The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement are calling on Bollywood stars to boycott a festival taking place in Israel. The Indo Fest TLV’ is taking place from October 15-17. It is part of the ‘Brand Israel’ project aimed at growing relations between Israel and India.
In a statement from BDS, they call on people to inform the Bollywood stars that “their participation in this event will serve the art-washing agenda of Israel’s far-right apartheid regime.” The BDS movement is a global movement promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as “Israel’s obligations under international law.”
Some of the biggest names in Bollywood are on the roster to perform at the festival. The list includes Anil Kapoor, Raveena Tandon and Ameesha Patel.
The Indo-Fest TLV in Israel is reportedly being organised to “provide entertainment for the Indians living in Israel and promote art and culture.” The chairman of the company organising the event said “Around 10 celebrities from Bollywood and Kollywood will be attending the festival, so it’s going to be spectacular. It promises to be one of the biggest events in the history of Indo-Israel cultural relations. The festival will explore art, culture and tourism of India. It will be the first of many.”
In 2018, several Bollywood actors were due to perform in Israel for an event called “Bollywood 4 Ever”. At the BDS called for the event to be cancelled. The event was later cancelled by the production team who cited “personal constraints” It was supposed to take place at a later date but that didn’t happen. While no solid links can be created between the BDS campaign and the cancellation, the event did not happen.
That event, as well as the Indo Fest forms part of the greater relationship forming between the apartheid Israel governemnt and the Indian entertaiment industry. In 2018, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited India. An event called “Shalom Bollywood” was held where Netanyahu met some of the biggest names in Bollywood including Amitabh Bachchan, and Karan Johar.
At the end of the event Netanyahu said: “We want Bollywood in Israel. We are putting our money where our mouth is.” The Israeli government has kept no secrets around their plans to form partnerships with the Bollywood industry.
In 2017 Michael Oren, head of public diplomacy at the Israeli prime minister’s office visited India. He went to invite Bollywood producers to invest in Israel. Tweeting, Oren said the goal of his visit was to “create Israeli jobs and fight BDS [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement]”.
With a few days remaining before the festival, it remains to be seen whether the Bollywood stars will heed the call from BDS, and join other international stars in boycotting Israel.