In an interview ahead of his landmark visit to Israel on Tuesday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Israel’s “amazing” innovation and development… and also indicated that a little more time spent on yoga might help solve some of the Middle East’s problems.
Interviewed by Israel’s Channel 2 in front of large Indian and Israeli flags, Modi — who began the conversation by saying “Shalom” and ended it with Todah Rabah (Thank you) — said his visit marked a “turning point” in bilateral ties after 25 years of diplomatic relations.
He hailed Israel’s growth and development “against the odds,” saying the sheer pace of its progress had “prompted everyone to look at it in amazement… When ‘Israel’ is mentioned, people think of innovation, technology, start-ups, space, agriculture, maximal use of resources. That’s Israel’s fingerprint,” said Modi.
“All those things are appropriate to the Indian outlook. All those things cause us to work shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel — to widen our horizons together,” he said. “With your potential and our potential, the sky is the limit.”
Modi acknowledged that he was presiding over a marked warming of ties with the Jewish state; India had hitherto been regarded as more supportive of the Palestinians.
“This is a turning point,” he said, adding, “my visit to Israel at this time will not harm a single person in India.”
Asked at the end of the interview whether he would invite his host, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to join him in a yoga session, Modi laughed heartily.
He then noted that many Israelis participated in International Yoga Day on June 21. Indeed, hundreds of Israelis stretched out their downward facing dogs that day on the world’s largest yoga mat artwork in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. And he suggested that Channel 2 devote half-an-hour a day to yoga, to spread knowledge of yoga and “advance the holistic approach.”
Maybe, his interviewer speculated, this might bring a solution to the problems of the Middle East?
Said Modi, laughing: “That would delight me.”