Why Disney’s Israeli superhero is causing concern

“The boy is dead because the boys’ people and yours both want to own the land! The boy is dead because you won’t divide it!” says the Hulk.

A few panels later, a woman in a blue and white costume with a Star of David on her chest is kneeling next to the boy.

“It took the Hulk to see this dead Arab boy as a human being,” the comic reads. “It took a monster to awaken his sense of humanity.”

More than forty years after Sabra was introduced, Disney’s Marvel is planning to bring it to the 2024 film “Captain America: New World Order”. This has created an uproar among those who fear that reviving Sabra’s character would spread the offensive. stereotypes about Arabs and the dehumanization of Palestinians in cinema.
Critics say many of the Arab characters he interacts with in the comics come across as misogynistic, anti-Semitic and violent, and question whether the troubling portrayals of Arabs will play out differently in the film.

“That comic doesn’t suggest anything positive about how this movie is going to play out,” said Washington-based Palestinian-American writer and analyst Yousef Munayyer. .”

“The media’s glorification of violence against Palestinians and Arabs and Muslims in general has a long and ugly history in the West and has remarkable staying power,” he added.

Waleed F. Mahdi, author of “Arab Americans in Film: From Hollywood and Egyptian Stereotypes to Self-Representation,” said that since the 1960s the “US-Israeli alliance” has been endorsed by American and Israeli law enforcement as part of the cinematic narrative. and intelligence agencies. the forces “pledged to quell violence that has been primarily Arab and Muslim-related.”

“Marvel’s announcement to adapt the comic book character of Sabra is a reflection of that legacy,” he told CNN.

A spokesperson for Marvel Studios told CNN, “The filmmakers are taking a fresh approach with the character Sabra, who debuted in the comics more than 40 years ago,” adding that characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are “always reimagined for the screen and for today’s audiences.” ”

Even some Israelis say that Sabra will not be a superhero for our times. Israeli author, screenwriter and graphic novelist Etgar Keret told CNN that the original Sabra character was created in a different era, with “a simple and clear story.”

“This sabra was created before two [Palestinian] The intifadas [uprisings]It was created before the failure of the Oslo Accords, it was created in a completely different state of reality and mind,” he said. “And now … it’s hard to maintain this kind of icon of simplicity.”

The name of the superhero is a nickname for a Jew born in Israel or the occupied territories, and the fruit of a stem that came from the Hebrew term. It has been widely used since the 1930s, before the establishment of Israel.

But the word is written in English as one of the two Palestinian communities that massacred more than 1,000 Palestinians and Lebanese Shiite civilians during the 1982 Lebanon-Israel war. Like the Sabra and Shatila massacres, named after the places where they happened.

In 1983 the Israeli government released the Kahan Commission of Inquiry into the events in the refugee camps and held the Israeli army indirectly responsible. He concluded that the army had allowed the militia to enter the area and had not taken adequate measures to prevent the killings. Ariel Sharon, then Minister of Defense, was forced to resign as a result of the inquiry.

Muslims make up 25% of the world's population.  But in the 200 sessions analyzed by the researchers, only 1% of the characters spoke

Marvel’s Sabra character predates and has nothing to do with the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, but the announcement to bring it to cinemas a week before the 40th anniversary of the massacre has struck a nerve with Arabs, who accuse the film studio of insensitivity. One of the most horrific events in the history of the Palestinian people.

“It’s not just the timing or the name, but the fact that the massacre itself was led by someone connected to the Mossad. [militia] in territory under Israeli military control,” Munayyer said. “Given all of this, it’s hard not to conclude that the people at Marvel either have a serious ignorance of the region, its history, and the Palestinian experience, or that they were deliberately aiming to kick it. the people living under apartheid while they were down.”

While Sabra wouldn’t be the first time Israel’s intelligence agency has been given the Hollywood treatment, it is the first time the Mossad has been given a supernatural status on the level of a mega-superhero. Experts say it’s a public relations win for the agency.

Avner Avraham, a former Mossad officer and founder of the Spy Legends Agency, which consults for movies and TV shows portraying Israeli spies, said the new portrayal will help inform the younger generation about the Mossad.

“This is the ‘TikTok’ way, the cartoon way of talking to the new generation, and they will know the word Mossad,” Avraham said. “The brand helps. It will add another audience.”

Such exposure could help the Mossad recruit sources and support from other countries, he added.

“The fact that they decided to take a Mossad agent, a Sabra, and not an Egyptian agent or an Italian agent, shows that the Mossad is a big name,” Avraham said.

