Israeli PM Netanyahu Set to Woo Bollywood During India Trip

The move to meet entertainment moguls attempts to counter Israel’s international “cultural boycott”.

2 min read
The Israeli government plans to rope in Bollywood’s A-listers, including top directors and producers, for the ‘Shalom Bollywood’ event set to be held in Mumbai.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara would be visiting India on 14 January for a 4-day tour, and part of their busy schedule is an event ‘Shalom Bollywood’ or Salute Bollywood to be held on 18 January where he would meet the film industry’s leading personalities.

Netanyahu will speak at a mega-cultural gathering which is expected to be attended by top Bollywood actors, directors and producers. There, he is expected to pitch Israel as an ideal destination for film shoots.

It’s believed to be part of Israel’s effort to counter the “cultural boycott” it’s facing in the global entertainment business, The Indian Express reported.

Why is This Important For Israel?

Israel’s global isolation traces its roots to the BDS movement or Boycott Divestment and Sanctions — a Palestinian-led global movement to mount international economic pressure on Israel with. It began when a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society groups issued a call to "people of conscience" around the world in 2005 to protest against the illegal settlements by Israel of Palestinian land. Additionally, the movement also called for the rights of Palestinian refugees to be upheld and demanded full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Al Jazeera report added. Since the launch of the movement, Israel has been sequestered world over.

Sources told Indian Express that the motive behind wooing Bollywoodw is driven more by “political” than personal considerations.

The Israelis are looking at Bollywood to fight the global BDS movement, which has impacted them… This event is aimed at getting movie producers to shoot in some of Israel’s picturesque locations.
A source told Indian Express

The Israeli government has stepped up efforts to fight the anti-Israeli sentiment which has consolidated since the launch of the movement. In 2011, the state had passed an arbitrary law to tame any sort of agitation within Israel. Recently, it had put an embargo on about 20 civil society groups who advocated for the movement.

Meanwhile, the movement has been backed by people like Stephen Hawking, Angela Davis, Judith Butler, ex-Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters and critically acclaimed filmmaker Ken Loach.

But Israel’s concerted efforts to woo Hollywood have failed in the past. Last year, many high- profile Oscar nominees including actors Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Sylvester Stallone and Kate Winslet were awarded free Israel tour packages, worth thousands of dollars but it had few takers.

(With inputs from Indian Express, Al Jazeera)

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