Why did Lebanon ban the new film Wonder Woman, and why does this new superhero make anti-Semites nervous? Here’s the secret behind Wonder Woman: she’s an Israeli, and proud of it.
Already a massive success, D.C. Comics Wonder Woman has been drawing lots of attention. This is partially due to the controversies that have arisen around Gal Gadot, the Israeli actress playing Diana Prince, and her outspoken, Zionist stance. Much like the character she portrays, Gadot has weathered the many attacks against her beliefs and continued to speak her mind.
The daughter of two native Israelis and granddaughter to Holocaust survivors, Gadot grew up with a strong sense of her Israeli and Jewish identity. In a 2011 interview, she spoke of what her heritage and culture meant to her. “I definitely have a strong sense of my Jewish and Israeli identity. I did my two-year military service; I was brought up in a very Jewish, Israeli family environment, so of course my heritage is very important to me.”
As an act of protest, Lebanon chose to ban the showing of Wonder Woman within their country. The producers of Wonder Woman refused to let Gadot’s response to the Lebanon ban go public, but she continues to speak of her home and upbringing with pride and will likely continue to do so regardless of anyone’s response.
Because of her nationality, heritage, and role as Wonder Woman, Gadot is in a position of extraordinary influence. She has the potential to affect the perspectives and opinions of thousands. She is far from ignorant about her newfound responsibility. Knowing that children for generations to come will look to her for inspiration, Gadot stated “I feel that I've got the opportunity to set a great role model for girls to look up to a strong, active, compassionate, loving, positive woman, and I think it's so important.”
In addition to her superhero influence over the children of the world, the very fact that she is an Israeli gives her an opportunity to influence the world’s opinion of Israel. “I want people to have a good impression of Israel. I don't feel like I'm an ambassador for my country, but I do talk about Israel a lot. I enjoy telling people about where I come from and my religion.”
In Wonder Woman, Diana Prince sets out to put a stop to Ares, the god of war. Not surprisingly, people have contrasted Diana’s anti-war views with Gadot’s open support of the IDF. In an interview with Glamour Magazine, she brilliantly outlined her perspective on the IDF and what her time in service meant to her: “Let me start by saying, I wish no country had the need for an army. But in Israel serving is part of being an Israeli. You’ve got to give back to the state. You give two or three years, and it’s not about you. You give your freedom away. You learn discipline and respect.”
Her love for her country is by no means unrequited. Just before the release of the film, the Azrieli towers in Tel Aviv lit up with the message “We are proud of you, Gal Gadot. Our Wonder Woman.” A courageous and outspoken woman who is unafraid to live by her own values, Gadot is sure to inspire individuals and nations alike for years to come.