Brief note on Gal Gadot’s Zionism and the Wonder Woman movie

gal-gadot-zionist

I don’t care about Gal Godot’s military service or her political views. If Wonder Woman is a good movie, then it’s a good movie.

I don’t want a society in which we automatically boycott people because they’ve taken the other side of current controversies. I have love ones and relatives on every side (there’s more than two) of the ongoing (and seemingly although I hope not literally endless) Israeli/Palestinian dispute. All see the dispute as life-and-death; all find at least some of the opinions they disagree with incomprehensible and maybe even evil.

I want things to get much better for the Palestinian people. But nasty tweets aimed at Gal Gadot don’t do anything to make that happen.

I can see and enjoy movies and TV with actors who I agree with strongly, or who I disagree with strongly. Adam Baldwin is an anti-feminist troll who has never had a well-thought out opinion, but he’s still hilarious in Firefly. Actors are hired to play roles, and art would be poorer if actors with shitty opinions were excluded from the profession. (If they’ve actually committed crimes and harmed people – or, worse, if doing that is an ongoing habit or risk with them – that’s another matter.)

Of course, I understand that many people find it difficult to compartmentalize if they have a direct stake in the issue (whatever the issue is). But most people I’ve seen object to Gadot’s casting based on her politics don’t appear to be Palestinian. (And note, that it’s just the objecting to Gadot’s employment that I find a problem. If someone doesn’t want to see the movie because they find Gadot’s views gross, that’s fine.)

There are always going to be disagreements in society. As long as society is more-or-less free, that will be a constant. But given that we will always be sharing society with those who are so terribly, terribly wrong (and they’d say the same about us), how should we handle that? Would it be better to live in a society in which disagreeing with a person on an issue means holding all their works in contempt? Because that seems to be what some people prefer.

Use this thread to discuss the issues in the post, or heck, just use it to discuss the Wonder Woman movie.

(Another Wonder Woman related issue: The studio has given Wonder Woman a much lower budget than comparable movies with male leads, which certainly seems like sexism. On the other hand, the lower budget may be to Wonder Woman’s advantage.)

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22 Responses to Brief note on Gal Gadot’s Zionism and the Wonder Woman movie

  1. 1
    pillsy says:

    (And note, that it’s just the objecting to Gadot’s employment that I find a problem. If someone doesn’t want to see the movie because they find Gadot’s views gross, that’s fine.)

    I’m having a hard time figuring out what this sentence means in the context of the article.

  2. 2
    Humble Talent says:

    I have to admit, I’m not entirely familiar with the term “zionist”. A cursory Google search leads me to believe that someone is called a Zionist when they think that Isreal has a right to exist. If I’m wrong, let me know. But if I’m not wrong… Isn’t there at least undercurrents of anti-semitism in play here?

  3. 3
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    pillsy says:
    May 26, 2017 at 7:00 am

    (And note, that it’s just the objecting to Gadot’s employment that I find a problem. If someone doesn’t want to see the movie because they find Gadot’s views gross, that’s fine.)

    I’m having a hard time figuring out what this sentence means in the context of the article.

    Amp is objecting to organized boycotts and targeting third-party employment, but is not objecting to personal boycotts or personal decisions re employment.

    Compare:
    “I don’t want to see a Polanski movie because I dislike Polanski; therefore I won’t attend, buy, or otherwise support him.”

    to

    “I don’t want anyone to see a Polanski movie because I think everyone should dislike Polanski; therefore I will start an anti-Polanski web page, and will post a lot of tweets about how horrible Polanski is, and will threaten to boycott theaters that show Polanski films, and…”

  4. 4
    pillsy says:

    @Humble Talent:

    But if I’m not wrong… Isn’t there at least undercurrents of anti-semitism in play here?

    It’s complicated! Being a Zionist doesn’t map cleanly to being Jewish, for one thing. I think anti-Zionist positions often–but not always–implicitly support some “structural” anti-semitism [1], if you will, and there’s a tendency for some people to try to frame blatant anti-semitism as anti-Zionistm.

    That being said, the first Tweet in Amp’s screenshot really skeeved me out.

    @gin-and-whisky:

    Oh, OK. So it’s the same thing I disagree with Amp about every time this subject comes up, then. :D

    [1] Occasional Alas commenter David Schraub his written a lot about this at his blog.

  5. 5
    Ben Lehman says:

    I’ve never been entirely clear on what people’s objection to Gal Gadot is. From what I understand from context, it’s that she did Israeli military service? In which case, that’s basically equivalent to “she’s Israeli.” (A scan of wikipedia seems to confirm this — she has never made a public statement re: Zionism at all.) Which is inescapably anti-Semitic.

