Justice League Is Banned In Lebanon Because Of Gal Gadot (Again)

Surprise, surprise, but the second DC Comics movie released this year will also be banned in our wonderful homeland because Gal Gadot is in it. Again.

Following the mini-national crisis that spilled over internationally with Lebanon becoming the first country in the world to ban Wonder Woman earlier in June because of Gal Gadot’s Israeli background, our censorship bureau is doing the same thing with Justice League, the movie in which Gal Gadot’s character is not front and center.

It seems that after being dormant for many years on Gal Gadot, Lebanon’s censorship bureau is up in full swing, banning anything related to her from being commercially available in the country. After allowing all the Fast & Furious movies she was in, and Batman v Superman (horrible as it was), she has become a persona non grata.

Someone needs to tell them that in the age of the internet, her movies are available to stream/rent/download everywhere. I’m willing to bet the same people who were calling to ban Wonder Woman months ago were the first to buy the cheap bootleg DVD when it became available at their nearest pirated DVD store.

Gal Gadot will not pop up from that movie screen, strut an Israeli flag, tell you about her country, and then sing their national anthem. Gal Gadot’s existence in a movie is not a propaganda to her state. She has already gotten paid for the movie, has already made millions off of it, and will be making millions more with the sequel to Wonder Woman, the sequel to Justice League, and other movies that feature her, which will also be banned in Lebanon, of course. This ban is not an opposition to Israel. Israel doesn’t give a rat’s ass about a movie featuring one of its citizens being banned in a small market in a country it’s at war with.

Censorship is not okay in any form. It removes our semblance of a choice because someone decided something is not good for us. It hasn’t been a year since Annabelle was banned because a priest didn’t like something about Christianity in it. Call Me By Your Name, a masterpiece of a movie about a queer boy’s first love, is also banned (of course) from being released in cinemas in Lebanon, and the list goes on. By the looks of it, we will never reach a time when a slice of our population won’t be triggered enough by some form of media not to call for it to be banned for everyone else.

It’s ridiculous that an actor’s background, regardless of what that background is, is grounds enough to ban a movie for everyone in the country. You are horrified by Gal Gadot’s existence? You have the choice to boycott whatever she’s in, and leave others the choice to do so or not. We should not be minions, under the auspices of governmental organizations who dictate what we should be exposed to or not, just because some groups in this country’s defiance struts the hypocritical lines of principles more frequently than the amount of times I’ll be called a traitor after publishing this.

When I wrote about Wonder Woman and some of their people wanted to hang me for treason, I wondered why Gal Gadot is so easy for them to ban, while getting rid of other Israel-affiliated items in their lives is not. The answer was: we boycott what we can. A movie won’t matter. Something with components researched and developed in Israel being banned is a nuisance – such as their iPhone. Let’s stop pretending this is about priorities or principles. This is about PR. With Gal Gadot, Lebanon’s BDS have found an easy target to score small “victories” and call themselves triumphant.

Where do we draw the line at what should be banned in this country because of its association with Israel? Or are we going to keep on cherry picking at battles without knowing the relevance of said battle? How the hell is a movie normalization? It’s because it’s so simple to ban and fight.

Priests, homophobes, backward religious laws, BDS, sheikhs, annoyed politicians, etc… the list of lines any entity in this country has to maneuver to exist is becoming ridiculous, with banning decisions that are always made on the week of a movie (or some other entity) being released. Justice League was supposed to be screened this week. Wonder Woman was banned on the day it was released, dealing huge losses to its distributor in the country, a Lebanese company who was counting on the blockbuster to make a summer profit.

Resist what? At this point, nobody really knows what these bans are resisting exactly. Justice League is a fun movie – it’s sad the Lebanese populace will be missing out, until it’s available for a 1,000LL pirated DVD.

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Justin Trudeau’s Government Rejects Request For Direct Flights Between Lebanon and Canada

Remember that Trudeau fellow whose PR-smart maneuvers have made him one of the world’s, if not the world’s most loved politician? From his quirky socks, to his cheeky videos that celebrate everyone, it seems that this politician’s new views are as restricted as his predecessors, at least when it comes to the hope of finally advancing the aviation sector to allow direct flights between Beirut and Montreal.

