Left’s ire trains on ‘Won­der Woman’ ac­tress

Say Gadot’s time in Is­raeli army equals Pales­tinian op­pres­sion

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

“Won­der Woman” has pro­gres­sives in a quandary: Should the left ea­gerly cheer the rare Hol­ly­wood block­buster de­pict­ing a strong fe­male role model or boo a film star­ring an Is­raeli ac­tress as the iconic Ama­zon?

The $150 mil­lion Warner Bros. and DC En­ter­tain­ment movie is seen in the in­dus­try as a sure­fire block­buster af­ter rap­tur­ous early re­views de­spite mis­giv­ings among some on the left about star Gal Gadot, who served in the Is­rael De­fense Forces and has crit­i­cized the ter­ror­ist group Ha­mas.

“Many peo­ple want to whole­heart­edly sup­port this film but are con­flicted,” said Amal Matan in a May 26 post on Medium’s NerdyPOC [Peo­ple of Color] blog.

Her post called Miss Gadot’s cast­ing a “cruel and un­usual irony” and raised the is­sue of “in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity,” which refers to the pro­gres­sive move­ment’s call for unity among “op­pressed peo­ple,” in­clud­ing women, mi­nori­ties and Pales­tini­ans.

“So where does that leave Won­der Woman fans, in­ter­sec­tional fem­i­nists and those in sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tinian strug­gle?” Ms. Matan said. “As the world will see the movie, there will be a solid chunk of in­di­vid­u­als who will choose not to sup­port Gal Gadot.”

There’s no in­de­ci­sion over the

movie in Le­banon, which on Wed­nes­day banned screen­ings af­ter com­plaints over Miss Gadot’s Is­raeli her­itage by groups such as the Le­banese Boy­cott, Di­vest and Sanc­tions move­ment and the Cam­paign to Boy­cott Sup­port­ers of Is­rael-Le­banon.

Le­banon’s Grand Cin­e­mas chain an­nounced the ban on Twit­ter af­ter the cam­paign com­plained that show­ing the film would be “against the Le­banese law” be­cause Le­banon and Is­rael are of­fi­cially at war.

Elec­tronic In­tifada co-founder Ali Abunimah said on Twit­ter that “Gal Gadot’s sup­port for Is­rael’s slaugh­ter of 11 chil­dren a day in Gaza in sum­mer 2014 means it’s com­mon sense not to re­ward her with money.”

The ten­sion be­tween sup­port­ers of Is­rael and the women’s move­ment came to a head in March when Linda Sar­sour, a Pales­tinian ac­tivist and co-chair of the Women’s March, ar­gued that fem­i­nists could not also be pro-Is­rael.

“It just doesn’t make any sense for some­one to say, ‘Is there room for peo­ple who sup­port the state of Is­rael and do not crit­i­cize it in the move­ment?’ ” Ms. Sar­sour told The Na­tion. “There can’t be in fem­i­nism. You ei­ther stand up for the rights of all women, in­clud­ing Pales­tini­ans, or none. There’s just no way around it.”

Cor­nell Law School pro­fes­sor Wil­liam O. Ja­cob­son ac­cused anti-Is­rael ac­tivists of try­ing to “force lib­eral fem­i­nists to put anti-Zion­ism ahead of true lib­eral fem­i­nism.”

“This re­gres­sive left­ist tac­tic is noth­ing short of a hi­jack­ing of the fem­i­nist move­ment and sac­ri­fices the lives and well-be­ing of women around the world in or­der to at­tack Is­rael,” said Mr. Ja­cob­son, who ed­its Le­gal In­sur­rec­tion. “It is a very cyn­i­cal, de­struc­tive and in­tel­lec­tu­ally ma­nip­u­la­tive tac­tic.”

This isn’t the first time the movie has been mired in con­tro­versy. In March “Won­der Woman” came un­der fire from the left be­cause the trailer showed Miss Gadot with clean-shaven armpits.

And in De­cem­ber the U.N. dropped the su­per­hero as an hon­orary am­bas­sador af­ter a pe­ti­tion posted by “Con­cerned United Na­tions staff mem­bers” ob­jected to her “overtly sex­u­al­ized im­age.”

That said, anx­i­ety about in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity, armpits or out­fits is un­likely to de­ter the le­gions of women ex­pected to flock Fri­day to “Won­der Women,” which in­dus­try ex­perts have es­ti­mated could pull in $100 mil­lion in its open­ing week­end alone.

At this point, the big­gest flap may cen­ter on the Austin-based Alamo Draft­house Cin­ema’s de­ci­sion to ap­peal to fe­male ticket-buy­ers by of­fer­ing a June 6 show­ing for women only. The idea was so pop­u­lar that the theater added another screen­ing af­ter the first one sold out.

“Apolo­gies, gen­tle­men, but we’re em­brac­ing our girl power and say­ing ‘No Guys Al­lowed’ for one spe­cial night at the Alamo Ritz,” said the theater’s post.

The move sparked a back­lash among some men who com­plained about sexism, as well as crit­i­cism over re­ports that the pro­ceeds from cer­tain screen­ings would go to Planned Par­ent­hood.

That was enough to prompt pro­gres­sive sites like Jezebel and Slate to put aside any in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity wor­ries and jump on the “no dudes al­lowed” band­wagon, with Jezebel smirk­ing about men “screech­ing wetly about the wretched un­fair­ness of it all.”

The Alamo Draft­house in Brook­lyn re­sponded with its own women-only show­ing at 3 p.m. Sun­day, prompt­ing New Yorker Jack Poso­biec to file a com­plaint Wed­nes­day with the state Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion.

Alamo re­sponded to the gripes with a tongue-in-cheek apol­ogy, say­ing, “Again, truly, truly, truly, truly sorry that we’ve of­fended you. These screen­ings are just a way to cel­e­brate the char­ac­ter and how im­por­tant she’s been to women over the last eight decades.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler is­sued a hu­mor­ous re­sponse to a man who wrote to com­plain about the women-only show­ing, warn­ing him that his ac­count had been “hacked by an un­for­tu­nate and un­usu­ally hos­tile in­di­vid­ual.”

“And I hes­i­tate to imag­ine how em­bar­rassed you’d be if some­one thought you were up­set that a pri­vate busi­ness was re­al­iz­ing a busi­ness op­por­tu­nity by re­serv­ing one screen­ing this week­end for women to see a su­per­hero movie,” said Mr. Adler in his let­ter.

Fans of “Won­der Woman” point out that Ms. Gadot played the same part in last year’s “Bat­man v Su­per­man” with no po­lit­i­cal out­cry over her two-year stint as an Is­raeli sol­dier.

Not sur­pris­ingly, she’s been em­braced in Is­rael: The Azrieli Tow­ers in Tel Aviv dis­played a mes­sage for her this week in lights, say­ing, “We’re proud of you Gal Gadot” and “Our Won­der Woman,” ac­cord­ing to The Jerusalem Post.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

HERO OR VIL­LAIN? “Won­der Woman” star Gal Gadot stands at the cross­roads of be­ing cel­e­brated as an em­pow­ered fe­male role model, though sup­port­ers of Pales­tine de­cry her time in Is­rael’s army.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Is­raeli ac­tress Gal Gadot’s por­trayal of Won­der Woman has put her at the cen­ter of “in­ter­sec­tion­al­ity” ar­gu­ments, which refers to pro­gres­sives’ de­clared unity for “op­pressed peo­ple,” even those in Pales­tine. How­ever, some fem­i­nists cheer her on.

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