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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A Day in the Life of a Lebanese BDS Supporter

He wakes up in the morning. It’s 8 am. Way too early. What is needed when you need your body to get going? Yes, coffee.
So he tiredly makes his way to the kitchen, rips open a pack of Nescafé and pours it down a New York mug which he bought on his last trip to the Big Apple. He heats up the water, mixes it with the powder.

He starts drinking. Sweet Jesus, the energy is coming right in. So he moves back to his bedroom where he takes out his designer shirt and jeans, even boxers, and gets dressed for work at some internationally renowned firm. He grabs his iPhone, puts his MacBook in his bag. He double checks to see if the iPad is there as well – and let’s not forget the Kingston flash drive.

He grabs the keys to his German car – a newly bought BMW – and leaves his Beiruti apartment for work.

As he chunks the numbers and goes through the daily motion of what brings food to his table, he realizes it is lunch time. His friends decide to go grab a quick bite at the nearby Starbucks.

He vehemently refuses. How could you go support a company which is causing Palestinian children to die and Israelis to take more land that is not their’s?
As his friends leave him alone, he grabs his iPad and refreshes his twitter timeline. Meanwhile, his iPhone buzzes with an iMessage from his girlfriend as he receives a Facebook notification. His best friend, currently working in the US, shared a link on his wall – a very funny video featuring some very trashy pop artist doing something very stupid.

As the day at work draws to a close, this person goes back home where he checks the news. A singer is coming to the country for a hit concert in a few weeks. He thinks for a few minutes if he should take his girlfriend on a date there. Then he decides to check who’s the singer.

It’s that singer! Unacceptable! He was in that place not so long ago. Let’s start our activism, he starts thinking. And then he notices another concert by some other artist – and they’re going to that place soon after Lebanon. And a Lebanese band is opening for them. And he’s so hurt he could almost cry.

How could they do that to Palestine? How could they be so traitorous to the land, the people, the women, the children?

He calls up on his friends using his iPhone. His friends reply on their copycat Samsung phones (yes, I had to). They set up a boycott campaign online using a windows laptop because they are more mainstream. Some time later, the first concert is canceled. The Lebanese band canceles its opening gig.
Victory, victory. Rejoice, rejoice. So the activist can now sleep better. He puts his iPhone on silent, puts his iPad on the charger and switches off his MacBook.

Yes, Palestine will soon be free. One band at a time. One ban at a time.

As he goes to sleep, his head starts thinking about how life would be without his fancy clothes, car, phone, accessories and work. He decides that year 1400-something is not something he’d like. So he figures activism against concerts is the best way to go. One band at a time, one ban at a time.

And Palestine will soon be free. He lays his head to sleep and does so peacefully.

Mashrou3 Leila Not Opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers in Lebanon Anymore

I really don’t get the BDS movement people in Lebanon. Do they think what they’re doing is democratic or do they know what they’re doing is total nonsense? Mashrou3 Leila, even though I don’t like them, are not opening for Red Hot Chili Peppers this Thursday in Lebanon.

Why? Because RHCP have a concert in Tel Aviv on September 10th. Because, you know, f*ck logic.

It seems that artists forbidden from coming to Lebanon are not only those who have performed in Israel before but those who intend to do so later on. Because, as I said, f*ck logic.

When you figuratively tell a band that if they open for someone then they might as well be traitors, how different are you from the Israeli solider you are “supposedly” fighting against?

Not very different.

The fight against Israel can take many forms. What the Lebanese branch of BDS is doing is unacceptable. What the Lebanese BDS is doing is cultural terrorism and I wonder how much more we have to put up with it. Oh wait, they probably think I’m sleeping with the enemy  – fresh from France and all.

So I guess I better stop. They already think I’m a semi-traitor with me always being vehemently against them.

It’s not like opening for RHCP would be beyond great opportunity for any Lebanese band, regardless of who they are. But no. Bta3rfo, beddon y7arrero felestin. Because, as I said, f*ck logic.

As a result, no Lebanese band will get to do this without having “zionism” branded all over them. And as a result, Palestine will be liberated. Because, you know, f*ck logic.

AUB President Responds to the Donna Shalala Honorary Degree Controversy

Remember when I told you about some AUB students causing a ruckus at this year’s Masters’ students graduation ceremony because “zionist Shalala” was being given an honorary degree?

Well, as an AUB alumnus, I received an email with the response of AUB president Peter Dorman on the whole issue and I thought it was such an interesting read that I’d share it with you all.

Dear Members of the AUB Community,

I would like to share with you a personal note, in view of several e-mails that have been circulating among the faculty and on the alumni listserv in the wake of the controversy surrounding the recent honorary degree ceremony at Commencement. In particular, I want to address the comments relating to this administration’s purported agenda related to Israel.

The first and paramount observation is that AUB has always respected and complied with the laws of Lebanon, and always will, particularly the laws prohibiting the normalization of any kind of relations with Israel.

Indeed, this position has come at a cost to some of our faculty members in recent years, particularly those who have had to give up significant funding or research partnerships because of the involvement of third-party partners who had ties to Israeli institutions.

Second, this administration at AUB has no normalization or Zionist agenda of any kind. Those who make that claim or imply it are simply wrong on the facts. But raising questions about AUB’s presumed Zionist leanings is a sensational charge that catches the eye, can spread quickly, and understandably raises deep alarm among Lebanese and others who have suffered from Israeli depredations.

