Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Mohiaddin Mesbahi

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Nathan Katz

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Thomas Breslin

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Iqbal Akhtar

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


India, Israel, Identity politics, Security, Religion, Foreign Policy

Date of Defense



This dissertation aims to provide an understanding of the historical and contemporary dynamics of India’s foreign policy towards Israel within the context of religious identity from 1947 to 2015. A historical analysis of the relationship between India and Israel exhibits the ways that religious identity has served as a primary factor impeding as well as facilitating relations between the two nations.

The analysis was done within the context of the historical Hindu-Muslim relationship in India and how the legacy of this relationship, in India’s effort to maintain positive relations with the Arab-Muslim world, worked to inhibit relations with Israel prior to normalization in 1992. However, the five years leading up to normalization, and thereafter, the dynamic is reversed with this legacy playing an increasingly progressive role in India-Israel relations via the social construction of shared meanings and identities between India’s Hindu majority with Israel’s Jewish majority. Social construction of shared meanings and identities are based, in part, within an historical/modern-day context of conflict with a minority, religious Other (Islam), and through bridges of connection based in other historical, cultural, social, and religious areas. Formal interviews, archival primary-source analysis of government documents, and secondary-source review were methods employed in the evaluation of the role of religion in India’s foreign policy towards Israel.

In conclusion, this dissertation demonstrates the normative and functional effects that religious identities have played, and continue to play, in determining India’s foreign policy towards Israel given the fundamental role religious identity has historically played in the structuring of social perceptions, interactions and worldviews within Indian society up and through the present-day.





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