Members of India’s tiny Jewish community are disappointed that they have not been invited to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to Mumbai, according to a active member of the community.
In a signature campaign addressed to Netanyahu last week, a prominent figure in the community, Solomon F. Sopher, wrote on behalf of the Jewish community of India that “Indian Jewry is extremely pained to note with a heavy heart that you have taken a bitter decision not to meet the community during your visit to Mumbai.”
Netanyahu is set to pay a visit to the Chabad center in Mumbai that was the target of a terrorist attack in November 2008, as well as meeting with a few Jewish community leaders.
The letter, signed by at least 200 people, said that the community conveys “our extreme pleasure and honor to welcome you to India. We don’t need to explain what the State of Israel means to every Jew and you as it’s [sic] prime minister visiting Mumbai for the very first time is historic.”
The letter went on to say that the Jewish community was eagerly looking forward to meeting with Netanyahu and “your decision to meet a handful of so called ‘Jewish Leaders’ is being very unfair to the Jews of India.”
“Our Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi addressed a gathering of approximately 8000 Indians in Tel Aviv during his visit in July 2017 in Israel,” the letter noted. “Can you not, Mr. Prime Minister address your 300-400 Jewish brothers and sisters for just 15 minutes? It will mean so much to them and make them so happy.”
More than 4,000 Jews live in India, the majority of them in Mumbai.
Sopher is chairman and managing director of the Jacob Sassoon Trust, which runs a number of synagogues in Mumbai and Pune, including the Knesset Eliyahoo Synagogue. Sopher wrote that the synagogue “has always been considered safe and secure for dignitaries” while he described the Chabad House which Netanyahu is scheduled to visit as “vulnerable.”
Sopher sent several letters to the office of the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi and to the Consulate-General in Mumbai, but said he received no response. He told The Jerusalem Post that he was not sure if the letter ever reached the prime minister.
The Post did not receive a response on the matter from Israeli Ambassador to Israel Daniel Carmon or from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Netanyahu arrived in New Delhi on Sunday for a six-day visit in India and is set to fly to Mumbai on Thursday for a short visit there before returning to Israel on Friday. The trip will focus on economic and technological cooperation and development.