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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Eliyahu Bezalel: The right spirit

He left his village in Kerala in 1955 for Israel, but says he maintains strong sentimental links with his motherland.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2006 20:52 IST


The Indian-origin entrepreneur started as a shepherd in Israel and went on to become an award-winning agriculturist.

He left his village at Chendamangalam in Kerala in 1955 for Israel at the age of 25, but says he maintains strong sentimental links with his motherland which taught him the spirit of co-existence.

"I am proud to be an Indian. My children and grandchildren call themselves Cochinis and Indians with pride saying they come from a culture which is tolerant to all faiths and where their forefathers did not feel any kind of anti-semitism," says Bezalel.

Bezalel, who made the Negev desert in Israel bloom and won the best exporter award from former Prime Minister Levi Eshkhol in 1964, has also taken pains to share his expertise in the area of horticulture with Indian farmers who have been trying to replicate it in recent years.

The Israeli parliament (Knesset) rewarded him with the Kaplan prize in 1994 for his contribution.

Bezalel's farm is a major attraction among Indian agriculturists and politicians with former Prime Minister HD Devegowda, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and agriculturist MS Swaminathan being some of the key figures who visited it during their trips to Israel.

He has also been to several places in India to give lectures and to teach techniques in horticulture since 1971.