More than 40,000 Israeli tourists flock to India annually and, while fun in small numbers, they can often get aggressive in groups and intimidate the locals. The reputation is of macho Israeli boors letting out their post-Army aggro and bargaining relentlessly with very little humour or dignity. This is not the best diplomacy for Israel, officials have concluded, apparently.
Izzy Bee has learned about an Israeli spy stationed in the Indian highlands (Manali, Rishikesh, Parvati Valley and thereabouts). He spent a couple of years keeping Israeli backpackers under surveillance and reporting their doings to the government in Tel Aviv. He apparently tracked rave parties, hashish and ecstasy dealing, motorbikers stealing gasoline from village pumps and other petty crimes and nuisances. I imagine that others spies are posted in hotspots like Goa and Kashmir, too. Certainly, rabbis have been dispatched to Chabad centres in these hashish haunts in order to help curb the excesses. The upshot is that now, Israeli tourists will only be allowed to visit India for a three months in a period of three years. This is to discourage longer term stays that lead to disappearances, dropping out, or rehab
Rumours abound. Some say that a six month visa will be issued for first-time tourists, whose passports will be stamped "not to exceed 180 days", followed by a 3 year no visa period to be enforced, based on in-country behaviour. The policy also is contingent on the Israeli government's visa policies for Indians. The consequences of bad behaviour will be time out or stay out. Drug offenders will be prosecuted. Business visa-holders will be the one exception.
An Israeli government safe-haven programme which repatriates travellers in trouble recently was suspended inside India, due to abuse.
In some places inside India, according to a recent study,
"you can find Israeli enclaves where only Hebrew is spoken and Israeli music played, and restaurants with Hebrew signs serving only Israeli food.
"The Israelis are scornful of the locals, and, interestingly, in one of my studies, I found that Israelis in India compare the Indians to Arabs, using the same oriental stereotypes: both the negative ones - of dirt, primitivism and stench; and the positive ones - warmth and hospitality."
The comparison does not end there. Academics found that the backpackers tended to use military speech even in their most private diaries. Travellers write of "conquering another city and another site". Even romantic relationships had a whiff of khaki about them: one female traveller described how a male backpacker had carried her as if evacuating an injured soldier from the battlefield."