NEW DELHI Adding up both his terms in office, Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israel's prime minister now for some 12 years. He has, in this capacity, traveled the world: from Washington to Sydney, Moscow to Nairobi, and many, many capitals in between.
He has seen a few honor guards, has taken part in many welcoming ceremonies. But the one that took place on Monday in New Delhi, he said, moved him deeply.
And it wasn’t because of the grandeur of the setting: New Delhi's palatial, brown-bricked, 350-room Rashtrapati Bhavan, or “Presidential Residence.”
Nor was it because of the neighing of the horses, ridden by cavalry in black turbans, red coats, white gloves and and silver swords. And it wasn’t because of of the 100-strong military honor guard there to greet him, or because of a necessarily stirring rendition of the Israeli and Indian national anthems.
No, Netanyahu has seen all that – experienced all that – many times before.
What moved him, he said afterward, was putting the whole scene in historical perspective: the respect that a nation of some 1.3 billion people – a good proportion of all humanity – was paying to the leader of a country o some 8.5 million people, a small proportion of even only the Middle East.
“I marched on the red carpet in front of the Indian honor guard at the place of the government of this tremendous power, and I thought that I represent a nation that was crushed to pieces and destroyed 75 years ago, and today was received here – its prime minister – with the honor and and glory befitting a nation among nations, and even more than that.
“It moved me,” Netanyahu said. “When you look at it in historical perspective, it is an expression of the return of the Jewish people to the world’s stage.”