In a petition started in 2016, by one of Trudeau’s own MPs, Lebanese-Canadian Eva Nassif, the request for direct flights to be started between Beirut and Montreal was made. The petition garnered 4000 signatures and made its way along Canada’s formal political tracts, up until it seemed that there would tangibly be – at least within the next two years – Air Canada flights that work non-stop between those two destinations.

A source in MEA had indicated that for the first two years after the approval of that flight, Air Canada would have had exclusive rights with MEA selling tickets on its airlines, followed by our national carrier being allowed to fly the route later on – 2019 was a presumptive date.

All of this, however, will now not take place as Justin Trudeau’s government has rejected Air Canada’s request for a direct flight, as mentioned in a tweet by Air Canada executive Duncan Bureau:

The refusal was once again cited to be related to security reasons. This is not the first time this happens with a Canadian government. In 2003, Air Canada had begun selling tickets for its inaugural flight between Beirut and Montreal when, at the last moment, the Canadian government pulled the plug on such a flight, citing yet again, security reasons with a senior government official saying it was to safeguard Canada against terrorism.

Direct flights between Beirut and North America have been banned since the 1985 after the TWA plane hijacking in the airport. Of course, 1985 was prime civil war time in Lebanon and it’s been more than 30 years since, but the only amendment to the ban for American airlines to land in BEY and for MEA to fly to the US has been through U.S. president George W. Bush who allowed American governmental planes from landing in Beirut if they need be.

Canada’s fear towards allowing a direct flight from Beirut to its airports are unfounded. Lebanon has not witnesses the airplane terror attacks that, say, Egypt has witnessed only recently and Cairo’s passengers can still fly directly to Montreal. Air Canada also has direct flights to risky areas around the world, such as Tel Aviv, Istanbul, among others.

However, according to the Huffington Post, it seems Canada’s decision is less about its own security woes, and more about not pissing off its southern neighbor, the United States, which maintains – and would probably not alter it anytime soon – the ban against flights entering its airspace, coming straight from Beirut. You’d think that a PM as anti-Trump as Trudeau would at least oppose Trump in more than just empty speeches, with actual action that would serve about half a million Lebanese-Canadian who could use such flights, but no dice.

The story of Lebanese woes with Canadian airports doesn’t stop with direct flights. It transcends it to the fact that we need transit visas to do layovers in their airports, something that many don’t realize until they’ve booked a flight to or from the U.S. by way of YUL, only to be denied boarding in their airport of origin.

Perhaps it’s time that the Lebanese-Canadian lobby pushes for much needed reform to the way their governments are dealing with Lebanon and its people in regards to this particular issue. After all, such flights and ease on transit restrictions are in the economical interest in both countries, and would go a long way in showcasing a Canada that puts its money where its mouth is, instead of empty speeches and cute socks.

Lebanon’s Government Wants To Ban “Wonder Woman” Because Lead Actress Gal Gadot Is Israeli

Oh look, just when you thought we couldn’t regress further as a country, some entity decides to take up the challenge. The latest is Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy deciding, at the very last minute, to start the procedure to ban this summer’s blockbuster movie “Wonder Woman” because its lead actress Gal Gadot is Israeli.

As per a source, Wonder Woman has already passed all forms of regulations for it to get a screen date in Lebanon, which is this coming Thursday, including a very strict censorship bureau and other apparatuses who are more than willing to ax movies than to let them through. And yet, as in typical Lebanese fashion and because we definitely have our priorities in order, Lebanon’s government decided to rise up from its slumber and resist, even though the movie has been announced for over 3 years now.

Resist what? A movie about an iconic superhero who’s been part of pop culture for over 70 years. A movie in which the lead actress happens to be Israeli or has served in the IDF or who is part of an apartheid state, but who’s not portraying ANYTHING related to her “country” in any way whatsoever. A movie that has absolutely nothing to do with Israel in any way, where Israel is not even mentioned or alluded to, and in which the lead actress does nothing to even propagate the idea of her homeland. And yet, her mere existence has some people triggered beyond belief.

You’d think if they want their ban to make the least of sense, they’d have done it a year ago when the movie’s first trailer was released, not in the week of its release after it’s been given a green light, handling massive financial losses to the Lebanese company that won its distribution rights.