    If she’s out doing fundraisers or speeches for Likud or Israel Our Home, then, sure, that’s a difference of political opinion. But simply being an Israeli? That’s bland, perfectly ordinary racism.

  6. 6
    Humble Talent says:

    But simply being an Israeli? That’s bland, perfectly ordinary racism.

    Again… I’m going to step gingerly because I’m still not completely clear on what a “zionist” is, or what it means to be “Anti-Zionist”, but that’s my impression as well. I am, however, fairly familiar with the BDS movement which seems at a glance more than tangentally related.

    It’s why I have a really hard time taking seriously American Democrats who seem to think all of a sudden that anti-semitism is a huge problem. Don’t get me wrong: It is. Year over year Jews in America report hate crimes at rates significantly higher than any other demographic. Which Democrats, not all, but I’d argue most, ignored and instead held BDS close to their chest. It hits me as…. disgustingly opportunistic to purport to care now… Although if genuine… I’ll take it.

  7. 7
    Ben Lehman says:

    To expand: if two people have both expressed political opinions, and those opinions differ, that’s a political disagreement.

    If one person is simply existing, and another person expresses a political opinion, and the one person’s existence and the other’s political opinion differ, that’s bigotry.

    If Gal Gadot was making political statements, that would be one thing. But she’s not. The objection to Gal Gadot is that she is Israeli, not that she holds any particular opinion. Don’t frame bigotry as “political disagreement.” It’s not.

  8. 8
    Ampersand says:

    Ben:

    I wrote this post a couple of months ago, and somehow forgot to post it; I noticed it while looking for something else yesterday, and posted it, adding a bit at the end about the funding of the WW movie.

    My memory is that, at the time, Gadot had stated a political opinion of some sort about Israel and Palestine, which is what galvanized the anti-Gadot remarks.

    However, I can’t find it now, and it was months ago. And I could have had a wrong impression at the time. If they were only objecting to her nationality, then you’re completely right, and this post is very badly framed.

  9. 9
    Charles S says:

    She posted a public statement in support of the Israeli war with Gaza in 2014, which seems unexceptional for an Israeli quasi-public figure, but more than just being an Israeli who was required to serve in the IDF.

  10. 10
    Chris says:

    Assuming that Gadot hasn’t made any public political statements, I’m with Ben. And I think that’s a safe assumption at this point; if she had said anything particularly controversial about the Israel/Palestine conflict, I think many of us here would have heard about it.

    Humble, in this case I would say the term “Zionist” is being used in an anti-Semitic way. In fact, given the constant use of the term by the alt-right and others on the left and right who believe in a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, I frankly find the term unsalvegeable at this point–as soon as I hear it I begin to suspect the speaker is anti-Semitic.

    The people complaining on the basis that they’re pro-Palestinian are more likely on the left and associated with movements like BDS, which are also deeply anti-Semitic. There are good critiques of Israeli policy, but using the term “Zionist” is a red flag for me that those critiques will come with an undercurrent of anti-Semitism.

    I also agree with those above that condemning an Israeli for serving in her country’s army is absurd.

    EDIT: I posted at the same time as Charles. That public statement doesn’t really change my opinion, though.

  11. 11
    Ben Lehman says:

    Charles: Thanks, Alexis pointed that out to me as well, and I was coming here to correct it.

  12. 12
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Ben Lehman says:
    If one person is simply existing, and another person expresses a political opinion, and the one person’s existence and the other’s political opinion differ, that’s bigotry.

    With this analysis the outcome is predictable: each side will attempt to include all of their political preferences in the definition of “simple existence.” It tags your opponent as a bigot (or anti-semite, or whatever) and you no longer have to defend your preferences. This is also why people spend more time arguing “XXX is a human right”, for example, and less time arguing “we should raise taxes and provide XXX to everyone.”

    It’s common everywhere of course but it is certainly going on a lot with Israel and Palestine, and with accusations of zionism and anti-semitism.

  13. 13
    Ortvin Sarapuu says:

    @Chris: “Humble, in this case I would say the term “Zionist” is being used in an anti-Semitic way. In fact, given the constant use of the term by the alt-right and others on the left and right who believe in a Jewish conspiracy to control the world, I frankly find the term unsalvegeable at this point–as soon as I hear it I begin to suspect the speaker is anti-Semitic.”

