Israeli envoy slams IFFI chief Nadav Lapid for criticising 'The Kashmir Files', says ‘You should be ASHAMED’
The Kashmir Files' row: In an open letter, Israeli envoy to India Naor Gilon has slammed the IFFI Jury Head, Nadav Lapid, and apologized for the conduct of his countryman at the 2022 International Film Festival of India in Goa.
New Delhi: A day after Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s remarks about director Vivek Agnihotri’s highly-acclaimed film ‘The Kashmir Files’ triggered a controversy, Israeli envoy to India Naor Gilon on Tuesday slammed the IFFI Jury Head and apologized for the conduct of his countryman at the 2022 International Film Festival of India in Goa.
Slamming Lapid, Israeli envoy Naor Gilon said, “you should be ashamed” adding that he had "abused in the worst way" the Indian invitation to him to chair the panel of judges at the film festival.
An open letter to #NadavLapid following his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It’s not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It is also relatively long so I’ll give you the bottom line first. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED. Here’s why: pic.twitter.com/8YpSQGMXIR — Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
Gilon's remarks, in an open letter to Lapid, came after the jury head of the 53rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) described 'The Kashmir Files' as "propaganda" and "vulgar".
In his speech at the closing ceremony of IFFI 2022, Lapid said on Monday that he was "disturbed and shocked" to see the film being screened at the film festival. In the open letter put out in a series of tweets, Gilon said Lapid should be "ashamed" and gave reasons for it. "In Indian culture, they say that a guest is like God. You (Lapid) 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."
"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," he said.
The envoy said Indian friends brought Fauda co-creators Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff in order to celebrate the love in India towards the Israeli series and Israel.
"I suspect that this maybe also one of the reasons they invited you as an Israeli and me as the ambassador of Israel," Gilon said. "I understand your need in retrospect to 'justify' your behaviour but I can't understand why you told (Israeli) Ynet news afterward that the minister and I said on stage that there is a similarity between our countries because 'we fight a similar enemy and reside in a bad neighbourhood'," Gilon said in his open letter to Lapid.
"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," the envoy said.
Gilon also said that Israelis should be humble when India, with such a great film culture, is consuming Israeli content.
"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," the envoy said alluding to Lapid's criticism of The Kashmir Files.
Citing an interview with Ynet by Lapid, Gilon said the connection the filmmaker makes between his criticism of The Kashmir Files and his dislike of 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," he said.
"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," Gilon said.
6. 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. — Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
The friendship between the people and the states of India and Israel is very strong and will survive the damage you've inflicted, Gilon said to Lapid. "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," the Israeli envoy said.
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. — Naor Gilon (@NaorGilon) November 29, 2022
He said he did not write the letter in Hebrew because he wanted Indians to be able to understand.
I think one private person with his own opinion shouldn't change anything here. The relations are much stronger than one individual & I think they will continue regardless of another individual: Ambassador of Israel to India, Naor Gilon tells ANI https://t.co/SynErgoaY8 pic.twitter.com/XFxm3NOlax — ANI (@ANI) November 29, 2022
In his remarks at the closing ceremony of IFFI, Lapid had said, "All of us were disturbed and shocked by the movie 'The Kashmir Files'. It felt to us like a propaganda and vulgar movie that was inappropriate for an artistic and competitive section of such a prestigious film festival."
"I feel comfortable to openly share this feeling with you since the spirit of the festival can truly accept critical discussion which is essential for art and life", Lapid had said. 'The Kashmir Files', which was released in theatres on March 11, was part of the Indian Panorama Section at IFFI and was screened on November 22.
It stars Anupam Kher, Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and Pallavi Joshi among others. Former Israeli envoy to India Daniel Carmon also slammed Lapid's remarks. The "unfortunate comment" by Lapid reflects his own and only his own views and total lack of basic sensitivity or knowledge of what he talked about, Carmon said.