Indian Anti-Semitism Seen as FM Celebrates Diplomatic Relations

Israeli tourists in India are being confronted by state-sponsored anti-Semitic messages on the railway; Israeli Foreign Ministry celebrates 15 years of diplomatic relations with India.

Hana Levi Julian, | updated: 08:57

This week marked the 15th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations with India, Israel's Foreign Ministry announced in a statement to the media.

The press release said nothing about the quiet anti-Semitism that also exists in the country, however.

A photo of an anti-Semitic sign on a train in India was published Wednesday, two months after an Israeli tourist snapped the picture.

The "Security Tips" sign, placed by Indian railway authorities, shows a drawing of two religious Jews wearing talitot (Torah-ordained fringed garments) while discussing a book they are holding, with the heading “security tip number 6.” The accompanying text, written in English, reads, “Never accept any eatables from a stranger or co-passenger whom you have never met before. It may be drugged.”

Israeli tourist Iris Alon spotted the sign on a train traveling on the west coast of India from the state of Goa, a popular resort area.

“This sign is, without any doubt, racist,” she pointed out. “It clearly says that Jews can poison you by giving you food.” Alon said the railway system is one of the biggest in the country.

Goa is comprised mostly of Indians who are Hindu or Catholic. According to the state’s official tourism website, all ethnic and religious communities, including the Muslim minority “and others,” have mutual respect toward one another.

The "warm and tolerant nature of the Goans allows them to celebrate and enjoy the festivals of various religions... with equal enthusiasm,” the site states. Judaism and Jewish festivals are not included on the list.

“In general there are good relations between Indians and Israeli tourists,” said Alon. “I never thought that such racism existed in the country, and certainly not in a railway operator.”

“Many tourists are exposed to this sign, which makes it more intense,” added the Israeli traveler, who informed Israel’s Foreign Ministry as well as the Israeli embassy in India in a letter asking them to file a complaint with the Indian government.

Despite the presence of an Israeli Consulate in Mumbai (Bombay) since the early 1950’s, it was not until 1992 that full diplomatic relations were finally established between the two countries.