With her announcement that she will play Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, in an upcoming film, Israeli actress Gal Gadot was the recipient of some deranged criticism.
Criticism ranged from those saying a Jew should not play the part of an Egyptian to others who claim that a “white” Israeli displaced Arab or black actresses who should have gotten the part.
The anti-Israel, anti-Semitic attacks against Gadot — who rose to international stardom for her role as Wonder Woman — even slammed her “bland” looks, which are anything but.
“Which Hollywood dumbass thought it would be a good idea to cast an Israeli actress as Cleopatra (a very bland looking one) instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim? And shame on you, Gal Gadot. Your country steals Arab land and you’re stealing their movie roles,” Sameera Khan asked on Twitter.
Of course, I can answer that question for Mr. Khan. Movies are about making money. Gal Gadot is one of the biggest stars in the world right now. If she makes a film, people will come because they like her. She reaches out to her fans on Instagram and tries, as much as a Hollywood star can, to be very real. She has wisely build her brand.
As for Nadine Njeim—I am sure she is fantastic, but completely unknown in the western world. The studio would lose millions of dollars, and dollars are what people use to buy stuff. Not everyone in Hollywood is a millionaire and these funds go to pay the salaries of many normal folks who work in that industry from the disabled fellow who tears your ticket (do they still do that? I have not been to a movie theater in years…) to the guy who overcharges you for popcorn. That Mr. Khan is the cold hard truth and how capitalism works. Hopefully one day Ms. Njeim will be as marketable as our Israeli Wonder Woman.
Though Cleopatra was Greek, not actually Egyptian, was lost on most of the critics. And then again, when that fact came to light, it didn’t matter.
“Yeah Cleopatra was Greek. I get it. But casting a Zionist whose family is Polish/Austrian/Czech as the queen of Egypt in 2020?” Randa Jarrar responded on Twitter.
But something tells me that if they cast a non-Middle Eastern American, as they normally do, Randa Jarrar would not care. She only cares because Gadot is Israeli and a proud “Zionist.”
An editorial in The Jerusalem Post noted that this sentiment has pushed all actors and actresses who are Jewish into a corner of only being able to play European or Western roles. It doesn’t take into account that Jews can be from Arab, African and Asian countries and that many Israelis have several generations that have grown up in the land of Israel. My wife’s family came from North African country of Morocco. I wish they had chosen her!
“The message is clear: Jews are not permitted to play the role of a pagan Greek queen of Egypt from 2,000 years ago,” the article said. “It doesn’t matter that Jews have lived in Egypt for thousands of years. And it doesn’t matter that Jews lived in Greece: They can never play Cleopatra. And it doesn’t matter where Gadot’s family is from, even if they were from Jerusalem for 3,000 years. The message is that being Jewish or ‘Zionist’ means one can play no roles of anyone from the Middle East – or even from southern Europe.”
I wonder how people would react if an Israeli Jew were to be cast as Jesus. There would be outrage, I am sure, even though Jesus is an Israeli Jew!
The article draws the connection that such a line of thinking is reminiscent of the Inquisition.
“The new Inquisition is apparently to always police the Jews. Jews are ‘white’ when white means ‘privileged.’ They are non-white when non-white means being sent to gas chambers,” the article continues. “Wherever Jews are, except in Israel, they are policed for how they look, and they are always told that they have the ‘wrong’ look. Not Arab enough to be a Greek Egyptian queen from 2,000 years ago. But also not Greek enough to be an Egyptian queen and also not Egyptian enough, even if their ancestors have been in Egypt 2,000 years.”