Israeli actress Gal Gadot, along with a handful of other celebrities, has demanded that the Labor party remove their visages from an election campaign poster playing on a recent brouhaha over the status of Arab Israelis.
Gadot this week dipped her toe into local politics when she came to the defense of actress and reality TV show hostess Rotem Sela who was personally criticized on social media by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after she panned his Likud party’s scare-mongering about the role of Arabs in the next government.
Several other celebrities also backed Sela or commented on the Likud campaign strategy. In a follow-up move, the left-leaning Labor party produced a poster featuring photos of Gadot, Sela, TV hosts Assi Azar and Galit Gutman, model Shlomit Malka, and musician Aviv Geffen, with the slogan “We need another Rotem Sela.”
“We take a serious view of this, and already this evening we will approach the Labor party with a demand it immediately remove Gal Gadot’s image from the campaign,” a statement on behalf of Gadot declared Tuesday, according to Channel 12.
“Gal Gadot has never participated in any political campaign of one kind or another,” it said.
חייב רק להגיד- לא אישרתי את השימוש בתמונה שלי. אם הייתי מצביע ״העבודה״ אגב, הייתי מאשר בשמחה. pic.twitter.com/rtMWRx5TyH
— Assi azar (@assiazar) March 12, 2019
It was not clear from media reports where the poster had been published or displayed.
A statement on behalf of Sela and Gutman, who are both presenters on channel 12, clarified that they too had not given permission for the poster.
“We support free and democratic dialogue,” the statement read. “We never agreed to be part of the campaign of any party.”
Sela’s attorneys also contacted the Meretz party, which similarly used Sela’s photo for another campaign poster, and it was removed, Channel 12 reported.
According to the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, attorneys for the celebrities were looking into legal options regarding the use of their clients’ images on the poster.
Azar also took issue with the use of his portrait.
“I must say — I didn’t approve use of my photo,” he wrote. “By the way, if I was voting for Labor I would have happily approved.”
On Sunday, Netanyahu engaged in a social media argument with Sela, who had criticized his Likud party’s anti-Arab rhetoric a day earlier. Rotem spoke up after Likud Culture Minister Miri Regev in a TV interview repeated a frequent Likud claim that rival Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz will try to form a government with Arab parties.
“What is the problem with the Arabs???” Sela, 35, wrote on Instagram. “Dear god, there are also Arab citizens in this country. When the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal, and that even the Arabs and the Druze and the LGBTs and — shock — the leftists are human.”
Netanyahu shot back on his own Instagram account: “Dear Rotem, an important correction: Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else.”
The exchange set off a series of comments by government ministers, lawmakers and celebrities. On Monday President Reuven Rivlin appeared to give his opinion on the matter publicly declaring “There are no, and there will be no, second-class citizens, and there are no second-class voters.”
Gadot, in weighing in on the clash on Sunday, wrote on her Instagram page, which is followed by some 28.2 million people, “This isn’t a matter of left or right, Jew or Arab, secular of religious, it’s about dialogue for peace and equality, and our tolerance for one another.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” said Gadot, who famously played the role of Wonder Woman in the film of the same name and has championed women’s rights off-screen. “Rotem, sister, you inspire all of us.”