Uri Fink, an Israeli cartoonist who claims to have first invented an Israeli superhero character in 1978, fears, however, that the “progressives” working at Marvel may turn the Israeli agent into a negative character. “They’re not well-updated, they don’t have an accurate description of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he told CNN.

Avraham echoed this concern, speculating that he may be portrayed as a figure who does good to Israel but does “bad things to other people.”

CNN’s Michael Schwartz, Abeer Salman and Mohammed Abdelbary contributed to this article


Armed woman demanding access to deposits takes hostages at Beirut bank

A group of people, at least one of whom was armed, took hostages at a bank in central Beirut on Wednesday, demanding access to deposits, state news agency NNA reported. A woman carrying a gun entered the bank, “covered herself in gasoline and threatened to set herself on fire if she was prevented from withdrawing funds to treat her sick sister,” NNA said. He was able to withdraw about $20,000 from his account before leaving the bank. Lebanon’s Directorate of Security said on Twitter that the woman was not arrested. In an interview with a local television station, he said the gun was a “toy” that belonged to his nephew.

  • Background: Facing an economic downturn, Lebanon imposed strict restrictions on bank withdrawals in October 2019, preventing people from accessing their savings.
  • Why it matters: This was the second known case of a hostage situation in a bank in the capital in almost a month. Last month, a gunman stormed a Beirut bank and threatened to kill hostages and himself if he was not allowed to withdraw funds from a frozen account. The man said he needed the money to pay for his father’s medical expenses. The standoff ended when the bank gave Hussein part of his savings. Experts warn that such incidents are likely to be repeated in the heavily armed country.

Iran says it has developed new long-range drones for attacks on Israeli cities

Iran has developed an advanced long-range drone to target Israeli cities, Brigadier General Kioomars Heidari told state television on Monday.

  • Background: The drone, called Arash-2, “has special capabilities,” Heidari said, adding that Tehran is “considering this Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) specifically for an attack on Haifa and Tel Aviv.” Separately on Monday, the director of Israel’s Mossad spy service said Israel would retaliate against Iran if Tehran used force “against Israel or Israelis”.
  • Why does it matter?: As world powers try to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, Tehran’s regional foes — namely Israel and the Gulf Arab states — have expressed concern about a potentially strengthened Iran after sanctions are lifted.

An Israeli officer and two Palestinians have been killed in a shootout at the West Bank fence

An Israeli Defense Force (IDF) officer and two Palestinians were killed early Tuesday morning in an exchange of fire at the fence that separates the West Bank from Israel, not far from Jenin.

  • Background: According to the IDF, the dead officer was Major Bar Falah, 30, from Netanya, north of Tel Aviv. The Palestinian Ministry of Health confirmed the deaths of two Palestinian men, Ahmed Ayman Ibrahim Abed, 23, and Abdulrahman Hani Subhi Abed, 22, both from Jenin. The IDF said both were carrying automatic weapons.
  • Why it matters: At least 97 Palestinians have been killed this year in almost nightly Israeli military attacks, mostly centered on the Jenin area. The Israeli army says most of them were militants killed in violent clashes with Israeli soldiers. But the civilians who did not participate have also been caught up in the violence. Attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank have increased, according to Israeli human rights watchdog B’Tselem. Israel also says that violent attacks against Israelis, especially against soldiers, are also at their peak.

Around the region

Saudi authorities in the holy city of Mecca have arrested a man who said he was performing an Islamic pilgrimage for the soul of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

Makkah authorities tweeted this late on Monday security forces apprehended a Yemeni In the holy city’s Grand Mosque, the resident appeared in a video where Muslims perform the Hajj pilgrimage and “break the rules” during the lesser pilgrimage called Umrah.

Videos on social media showed him holding a sign that read in English and Arabic, “This Umrah was performed for the soul of Queen Elizabeth II. We ask God to accept her in heaven as one of the righteous people.”

Mecca Region tweeted a video of the man with his face and poster blurred out. He did not say what rules the man had broken but said he was taken to public prosecution. Political signs are prohibited during the pilgrimage.

Many responded angrily and called for the man’s arrest, while others mocked him and questioned his motives. Some said it was forbidden to pray for the soul of a non-Muslim. The Queen was head of the Church of England, a title now held by her son, King Charles III.

The Queen, Britain’s reigning monarch, died last week at the age of 96. Saudi Arabia sent condolences to the UK last week, with King Salman hailing him as “a model of leadership that will go down in history”.

Author: Nadeen Ebrahim

Photo of the day

Greek Orthodox Christian worshipers gather on a cliff around an illuminated wooden cross to celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the coastal town of Anfeh, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of the Lebanese capital, Beirut.