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Jewish General who led Indian army to victory in 1971
The Canadian Jewish news ^ | 17/2/05 | SHELDON KIRSHNER

Posted on 02/16/2005 10:36:40 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki

Jewish general led Indian army in 1971 war

By SHELDON KIRSHNER

In the annals of modern warfare, the 1971 war between India and Pakistan is regarded as a template of brilliance. Within 13 days, the Indian army routed Pakistan in one of the swiftest campaigns of the 20th century.

Occasionally compared to Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War, and studied at military academies as a textbook example of efficient planning, the Indo-Pakistan war gave rise to a new state, Bangladesh, and established India as a regional superpower.

The major general who masterminded and spearheaded India’s offensive, and who accepted Pakistan’s surrender, was Jack Frederick Ralph Jacob, the scion of an old Jewish family from Calcutta. A spry bachelor of 81 who retired in 1978 as the commander of India’s eastern army, he considers that war the highlight of a long and distinguished career as a soldier. Having written a book about it, Surrender at Dacca, published in 2001 by Manohar, he claims that the war was “surely the greatest military feat in our history.”

Although historians are acquainted with his resumé, Jacob is not exactly a household name outside India. As I prepared for my trip to India late last year, I ran across his name in my research. Intrigued by the possibility of interviewing a Jewish warrior from an exotic country whose Jewish community is rooted in antiquity, I asked to meet him.

When I arrived in New Delhi on my last day in India, following relatively brief flights from Cochin and Mumbai, B.B. Mukherjee, a helpful contact from the ministry of tourism, was at the terminal to greet me with the news that Jacob had consented to an interview. I was pleased, but the timing was hardly fortuitous. I was tired, coming down with a cold and a hoarse voice, and my flight back to Toronto was just hours away. Nevertheless, I told Mukherjee I would be ready to talk to Jacob at his home in New Delhi at around five o’clock.

After a shower and change of clothes, I met Mukherjee in my hotel lobby, and off we drove to Jacob’s flat in a non-descript gray apartment building in the centre of this sprawling city and capital of India. When we arrived, one of his Nepalese houseboys opened the door and ushered us into a dimly lit room filled with French furniture and crowded with original Mogul art on the walls.

Jacob, a surprisingly small man with a café au lait complexion and a formal manner, was smartly decked out in a blue blazer, creased pants, shirt and tie. He motioned me to sit down next to him on a narrow couch.

I began by asking him about his role in the war – the 33rd anniversary of which was marked shortly before my trip to India – and his decision to become a soldier. Jacob, whose Baghdadi family settled in Calcutta more than 200 years ago and whose father – Elias Emanuel – was a businessman, was quite effusive, enunciating his words in a posh upper-class Indian accent.

A brigadier-general by 1963 and a major-general by 1967, he was appointed chief of the Eastern Command in 1969 by Gen. Sam Maneckshaw, the Parsi chief of staff. Jacob’s immediate superior was Lt. Gen. J.S. Aurora, a Sikh.

Jacob joined the British army in the summer of 1941 while at university and when India was still a British colony. He did so, he said, “to fight the Nazis.” After graduating from officers training school in 1942, he was posted to northern Iraq in anticipation of a possible German thrust to seize the Kirkuk oil fields. He trained with Glubb Pasha’s Arab Legion, which would be the backbone of Jordan’s army. In the wake of Japan’s defeat, he was assigned to Sumatra. Returning to an independent India after taking a gunnery course in Britain, Jacob commanded a mountain battery and served in an armoured division. Then, in short order, he took artillery and missile courses in the United States and was a general staff officer at Western Command headquarters.

“I didn’t plan to be a career officer,” he said. “I liked the army and stayed on. I did everything I was supposed to do.”

During the mid-1960s, when India fought a war with Pakistan, he was the commandant of the School of Artillery. Subsequently, he was in charge of an infantry division in Rajasthan, where he wrote a much-praised manual on desert warfare. Promoted to chief of staff of the Eastern Command, based in Calcutta, Jacob was soon grappling with insurgencies in Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.