In a statement issued today (link in Arabic), Lebanon’s Ministry of Economy – I don’t even know how it’s their job to decide some movies should be censored – said the following:

  • The ministry of Economy has already taken the necessary measures to make sure Gal Gadot’s previous movie, Batman v Superman, was not shown in Lebanese cinemas through a request to the General Directorate of Security dating 13/03/2016.
  • The ministry has also sent a request to the BDS office in Damascus to add Gal Gadot’s name to a blacklist for boycott.
  • On 21/04/2016, the Arab League issued a decree to ban any movie featuring Gal Gadot.
  • On 29/05/2017, the ministry has issued a decree to the General Directorate of Security to start the necessary procedures to ban the movie’s screening.

I don’t know where the people governing us have been living, but Batman v Superman was not banned. In fact, I watched it on a big fat Lebanese screen and many applauded when Gal Gadot’s character came on screen because her character, which also happens to be Wonder Woman in that movie, is badass and worthy of the applause.

Gal Gadot’s was also featured in the Fast and Furious series, multiple times, all of which were not banned as well. Probably because more than a few government official as well as some of those turned up about banning Wonder Woman wanted to see Vin Diesel make those cars roar.

Who knows, maybe their problem isn’t with Gal Gadot being Israeli and having served in the IDF, both of which have no bearing on the movie in question, but rather because the movie features strong independent female characters which our patriarchy cannot propagate?

And let’s not begin with even listening to what the Arab League deems appropriate or not. If we went by anything that lot wanted, we’d be living in the darker ages they’re all enjoying so happily.

What’s next, though? Banning every single movie that dares to be associated in any way with Israel? Banning every actor or actress who’s set foot in Israel? Deciding not to show any feature film that has any entity that remotely agrees with anything Israel does? Why don’t we just ban ourselves from everything commercial in the world and be done with it?

Natalie Portman was born in Israel. No one has a problem with her movies. I’m willing to be those same people calling for Wonder Woman’s ban were more than excited to see Portman in the Star Wars reboot, way back when.

The fact of the matter is that if you have a problem with the content of a movie, the actor or actress leading it or anything pertaining to it, having it banned for everyone else is what’s wrong, not the fact that the actress in it happens to come from an enemy country whose existence we don’t acknowledge. Simply don’t go watch it. Don’t give it the word of mouth it needs. Don’t give it your hard-earned money, call for a boycott, but you sure as hell have no right in making sure no one else gets to watch it too.

The fact that, in the week of Wonder Woman’s release worldwide, the Lebanese media cycle is about the possibility of banning the movie as our government remembers that this movie features an actress we don’t approve of, is sad. Where do we draw the line at what should be banned in this country because of its association with Israel? Or are we going to keep on cherry picking at battles without knowing how to pick them?

Even if they ban Wonder Woman, our government and those who support its decision seem to have forgotten that in the age of the internet, no movie is further than a couple of clicks away. I’m not surprised that they’re not even aware how futile their censorship attempts will be at preventing the propagation of whatever it is they don’t want to propagate.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be making sure to watch Wonder Woman (if they keep her, and even if they don’t). Gal Gadot may be a shitty person and actress, but both are still not enough arguments to ban the movie. Just let me know, when you’re done with the hoopla, if you’ve freed Palestine by banning an irrelevant movie featuring an irrelevant actress with an irrelevant background to an irrelevant story, while Lebanon maintains its oppression of the Palestinians living here.

When A 63 Year Old Militia Member & Minister of Sports & “Youth” Bans MMA in Lebanon For Being “Too Violent”

lebanon-mma

I will never get how a politician whose background is education and who’s nearing the Lebanese legal retirement age has the qualifications to head the Lebanese department of Sports and Youth, but here we are – as usual – and that person is Mohammad Fneish.

The Lebanese minister of sports and youth is usually inconspicuous. They sponsor a few tournaments here and there, issue statements in support of our national teams every now and then, but the sports situation in the country is improving at a pace slower than a snail’s, the clearest indication our athletes not bringing in any medals at the Olympics and barely receiving governmental aid. In fact, those athletes had to pay for some of their expenses at the previous Olympics.

Today, Mohammad Fneish decided that MMA, which stands for mixed martial arts, would be banned in Lebanon and have all its licenses revoked, according to Sports-961. The resolution, which was published yesterday, says the following:

  • Article 1: Resolution 67/1/2016 on 10/4/2012 regarding MMA is annulled, and so the said game becomes one of the non-practiced sports in Lebanon.
  • Article 2: It is prohibited to any party, and under any title, to hold games, competitions and events of MMA or any similar sport in which a cage and violence are used, and that, under the risk of applying the laws in force.
  • Article 3: This resolution will be published and divulged where needed.

