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June 6, 2017 1:48 pm

New York Times Takes Linda Sarsour-Style Approach To ‘Wonder Woman’ Movie

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Gal Gadot in an ad for “Wonder Woman.” Photo: Twitter.

In not one, not two, not three, not four, but five — 5! — separate and prominently displayed pieces over the past three days, the New York Times has celebrated the box office success of the movie “Wonder Woman” as a feminist breakthrough.

Leave aside how a 5-foot, 10-inch tall, 32-year-old actress appearing in a starring movie role in a skimpy costume is a victory for feminism — I’ll take people’s word for it. What’s illuminating for our purposes is that the Times has repeatedly and emphatically framed the story of the commercial success of “Wonder Woman” as a victory for women, but totally ignored the idea that it might be a triumph for Israel or for Jews.

The “Wonder Woman” movie, after all, was banned in Lebanon because of its star Gal Gadot’s Israeli background. Gadot has also been criticized by Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that advocates sanctions against Israel and that described Gadot as a “former IDF combat trainer.” A tweet yesterday by Yair Rosenberg that sardonically observed, “That ‘boycott Wonder Woman because the actress is Israeli’ campaign seems to be going well” garnered more than 1,000 likes and retweets.

The Times has a choice of how to frame and interpret this story, of what narrative to fit the news into. It’s chosen, clearly, to interpret the movie’s commercial success as a victory for women, and not to interpret it as a victory for Jews or Israelis. There may be reasons why the Times made this decision: The Wonder Woman character in the movie is female, but not clearly Jewish or Israeli, the way the actress playing her is. And half the population (or the Times readership) can identify with the “woman triumphs” narrative, while the percentage of the Times readership that identifies with Jews and Israel is smaller.

Even so, though, with five pieces pushing the woman-protagonist story, you’d think the Times might manage to find room for at least one article that considers Gadot’s success as an Israeli, or as a Jew. The absence is almost enough to make one wonder if the Times agrees with Linda Sarsour that there’s no room in the feminist movement for uncritical supporters of Israel. In other words, to judge by the Times coverage so far, a movie’s success can be a victory either for feminism or for Zionism, but not for both at the same time, because the two are mutually exclusive.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. 

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