Supporters of the Palestinian cause had an issue with the mere idea of casting Israeli actress Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, so much so that many boycotted the movie and some countries even banned it. Now, let's add an Arab actor to the mix ... the controversy knows no bounds.
Egyptian actor Amr Waked recently announced he will appear in Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel that is set to premiere in 2020. Seeing as Gadot has previously served in the Israeli army and voiced her support for the Israeli military forces, Waked's announcement was met with heavy backlash online.
The upcoming film stars Gadot as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, an Amazon princess and warrior during the Cold War. The film also features a number of Hollywood stars such as Chris Pine, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Pedro Pascal, and Kristen Wiig.
"Stay tuned for my role in the film 'Wonder Woman 1984' (Part Two), which is directed by Patty Jenkins and is expected to hit the screens in June 2020. I hope you enjoy the film."
The DC Comics movie has sparked outrage since the release of its first part in 2017, as its lead actress is not only Israeli but also a former Israeli army soldier. Gadot served in the Israeli army for two years and has previously expressed support for the Israeli military forces on her official Facebook page. "I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas," Gadot wrote during the 2014 Gaza War, which saw Israeli forces kill more than 2,100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in less than two months.
Gadot has also boasted about how her military training has helped train her for acting. Plus, she is married to Israeli businessman Yaron Varsano, who owns a hotel in an Israeli settlement, according to The New Arab.
Back in 2017, Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists launched campaigns against Wonder Woman, in which they condemned the normalization of ties with Israel and called upon countries to ban the film. The movie was subsequently banned in Lebanon, Qatar, and Tunisia.
Waked's announcement came in the same week as Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, during which Israeli airstrikes killed at least 34 Palestinians, almost half of whom are civilians, and injured over 85 others. Israel triggered the military confrontation when it "extrajudicially executed" a senior commander in Palestinian Islamic Jihad - an Iran-backed militant group - Baha Abu Al-Ata along with his wife, leading to severe cross-border combat for three days.
In light of Gadot's background and Israel's ongoing crimes against the Palestinians, many people criticized Waked for accepting a role in Wonder Woman 1984. The details of his role are yet to be revealed.
In response to the backlash, Waked wrote that he believes his participation in the film does not constitute an act of normalizing ties with Israel since Wonder Woman is not an Israeli production and does not promote the occupying state.
"Art taught me to be a human before anything else, to champion human values, justice, and morals. It taught me to stand up against the [faulty] act and behavior, rather than the individual. It taught me to be committed to humanity rather than anything else. I work on that day and night, and I combat extremism, grudges, and hate towards anyone- or at least I try my best to."
Waked is best known in Hollywood for his roles in the films Syriana (2005) and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011). He is currently shooting the second season of Ramy, a Hulu comedy-drama that follows a first-generation American Muslim.
Earlier this year, an Egyptian court sentenced him to eight years in jail in absentia for publicly criticizing the regime of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Waked had taken part in a U.S. congressional hearing concerning human rights in Egypt, during which he called out the Egyptian government's violations and called for international solidarity with Egyptians.
Here's how social media users reacted to the news:
People are urging him to backtrack on his decision
They simply don't see a rational justification for it
"Normalizers have absolutely no place among us"
A prime example of selective morality
His response to the backlash didn't go down well online
"What about acting with a Zionist who celebrated airstrikes against Gaza? What kind of promotion of human values, justice, and morals is that?"
"Shame on Amr Waked"
"Gal Gadot prayed for Israeli criminals who killed 2,400 Palestinians in 2014! Shame on Amr Waked."