Ever since the Indian government established full diplomatic relations with the state of Israel in 1992, a couple of ideas, one historic and the other rooted in the present, have drawn the two countries into developing close, friendly ties. The first, the peaceful and harmonious history of Indian Jews is indeed a cause of pride and celebration for both countries. But the second reason that has strengthened Indian-Israeli relations is not so benign. Targets of radical Islamist terrorism, the two nations find common cause in increased militarization to counter that threat. However in my opinion, if India is not careful, it may feed off Israel's acute existential paranoia. Rather than solve its own problems of religious strife and human rights violations within and around its own borders with diplomacy, fairness and a cool head, India may be tempted into flexing its military muscles unnecessarily, with disastrous results.
Israeli arms manufacturers see a huge market for cashing in on India's security fears. But instead of making an old fashioned sales pitch at arms fairs or in covert meetings, the Israeli armaments company, Rafael is promoting its lethal wares through a Bollywood style song & dance video. The kitschy lyrics evoke historic ties and current anxieties. Examples of the horrendously hilarious and gratingly juvenile dialog between what appears to be the Indian military establishment (the female) and Rafael (the male):
Rafael: We have been together for so long, trusting friends and partners. What more can I pledge?
Indian Military: I need to feel safe and sheltered. Security and protection. Commitment and perfection. Defense and dedication.
Rafael: I promise to defend you. Fulfill your expectations. Shield and support you [and] meet my obligations.
The song continues with more such mindless and crappy exchanges punctuated by a very annoying refrain of "Dinga Dinga Dee!" I am not sure if the actors are a mix of Israelis of varied ethnic origins who took a crash course in Indian film style dancing and felt confident enough to come up with this amazingly tacky video - some in the cast don't look very Indian. But I suspect that the sales video was probably inspired by the huge success of the movie Slumdog Millionaire. Don't miss the heavy handed shot of the missile (a phallic symbol?) that floats in the foreground and other weapons in the background around which the dancers cavort.
My co-blogger Sujatha said when she sent me the link, "Don't know whether to be appalled at this attempt to woo the Indian military establishment or double over with laughter." Appalling it definitely is. It could also have been funny if it weren't for the implied deadly message.
Update: The New York Times reports:
Wired’s Noah Shachtman notes via Twitter that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz got in touch with the company that made this video and reports that “The actors are Israelis of Georgian and Indian origin.” Haaretz adds that “A Rafael spokesperson said that the video had been received with much acclaim in India.”