Radical Islam challenging quest for modernity, innovation: Netanyahu

Stressing upon the value of democracy in an increasingly multipolar world, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said today’s quest for modernity and innovation is being challenged by radical Islam and its terrorists.

“India is the world’s most populous democracy. It is a place which shows that humanity can be governed with freedom, that we can secure the rights of people,” Netanyahu said while delivering the inaugural address of this year’s Raisina Dialogue, India’s flagship conference on geopolitics and geo-economics.

“Those things that make life worthwhile. The ability to think as we want, speak as we want, believe what we want and a society that is pluralistic, diverse and free. This is what India is about, this is what Israel is about.”

Stating that the world is moving from being unipolar to multipolar, Netanyahu said: “The reason I mentioned the importance of democracies is because even though we have relationships with most of the countries of the world, if we are to live in a world that protects international norms, something that you Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi talk about all the time, we must have of course the ability to protect those norms.”

He described the India-Israel relationship as “a natural friendship and a natural partnership of democratic and free people” but said that “our way of life is being challenged”.

“Most notably, the quest for modernity and the quest for innovation is being challenged by radical Islam and its terrorists, offshoots from a variety of corners and this can upset the international system,” the Israel Prime Minister said.

“I think that one of the ways to overcome such challenges is to strengthen the relationship between our two great democracies. The alliance of democracies I think is important to secure our common future.”

Speaking about the secret behind the success of a small country like Israel, Netanyahu referred to the fact that 75 years ago, the people of his country “were like wind-tossed leaves”.

“The weak don’t survive, the strong survive. You have to make tryst with the strong,” he said.

He said that the source of strength lies in military power for which F-35s to submarines are needed.

“Defence costs a lot of money. Where does this money come from? It comes from the second power – economic power,” he stated.

Netanyahu said that after establishing military power and economic, Israel built the third power, that is political power.

But he said that there is a fourth power which is the power of values and the most important of these is democracy.

Organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and the Observer Research Foundation, the three-day Raisina Dialogue this year is being held on the theme “Managing Disruptive Transitions: Ideas, Institutions and Idioms”.

Over 500 leaders from 90 countries are attending this annual conference.

Netanyahu arrived here on Sunday on a six-day visit to India in what is the second Prime Ministerial visit from Israel to India in 15 years after that of Ariel Sharon in 2003.

On Monday, he held a bilateral summit with Prime Minister Modi following which nine agreements were signed between India and Israel across multiple sectors.

After having visited Taj Mahal in Agra earlier on Tuesday, Netanyahu will move to Ahmedabad on Wednesday and from there to Mumbai before departing from India on Friday.