Veteran actor Amitabh Bachchan has shocked South African Indian Bollywood supporters after he entertained an Israeli delegation at his home in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. Israel’s Consul General in Mumbai, Yaakov Finkelstein, following the meeting at the actor’s home, thanked the ‘King of Bollywood’ as he is affectionately known. Finkelstein further praised Bachchan for his “words bestowed on Israel” and for his role in strengthening ties between Bollywood and Israel. A photograph of the meeting, which pictured the star flanked by the delegation, was subsequently shared on social media and widely condemned by the Palestinian lobby as a means to strengthen ties between Israel and the thriving Indian movie industry.
Commenting on Bachchan’s meeting with the Israeli delegation, BDS South Africa spokesperson Muhammed Desai says they are disappointed at seeing Bachchan “cosying up” to the Israeli’s as he is unaware of Israel’s Apartheid policies and it’s oppression of the Palestinian people.
“There is an increasing attempt by Israel to try to literally buy artists of other parts of the world and getting into Bollywood is part of that larger agenda,” Desai stated.
The move has since been viewed as a means to undermine the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) India.
“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. Israel’s image has taken a massive blow from the BDS movement. Wooing Bollywood is seen to be part of a broader strategy to reverse the loss of support of Israel in the world of art and music in the West. Last year, Israel’s move to woo Hollywood stars did not succeed, with none of the 26 Oscar nominees who were awarded free trips to the country taking up the offer,” a source told the Indian Express.
India was one of the first countries to have terminated relations with Apartheid South African under the Congress Party, but Desai says that India has changed under the government of Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (DJP). India, he notes, is a shadow of his former identity.
Desai states that Israel’i support is being promoted within the subcontinent by right wing “extremist leadership”.
“We must not sell off Bollywood. Perhaps in Bollywood there might still be a space receptive to the Palestinian struggle and to progressive politics.
“It is our duty via social media to express our views and perhaps to demand a meeting with the Indian embassy to express the disappointment as an Indian and south African community,” he continued.