[Zafar Sareshwala (left) with Mayor of Rawabi Ibrahim Natour during his visit to Palestine. Rawabi is Palestine's first Smart City. (Image: Twitter/@zafarsareshwala)]
New Delhi: As India prepares to greet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on its soil, close aide of Prime Minister Narendra Modi Zafar Sareshwala said it was commendable that India was finally shunning the “symbolism” in its West Asia policy.
“We don’t want symbolism. In the past, I have congratulated the PM for not wearing a skullcap and for not holding Iftar parties. The same symbolism has to be done away with in diplomacy as well,” Sareshwala, Chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) who had visited Israel and Palestine October last year said while talking to CNN-News18.
“The difference between Congress’ and Modi’s style of dealing with Israel is that the Congress would meet Netanyahu behind closed doors, while Modi does it in public,” said Sareshwala.
Talking about his Palestine visit, Sareshwala said he visited Rawabi, Palestine’s first planned city on the West Bank. Much like his meeting with Anat Berko, his meeting with the city’s 35-year-old mayor, Sheikh Rayyan, left an indelible mark.
Sareshwala said he was surprised to see that the Israeli parliament has a higher representation of Muslims than the Indian parliament. Of 116 lawmakers in Knesset, 16 are Muslims.
Recalling his address at the iconic Bar-llan University in Israel, Sareshwala rued that the world had “wrongly painted all Jews with the same brush, just as all Muslims are being seen as terrorists”.
The highlight of his visit, Sareshwala said, was a visit to the Biblical city of Nazareth, which is a start-up hub today. “Of 39 companies, 19 were owned by Muslims. There is comfortable intermingling among Christians, Muslims and Jews,” he said.
Sareshwala's comments came ahead of Netanyahu's five-day visit to India starting Sunday. Accompanied by wife Sara and a number of businessmen Netanyahu will arrive in New Delhi today afternoon.
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