The circulating messages entitled “Can AUB Find Only Those Complicit with Zionism to Honor?”–taken straight from the extremist coverage published by al-Akhbar newspaper‹is a rhetorical question that belies our history of honoring distinguished Arabs or friends of the Arab world such as Edward Said, Helen Thomas, and Hanan Ashrawi. In the last three years alone, the University has honored Walid Khalidi, Dourade Al Lahham, Eric Rouleau, Mary Robinson, Marcel Khalife, Owen Gingerich, Mostafa El-Sayed, Anthony Shadid, Wadad Kadi, and Munib Masri. Eight of these honorees were nominated by our own faculty.

Some have criticized the administration for awarding an honorary degree to individuals who do not adhere to the Palestine Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel campaign, an initiative intended to isolate Israel from such contacts. I defend the right of those who take such a position; it is a principled stance, and one that many feel passionate about. Yet institutional decisions cannot be subordinated to an absolute litmus test imposed by the demands of outside groups. Otherwise, to pick just one example, AUB could never have decided to honor Edward Said, who initiated an acclaimed cultural dialogue through his highly visible sponsorship of a Palestinian-Israeli youth orchestra.

I was born in Lebanon in the same year as the nakba; like so many of you, I have never lived in the world without the dreadful specter of Palestinian dispossession and an expanding Israeli settlement agenda, which are deeply immoral and ultimately, in my view, self-destructive.

As for AUB, our campus is a precious and protected space where differences of opinion do‹and must‹exist in a context of mutual respect.

Free speech is fundamentally a core value of AUB and a part of our long tradition of academic freedom. We will continue to honor it, for every voice in our community.

The Provost and I will be meeting this coming week with a delegation of faculty members, who wish to present their petition of disagreement. The Board of Trustees has also asked me to review the process of vetting candidates for honorary degrees. I know the faculty delegation speak for a good number of you reading this message; but I can assure you that we jointly have only the reputation and good name of our beloved institution at heart, alongside a profound commitment to AUB’s proud legacy, our home country, Lebanon, and the region we serve.
Peter Dorman

President

In very brief summary, he’s politely telling those protesting to suck it. And I couldn’t be happier.

Natalie Portman’s Dior Ad Causes Controversy in Lebanon – Israel Related, Obviously.

The Dior Ad I drove by all the time and never thought could cause drama

What do you know, just when I thought we’d get at least a few weeks off from the crazies, they’re back at it again. This time, however, the casualty is not a performer or a physical presence of someone who’s associated with Israel. They want a poster featuring Natalie Portman in her Dior ads to be taken down.

Why? Because she’s a known “Zionist.”

Cue the outrage.

What does her being a Zionist have to do with a poster of her promoting a cosmetics company? Are those cosmetics killing the children, women and men of Palestine? No. Is her picture causing their death as well? No.

According to this article, a Lebanese blogger said: “Since each contact or with an Israeli occupation in Lebanon is considered a crime, you do not think hanging a poster size of 15 meters with the Zionist Jerusalem is illegal?”

Simply, no. How in the name of everything that is Holy is hanging a poster of Natalie Portman contacting someone who is Israeli? How in the name of everything that is sacred does a billboard ad be considered as dealing with Israeli occupation?

Another blogger wrote: “Portman, who was born in Jerusalem and whose real last name is Hershlag, has spoken at length about her love for her home country and how she wants to move back there once there is peace.”

Many Jews believe it is their religious duty to return to their promise land, regardless of what we think of that or not. Her support for the state of Israel is simply a byproduct of her culture, just as there are millions of Americans, French, Italians, Arabs (yes, the do exist), British, German, etc… people who share her line of thought. You are entitled not to support her or her ideology, which is something I don’t do. But you calling for a removal of a poster featuring her is simply nonsensical, childish, useless and will reflect negatively on you, first and foremost, and on your country.

What do those calling for the billboard removal hope to achieve? Much needed publicity, maybe. Apart from that, there will be hundreds, even some who are as anti-Zionist as they go, who will laugh at their meaningless and ridiculous attempts of exposure.

You know what, next time BDS and the like want to take a stand, how about they stand for something useful with which they can actually get support, not against an actress whose movies are released in our movie theaters without hurdles and who was won an Oscar for a movie they have definitely seen, despite her being a “Zionist.”

Enough is enough when it comes to this silliness. But hey, at least Natalie Portman, unlike Lara Fabian, will probably not hear of this. I guess that’s a good sign, somehow.

Lara Fabian coming to Lebanon After All?

Honestly this is getting quite confusing.

After demands to cancel Lara Fabian’s concerts and stop her from coming, the Italian-Belgian singer complied and wrote a passionate love letter to her Lebanese audience saying she won’t be a reason for tension between them.

And just when we thought the whole Lara Fabian saga is behind us, it looks like the story refuses to go away. Lara Fabian is coming for her concerts on valentine’s day and February 15th after all, according to a very heated article reposted by Lebanon Files from Al Akhbar (The article comprises the sentences: Lara Fabian not coming to the country that got Israel to kneel, etc…). You only need to read the last paragraph to see exactly how much they hate her.

Briefly, Fabian and her crew got visas to enter the country, Virgin Megastores are still selling tickets and the billboards on highways have not been removed.

I won’t go into how ridiculous and absolutely hilarious I think the statements containing “usurping entity” and “concert” in the same syntax. But this is going to be interesting to watch. And for those of us who simply can’t afford to splurge on Lara Fabian, time to bring out the pop corn and watch.

Lara Fabian’s concert organizers to BDS: “check.”