New Delhi, November 29
Israeli Ambassador Naor Gilon has tried to calm the social media storm that has erupted in India after an Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid Vivek criticized Agnihotri’s film The Kashmir Files as “propaganda”.
“As a human I am ashamed and would like to apologize to our hosts for the poor manner in which we have repaid them for their generosity and friendship,” read an open letter to Lapid posted by Gilon, who regretted that the filmmaker left after the shoot The comments left diplomats to confront hate mail.
While criticizing Lapid, the ambassador also spoke out against Indian social media users who have begun to cast doubt on the Holocaust in retaliation. “You will come back to Israel thinking that you are brave and have made a statement. We, the representatives of Israel, would stay here. You should see our DM boxes following your “courage” and what impact this might have on the team under my responsibility,” the Israeli envoy wrote.
“As the son of a Holocaust survivor, I was deeply hurt to see the reaction in India to you questioning Schindler’s List, the Holocaust and worse. I condemn such statements in the strongest possible terms. There is no justification. It shows the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue here.
“The friendship between the people and the states of India and Israel is very strong and will survive the damage you cause,” he added.
In a rather controversial end to the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) on Monday night in Goa, jury chairman Lapid said: “We were troubled and shocked by the 15th film ‘The Kashmir Files’. To us it felt like propaganda, a vulgar film, inappropriate for an artistic competition section of such a prestigious film festival.”
Speaking before several Union ministers and Goa’s Prime Minister Pramod Sawant at the closing ceremony, Lapid said he felt comfortable sharing his feelings on stage, saying that “the spirit of a festival is to accept critical discussion, which is essential to art and art life”.
The Ambassador said Lapid should have been more humble about India consuming Israeli content such as the Fauda TV series.
“I’m no film expert, but I know it’s insensitive and presumptuous to talk about historical events before studying them in depth, which is an open wound in India because many of those involved are still there and still one pay the price,” he remarked.
The ambassador accused Lapid of being an inveterate maverick and suggested that while he could criticize Israel all he wanted, there was no need to reflect on his “frustration” with other countries.
“I’m not sure you have enough facts to make such comparisons. I know I don’t,” Gilon wrote.