Hollywood’s Israel problem

The truth about Palestine is definitely not coming to a theatre near you.

Wonder Woman
Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who has played an outsized role in whitewashing the Israeli occupation and predilection for mass killing, was applauded by Time Magazine as one of world’s 100 most influential people in 2018 [Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File]

It’s that time of year again: when Hollywood’s thought police undertake to ensure that American celebrity culture remains firmly in the service of the Zionist narrative.

In one prominent case, actress Melissa Barrera – a star of the horror film franchise Scream – was recently fired from her role in the next instalment of the series for posting on social media about Israel’s latest real-life horror show in the Gaza Strip.

Since October 7, the Israeli military has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians in Gaza, among them more than 6,000 children. Barrera’s crimes included calling for a ceasefire and quoting Israeli historian Raz Segal, an Israeli professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Stockton University in New Jersey, who has argued that Israel’s current behaviour constitutes a “textbook case of genocide”.

The Spyglass Media Group production company was responsible for the firing, contending that Barrera’s social media posts on Palestine were anti-Semitic. After all, there is nothing more anti-Semitic than quoting an Israeli genocide scholar on the topic of genocide.

In its writeup of the Barrera episode, Newsweek magazine felt compelled to state that “some critics of Zionism have argued the creation of Israel forced Palestinians off their land in what is called the Nakba”. This is the equivalent, in terms of ludicrousness, of stating that “some critics of meteorology have argued that hurricanes don’t exist”.

Given the established fact that the creation of the state of Israel entailed the destruction of some 500 Palestinian villages, the slaughter of more than 10,000 Palestinians, and the expulsion of 750,000 more, it seems Newsweek has taken a page from the Hollywood playbook of diluting criticism of Israel.

Barrera is not the only Hollywood star to come under fire for defying the Zionist script. In November, actress Susan Sarandon was dropped as a client by United Talent Agency (UTA) after speaking at a pro-Palestinian rally. And actor Mark Ruffalo, who during Israel’s May 2021 bout of slaughter in Gaza was forced to apologise for invoking the term “genocide”, has once again come to occupy Zionist social media crosshairs for opining that neither Palestinian nor Israeli children should suffer.

Meanwhile, many more complicit A-listers have tripped over themselves to “stand with Israel”. At the outset of the war, actress Jamie Lee Curtis shared a photo of Palestinian children fleeing Israeli bombs but mistakenly cast them as Israeli children subjected to Palestinian “terror from the skies”.

Anyway, the movie industry is all about making up stories, right?

For her part, the Israeli beauty queen-turned-Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot took to Instagram to rally support for what has turned into a nonstop massacre in Gaza: “I stand with Israel you should too”.

Gadot, who has played an outsized role in whitewashing the Israeli occupation and predilection for mass killing, was applauded by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2018 and was once hailed by former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as a “true and beloved ambassador” for the state of Israel.

Call her Israel’s not-so-secret weapon.

Speaking of weapons, Gadot appeared on the cover of Maxim magazine in 2007 as part of a photoshoot of female Israeli soldiers in bikinis and other scanty attire. Who said ethnic cleansing wasn’t sexy?

The Maxim photo spread propelled Gadot’s fame and wealth; she and her husband Jason Varsano later launched their very own production company, Pilot Wave, which is now involved in Gadot’s much-anticipated silver screen interpretation of Cleopatra – sure to be a box office hit for Orientalist showbiz.

Israel’s onscreen image also got a boost in 2022 when Disney’s Marvel Studios announced that the forthcoming film Captain America: New World Order would feature a character named Sabra, a member of Israel’s notoriously criminal spy agency Mossad. As I pointed out at the time, this Disney venture amounted to putting a superheroine’s cape on state savagery.

Why, then, does Hollywood have such an Israel problem? To be sure, there is no need to resort to conspiracy theories to explain the film industry’s affection for a state synonymous with oppression; quite simply, Israel’s very special relationship with the United States means that the exaltation of Israel in pop culture directly serves US foreign policy goals.

And the propaganda campaign is so relentless that, when the likes of socialites Paris Hilton and Kendall Jenner stage brief shows of compassion for the Palestinian cause on social media, the posts are quickly deleted.

Among Zionism’s favourite celebrity targets are supermodel sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, whose father Mohamed was born in Palestine in 1948 – the same year “some critics” argue that the creation of Israel upended Palestinian existence, to borrow Newsweek’s diplomatic words.

In 2021, the sisters were smeared along with British singer Dua Lipa in a full-page New York Times advertisement implicitly accusing them of endorsing a “second Holocaust” of Jews perpetrated by Hamas. Now, Bella has reported receiving continuous death threats for expressing solidarity with Palestinians under bombardment, as Israel’s propaganda machine has so warped reality that just calling for a ceasefire has been elevated to a greater crime than annihilating a good portion of the population of the Gaza Strip.

And in characteristically mature fashion, the state of Israel’s official Instagram account has lashed out at Gigi, insinuating that by pleading for peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, she was “turning a blind eye to Jewish babies being butchered in their homes”.

Now, as Palestinian babies and larger humans continue to be butchered at a terrifying rate and the Israeli army conducts a most cinematic apocalypse in the Gaza Strip, one wishes that Hollywood stars and other famous folks weren’t so deeply embedded in the Zionist trenches. But for the time being, at least, the truth is definitely not coming to a theatre near you.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.