Screenings of Hollywood superhero blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” starring former Miss Israel Gal Gadot in the titular role, are set to be canceled in Lebanon, following a months-long public boycott campaign.
State-run National News Agency announced the ban Tuesday, while an anonymous state security official told AP that it had not yet been made official, but a six-person committee at the Ministry of Economy and Trade was expected to rubber stamp the revocation of a screening license. The official cited Gadot’s nationality as the reason for the prohibition.
Promotional materials for the $120 million US film were plastered around the streets of Beirut, and a premiere showing was scheduled for Thursday.
Thirty two-year-old Gadot completed two years of compulsory service in the IDF, and in 2014, as the height of the Israeli incursion in Gaza, tweeted a message sending “love and prayers” to Israeli soldiers “risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas.”
Lebanon has officially been at war with Israel since the 1948 war, and has passed legislation that allows it to boycott products from its southern neighbor, though previous Gadot films, such as the Fast & Furious series, avoided the attention of the censors, who frequently ban foreign productions, including this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, “Moonlight.”
But this time, the local branch of the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which looks to place Israel in international economic and cultural isolation due to its treatment of Palestinians, has made a concerted effort to secure an official response. The organization sent a letter to the Boycott of Israel Office at the Ministry of Economy and Trade, as well as publicizing Gadot’s “Zionist” stance on its Facebook page.
Lebanese BDS previously attempted to thwart the showing of last year’s “Batman vs Superman” film, which starred Gadot in a bit-part role, also as Wonder Woman, but its efforts were unsuccessful.
If Wonder Woman is banned, there exists no formal procedure to launch an appeal, as screening licenses are often withdrawn on unclear criteria, as was seen when an Egyptian fictional film about a Muslim cleric, who becomes a celebrity, and a local film about Lebanese friends discussing their complex identities, were not given screening licenses for a film festival earlier this year.
Wonder Woman is still set to open in other countries across the Middle East this week.