[File photo of demonstration held in Paris, France. (Christophe Karaba / EPA)]
Mumbai: One of the reasons why Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was so enthusiastic about his meeting with Bollywood was his purported attempt to weaken the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement for Palestinian Rights, as Sarah Wilkinson has put it:
"Netanyahu's trying to woo Bollywood into Israel's clutches to undermine the BDS Movement for Palestinian Rights", Sarah said in a tweet.
Netanyahu's trying to woo Bollywood into Israel's clutches to undermine the BDS Movement for Palestinian Rights https://t.co/TPjEtmZAmF— Sarah Wilkinson (@swilkinsonbc) January 18, 2018
However despite all the media hype #Shalom Bollywood failed to fulfill its motive as Indian film industry's top names including Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt were all missing from the event dubbed as the turning point for India-Israel cultural ties.
Also missing from the event were Katrina Kaif, Kangana Ranaut, Deepika Padukone and and Shirish Kunder. And, their absence from the event did not go unnoticed.
Khans avoiding Netanyahu is petty issue, but absence of ace director & signature aaptard Shirish Kunder is surely a huge blow to India-Israel cultural exchanges#ShalomBollywood
— Debarati Majumder (@debarati_m) January 18, 2018
— Wideawakegentile (@The_Indian_Goy) January 19, 2018
Reports and photo op about the event also confirmed the fact that except for the few opportunists known for always siding with those in power and some failures none of the who's who of Bollywood chose to share stage with the Israeli Prime Minister.
The leading Bollywood stars have so far not issued any statement explaining why they did not turn up for "#ShalomBollywood".
The much publicised event also failed to impress the world media.
"The logic behind the Hindi language film industry embracing someone who is not only deemed to many around the world as a “war criminal”, but someone who may face criminal charges at home for corruption seemed unfathomable to many", UK based AlAraby.co.uk said in its report.
Mehdi Hasan, Columnist, The Intercept. Contributing Editor, New Statesman. Host, Al Jazeera English. Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University. A Brit based in Washngton DC, in his reaction to the event said, "Bollywood disgraces itself."
Bollywood disgraces itself. Yet again. https://t.co/znNwGALNPb— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) January 18, 2018
The South Asian arm of the pro-Palestinian boycott movement also said that Israel is turning to India and its film industry as BDS gains traction in the United States and Europe.
"These initiatives are ultimately part of a wider move by the Israelis to improve its image globally, as it continues to perpetrate war crimes against the Palestinians," Apoorva Gautam, who heads the pro-Palestine BDS movement in South Asia, told Middle East Eye Friday.
"The Israelis' attention has now shifted to Bollywood, as the BDS movement gains traction in America and Europe", he added.
Earlier, a number of artists have participated in the cultural boycott of Israel through the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, including Brian Eno and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, writers Arundhati Roy and Eduardo Galeano and film-maker Ken Loach.
Recently, noted New Zealand singer Lorde also cancelled her scheduled event in Tel Aviv after appeals by the BDS activists. More than 100 writers and artists including Angela Davis, Mark Ruffalo, Roger Waters, Alice Walker, Tom Morello and Talib Kweli extended their support to young and popular New Zealand singer.
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