Maybe India should tie a rakhi on Israel

Because today is both Purim and Holi, here’s an amazing “Bollywood” video made by an Israeli arms company to promote Indian sales which they showed on large screens at a recent government sponsored military trade fair in India. What’s the connection to these holidays? Watch the clip and you’ll come away convinced that the people who made it were both drunk and stoned:

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Every element of the promotional film is just plain wrong. The sari-clad, “Indian” dancers look all too ashkenaz and zaftig. The unshaven, hawk-nosed, leather-clad leading man appears to be a refugee from You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. Then of course, there’s the implication that the Indian military is somehow like a helpless woman who “need(s) to feel safe and sheltered.” [link]

The whole thing is amazingly crappy from start to finish, not mention the annoying chorus of “Dinga dinga, dinga dinga, dinga dinga, dinga dinga dee.” I don’t get why they couldn’t have hired a real Bolly composer, choreographer and item girls. It wouldn’t have cost them much.

Despite the cheapness of the video, this isn’t some small time company, and they’re not newcomers to the Indian market. It was Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Barak SAM missile that was at the heart of the 2000 bribery scandal exposed by Tehelka. Two years ago, they signed a $330 million dollar deal to codevelop the Barak II, and just 6 months ago they became part of India’s biggest defense joint venture with a foreign company.

So why was this video, intended “to help build familiarity between India and Israel and Rafael” [link] both so cheap and so dreadful? My only guess is that they learned from the 2000 arms deal that while symbolic gestures are good, the only thing that really matters are gifts of cold hard cash.

88 thoughts on “Maybe India should tie a rakhi on Israel

  1. I can’t believe you made me watch that whole atrocious video. I will avenge this, one way or another, Ennis! One way or another!!!!

  2. FAIL.

    That was absolutely horrible. Just plain horrible. Babies are crying, donkeys are braying, ostriches have their heads in sand. Seriously, for a million dollars they could have financed a film with legit Bollywood actors and really pimped their company in some fictional Indian military action flick.

  3. Yikes! Tacky! Does the guy depict Israel and the woman is India ? Does that mean Israel is planning to screw India ? Yikes again!

  4. EPIC FAIL. After what Israel has been doing with Gaza, the Indian government should just scrap all contracts with them, but I know it wont.

    Wake me when a democracy grows a pair of moral balls.

  5. Dinga dinga dee!

    I think the only way this could have been more horrific is if they did the entire thing in “brownface”.

  6. This advert is a more then good enough reason for countries to disarm so companies like this are our of work.

    Not a good thing to watch 5:30 am.

  7. This is the type of thing I expect from my media arts-fixated Uncle. Or a Goodness Gracious Me spoof. Wow.

  8. 6 · suede said

    EPIC FAIL. After what Israel has been doing with Gaza, the Indian government should just scrap all contracts with them, but I know it wont. Wake me when a democracy grows a pair of moral balls.

    So should the nations scrap all contracts with China then or do we only need “moral balls” when the people being “oppressed” have public relations companies to talk about it?

    And given that violence in the Middle East is a two-way street, should Israel then cut off all ties with its Arab neighbors? Should the rest of the world cut off ties with Pakistan and Bangladesh and Nepal and Sri Lanka for what’s happening to their ethnic minorities? What about Burma? Malaysia?

    I’m worried countries might not have enough time to make any contracts with each other if they’re all too busy trying to figure out whose horse is higher. Of course the highest horse is always going to be the one that grew up in a lush green field with no stress or challenges to stunt its growth. The ones that actually have to struggle to survive are going to end up with some unsightly scars and blemishes.

  9. So should the nations scrap all contracts with China then or do we only need “moral balls” when the people being “oppressed” have public relations companies to talk about it?

    I doubt if the Indian govt has any defense contracts with China. Beyond that, yes, I would expect India, the US, and any other country that boasts of having a politically forward democracy to speak up/condemn/pressure China for what it is doing in Africa.

    Nobody in Gaza has “public relations companies” to talk about on their behalf. Refusing to let food and aid into Gaza and killing civilians is despicable.

    I’m worried countries might not have enough time to make any contracts with each other if they’re all too busy trying to figure out whose horse is higher. You’re extrapolating my point to an extreme, and I’m possibly misunderstood. Its not about closing up. Its not about having a higher horse or moral standing.

