SRINAGAR: Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid terming BJP-endorsed film Kashmir Files as “vulgar propaganda” has triggered a serious reaction. Tel Aviv’s man in Delhi has slammed his country filmmaker and said he should be ashamed of his commentary.
Isreal’s envoy in India, Naor Gilon has written an open letter to Lapid on Twitter accusing him of abusing the invitation. Taking to Twitter within a day after the adverse commentary, Naor Gilon said he is not writing in Hebrew so that “our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand.”
Here are the lines from the letter broken into Twitter bits:
“In Indian culture, they say that a guest is like God. You have abused in the worst way the Indian invitation to chair the panel of judges at @IFFIGoa as well as the trust, respect and warm hospitality they have bestowed on you.
Our Indian friends brought @lioraz and @issacharoff from @FaudaOfficial in order to celebrate the love in #India towards #Fauda and #Israel. I suspect that this is maybe also one of the reasons they invited you as an Israeli and me as the ambassador of Israel.
I understand your need in retrospect to “justify” your behavior but I can’t understand why you told @ynetnews afterwards that the minister and I said on stage that there is similarity between our countries because “we fight a similar enemy and reside in a bad neighborhood”.
We did speak about the similarities and closeness between our countries. The minister spoke about his visits to Israel, it being a Hi-Tech nation and the potential of combining this with the film industry. I spoke about the fact that we grew up watching Indian films.
I also said that we should be humble when India, with such a great film culture, is consuming Israeli content (Fauda and more).
I’m no film expert but I do know that it’s insensitive and presumptuous to speak about historic events before deeply studying them and which are an open wound in India because many of the involved are still around and still paying a price.
As a son of a holocaust survivor, I was extremely hurt to see reactions in India to you that are doubting Schindler’s List, the Holocaust and worse. I unequivocally condemn such statements. There is no justification. It does show the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue here.
From your interview to Ynet the connection you make between your criticism of #KashmirFiles and your dislike to what is happening in Israeli politics was quite evident.
My suggestion. As you vocally did in the past, feel free to use the liberty to sound your criticism of what you dislike in Israel but no need to reflect your frustration on other countries. I’m not sure that you have enough factual basis to make such comparisons. I know I don’t.
You will go back to Israel thinking that you are bold and “made a statement”. We, the representatives of Israel, would stay here. You should see our DM boxes following your “bravery” and what implications it may have on the team under my responsibility.
The friendship between the people and the states of India and Israel is very strong and will survive the damage you have inflicted.
As a human being I feel ashamed and want to apologize to our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship.”
Gilon’s fierce reaction – perhaps the first such instance in recent history involving a country’s filmmaker and a diplomat in a friendly country, came within a day after Lapid criticised the controversial film The Kashmir Files, which was endorsed by the ruling party and made a brisk business. The commentary was part of the valedictory function of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), of which Lapid was the head of the jury.
In his speech at the closing ceremony of IFFI 2022, Lapid said he was “disturbed and shocked” to see the film being screened at the film festival.
“I would like to thank the head of the festival and the director of the programming for the cinematic richness of the programme, for its diversity, for its complexity. It was intense. We saw seven films in the debutant competition, and 15 films in the international competition, the front window of the festival. 14 out of them had cinematic qualities, defaults and evoked vivid discussions,” the Israeli filmmaker of the film The Kindergarten Teacher fame said.
“All of us were disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, The Kashmir Files. That felt like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival. I feel totally comfortable openly sharing these feelings here with you at this stage. In the spirit of this festival, we can surely also accept a critical discussion, which is essential for art and life.”
The film was already facing the music from a lot of film critics within India. However, a harsh commentary by Lapid was something that triggered a fierce row, as mentioned by the envoy in his tweets.
Gilon was not the lone person who reacted to the commentary. Former Israeli envoy to India Daniel Carmon also slammed Lapid’s remarks. “He (Lapid) definitely should apologize for his revolting personal remarks on historical facts without any sensitivity, not really knowing what he was talking about. I strongly urge our many friends in India not to be drawn by one person’s remarks to doubting the facts about the Holocaust,” Carmon said.
israAnupam Kher, who was instrumental in the film reacted to the statement. “If the holocaust was right then the exodus of Kashmiri pandits is also right,” Kher was quoted as having said. “This seems pre-planned because immediately after it the tool-kit gang became active. It’s shameful for him to make a statement like this even though he comes from a community of Jews who suffered from the holocaust.”