Israeli actress Gal Gadot has condemned efforts by the Israeli Labor Party to use her as a political pawn in the current election campaign. The party is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival and had hoped to capitalise on Gadot taking the Likud leader to task for making comments that were denounced widely as racist. An image of the "Wonder Woman" star was used on a campaign poster, along with a handful of other celebrities.
A statement on behalf of Gadot was released yesterday criticising the party's unauthorised use of her image: "We take a serious view of this, and… we will approach the Labor Party with a demand that it remove Gal Gadot's image from the campaign immediately. Gal Gadot has never participated in any political campaign of any kind."
Several other celebrities have made the same complaint, including reality TV star Rotem Sela, who was criticised personally on social media by Netanyahu in a tweet which triggered the rebuke from Gadot. Attorneys for the celebrities are reported to be looking into legal options regarding the use of their clients' images by the Labor Party.
The TV star had insisted that, "Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal, and that even the Arabs and the Druze and the LGBTs and — shock — the leftists are human." Netanyahu was having none of it. "Israel is not a state of all its citizens," he told Sela. "According to the nation-state law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people — and not anyone else."
Gadot jumped in to defend Sela, and called on the Israeli Prime Minister to "love thy neighbour as thyself" — a clear reference to Palestinian citizens of Israel — following his bigoted comment.
The social media exchange prompted a series of comments by government ministers, lawmakers and celebrities. Netanyahu's remark was denounced as an aberration despite the fact that he cited the country's own law to support his claim that Israel is a nation-state for the Jewish people only.
#IsraElex19: Israeli Elections 2019
The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People was passed last year and is now enshrined in the country's legislation. Critics say that it effectively codifies discrimination against Palestinians through the exclusive recognition of the Jews' right to self-determination in the land of Israel while denying the same right to the Palestinians.
Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, who has a largely ceremonial role, attempted to distance himself from Netanyahu's remarks. However, a new poll suggests that racism is not only ingrained in Israeli society, but also that the country's Basic Laws — which are the closest thing Israel has to a constitution — dispel any claim that the Likud leader's remarks were merely an aberration.
"This isn't a matter of left or right, Jew or Arab, secular or religious," concluded Gadot on Instagram, "it's about dialogue for peace and equality, and our tolerance for one another."