Mounting violence between Israelis and Palestinians has left hundreds—mostly Palestinian—injured and 56 killed, including 14 children in Gaza. This comes at a moment of an almost palpable seachange in the discourse surrounding Israeli state violence and Palestinian resistance. The popular concept of a perpetually victimized Israel is in stark contrast to the graphic images that have come out of the region in the last week: Palestinians getting roughed up by Israeli police for opposing forced evictions and Israeli cops bombarding a mosque with stun grenades as worshipers prayed.
But Gal Gadot hasn’t received the memo. Or, more likely, she has, but doesn’t really give a shit.
The Israeli actor and star of the Wonder Woman franchise addressed the violence in her home country in a saccharine social media post that neglected to mention Palestinians (emphasis ours):
My heart breaks. My country is at war. I worry for my family, my friends. I worry for my people. This is a vicious cycle that has been going on for far too long. Israel deserves to live as a free and safe nation, Our neighbors deserve the same. I pray for the victims and their families, I pray for this unimaginable hostility to end. I pray for our leaders to find the solution so we could live side by side in peace. I pray for better days.
She posted the message to both Twitter and Instagram and disabled comments on both platforms.
In 2006, age 20, Gadot participated in mandatory service with the Israeli Defense Forces during Israel’s war with Lebanon. She continues to be an ardent defender of the IDF, a position that has often made her a source of controversy.
Gadot’s statement comes amid the largest cascade of violence the region has seen in nearly a decade. On May 6, Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians protesting evictions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah; on May 9, Israeli police stormed al-Aqsa Mosque, one of Islam’s holiest sites, a move United Nations rights office spokesman Rupert Colville described as “unprovoked” and “extremely worrying.” Israel claimed the mosque was being used as a military stronghold, a charge Husam Zomlot, the head of Palestinian Mission to the UK, described as “nonsense” in a recent interview with BBC Newsnight. In return, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine launched rockets into Israel, and Israel began a series of airstrikes. As of Wednesday, the number of casualties continues to rise, with Israel refusing to stop its attack on Gaza until they achieve “complete quiet.”
The pattern of Israel violently subjugating Palestinians and violent Palestinian resistance is not a new one, but it appears that the days of politicians espousing blind support for Israel without substantial public pushback are slowly ending. On Monday, former Democratic presidential candidate and current New York City mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang tweeted a bold statement of support for Israel. “I’m standing with the people of Israel who are coming under bombardment attacks, and condemn the Hamas terrorists,” he wrote. “The people of NYC will always stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel who face down terrorism and persevere.”
While his statement was immediately embraced by right-wingers like Stephen Miller and Ted Cruz, it was not widely appreciated. After being scolded by everyone from Crazy Rich Asians actor Henry Golding to residents of Queens, he released a hamhanded apology.
But the problem with both Gadot’s statement and Yang’s insistence that he “mourn[s] for every Palestinian life taken before its time as I do for every Israeli” is that it implies a sort of goofy both-sides-ism that doesn’t actually reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground. It’s true that both sides have acted in violence, but only Israel has an ultra-advanced military and police force with billions of dollars in budgetary support from the United States. Only Palestine has a shortlist of casualties, Israel does not.
But why speak the truth when there are elections to win and movies to sell?