A social media campaign to ban the screening of the upcoming Warner Bros. film “Wonder Woman” in Lebanese theaters claimed victory Wednesday. It was a reminder that anti-Israel sentiment still courses through Lebanon a decade after the last war between the two countries.
The film's eponymous role is played by Gal Gadot, an Israeli who like most of her compatriots did two years of compulsory service in the Israel Defense Force. She served in the 2006 war, during which the IDF and Hezbollah-aligned militias in Lebanon traded heavy missile fire for more than a month. More than 1,000 Lebanese civilians died in the conflict, and more than 1 million were displaced from their homes. On the Israel side, more 165 people were killed, including 44 civilians, and more than 300,000 were displaced.
The news that the film was banned came just two hours before its scheduled release in 15 theaters across Lebanon. Israeli products are officially boycotted in Lebanon, and anyone who has visited Israel, let alone is a citizen of the country, is barred from entry.
Social media posts that gained traction in Lebanon opened a window to painful memories from the 2006 war.
Banning her doesn't begin to describe how we feel. The sounds of warplanes and falling shells on my town still follow me everywhere.
— Ali (@Ali_Kourani) May 31, 2017
In 2006 Lebanon war, when Hollywood star Gal Gadot was in Israeli military, IDF used illegal white phosphorous bombs https://t.co/ees8C7WBNb
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) May 30, 2017
The main group behind the push for the ban — the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon — rejoiced in a Facebook post, saying, “The israeli Soldier film #WonderWoman has been banned in #Lebanon!”
Earlier films starring Gadot were not banned in Lebanon, including “Batman v Superman,” which introduced Gadot's Wonder Woman character. The film will premiere in the United States on Friday and has received glowing reviews. No other Middle Eastern country has banned it.
Rania Masri, who is affiliated with the social media campaign, told the Associated Press that the ban is about resisting any sense of normalcy in relations between the two countries, which are still officially at war. “First and foremost, she is Israeli. We don’t distinguish between a good Israeli and a bad Israeli,” Masri said.
Meanwhile, entertainment industry analysts are predicting that “Wonder Woman” could be Israel's biggest film debut in years.