New Delhi: Less than a week after Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid ignited a debate in India with his remarks on the film “Kashmir Files”, the country’s ambassador to India Naor Gilon said Lapid was an outspoken critic of the Israeli government as well.
Gilon was in conversation with ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta and Principal Correspondent Pia Krishnankutty in the “Off The Cuff” event Thursday, and spoke at length about the Nadiv controversy, the decades-long economic and cultural relations between India and Israel as well as the growing defence partnerships between the two countries.
Having previously chastised Lapid in an open letter posted on Twitter – where he said the filmmaker should be ashamed — Gilon pointed out during the chat that Lapid lived mostly in Paris and not in Israel.
Gilon said: “[Nadav Lapid] is an individual and has his own opinion like every Israeli does… He is very critical of Israel, he’s critical of certain directions that he sees that he doesn’t like in the world and in Israel.”
Gilon also said that Lapid’s “straight shooter” approach — with his comments on the “The Kashmir Files” — was very much on display in Goa.
“We are very argumentative, that’s part of being a startup nation, and part of our success and innovation is discussing everything out in the open… If no one contradicts you, you are sure that you’re right but if people start contradicting and arguing, you will rethink and maybe find the right path,” Gilon added.
India-Israel defence cooperation
While the Lapid controversy dominated the initial minutes of the chat, the focus soon shifted to the broader nature of India-Israel relations, particularly in the defence sector.
In response to Krishnankutty’s question about the future of the countries’ defence cooperation, Gilon called the India-Israel relationship “intimate”. He said there were “no limits from the Israeli side” due to the elevated trust levels between the two.
Gilon spoke about the challenges posed by “Make in India” but said Israel was up to the task and that partnerships were already underway.
“It can never be 100% made in India but there will be knowledge transfer (from Israel)… major Israeli companies already have more than 10 joint ventures with Indian companies, so we are preparing for the time when we can go together and fast-track to ‘Make in India’,” he added.
The Israeli ambassador shared insights into his country’s changing relations with China, as well as on the Haifa Port project, which Krishnankutty pointed out, had been built using some Chinese investment.
“We acknowledge the importance of China in the world. For many years, China was a partner (but) because of different circumstances, China and Israel are not trading on defence anymore… the Haifa port is going to be under Indian control, (Gautam) Adani got the port. A small part had been taken by a Chinese company but will be under Adani for the next 50 years, as per the tender,” Gilon revealed.