    Have you noticed what a sham the UN has become?

  10. Its not about having a higher horse or moral standing.

    Before I get misinterpreted, I meant the above in the sense of a competition about having a higher horse/morals. I should not have higher morals just because my neighbor does.

  11. I am amused that this advert is claimed by Rafael to demonstrate their “knowledge” of the Indian market. It would be laughed out of India. The whole think reeks of that kitsch ad for Neem toothpaste from the 80s.

    That SAM looks suspiciously like a huge tube of toothpaste too!

  12. The song maybe crap, but its good to see relations grow between India and Israel since they do share a common enemy.

  13. Wow, it would have been more respectful if they had just said, “Buy our shit, you stupid sand n*ggers!”

  14. Puke. Puke. Puke. Somebody hold my head….. Ok…more puke, puke, puke

    Ah…relieved.

    Man, I have never seen anything so tacky! Is this really from Rafael? Or some prank by somebody??

  15. So should the nations scrap all contracts with China then or do we only need “moral balls” when the people being “oppressed” have public relations companies to talk about it? And given that violence in the Middle East is a two-way street, should Israel then cut off all ties with its Arab neighbors? Should the rest of the world cut off ties with Pakistan and Bangladesh and Nepal and Sri Lanka for what’s happening to their ethnic minorities? What about Burma? Malaysia?

    Funny how you conveniently left out India in your little list. Attacks on Muslims, Christians and the oppression of Dalits comes to mind.

  16. Good that India and Israel has developed close military relations. Israel seems to have helped India during 1971 and Kargil wars. It is good that the relationships are coming out in public glare.

  17. Oh my God that was just TERRRIBBLLEEE hahahahahahahahahaha :D

    I think that they’ve just set India-Israel relations back a few years.

    dinga-dinga dinga-dinga … :)

  18. While Israel has made great strides in hi-tech and Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, it’s skills at producing entertainment leave much to be desired. They really should hang out with their American cousins to find out how to make quality entertainment.

  19. That was atrocious on so many different levels. Seriously some Israelis–especially those that go out of their country–come across as douches of the nth degree (if you don’t believe me you can read about Israeli cluelessness at best and borderline uncouth/racist behavior at worst in many travel blogs).

  20. 26 · baxter on March 12, 2009 12:08 PM · Direct link · “Quote”(?) That was atrocious on so many different levels. Seriously some Israelis–especially those that go out of their country–come across as douches of the nth degree (if you don’t believe me you can read about Israeli cluelessness at best and borderline uncouth/racist behavior at worst in many travel blogs).

    Baxter, I agree with you. I even had an Israeli roommate. On one hand, they’re very cultured, intelligent (even if they are high school dropoutbs), slightly tie-dye and granola, very charming and urban, but they try to OWN and dominate you. I had some very bad social situations with Israeli guys – they’re too hard-core and aggressive, especially to a shorter skinny guy like me. One day at Israeli Halloween party (I went with some Indian friends of mine), I politely went to thank one of the hosts. When I told him about my Israeli roommate, and the kibbutz that he was from, this Israeli host, kept saying “WHAT?!” “WHAT?! No, tell me once again!” in front of many folks. It was what I had expected.

    A few years ago, there was a video clip from a popular israeli tv show “Our Little Country”, and they featured Israelis in brown-face making fun of Indians. It was a clip that’s been removed from youtube, but it was quite offensive to Indians. It depicts us as being effeminite males, inefficient, racist towards Israelis in favor of Germans, and dirty.

  21. Funny how you conveniently left out India in your little list. Attacks on Muslims, Christians and the oppression of Dalits comes to mind.

    I didn’t need to because I was sure, positive even, that some enterprising soul such as yourself would step up to the plate. People do so often forget, however, that compared to its neighbors India is still the best of the bunch in terms of human rights.

    Nobody in Gaza has “public relations companies” to talk about on their behalf. Refusing to let food and aid into Gaza and killing civilians is despicable.

    There is no shortage of NGOs, Think-tanks, or national embassies that are willing to champion the Israel-Palestine issue and push it into the public discourse every time something happens. Nobody really seems to give half a damn about the Keren though.