Before going into the benefits of a sports like MMA, I can’t but note the irony in anyone banning a sports in Lebanon because it’s too “violent.” Our basketball games have a tendency to break out in riot just because. Our football games have the same tendency as well. MMA is one of the few sports in the country that is not synonymous with “violence” at this point, but it’s the one that banned.

It was a few weeks ago that all hell broke loose between Homentmen and Riyadi because the latter team’s fans raised Turkish flags to tease the Armenian-Lebanese team. Riyadi and Sagesse basketball games have been held more frequently without fans than with them because of how disruptive and violent they tend to become. Football games featuring Al Nejmeh and Al Ansar have also often managed to turn violent. What’s next, should we ban sports altogether just because the actions of a few individuals taint the bigger picture?

The even bigger irony is that the politician banning MMA is member of a Lebanese militia whose ideological existence is mostly based on the premise of “resistance,” which is inherently violent. How often does Hezbollah brag about its missiles, about its power to stop its enemies in their track? How many times has that party threatened the Lebanese interior to get its way? How many times has that party, in the past decade, launched mini civil wars against fellow Lebanese to get its way? I guess violence is only as such when it’s between two consenting adults in proper gear, but never with tanks and brigades in neighboring countries.

If anything, Lebanon needs MMA for the many benefits it contains which would better our society. It’s a discipline that has been shown to grow the confidence of the person training in it. It teaches them self-defense and is a good medium for them to release pent-up energy. It boosts self-discipline and forms bonds of friendships between those who are training and is known to be a huge stress- relief.

If anything, MMA controls the violent tendencies that we all have inside us especially in a country where daily life serves to boost our anger. Punches and kicks are not “violent” when they’re performed in a controlled medium. It’s like they want people to be on edge all the time and not want them to find media in which they can release all the crap they have to deal with daily because of the inadequacy of our governance.

People can get hurt doing all kinds of sports. You’d think a minister of sports and youth would know that.

Dear MTV, Here’s What Insults Christianity

Lebanon + nurse + halloween + ban

PS: The Cross isn’t sold with this

I didn’t want to address anything related to that nun costume. It was culturally demeaning to even consider that nylon thing as something worthy of a discussion, which the country decided to have over the past few days.

Lebanese Christian victimhood takes front and center once again. Sometimes, the reason for the panic may be fathomable. Other times, such as this time, it’s completely silly to make a fuss out of it. I wasn’t going to say anything until I read this exquisite piece by MTV Lebanon about the outfits (here). I also did a good amount of research to check if the sexy nun outfit wasn’t some slutty Mexican folklore. You never know!

So dear MTV and the many Lebanese Christians who believe in what MTV said, please look at what really insults Christianity.

It’s a bigger insult to Christianity when you put a shroud of holiness around priests and nuns and monks who have done nothing to you in any way whatsoever except belong to the religion you believe in.

It’s a bigger insult to Christianity when you protect those people of the cloak beyond any form of doubt, despite it not making sense, because you believe they are of a higher moral order, because you believe they are above sins when Pope Francis shattered stereotypes by acknowledging that he was a man of sin.

It’s a bigger insult to Christianity to take insult to every single thing that infringes upon anything that is related in any way to the religion especially when the insult doesn’t even touch upon the Holy convictions championed by that religion. What would you have done had the outfit been a slutty virgin Mary? Now that is something I might fathom being upset about – but are we seriously getting insulted by a downright stereotypical outfit of a nun?

It’s an insult to Christianity that we keep going backwards as a society while everyone else goes forward. It’s an insult to Christianity that while the religion, with its new head, tries to find some footings in the 21st century, Lebanese Christians are firmly set in keeping it in the dark ages: what we don’t like even if hating it is way out there, the country doesn’t get. It’s as simple as that.

It’s an insult to my intellect, dear MTV, to assume that a Halloween outfit is of the same insult caliber as the desecration of Churches and Holy monuments in Syria and Egypt. It’s also an insult to my intellect to read a piece written in that impeccably constructed language. Was it translated from Arabic using Google? Anyway, seeing as my intellect resides in the body of a Christian person on paper, I must also consider this as an insult to Christianity because the logic might hold somehow.

