Gal Gadot isn’t a Wonder Woman for all

Gal Gadot is not the Wonder Woman we all love on screen as she is off screen

Seven months after the release of Wonder Woman, I find myself at odds with the actress behind the woman, Gal Gadot.

I absolutely loved the film. I believe that it was a step forward in the superhero genre that is a predominantly male lead world; A film with not only a female lead actress, but also a female director, Patty Jenkins. The film itself was well shot, beautifully directed, and honestly just a great film overall. The film came at a time where there were doubts about the success of DC universe’s film adaptations. Wonder Woman came to end the streak of poorly done DC universe films (Suicide Squad and Batman v. Superman to name a few).

If you haven’t heard the backlash against Gadot, I’ll summarize it here for you. Prior to her fame as Wonder Woman, she served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for two years. After her service, she won the Miss Israel beauty pageant in 2004 and then entered the Miss Universe pageant the same year. Afterwards she went on to study law, and eventually became an actress in other films such as Fast & Furious.

What sparked the problem behind Gadot being cast as Wonder Woman was a Facebook post she made in 2014 which said the following: “I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. 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…We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom! #weareright#freegazafromhamas #stopterror#coexistance #loveidf”

Her post came at the time that Operation Protective Edge was being executed along the Gaza Strip which, according to BBC, resulted in 2,104 Palestinian deaths, including 1,462 civilians, of which included 495 children and 253 women, along with 66 Israeli soldiers, and 7 remaining civilians in Israel. Now, whether Gadot was making her post about this attack is unclear. However it can be understood as a reaction to it nonetheless.

This is troubling. From a personal standpoint, I have not been an activist nor have I been an outspoken individual about the conflict. Unless people ask me about it, then I explain it. When I read about it, I get just as frustrated and upset as anyone else who understands the conflict would. However, there is a big issue with Gadot’s support for this mission that I don’t think is being discussed enough.

The issue about Gadot making this post supporting her military is that without having to explicitly say it, she’s supporting the slaughtering of innocent Palestinians. Though the mission was deemed to be an operation to fight the evils of Hamas within the Gaza Strip, the death toll speaks for itself.

Think about it, 1,462 civilians. Civilians like you and me, who walk the street, whose lives were taken away in an instant. Just gone.

Gadot’s support for her military during this operation is troubling because she also is playing a character whose prime objective in the universe is to protect life, fight against the murder of innocent people, and to be a symbol and role model for women around the world. She’s playing a character meant to empower women from everywhere. Wonder Woman suddenly became an inspiration and an embodiment of the strength women have on this world.

How can the character of Wonder Woman be played by an actress who has openly supported the murder of innocent Palestinians? The very same Wonder Woman who fights Nazi Soldiers in Germany to protect innocent children from the regime.

I do find it to be hypocritical. As a comic book fanatic and film geek, I’m disappointed because there are young girls who are currently looking up to Gadot as an idol. She’s someone who has changed the lives of so many young girls, and they want to emulate everything she is both and off the set. Though, she’s forgotten about the Palestinian girls that were brutally murdered by the military she supports.

This is a clear example of why inclusion not only matters on the screen, but off screen as well. I’m not asking for Gadot’s career to suffer over this but I’m asking for a discussion—for her to be aware of the issue at hand. Her support for the turmoil, destruction, and the acts of genocide by the military she supports has destroyed the lives of young Palestinian girls who want to be Wonder Women. Gadot’s support for the military’s actions is contradictory to everything she aims to represent with Wonder Woman.

The issue of Gadot supporting the IDF for their actions toward the Palestinian people and her role as Wonder Woman has been brushed under the rug. It’s upsetting because while we—including myself—complain and fight back against a racist, sexually aggressive man holding one of the strongest political offices in the world, we forget that it isn’t just those in office who we need to be criticizing.

Wonder Woman is a character that I deeply love and I hope she continues to be an inspiration for young girls from all over the world. Her message is to give women the inspiration to show their strength against a world dominated by men. She’s a symbol of hope and of inclusion with aims to bring all of the wonder women out from the fog of a male-dominated society. These are just a few things that Wonder Woman stands for.

However, Gadot has proved through her continuous support for the IDF that she is against that. You don’t get to pick and choose which group of women deserve to be empowered in the world. You want to empower women, Gadot? Then empower all of them including the murdered girls and women laying in their graves in Palestine that your beloved military put there. Realize that there is a massive problem when the death toll of innocent civilians in a raid to “eliminate” Hamas is more than half of the overall death toll.

Wonder Woman was a powerful film that was well done by all those who had a hand in making it. This op-ed isn’t a discussion of Gadot’s character or her personality. This was a piece to make those who are blind to the disgusting, immoral, and downright terrible events happening all over our world more aware. Gadot’s Facebook post about the IDF was a poignant example of her using her status and power as a celebrity to create even more of divide between our world. So, I say to you Gadot, if you really want us to #Stopterror and #freegazafromHamas, then wake up and realize that your beloved military is the very thing stopping Gaza from being free and allowing terror to exist.

If you really want us to #Coexist, learn to do so with the Palestinians that are being slaughtered every day in Israel’s backyard. If we really want to start talking about inclusion of women in film and television, start including women who empower both on and off the screen. Give us a Wonder Woman who includes all women, not someone who wants to be a symbol for women’s empowerment in front of a camera, whilst supporting the murder of innocent people through social media or behind a uniform—whether it’s a military one or Wonder Woman’s.

 

YOURS,
MAHMOUD SAROUJI