The Indian community in Israel is overjoyed and proud over the extraordinary welcome accorded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with many saying they have not seen such a reception even for American presidents. There are 8,0000 Jews of Indian-origin living in Israel belonging to four communities — Bene Israel from the Mumbai region, Cochinis from Kerala, Baghdadis from Kolkata region and Bnei Menashe from Manipur and Mizoram. “I immigrated from India at the age of 16. I was so sad to learn that we did not have diplomatic ties then. As a child I did not understand the implication of it. I would tell my friends here that in India we were treated with respect and people loved the Jews”, David Nagani, a bus driver, told PTI. “I always wished that people would understand that Indians have nothing against Jews. I am overjoyed and proud to see how Modi is being treated and welcomed by the Israeli establishment. “No other leader, in my memory, has been so warmly received here. Cannot even remember a US leader being so warmly hugged by Israeli leaders,” Nagani said. Others echoed similar sentiments with most of them having taken leave from work to attend the event where the prime minister would be address a gathering of the Indian community in Israel. Indians from all over the country have registered to attend the event at the Exhibition Grounds here.
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The Indian community in Israel is eager to listen to Modi, who yesterday became the first Indian prime minister to visit Israel. About 6,000 people of India-origin would be attending the event with many “overjoyed” and “proud” that their dream of hosting an premier in Israel has come true. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would also be joining Modi for the event. The Israeli premier has accompanied Modi almost like a shaow since he landed with both of them hugging each other at every possible opportunity. The two leaders have also constantly referred to each other as “my friend” and used superlatives while appreciating each other. “I have always proudly announced to people in Israel that ours was the only country where there was no trace of anti- semitism. I would tell critics of India who would point at India’s support for the Palestinians that I am a proud Jew from India,” said a 74-year-old Eliyahu Yosef. Israel is also hosting a few thousand caregivers from India who are employed in looking after elderly people. A group of 10 caregivers from Kerala, nine of them women, with no prior training in dance, will also be performing at the community event after having trained over the last two weeks by choreographer Arun Stephen.