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Kuwait bans new movie starring Israeli actress Gal Gadot – 'Death on the Nile'

Gadot was our pick for No. 1 of the top 22 Israelis to watch in 2022

Gal Gadot at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala, New York City, U.S., May 6, 2019 (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

Gal Gadot’s new movie – an adaptation of the classic by Agatha Christie, “Death on the Nile” – will be banned in Kuwait because the star actress is Israeli. 

The Kuwaiti Information Ministry spokeswoman Anuar Mourad confirmed the ban to the AFP news agency. 

The decision was reportedly made in response to calls to do so on social media, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper, Al-Qabas. 

Gadot was our pick for No. 1 of the top 22 Israelis to watch in 2022 – and for good reason. The 36-year-old became a global superstar after starring in “Wonder Woman” in 2017, which raked in more than $822 million worldwide, followed by the sequel, “Wonder Woman 1984,” released in 2020. In addition, Gadot has starred in several films released recently, with more in the works.

The Israeli actress has long said she is not an ambassador for Israel, but she also doesn’t shy away from her national and religious identity. Some social media users blasted Gadot for supporting the Israeli military and criticizing the terrorist organization Hamas during the Gaza war in 2014. 

Gadot became an international icon after the first "Wonder Woman" film, which was also banned in several Arab countries –including Kuwait – due to her Israeli nationality. At the time, some argued that the conservative Arab world was not ready for a powerful and independent female hero character like Wonder Woman. However, the main problem was Gadot’s Israeli identity. 

Unlike the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, Kuwait remains opposed to the growing normalization ties between the Jewish state and much of the Sunni Arab world. In 2020, Kuwait declared it would be “last to normalize” diplomatic relations with Israel. 

“Our stance on Israel has not changed, following the UAE normalization agreement, and we will be the last to normalize relations,” unnamed senior Kuwait officials said, according to the Al-Qabas newspaper. 

Kuwait has justified its opposition to normalized ties with Israel by presenting itself as a staunch supporter of the Palestinian Arab cause. 

However, countries like the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have stressed that there is no contradiction between ties with Israel and support of the Arab population in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Behind its official rhetoric, Kuwait has a problematic history when it comes to the Palestinians. 

When Iraq invaded the tiny emirate in 1990 during the First Gulf War, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) emerged as one of the Arab world’s strongest supporters of Saddam Hussein. Kuwaiti authorities responded after the war by expelling the majority of the more than 200,000 Palestinians residing in Kuwait. 

Kuwaiti-Palestinian relations eventually improved after the PLO apologized for its support of Hussein. However, the international community never reprimanded Kuwait for its de facto expulsion of an entire community.

Middle Eastern boycotts of movies with a Jewish or Israeli connection predate Gadot by several decades. In 1959, the Arab League boycotted the American Hollywood movie “Ben Hur” because the main female character was played by the Israeli actress Haya Harareet.

In 1960, much of the Arab world boycotted the movie “Exodus” with Paul Newman, which focused on the rebirth of modern Israel. 

In 2014, Egypt banned the biblical-themed American blockbuster “Exodus: Gods and Kings” due to alleged “historical inaccuracies” concerning Egypt’s ancient history. At the time of the release, the Egyptian Culture Minister Gaber Asfour blasted the movie as “Zionist.” The Egyptians were particularly upset because the movie suggested that Moses and the Jews had built the pyramids. 

“This totally contradicts proven historical facts. It is a Zionist film. It gives a Zionist view of history and contains historical inaccuracies and that's why we have decided to ban it,” Asfour stated

At the time, Morocco and the UAE joined Egypt in the boycott of the movie about the biblical Exodus from Egypt. Six years later in 2020, the UAE and Morocco signed the historic Abraham Accords with an Israel that is increasingly accepted as an integral part of the Middle East. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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