I’m not so quick to judge Gal Gadot for being an Israeli soldier. Any more than I can judge any soldier or war veteran for the atrocities committed by their own side in the name of war.
I’m not a fan of Israel’s heavy-handed policies and practices towards Palestineans. But I recognize the reality of the Middle East, and that Israel’s heavy-handedness has everything to do with its own survival. Many Palestinians would love to watch Tel-Aviv burn to the ground, in vindication of the occupation and oppression. It’s a vicious cycle.
If she started spewing anti-Palestinean rhetoric since taking on the role, it would leave a bad taste in my mouth, and ruin the magic of Wonder Woman. But at the very least, this is her opportunity at redemption, to provide a greater impact on the world beyond her own, in a positive way. WW does promote peace and justice, for everyone. The more fans she has, the more followers, the more peace and justice the world will experience. Young children will want to grow up and be like her. Not like Gal Gadot. Not like Lynda Carter.
And in fairness, maybe like them. Just look at how much of an inspiration Lynda has been in the wake of her iconic WW career. Gal served honorably during her obligation to serve. When we are young, and we are trained to kill, we are also brainwashed to view the enemy as less-than-human. It makes it that much easier to pull the trigger when the time comes. I was similarly indoctrinated during my own service. As well as controversial war heroes like American Sniper Chris Kyle.
I don’t think it’s fair to label this as Imperial Feminism. Wonder Woman, as an icon, represents justice in a far more universal sense. Not just for White women, or even women. For people. She doesn’t have a problem at all with men. Just bad men. And bad women. She didn’t leave Thymiscera to save womankind. She left to save the world. Better yet, she left home with a indoctrinated suspicion of men, and she still remains open-minded enough to learn from men like Steve Trevor. Better than most, she gave you the opportunity to prove prevailing wisdom right, or wrong.
For that reason, I think it’s poetic to have an Israeli Army veteran play Wonder Woman. It puts the Israeli-Palestinean animosity into the spotlight, against the lens of truth and justice. At some point, Gadot is going to have to touch upon her perspective on this connection, and her words will help shape the views of millions who chew on them. Wonder Woman may have a better chance of bringing peace into the Middle East than any world leader.
If we bicker over all the conflicts, the message gets lost. Little girls and boys won’t have the hero Wonder Woman represents. They’ll just have the disappointing controversies that they won’t understand.