Tuesday, October 13, 2020

By Daled Amos

Movie star Gal Gadot is not a controversial movie actress, but she has attracted some controversy.

It started with Gadot's title role in the 2017 movie Wonder Woman, when it became an issue whether Gadot was white or a woman of color.

For its part, ComicBook.com alerted its followers that There IS A Person Of Color In The Lead Role:
Wonder Woman hits theaters tonight in some places, but there seems to be a misconception out there about the film's lead character, and it's frankly a bit absurd. So consider this a PSA -- if you will -- for those who have called out concerns about there being no person of color in the film.

It might come as a shock, but there are people of color in the film, and one of them is in the lead role.

Yep, with a quick google search, it turns out that Gal Gadot is not actually Caucasian, but is in fact Israeli. [emphasis added]

 

photo
Gal Gadot. Youtube screencap


Now Gadot is taking on a new and very different role -- and again there is controversy, this time over her being cast in the lead role of a movie about Cleopatra.



Typical of the response to the mistaken impression that Cleopatra was an Arab is an article in The Jerusalem Post -- which notes that Cleopatra was Greek, not Arab.

(On a side note, the article also points out that the above Sameera Khan is a former journalist for RT, who left the network after her enthusiastic praise for Stalin’s gulags)

But for me, the interesting part about the outcry for an Arab to portray Cleopatra is that it illustrates the lack of awareness of the actual connection of Egypt with Arabs and Islam -- and of Arab conquest and colonization both inside and outside the Middle East.

In his book, The Crisis of Islam, Bernard Lewis, touches upon the change in Egyptian identity after the Arab conquest: 
There can be few, if any, nations with a better claim to nationhood--a country sharply defined by both history and geography, with a continuous history of civilization going back for more than five thousand years [than Egypt]. But Egyptians have several identities, and for most of the last fourteen centuries, that is, since the Arab-Islamic conquest of Egypt in the seventh century and the subsequent Islamization and Arabization of the country, the Egyptian identity has rarely been the predominant one, yielding pride of place to the cultural and linguistic identity of Arabism and for most of their history, to the religious identity of Islam. [p. 19]
In another of his books, What Went Wrong? Lewis outlines in more detail the many other Muslim conquests:  
Seventh century: Muslim armies advancing from Arabia conquer Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa, all then part of Christendom

o  Eighth century: Muslim forces conquer Spain and Portugal and invade France

o  Ninth century: Muslims conquer Sicily and invade Italy, sack Ostia and Rome

o  Thirteenth century: the Tatars of the Golden Horde conquer Russia. After the Khan of the Golden Horde and his people convert to Islam. Russia, and much of Eastern Europe, are subject to Muslim rule -- until the late fifteenth century. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Turks conquer Anatolia, capture the ancient Christian city of Constantinople, invade and colonize the Balkan peninsula, and threaten the very heart of Europe, twice reaching as far as Vienna. [pages 4, 6]

 That's some list:

  • Syria (then under Christendom)
  • Palestine (then under Christendom)
  • Egypt (then under Christendom)
  • North Africa (then under Christendom)
  • Spain
  • Portugal
  • France
  • Sicily
  • Sacking Rome
  • Russia 
  • Anatolia
  • Constantinople
  • Balkans
  • Vienna

We know that the Muslim invasion of Europe was turned back, as Lewis himself describes tongue-in-cheek:

But again European Christendom was able to oust the invaders and again, now more successfully, to counter-attack against the realms of Islam. By this time the jihad had become almost entirely defensive--resisting the Reconquest in Spain and Russia, resisting the movements for national self-liberation by the Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire, and finally as Muslims see it, defending the very heartlands of Islam against infidel attack. This phase has come to be known as imperialism. [Crisis, p35-36. emphasis added]
Apparently, Zionism is not the first nationalist self-liberation movement to be labeled 'imperialist' by the Muslim world.

As for the movie itself, will there be nearly as much excitement when they announce who will play the part of Marc Anthony?


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