Israel’s ambassador to India today publicly denounced a filmmaker from his country who called “The Kashmir Files” a “propaganda” and a “vulgar film” at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. The envoy, Naor Gillon, also apologized to India in an “open letter” on Twitter, a day after director Nadav Lapid, who heads the festival’s jury, criticized the film at the festival’s closing ceremony yesterday.
The Kashmir Files, directed by Vivek Agnihotri, is about the exodus and killings of Kashmiri Pandits from the Kashmir Valley in 1990. It has stirred controversy since its release in March, with many describing it as a poignant portrayal of a tragic period. Critics claim that it is loose with the facts.
open letter to # nadaflabid After his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It is not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It’s 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 November 29, 2022
“An open letter to #NadavLapid after his criticism of #KashmirFiles. It’s not in Hebrew because I wanted our Indian brothers and sisters to be able to understand. It’s also relatively long so I’ll give you the bottom line first. You should be ashamed. Here’s why,” Lapid tweeted this morning.
Gillon said Lapid had abused India’s invitation to the panel of judges “in the worst way”.
“In Indian culture, they say a guest is like God. You have violated in the worst way India’s invitation to chair the panel of judges at IFFIGoa as well as the trust, respect and hospitality they have bestowed upon you,” he added.
And Nadav Lapid said yesterday that the jury at the film festival was “disturbed and shocked” by the movie “The Kashmir Files”. “We felt this was a propaganda film, a cliché, unsuitable for an artistic competitive section of such a prestigious film festival,” he said. Faced with a backlash of criticism, the jury distanced itself from his remarks, calling them his “personal opinion”.
The Israeli envoy said his countrymen should be humble because Indians consume a lot of Israeli content, including the TV series Fauda. He said, “I am not an expert on films, but I know that it is insensitive and presumptuous to talk about historical events before studying them in depth which is an open wound in India because many participants are still there and they are still paying the price,” he said. In a long tweet thread.
Gillon said he was “deeply hurt” to see the reactions in India that Lapid was suspicious of “Schindler’s List,” a film based on the Holocaust.
“I categorically condemn such remarks. There is no justification. It shows the sensitivity of the Kashmir issue here,” the envoy said. “From your interview to Ynet, the connection between your criticism of #KashmirFiles and your dislike of what’s going on in Israeli politics is quite clear.”
Gilon said in his tweets directed at Lapid that the relations between India and Israel are very strong and will bear the “damage” caused by his statements.
“As a human being, I feel ashamed and want to apologize to our hosts for the poor way we repaid them for their generosity and friendship,” the envoy said.
Thank you very much, Ambassador @employee . Deeply humbled by your support. You speak for every Indian. The pain and trauma portrayed in the film is not a show of distorted history but what Kasmere critics have actually gone through. Your words are a balm of comfort. Really with humility 🙏
– KhushbuSundar (@khushsundar) November 29, 2022
BJP leader Khushboo thanked Sundar Gelon and said his words were a “balm of comfort”. She said, “The pain and trauma depicted in the film is not a display of distorted history but what Casmiri critics have already gone through.”