The Eastern Command was a sensitive one. The partition of the Indian sub-continent in 1947 had led to the emergence of India and Pakistan, which was made up of two distinct and geographically disconnected areas. Although East Pakistan was more populous than West Pakistan, political power rested with the western elite, causing resentment, unrest and calls for autonomy in the other half.

By 1971, East Pakistan was in revolt, and Pakistan’s ruler, Yahya Khan, cracked down. As the violence escalated, with a massive loss of life and an exodus of millions of Hindu refugees into Indian territory, Indo-Pakistani tensions rose.

When India’s prime minister, Indira Gandhi, extended assistance to Bengali rebels who sought to break away from Pakistan and form their own country, Pakistan responded first by attacking rebel camps in India and then, on Dec. 3, by bombing nine northern Indian airfields. In a dramatic broadcast to the nation, Gandhi declared war on Pakistan.

Having watched these developments with mounting concern, Jacob realized that conflict was imminent. “We knew we would have to intervene, but we hardly had any infrastructure and had to build it up,” he recalled.

In consultation with his superiors, he refined his plan to engage Pakistan in a “war of movement” in difficult terrain with few bridges and roads, crisscrossed by rivers and broken up by swamps, mangroves and paddy fields. Jacob’s strategy was clear. Dacca – the heart of East Pakistan – would be captured and Pakistani forces bypassed. Pakistan’s communication centres would be secured and its command and control capabilities destroyed, while its forces would be drawn to the border. Some Indian commanders raised objections to the unorthodox plan, but it was finally approved.

“I planned for a three-week campaign, but it went faster than I expected,” said Jacob, who instinctively understood that speed was essential and that a protracted war would not be in India’s interests: The United Nations would apply pressure on India to halt its offensive, and the Soviet Union – India’s ally – might not be able to fend off calls for a ceasefire.

As fighting raged, Jacob flew to Dacca and wrested unconditional surrender terms from his opposite number, Gen. Amir Niazi, who would later accuse Jacob of having blackmailed him into submission.

“It was a total victory over a formidable, well-trained army,” he observed. “Had Pakistan fought on, it would have been difficult for us.” Indian casualties were 1,421 killed and 4,058 wounded. “We expected higher casualties,” he admitted. The Pakistani figures were much higher, in India’s estimation: 6,761 killed and 8,000 wounded.

Jacob, who calls Surrender at Dacca the most authoritative and objective account of the war to date, ascribed his victory to a few factors – imaginative planning, flexibility of approach, the capacity to react to shifting and perhaps unforeseen events and, of course, luck. But for Jacob, a keen student of warfare, historical context was always of crucial importance. As he put it, “I’ve learned from every campaign since Alexander the Great and Napoleon.”

Looking back, he described his 37-year career in the army as “the happiest and most enjoyable period of my life.” Never once did he feel the sting of anti-Semitism in the Indian army. “But I had some problems with the British,” he said, declining to elaborate. “I don’t like to talk about it.”

Interestingly enough, Jacob – whose Hebrew name is Yaacov Rafael and who serves as president of New Delhi’s one and only synagogue – was not the only high-ranking Jewish officer in the armed forces. “There was another Jewish general, a chap named Samson, and he was in research and development and ordnance. And there was also a Jewish vice-admiral.”

Upon leaving the army, Jacob went into business. But in 1998, he was called out of retirement to be governor of Goa, a former Portuguese colony popular with Israeli tourists. He remained there until 1999, when he assumed the governorship of Punjab, a job he held until 2003.

A three-time visitor to Israel who was once invited there by Yitzhak Rabin when he was the prime minister, Jacob was also on friendly terms with Mordechai Gur, a former Israeli chief of staff. Jacob played an indirect role in India’s decision to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in 1992, but he refused to talk about his role in that diplomatic rapprochement.

Referring to himself as “a very private person,” he was likewise reluctant to speak about his family, apart from saying that his brothers and sisters are deceased.

Today, in his twilight years, Jacob is a writer and lecturer on military and political affairs. But he wryly described his current status as “unemployed.”


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Israel; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: 1971; antisemitism; bangladesh; bangladeshwar; india; israel; jew; jewish; jfrjacob; pakistan; southasia; southwestasia
JFR.Jacob is the officer standing on the extreme right of this picture as General A.K Niazi of the Pakistani army signs the surrender document in 1971.
1 posted on 02/16/2005 10:36:47 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: CarrotAndStick; Gengis Khan; Cronos; IAF ThunderPilot; dennisw; anotherview; investigateworld; ...

