When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu suggested to Israelis to adopt Namaste – the Indian style of greeting one another – instead of shaking hands to avoid spreading the coronavirus at a press conference on Wednesday, he didn’t realize how widely reported his words would be in India, international media outlets and social media.
Later on Wednesday and Thursday, Netanyahu’s suggestion was widely reported in the press by English language Indian news sites, international news websites, Indian YouTube channels which broadcast that portion of the speech, one of them even translating Netanyahu’s suggestion in English and all forms of social media.
One news website noted that Netanyahu even demonstrated to reporters how the Indians perform Namaste and another site stressed that Netanyahu’s suggestion was a sign of his closeness with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Benjamin Netanyahu’s familiarity with Indian customs and traditions are not surprising,” wrote a reporter on New Delhi Television Limited (NDTV) website.
“Mr. Netanyahu is known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with their bonhomie being widely discussed in Indian and Israeli media. Mr Netanyahu visited India in January 2018 while PM Modi traveled to Tel Aviv in 2017. The leaders had received each other at the airports.”
“‘Just avoid shaking hands as I do,'” NDTV quoted Netanyahu. “‘You can try to implement the Indian system of Namaste or say another word like shalom, but find a way, any way of not shaking hands,’ Mr. Netanyahu said.”
“Benjamin Netanyahu also demonstrated how Indians greet each other with ‘Namaste’,” NDTV concluded.
Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu @netanyahu encourages Israelis to adopt the Indian way of greeting #Namaste at a press conference to mitigate the spread of #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/gtSKzBDjl4
— India in Israel (@indemtel) March 4, 2020
According to Kan News reporter Amichai Stein, the below video shows Indian members of parliament discussing Netanyahu’s suggestion.
המלחמה בקורונה: חברי פרלמנט בהודו מדברים על המלצת 'הנמסטה' של ראש הממשלה נתניהו pic.twitter.com/cAJSU7Az8p
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) March 5, 2020
Namaste is a traditional Indian method of both greeting and taking leave from others and is carried out by placing both hands together with palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, with or without a slight bow of the head, but the bow is a sign of respect to the one being greeted. The word Namaste means: “I bow to the divine in you.”
"Namaste" 🙏🏻is going global. It's safe and more respectful than shaking hands. Next time you meet people, say Namaste 🙏🏻 https://t.co/ml1gyNuNlt
— Kashyap Kadagattur 🇮🇳 (@iamkash_kr) March 4, 2020
It remains to be seen if Namaste helps spare India, the world’s second most populated country, from the large-scale spread of the coronavirus. A total of 29 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, including 15 Italian tourists, in the country of 1.37 billion people. Most of the current cases were linked to the group of Italian tourists but cases have also been confirmed in the city of Agra, home to the Taj Mahal.
— Adv.Anil Singh (@asrampurnaikin) March 4, 2020
Not only the safest but the most respectful way of greeting people which brings out the godliness in the other person!
Namaste means I BOW TO THE DIVINE IN YOU …..#coronavirus https://t.co/8i5wTnaEp5
— Sanjana Chopra (@rimmelll) March 5, 2020
Indian government officials are implementing increasingly tighter restrictions and are testing all people entering the country. Those diagnosed with COVID-19 have been quarantined and are receiving medical care.
Govt of India: In addition to Visa restrictions already in place, passengers traveling from/having visited Italy or Republic of Korea will need a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from designated laboratories authorized by health authorities of these countries pic.twitter.com/0FlcFIYWqr
— ANI (@ANI) March 5, 2020
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)