Modi's Israel visit: Memories of a journalist's visits to the Jewish State
Israel has been in the news in the context of the Prime Minister's visit and I may be forgiven for a touch of nostalgia. I was the first Indian journalist to visit Israel after an Australian fanatic had set fire to the pulpit of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in August 1969. The Arab World was ablaze.
Indian passports in those days were not valid for South Africa, Israel and Southern Rhodesia. Under a special dispensation you could obtain a separate passport for travel to countries with which India did not have diplomatic ties. Israelis were more practical: They pinned a piece of paper for entry and exit which could be pulled out when travelling to other countries.
The reception I received at Ben Gurion airport was the stuff of fairytales for a reporter in his 20s. Never will Jerusalem Municipality have a public relations officer more beautiful than Bathsheba Herman.
Something that had not touched the Israelis then was arrogance. They came across as clever, wise, modest people, working diligently on their Kibbutz, the typically Jewish cooperatives, where inequalities were not discernible. It was possible to contemplate Fa Giladi, the exquisite Kibbutz in the shadow of Mt. Hermon, as the dream location for research on the Palestinian issue.