    Zionist is hardly a term limited to critics of Israel. Many Israelis describe themselves as Zionists. In 2015, nearly 800,000 Israelis (18% of those eligible to vote) voted for a political party called the ‘Zionist Union’. The World Zionist Congress is held regularly and attracts thousands of attendees from mainstream Israeli society. Should these groups change their name to avoid being associated with the usages you’ve mentioned above?

  14. Most broadly speaking, Zionism is Jewish nationalism, though the implications of that phrase will differ tremendously depending on who uses it and how they deploy it. Leaving out the obviously antisemitic usages on both the left and the right, the Jewish nationalism of someone like Gadot, who was born and raised in the Jewish State of Israel, the meaning of Zionism will be different–and complex in different ways–than it will for someone who does not live in Israel, has no plans to live in Israel, but who sees the Jews, wherever they live, as nonetheless a single people with origins in the nation that existed however many thousands of years ago in the area we now call Israel/Palestine, and for whom the current State of Israel is as much a symbol of that kind of nationhood as anything else; and it will be different for the Holocaust survivor–and probably also the children and grandchildren of survivors–for whom the existence of Israel as a Jewish State represents survival on a visceral level that is inaccessible to me.

    My point in parsing this out is simply to suggest that I think it’s important when talking about Zionism to remember that different things are at stake for people who call themselves Zionist depending on who they are, where they’re talking from, and why they are talking. To take the example of Hamas and the invasion of Gaza, which I opposed both times Israel did it. It is one thing to sit here in States and oppose it with whatever rhetoric and action one might take; it is quite something else to suggest that the opposition of an Israeli in Israel, to experience Hamas a neighboring government that (until just recently) called explicitly for Israel’s destruction and for the elimination of Jews from that land, is precisely the same oppositional stance.

    I realize I have gotten off on this tangent before I said what I really wanted to say, which was something like this: the Zionism of an Israeli is going to be inextricably linked with the idea of patriotism in a way that, were I to call myself a Zionist, it would never be for me. That difference it seems to me, matters when we talk about Zionism in discussions like this.

  15. 15
    Seriously? says:

    Horrible, horrible woman.

    She dares being an Israeli citizen who served in their army, and then expressed support for the boys and girls who risked their lives at a time where Hamas and Israel were at its other’s throats… a time at which Hamas did not recognize Israel’s right to exist, period.

    Sarcasm aside, if I thought there was anything wrong with her, I’d probably have to throw myself in a thresher.

  16. 16
    RonF says:

    Really?

    People pay that much attention to the political and social opinions of actors and actresses that they know that the lead actress in Wonder Woman is a Zionist?

    I realize that there’s a fair amount (and thus entirely too much, in my opinion) of media coverage on this kind of thing. But I didn’t realize that this was all THAT widespread.

    Or is this simply a small group of people who are trying to drive any actor or actress who dares to be guilty of wrongthink out of show business?

  17. 17
    nobody.really says:

    Around 200 C.E., the early Christian theologian Tertullian stated that when reason or philosophy conflicts with religious texts, the texts should prevail. “For what hath Athens to do with Jerusalem, or the Academy with the Church? “

    In the 1930s the existentialist Lev Shestov would revive this theme in his Athens and Jerusalem, arguing that man’s freedom is not constrained by divine foreknowledge, or even by reason. Thereafter Leo Strauss would take up the Athens/Jerusalem dichotomy, noting the tension between reason and faith that resided within many (all?) people.

    Now we find out that Wonder Woman is secretly the Greek goddess Diana AND a Zionist? Apparently Athens has more to do with Jerusalem than we’d thought.

  18. 18
    RonF says:

    That sounds a lot like Anglican theologian and priest Richard Hooker’s formulation – often but quite inaccurately called a “3-legged stool”. He said:

    What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience are due; the next whereunto, is what any man can necessarily conclude by force of Reason; after this, the voice of the church succeedeth.

  19. 19
    RonF says:

    … a time where Hamas and Israel were at its other’s throats… a time at which Hamas did not recognize Israel’s right to exist, period.

    I was not aware that those times had passed.

  20. 20
    LTL FTC says:

    I was not aware that those times had passed.

    When given the choice between prosperity and increased freedom for the Palestinian people and attempting to kill as many Jewish children as possible, Hamas picks the dead Jews every. single. time.

  21. 21
    B B says:

    How would we have felt about a south African backer of apartheid playing wonder woman in the 1980s? I’d have been disgusted. Sadly there is apartheid in Palestine and Gal Gadot backs it, as we can see from her posts backing the brave boys and girls of the Israeli army during their indiscriminate slaughter of Women and children in 2014. Warner Bros have got the casting of wonder woman wrong and that is very sad.

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