Lebanese Christians, I beseech you (always wanted to use that word) to wake up and realize the following: You are entitled to believe in whatever you. You even have the right to take offense when your Holy figures are ridiculed and whatnot. And sometimes I’ll stand with you if the stance was worth it.  But being insulted by a Halloween costume is taking it too far.

MTV, you didn’t handle the priest scandal well. Why are you doing the same mistake again?

Liquid Cocaine Isn’t Banned in Lebanon

 

Lebanon is anything but dull. If you thought you can have a week pass by without some form of mini scandal, you were definitely mistaken.

This week, Lebanon is all about liquid cocaine and sexy nuns. Pretty out of the box, isn’t it?

I have to admit that Liquid cocaine is one of the shots that I liked when I tried. What I didn’t get, however, was why people were actually worried that such a thing could remotely get banned in Lebanon. People, people have you seen other similar entities that our government tried to ban and failed miserably?

If you don’t remember, here’s a memory-pick-me-up: the smoking ban! Have you found yourself in a restaurant you thought was smoke free only to get surrounded by a smoke of nicotine and other carcinogens? Have no fear, there’s a law being broken right there.

If there’s anything to conclude about our country’s state, it’s that such “bans” never take hold because people choose to simply not abide and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. When it comes to this particular alcohol mix, however, there’s no reason to be afraid as the ministry of tourism has clarified that it pertains to a drink called “Cocaine,” whose picture you can find below, and which is not even sold in Lebanon.

Cocaine is the name for an American energy drink brand. Red Bull must be pretty happy about this. All in all, meh, this turned out to be so anti-climatic, don’t you say?

Cocaine Drink

Therefore, with the weekend coming up, have no fear. Your favorite shots are here to stay.

Ziad Doueiri’s “The Attack” Banned in Lebanon

The Attack is that kind of movies that spring controversies without people even watching it. When I first blogged about it (link) back in December 2012, I asked the obvious question: will the movie having to do with Israel, being shot there and whatnot, deter it from being screened here?

For a while, it seemed the answered would be no – the movie had gotten its permit for screening approved back in September:

 

Ziad Doueiri The Attack Permit Lebanon

 

Then came Oscar time and the movie’s director made a big deal out of our ministry of culture refusing to have his movie represent Lebanon at the Oscars. People panicked: what an act of cultural terrorism, etc… I thought the ministry of culture’s decision was spot-on. It was simply choosing not to submit the movie for an award show, not banning people from watching it. Regardless of how excellent the movie is, does it represent Lebanon enough for it to be our submission for the Oscars? I hardly think so (link).

However, things have taken yet another turn. The permit shown above was asked to be returned by relevant authorities because minister Marwan Charbel decided to ban “The Attack” from being shown in Lebanese theaters. The justification for that was exactly the initial question I had asked way back when: part of the movie was shot in Israel.

Now the decision to ban the movie is downright unacceptable:

  1. Lebanon has had Palestinian movies released in it, some of which have had parts of them shot in Israel. Paradise Now anyone?
  2. The movie is not an Israeli movie for us to maybe fathom banning it. There are Israeli actors in it but that doesn’t mean the movie is funded by the Israeli government.
  3. How about we start banning all movies with parts that may have been shot in Tel Aviv? I can think of many American movies with Israel-centric scenes. Or do we just panic when it’s a Lebanese filmmaker?
  4. What’s the point really of banning a movie with a sequence shot in Israel? It doesn’t end the occupation, it doesn’t serve a higher moral purpose and there’s no point to it at all.
  5. Shouldn’t the ministry of interior affairs have more serious things at hand? For instance, shouldn’t they be working on an electoral law? How about working on all the racist municipalities issuing curfews against Syrians? Or better yet, why not work on the deteriorating security situation in the country? Oh wait, movie shot in Israel trumps all of those anytime of the day.

We have reached a time where our government doesn’t even know that I can download whatever movie they ban with a few clicks (and a 24 hour waiting time given our internet). The moment “The Attack” becomes available online is the moment I get to watch it. And I’ll see that Tel Aviv scene and I won’t panic nor will I become a traitor nor will some feeling inside me move towards our Southern enemy. Who’s the only entity hurting from such archaic and irrelevant bans? The filmmaker who’s hurting financially and Lebanon’s reputation as a country for freedom, being dragged daily towards the abyss by minds still stuck in 1864.

Good job Marwan Charbel. One day you sign a civil marriage contract, the other you ban a movie – because keeping a good streak is too mainstream.

(Source).