Famed Jewish-Indian general to be honored in Jerusalem
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Famed Jewish-Indian general to be honored in Jerusalem

Lt. Gen. Jack Jacob’s name to be added to plaque at Ammunition Hill memorial site for Jews who served admirably in foreign militaries

Lt. Gen. Jack Jacob, shown sitting in his New Delhi home, likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives while serving as chief of staff of the Indian Eastern command during the 1971 Bangladesh war. (Ashish Sharma/Open/JTA)
Lt. Gen. Jack Jacob, shown sitting in his New Delhi home, likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives while serving as chief of staff of the Indian Eastern command during the 1971 Bangladesh war. (Ashish Sharma/Open/JTA)

Israel will honor famed Jewish Indian general Jack Farj Rafael Jacob with a plaque on its Ammunition Hill memorial site later this month, Indian media reported Sunday.

Jacob, who died in 2016 at the age of 92, was one of the most prominent members of India’s relatively small Jewish community, serving as a lieutenant general in the Indian Army and later as a governor of two Indian states.

“Lt. Gen. Jacob will be honored by unveiling of a wall plaque on the wall of honor at Jerusalem Ammunition Hill for Jewish soldiers men, women and who served with distinction in foreign armies,” Samuel Marshall, a senior Jewish leader in India, told The Hindu news outlet.

According to Marshall, the ceremony will take place on April 30.

Jacob died of pneumonia at New Delhi’s Army Research and Referral Hospital on January 13, 2016. He was the highest ranking military officer in the history of the Indian Jewish community, achieving the position of chief of staff, and is considered a national hero throughout the country for his daring military campaigns.

Jacob is best known for commanding India’s Eastern Army during the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 and negotiating the historic surrender of Pakistani troops after the war. His 1997 book “Surrender at Dacca: Birth of a Nation,” is considered the definitive account of the Bangladesh campaign.

Born in 1923 in Calcutta, British India, Jacob hailed from a long line of Baghdadi Jews who moved to India from Iraq in the middle of the 18th century. Enlisting in the British Indian Army in 1942, Jacob continued to serve in the Indian Army after the country gained independence in 1947, rising in the ranks to lieutenant general.

Maj Gen Jack Jacob (3rd from right) at the signing of the Instrument of Surrender between India and Pakistan, 1971. (Arr4/Wikipedia CC BY)
Maj Gen Jack Jacob (3rd from right) at the signing of the Instrument of Surrender between India and Pakistan, 1971. (Arr4/Wikipedia CC BY)

After his retirement from the military in 1978 Jacob served as the governor of the Indian states of Goa and Punjab. He related his life story in the 2011 memoir “An Odyssey in War and Peace.”

Jacob had been to Israel several times. He developed close friendships with Israeli leaders such as former prime ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin. He is reported to have been particularly close with Mordechai Gur, the Israeli paratrooper commander whose forces captured the Old City of Jerusalem in 1967.

“Your military achievements were of much interest in my country,” Gur once wrote to Jacob in a letter delivered via a mutual friend in the days before Israel-India relations. “Your performance is, without a doubt, one of the best in modern warfare.”

Raoul Wootliff and JTA contributed to this report.

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