A day after Israeli filmmaker and International Film Festival of India (IFFI) jury chief Nadav Lapid described the controversial film ‘The Kashmir Files’ as “propaganda” and “vulgar”, Israel’s ambassador to India Naor Gilon on Tuesday said that the jury chairman should be “ashamed” for his remark.
Gilon further said that he wanted to apologise to “our hosts for the bad manner in which we repaid them for their generosity and friendship”.
During the closing ceremony of the 53rd edition of IFFI held in Goa, Lapid, sharing the jury report, said that he was “shocked” and “disturbed” by its inclusion of the film in the competitive section. ‘The Kashmir Files’, which released in theatres on March 11, was part of the Indian Panorama Section at IFFI and was screened on November 22.
“There were 15 films in the international competition — the front window of the festival. Fourteen out of them had cinematic qualities…and evoked vivid discussions. We were, all of us, disturbed and shocked by the 15th film, ‘The Kashmir Files’. That felt to us like a propaganda, vulgar movie, inappropriate for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival,” the jury chairman said, before a number of dignitaries, including Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, as well as veteran actor Asha Parekh, and actors Akshay Kumar, Ayushmann Khurrana and Rana Daggubati.
In a Twitter thread on Tuesday, Gilon wrote, “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.”
Gilon further said, “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.(sic)”
The envoy said Indian friends brought Fauda co-creators Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff in order to celebrate India’s love for Israeli series 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,” he said.
The envoy said, “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”.
He went on, “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.”
Citing an interview to Ynet by Lapid, Gilon said the connection the filmmaker makes between his criticism of The Kashmir Files and his 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,” he said.
Meanwhile, former Israeli envoy to India Daniel Carmon also slammed Lapid’s remarks and called it an “unfortunate comment”. Carmon said that Ambassador Gilon’s “excellent open letter this morning to Lapid speaks for all of us and reflects our true feelings”, he said.
“He definitely should apologise 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 in a tweet.