Okay. It’s time to drag out the old soapbox again. This one might actually cost me readers, but I feel strongly about this issue: Gal Gadot.
Some of the criticism she has been receiving lately—from her very portrayal of Wonder Woman, to her support for women in the “me too” movement, to her support for gun control—has been quite harsh. And all of the criticism seems to focus on one thing: the fact that she’s an Israeli Jew.
Perhaps my own perception is skewed; after all, I am, myself, Jewish. But I am getting tired of the barbs being levelled at Gal simply for her being who she is (Yes, that’s a slight oversimplification. Hear me out.).
Many will not accept her support for women, because as an Israeli, she oppresses Palestinian women. Many will not accept her stance on gun control in America, because as an Israeli, she’s a child murderer. Many will not accept her playing a character who stands for the downtrodden and disenfranchised, as Diana does, because as an Israeli, she’s an occupier, an oppressor, and a stealer of other people’s land. She is condemned because as an Israeli, she happens to support her own country’s military, and because she served, and served as a combat instructor. And now here’s what upsets me—
First off, everyone serves. There is mandatory service for all in Israel. So the fact that she served in the IDF means that she was a good citizen. She did not, after all, become a career soldier. This alone should not be drawing such opprobrium upon her.
Second, she publically supported the IDF during the operations in Gaza in 2014. Now, do I think that the Israeli response to Hamas might have been excessive? Sure. On the other hand, I do not live within the range of Qassam rockets, and I do not have to deal with infiltration of my own homeland. Yes, Israel is far more powerful than Hamas; but how many rockets and attempted terrorist acts are they expected to absorb? And Gal was correct in her noting that Hamas hides behind women and children as shields. They set up their launch sites in school courtyards, or on the roofs of hospitals, counting on this to protect them, relying on the civilized nature of their opponents. Is Israel expected to leave itself open and defenseless in the face of these tactics?
Now, all this said thus far, do I approve of Netanyahu’s government? Absolutely not. Do I approve of the Settler movement trying to grab up all the remaining Palestinian land, destroying olive groves and crops, and attacking their Palestinian neighbors? Absolutely not. Do I think that Israeli public opinion concerning the Palestinians is toxic? Absolutely it is. While I call myself a Zionist, I see no reason why we shouldn’t all be able to get along and share the land—my own concern is that it is the religious fringes on both sides preventing us from actually coming together and entering in upon a reasonable agreement.
But attacking Gadot as if she were somehow responsible for Israeli government policy is not fair. She’s a prominent figure, a celebrity, so yes; she’s an easy target. As Jews, throughout most of modern history, we have been hounded out of countries, hunted, slandered, vilified, and murdered, because of who we are. Gal’s grandparents were survivors of the Shoah; why wouldn’t she support a defense force that after so many centuries allowed us to stand up without fear amongst the nations? And why should it be wrong?
Here’s another thing—has anyone thought to ask if Gadot’s opinions on military policy have changed at all over the years? Or has anyone thought to ask her for clarification on her views? Is it not possible for a person’s attitudes and beliefs to evolve?
I have personal friends who have served in the Golani brigade. While they support their country, and their military, they do not all want to destroy the Palestinians. –In fact, one friend of mine came very close to beating the shit out of his CO during a tour in the West Bank, because he had dragged an old man out of his house and was humiliating him in front of his own family.
Yes, it is true that when you keep a large population under ward, it brutalizes the wardens as well as the prisoners. This is a mutual trap that we must escape.
But my whole point here is that judging Gal Gadot for simply loving her country, and doing her duty as a citizen is not fair. By all means, criticize government policy. Let’s have a debate on the occupation. But this criticism of Gadot for simply being an Israeli citizen is frightfully annoying to me. My own feelings about the relationship between Israel and Palestine can be read here.