    It seems a lot of this outrage is being orchestrated to prioritize some people’s (Palestinians) travails over others like the Kerenese. Unlike the Israel-Palestine conflict we actually have the power to improve the situation in Burma but nobody will actually do it.

  22. Ennis, I only want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this gem. Sending this to my Israeli pals; this will be the gift that keeps on giving.

  23. I meant to add, nobody will actually do it because nobody ever talks about it. All the oxygen gets sucked out of the international human rights discourse by people trying to hammer on the Israel-Palestine conflict as if Palestinian lives are the only ones that matter.

    For example, take a look at Raj’s post. Isn’t it kind of funny that only “Attacks on Muslims, Christians and the oppression of Dalits” came to mind when there have also been riots and orchestrated murders that have killed Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains as well?

    That’s exactly my point. Countries that care about the rights get held up to ridiculously high standards to the point where anything short of national self-destruction in attempts at accommodation is viewed as “despicable,” but societies that have clearly demonstrated that they don’t give a damn get a free pass from all the media glare. So we ignore the minorities in Burma. We ignore the Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, and Sikhs in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. We ignore the Uighurs. We pay attention to the Tibetans only because the Dalai Lama is one of the most remarkable international figures since Mahatma Gandhi, but once he is gone we’re going to ignore them too. The message I take away from this is that the only people who matter are the people the international press tell us matter.

  24. After what Israel has been doing with Gaza, the Indian government should just scrap all contracts with them, but I know it wont. Wake me when a democracy grows a pair of moral balls

    .

    The relationship between India and Israel is based on mutual strategic concerns and benefits. That is unfortunately the way international geopolitics works. Nehru tried to straddle the moral high horse called NAM and we ended up riding towards irrelevance and isolation. No one is naive and emotional enough to believe that our current relations are the result of some deep emotional bond and bhaichara, despite being told otherwise by the unfortunate Rafael film. You’ve just got to choose your friends wisely. The promotional film itself, though was a nightmare. This is not something that you can make when you are stoned and drunk. It was made in full hosho-hawaas and with a definite intent and message. And to think of that intent boggles the mind.

  25. Y’all, let’s stay away from broad national stereotypes please? The conversation usually goes downhill after that. Yes, one can make empirically based generalizations, but as a matter of practice, it’s really easy to slip into stereotype.

    Same thing about the big Gaza debate. It’s important, but it will swamp this tiny little thread, and often slips into stereotypes again.

    India has strong incentives to buy arms from Israel, because they really don’t want to become reliant on either the US or Russia. Plus, since Israel is smaller than either of the others, it probably is trying to offer a better deal.

    Rafael was blacklisted after the bribery scandal and continues to win contracts. If domestic controversy doesn’t block them from getting business with the GOI, I doubt that Gaza will either.

  26. All the Israelis I’ve met are D-bags. But all the non-Israeli Jews I know are nice and interesting people. Though they look like westerners, in behavior Israelis are closer to Saudis. They say it is because of their military training and exposure to racist violence. I think that country is seriously messed up.

    Because of their arrogant and racist behavior, hotels in tourist places in India have boards saying “No Israelis”. They have colonised Manali and act really boorishly to the locals there.

    http://www.mail-archive.com/goanet@goanet.org/msg28380.html

    Same in Goa, where there is a Tel Aviv beach. But new reports say Isarelis are keeping away from Goa after the Mumbai attacks. I guess that is one thing we should thank the LET for!

  27. All the Israelis I’ve met are D-bags.

    Is the ugly Israeli the new ugly American?

  28. And to think there are 75,000 Isrealis of Indian origin (wiki).

    That’s another point. Indians immigrating to Israel have also been treated shabbily by the white Israelis. I have read reports of this in Kerala papers.

    Is the ugly Israeli the new ugly American?

    The Americans are just snooty, they don’t beat up locals, or try to seduce the hotel owner’s daughter. An Israeli I met in a train actually bragged about the latter. He considered himself very clever and daring, because he managed to wheedle a room even though the owner had a policy of not admitting Israelis. And then he showed his gratitude by trying to seduce the girl. Apparently, it didn’t work, and he was not very happy about that.