Ping!!!


2 posted on 02/16/2005 10:39:06 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki
As fighting raged, Jacob flew to Dacca and wrested unconditional surrender terms from his opposite number, Gen. Amir Niazi, who would later accuse Jacob of having blackmailed him into submission.

A truly classic line!

3 posted on 02/16/2005 10:48:33 AM PST by Restorer
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Interesting!

I'm afraid India's quick rout of the Pakistanis brought it the same trouble Israel's victory did in the Six Day War -- humiliated Muslims seeking revenge via terror.


4 posted on 02/16/2005 10:49:28 AM PST by dervish (Europe should pay for NATO)
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To: sukhoi-30mki; 1bigdictator; 1st-P-In-The-Pod; 2sheep; A Jovial Cad; A_Conservative_in_Cambridge; ...
Jacob flew to Dacca and wrested unconditional surrender terms from his opposite number

This guy, and not Sharon, should be negotiating with Abbas.

FRmail me to be added or removed from this Judaic/pro-Israel ping list.

WARNING: This is a high volume ping list

5 posted on 02/16/2005 10:51:53 AM PST by Alouette (Learned Mother of Zion)
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To: sukhoi-30mki; 1bigdictator; 1st-P-In-The-Pod; 2sheep; A Jovial Cad; A_Conservative_in_Cambridge; ...
Jacob flew to Dacca and wrested unconditional surrender terms from his opposite number

This guy, and not Sharon, should be negotiating with Abbas.

FRmail me to be added or removed from this Judaic/pro-Israel ping list.

WARNING: This is a high volume ping list

6 posted on 02/16/2005 10:52:56 AM PST by Alouette (Learned Mother of Zion)
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To: dervish

& do you think it would have been a wee bit different if India or Israel had a stalemate or even lost???Terrorism is imprinted in the religion of these folks-you really can't blame them for following it!!As far as I know,The Bosnian muslims & Kosovar Albanians have no qualms on terrorising Serbs despite having Yugoslavia dismembered for them.


7 posted on 02/16/2005 10:55:18 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: dennisw; Cachelot; Yehuda; Nix 2; veronica; Catspaw; knighthawk; Alouette; Optimist; weikel; ...
If you'd like to be on or off this middle east/political ping list, please FR mail me.
8 posted on 02/16/2005 11:18:07 AM PST by SJackson ( Bush is as free as a bird, He is only accountable to history and God, Ra'anan Gissin)
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To: Alouette

What a fascinating man! I now have to read his book.


9 posted on 02/16/2005 12:00:22 PM PST by cake_crumb (Leftist Credo: "One Wing to Rule Them all and to the Dark Side Bind Them")
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To: dervish

Off late they have been seeking revenge even in Cricket. Even the game of Cricket for them is "jihad"!


10 posted on 02/16/2005 1:19:41 PM PST by Gengis Khan ("There is no glory in incomplete action." -- Gengis Khan)
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To: Alouette

Gen. Jacob is a true hero. A great warrior indeed.


11 posted on 02/16/2005 2:46:31 PM PST by indcons ( Destroy liberalism to destroy communism, socialism, and wahabbism)
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To: SJackson

I think I am on this ping list.....if I am not, can you please add my name?

Thanks.


12 posted on 02/16/2005 2:47:22 PM PST by indcons ( Destroy liberalism to destroy communism, socialism, and wahabbism)
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To: Modernman

Ping for the Unlikeliest Indian.


13 posted on 02/16/2005 8:04:15 PM PST by BroncosFan ("It's worse than a crime - it's a mistake." Talleyrand.)
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To: sukhoi-30mki
BTTT!

...excellent history material. Thank you!
14 posted on 02/16/2005 10:03:59 PM PST by familyop ("Let us try" sounds better, don't you think? "Essayons" is so...Latin.)
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To: IAF ThunderPilot

Israeli general on a low-key visit to bolster ties

Israeli general on a low-key visit to bolster ties
RAJAT PANDIT

TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 2005 11:49:35

NEW DELHI: Israel has emerged as the second largest military hardware and software supplier to India after Russia but the defence establishment here still goes blue in the face to play down the "special" strategic relationship with the Jewish state.


