India is an important power in the new world – Dr. Einat Wilf (Member of Parliament, Knesset, in Israel)
Dr. Wilf is in India because she believes that Israel’s relatins with India are extremely important. Dr. Einat Wilf is a Member of Israel’s Knesset and Chair of the ‘Independence’ faction. She serves on the Foreign Affairs and Defense, Education, and Finance committees. Previously, Dr. Wilf served as a Senior Fellow with the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, a Foreign Policy Advisor to Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres and a strategic consultant with McKinsey & Company. Born and raised in Israel, Dr. Wilf served as an Intelligence Officer in the Israel Defense Forces and holds a BA in Government and Fine Arts from Harvard University, an MBA from INSEAD in France, and a PhD in Political Science from the University of Cambridge.
In an exclusive interview to The Daily Milap on Tuesday, the 25th of october, Dr. Wilf spoke about various issues both domestic and international. When asked about what she thougt of the Arab Spring and how it would impact Israel, Dr. Wilf told us that she believed that this change in the region was for the better. She said that Israel was more than happy to loose the tag of being the only democracy in the region. She said that, “having democratic countries would be a lot better for the entire Middle East. Of course there are concerns within Israel because such a transition in any country takes a long time and there is always a risk that during such a transition, negative elements within the society sometimes get their way. But other than that concern, Israel praises the people’s role and wishes all the countries in turmoil all the best to emerge better out of the current situation.
When specifically asked about Libya and Syria, Dr. Wilf said that Israel has no role to play in Libya or Syria but they would wish the people all the best in creating a better and more stable future for themselves. She also felt that after seeing the current situation in Libya, both sides in Syria would have gotten mentally stronger. “Assad would not want to end up like Gaddafi and at the same time the people of Syria would have gotten renewed hope seeing the people of Libya rejoice.”
When asked about Israel’s worsening relations with Turkey, Dr. Wilf said that Turkey was undergoing a geo-strategic change and was attempting to become the voice for the entire Islamic world. She said, “unfortunately the easiest way to be pro-Muslim these days is to be anti-Israel! This is very unfortunate because it is not true. Israel has gone out of it’s way to show the world that it is not anti-Islam but is anti those who use the name of Islam for their personal gain.” She felt that once the Turkish government calmed down and became comfortable within, relations with Israel could improve. But she stressed that the people to people relation were great and even among the business world, it was business as usual between the two countries.
Talking of Iran, Dr. Wilf said that it is definitely very disturbing when the leader of a country gives statements directed at hurting another country and destroying it but she felt that this was not the popular opinion in Iran. She told us that she hoped that unlike the last election in Iran, someday soon the people can actually have a fair election and have a true democracy. She said that she has empathy for the people of Iran who are being mislead by the current government.
We asked Dr. Wilf that wether she thought the recent prisoner exchange between Israel and Palestine could be an event that could make way for peace but she told us that she firmly believed that peace would only be possible when the geo-political situation changed. She said that she felt that someday when it did happen, everything would fall in place and peace would seem effortless. She also said that as far the peace deal goes she was a strong believer of the Geneva accord and also found the proposal given by her party president, former defense minister, Ehud Barak to be the best. She also praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said that he has internationally not gotten enough recognition for the fact that he has actually managed to get the support of the people and even the conservative part of the Israeli population behind him regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict. She said that he is a strong and popular leader who has managed to get further than any of his predecessors.
When asked if she thought that the younger generations of Israelis were able to relate to the concept of zionism she told us that Zionism is often misunderstood. Zionism was the movement of the Jewish people, not of the religion. Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. So as a result the new generations of Israelis were actually born with the homeland so they can very easily relate to the concept and understand its value.
Regarding India, she said that India was a greatly admired country in Israel. She said that she saw India and Israel having a lot in common. She said that both the countries were vibrant democracies which have a lot offer each other in every sphere. Dr. Wilf said that she saw India as an important power in the new world which is part of the reason why she took this trip here. She said that being part of the committee of foreign affairs in Israel it was extremely important to her that she travelled to India to better understand the country and the bi-lateral relations and how to improve them. She concluded by saying that she hoped that India could be an example to the world to show everyone that being pro-Israel did not mean that you are anti-Islam, that a country can be a friends to both Israel and Pealestine. Dr. Wilf hoped that India and Israel enhance their relationship much more and in many more areas in the coming future.