As Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot was entrusted with saving the world. As an actress she has been entrusted with delivering a Hollywood blockbuster. But it seems the film’s producers would rather not see her wading into the murky waters of the Middle East conflict.
Gadot’s Israeli heritage has already caused them problems, with Lebanon banning the film in line with its boycotts of any Israeli product.
And Israel’s Channel 2 reported Thursday that its interview with Gadot had been censored by the film’s producers, after it asked her about the ban.
The channel was one of several media outlets from around the world granted a brief interview with Gadot to speak with her about the blockbuster movie, which opened in Israel on Thursday and opens in the US on Friday.
During the interview, Channel 2 asked Gadot, who served in the IDF, her thoughts about the Lebanese ban. However, although Gadot candidly answered the question, Channel 2 was required by the film’s production company, which oversaw the interview, to delete all the footage connected to the issue.
The Israeli TV station reported the censorship, and, in protest, did not transmit any part of the interview.
The boycott move by Lebanon sparked a social media frenzy, with some Lebanese mocking the authorities but others welcoming it as part of a campaign to isolate Israel.
An official with Lebanon’s General Security told AFP the interior ministry had “decided to ban the screening of this film based on the recommendation of the Arab League’s Israel Boycott Office”.
Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war, and the Arab League maintains a Damascus-based office responsible for coordinating a regional boycott of the Jewish state.
Lebanon’s economy and culture ministry, which oversees the boycott of Israeli products locally, recommended the film be banned after last year requesting the Arab League office issue a blanket ban on all the work of the 32-year-old actress.
Gadot, who like most young Israelis did military service, made headlines in 2014 with a Facebook post expressing solidarity with Israeli citizens under Hamas rocket fire and Israeli soldiers fighting the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip.
“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens,” she wrote. “Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children.”
The Lebanese ban sparked a storm on social media, with some welcoming the decision which led to advertising posters for Wonder Woman across the capital vanishing overnight.
“The campaign to boycott supporters of Israel in Lebanon has succeeded,” said the Arabic-language Facebook page of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to isolate Israel over its occupation of the West Bank, as well as demanding it withdraw from the Golan Heights and calling for an end to its Jewish character.
But many in Lebanon mocked the decision as censorship or a waste of time, pointing out the film could be viewed online.
“Liberating Palestine one movie at a time. #LiveLoveCensorship” wrote the Stop Cultural Terrorism in Lebanon group, which promotes freedom of expression.
‘In typical Lebanese fashion’
Blogger Elie Fares accused the Beirut government of inconsistency, pointing out that several of Gadot’s movies have aired in Lebanon in past years.
“In typical Lebanese fashion and because we definitely have our priorities in order, Lebanon’s government decided to rise up from its slumber and resist, even though the movie has been announced for over three years now,” he wrote on his “A Separate State of Mind” blog.
“The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it… Simply don’t go watch it,” he added.
“Call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.”
Lebanon is considered one of the most liberal countries in the Arab world, with a thriving arts scene.
But its interior ministry’s censorship bureau occasionally bans content considered to incite ethnic tensions, attacking morals or state authority, or to reflect Israeli propaganda.
So far, Lebanon appears to be the only Arab country to order a ban on Wonder Woman, which remains scheduled for release across the region including in Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia later this month.