In the latest such incident, chief of staff of the Israeli ground forces command, Brig-General A Mizrahi, arrived in the Capital on Wednesday to further bolster sharing of military intelligence, equipment, joint training and exercises.

Though both South Block and Army headquarters were tight-lipped about Mizrahi's "hush-hush" visit, it's yet another indicator that the switch-over from the Vajpayee regime to the Manmohan Singh one has not affected the burgeoning military ties with Israel.

Sources said the Israeli officer would meet Army chief General J J Singh, vice-chief Lt-Gen B S Thakur and the two deputy chiefs during the visit.

India also briefed the visiting Israeli delegation on its "security perspective", including the counter-insurgency situation in Kashmir, during the discussions on Wednesday. Israel, in turn, explained the "challenges" it faces in its "volatile" neighbourhood.

According a well informed source, "The first-ever joint military exercise between the special forces of the two countries is also on course to increase 'interoperability"'.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1023139.cms


15 posted on 02/17/2005 10:01:04 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki

16 posted on 02/17/2005 1:24:48 PM PST by RightWingAtheist (Marxism-the creationism of the left)
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To: sukhoi-30mki

He has a cafe au lait complexion, so he "looks" Indian. Still, it's wonderful to hear that he never experienced anti-Semitism in the Indian army.


17 posted on 02/17/2005 9:01:10 PM PST by Ciexyz (I use the term Blue Cities, not Blue States. PA is red except for Philly, Pgh & Erie)
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To: Ciexyz

Pardon me,but what exactly is a "Jewish look"??Many Israelis I have seen don't look all too different from their fairer Indian counterparts or Arabs.Anyway about the anti-semitism part-India has had no history of it(unlike Britain) & it has hosted the world's oldest Jewish communities outside the Middle East.That's also one of the reasons why Indo-Israeli ties are booming.


18 posted on 02/17/2005 9:07:12 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki
Pardon me, but what exactly is a "Jewish look"?

I never used the phrase "Jewish look".

19 posted on 02/17/2005 9:12:58 PM PST by Ciexyz (I use the term Blue Cities, not Blue States. PA is red except for Philly, Pgh & Erie)
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To: Ciexyz

I know,but I have never seen real noticable physical difference which sets out Jews & local populations in most countries where they have been living for centuries.JFR's family has been living in India for probably over a thousand years.


20 posted on 02/17/2005 9:18:50 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
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To: sukhoi-30mki

Thanks for the clarification.


21 posted on 02/18/2005 4:28:21 PM PST by Ciexyz (I use the term Blue Cities, not Blue States. PA is red except for Philly, Pgh & Erie)
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To: sukhoi-30mki; Dan Evans; yonif
A brigadier-general by 1963 and a major-general by 1967, he was appointed chief of the Eastern Command in 1969 by Gen. Sam Maneckshaw, the Parsi chief of staff. Jacob’s immediate superior was Lt. Gen. J.S. Aurora, a Sikh.

Impressive secular credentials
22 posted on 02/20/2005 5:57:24 PM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: cake_crumb; yonif

India, IIRC, is the only country in the world with no anti-Semitism at all and where Jews have resided in peace for over 2000 years (I think the state of Kerala has the oldest synagogue in the world or something like that)


23 posted on 02/20/2005 5:59:05 PM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: Ciexyz
He has a cafe au lait complexion, so he "looks" Indian. Still, it's wonderful to hear that he never experienced anti-Semitism in the Indian army.

Most Jews in India would look Indian. Just as Jews in Yemen look Yemeni and Jews in Europe look European. Our image of Jews is generally based on the European looking Jews.
24 posted on 02/20/2005 6:00:30 PM PST by Cronos (Never forget 9/11)
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To: Cronos

Thanks for the explanation.


25 posted on 02/20/2005 6:32:45 PM PST by Ciexyz (I use the term Blue Cities, not Blue States. PA is red except for Philly, Pgh & Erie)
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