Three Bollywood actors have made the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement proud by reportedly refusing to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his recent trip to India.
While several stars in the Indian film industry took part in a special gala event featuring Netanyahu and his wife, actors Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, and Salman Khan did not join the event.
The move came in protest of the ongoing persecution of the Palestinian people by Israelis, according to local media.
"Israel loves Bollywood"
According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara Netanyahu, recently visited India, where the couple attended events regarding "diplomacy, trade, technology, education, and aid."
During their last night in the South Asian country, the couple took part in a gala event titled "Bollywood Shalom," which brought together prominent stars from Bollywood, such as actress Sara Ali Khan and former Miss World contestant Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
"We believe in Bollywood. World loves Bollywood. Israel loves Bollywood. We want Bollywood in Israel," Netanyahu reportedly said at the event.
"We are putting our money where our mouth is."
He added, "I think that if we join our forces, magic will happen."
In response, Bollywood celebrities have described it as "an honor and privilege to meet him [Benjamin Netanyahu]," Times of India reported.
The trip came as part of Israel's attempt to refine its image abroad. However, the "three super Khans of Bollywood" were not having any of it and decided to skip the event.
While the actors are yet to confirm the reasons behind their decision, Turkish daily newspaper Milligazete reports it was an expression of solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Many social media users applauded the actors' decision
Reminding the world of the atrocities Israel continues to commit
"They stood up for humanity and justice"
"Proud of the mighty Khans"
Some noted that Netanyahu's religion is not the actual cause for concern
"India should be proud"
According to multi-state funded network TeleSUR, the prime minister's visit was met with protests by Muslims in India's eastern city Kolkata.
Speaking to media outlets, head of the BDS movement in South Asia, Apoorva Gautam, said Israel's interest in Bollywood is one of the many faces of the "ideological shift" in the country since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.
"These initiatives are ultimately part of a wider move by the Israelis to improve its image globally, as it continues to perpetrate war crimes against the Palestinians," Gautam said, describing such initiatives as "cultural propaganda."
He went on to say, "For many years, Hollywood was used to depicting Israel as being a free country that was democratic. But now more and more actors and industry leaders are coming out against Israel and subverting this perception."