professor and founding chair of the Department of Religious Studies, as well as founder-director of the Center for the Study of Spirituality, at Florida International University (FIU) in Miami. Arguably the world’s authority on Indian Jewish communities, he is co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies
- Professor Maina Chawla Singh, instructor at the College of Vocational Studies of Delhi University and Advisory Board Member of Global Alliance for Women’s Health
- Professor Efraim Inbar, director, Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, and professor of political studies at Bar Ilan University
- Professor P.R. Kumaraswamy, professor of international studies at the Centre for West Asian and African Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India
- Professor Gad Ariav, head of High-Tech Management School and Faculty of Management, Leon Recanati School of Business at Tel Aviv University
- Dr. Amit Kapoor, professor of strategy and industrial economics at Management Development Institute (India) and Honorary Chairman at Institute for Competitiveness
- Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director general of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Israel
- Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, president of the Public Health Foundation of India

Serving as moderators throughout the conference are:
- Raji Viswanathan, associate professor, Department of Chemistry at Yeshiva University
- Ruth Bevan Dunner, senior professor of the Department of Political Science at Yeshiva University
- Steven Fine, professor of Jewish history at Yeshiva University and director of YU’s Center for Israel Studies
- Michael Ginzberg, dean and professor of management and information systems at Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University
- Paul Marantz, associate dean for clinical research education at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University
- Sonia Suchday, associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology at Yeshiva University

To register for this conference or see the full program of speakers and topics , visit the Center’s Web site or call 212-960-0189.


Dec 10, 2008 — Yeshiva University (YU) will be presenting a conference, Israel and India: A Relationship Comes of Age on March 30-31 in New York City. In light of the recent tragedies in Mumbai, the conference will be dedicated to the memories of those who lost their lives in the attacks. The conference is a project of YU’s Center for Israel Studies (CIS) and The Institute for Public Health Sciences (IPHS) and will celebrate a year of exploration of the many facets in the relationship between Israel and India.

“The terror attack in Mumbai starkly highlights the links that bind India and Israel—from security and culture and now to blood,” said Steven Fine, director of CIS and professor of Jewish History at YU. “The relationship goes back thousands of years, but it is now more important for our world than ever.”

As part of the Israel-India celebration, a delegation of YU students traveled to India over the summer—spending time with the Holtzberg family, of blessed memory.

Hillary Lewin, a second year graduate student at Ferkauf, spent several weeks with the Holtzbergs. “While I am devastated by their death, I am thankful that my life and so many others were touched by their purity, friendship and spirit.”

“The Holtzberg family’s kindness, graciousness and warmth inspired all our students,” said YU President Richard M. Joel. “If there is but one light flickering in the abyss, it is the spark of passionate and compassionate Judaism that they shared not only with our students, but with everyone they touched.”

The conference will attempt to provide a venue to create a social climate of tolerance, understanding, partnership, and growth.

“The anger and hatred exhibited by the senseless violence of these attacks cannot be countered with further violence,” said Sonia Suchday, co-director of IPHS and program director of clinical psychology, health emphasis, at YU’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. “It must be countered by forces of compassion and good will—which can only come through education and interaction.”

For more information on the Israel and India conference, please visit The Center for Israel Studies at or The Institute for Public Health Sciences at

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