  29. or try to seduce the hotel owner’s daughter.

    You can replace Israeli with “American” or “Italian” or “German” or anything else and I feel like the story wouldn’t be all that unbelievable. Israelis come to India because it’s one of the few countries on earth that will admit people with an Israeli passport. Most of Europe and pretty much all of Africa and the Middle East is closed off to them and it’s not because the Israeli’s are racist, it’s because those countries have high levels of anti-semitism.

    That’s another point. Indians immigrating to Israel have also been treated shabbily by the white Israelis. I have read reports of this in Kerala papers.

    It’s bad that Indians are being treated poorly by White Israelis, but I am honestly not surprised because Indians are treated poorly by other Indians as well. The entire loving government is predicated on the idea of robbing Peter to pay Paul. If we disrespect out own country the way we do how can we expect anyone else to respect it or respect us?

  30. Ennis writes:India has strong incentives to buy arms from Israel, because they really don’t want to become reliant on either the US or Russia.

    Thank Chacha Nehru for yet another failed policy. Indian laws specifically prohibit private enterprise in the arms market. The rationale was that these arms manufacturers could sell to hostile countries or groups. But at the same time, Indian laws do not prohibit the Indian government to deal with private foreign companies for arms! Indian Government arms makers(DRDO etc) work exactly as they’re designed to: like Government companies.

    The right thing to do is to let Tata/Birla etc start arms manufacturing and compete in the global arena.

    M. Nam

  31. What if they compete in the global arena and start selling arms to India’s enemies?

  32. @36 I was simply saying they could have avoided this silliness if they checked w/ some well-informed desi Israelis. As for your other points, some does not = all.

  33. What if they compete in the global arena and start selling arms to India’s enemies?

    But that has not happened with US, Israeli or European companies. There are policy safeguards that can be put in place to detect and stop such sales.

    Moreover, nobody wants their weapons to blast their own kids’ ass. Ratan Tata would not sell a missile to Pakistan because he knows that the same missile will be used against his factory.

    I think the issue is about having faith, confidence and trust in your own populace (and especially in your business leaders). Nehru had neither. He had faith only in hand picked Government servants (who promptly stabbed him in the back when it came to Pakistan in 1948 or China in 1962).

    M. Nam

  34. You can replace Israeli with “American” or “Italian” or “German” or anything else and I feel like the story wouldn’t be all that unbelievable.

    Not true. Most tourists in India, particularly Europeans, try to keep away from Israelis. There is a reason for those “no Israeli” boards. See this thread.

    Most of Europe and pretty much all of Africa and the Middle East is closed off to them

    Not true again. They go to Europe a lot, and have the same reputation there. Also in Latin America.

    Indians are treated poorly by other Indians as well.

    And such Indians are considered boors by other Indians.

  35. some does not = all.

    Sure. But some = wary of others

    In my case it is not some, it is most. And lots of other people seem to share that opinion. In fact, nice people who identify themselves as Israelis make it a point to say that “I am one of the good ones”. So it is not even other people saying this, Israelis themselves say this.

  36. 33 · Isaraicists said

    Because of their arrogant and racist behavior, hotels in tourist places in India have boards saying “No Israelis”.

    heh heh heh…this sentance can be read 2 ways.

  37. What’s scaring me the most about this video is that this isn’t just another commercial. It’s a sales pitch for a weapons system, something that’s going to kill people. That something as serious as trading in weapons can be reduced to an advertisement, that too of this kind of trashy quality is just so messed up.

  38. 46 · Manjew said

    hee hee hee Jewish bootlickers are repugnant.

    thanks for dropping the “israeli” pretense

  39. “Manjew” that’s a Yellow Card ! Keep it clean or I’ll send you off the field. Understood? I’m this close to banning you for that comment.

  40. mjeh. the majority of Israeli ‘tourists’ are 20 something year old kids who’ve just finished their army stint and want to travel a little before going back to normal life. Judging Israeli national character by them is like judging the US by spring break behavior

  41. Maju and Yogafire are defending the despicable and racist behavior of Israelis. Crude language is sometimes necessary. Europeans have every reason to reject Israeli louts from their countries. If the people ruling India had any pride they would follow the example of Europe.