The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is back in the spotlight following DC’s new film and the 50th Anniversary of the Six Day War.
Traditionally, the words ‘DC Comics’ and ‘controversial debate’ are not ones you hear in the same sentence – outside of Comic Con that is. Yet this week, they have been brought together in an unexpected way with the release of the new Wonder Woman film. Since its release last week, Wonder Woman has sparked, not only gender debates but, to quote the Washington Post, ‘has also put the spotlight on Jewish debates over race and nationality’. The titular character, though not Jewish herself, is portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot. In response to this casting choice, the film has been banned in Lebanon as Gadot, like most Israeli citizens, has served two mandatory years in the Israeli Armed Forces. Yet the spotlight on Jewish identity and Israel doesn’t stop there. The cherry on top of the sundae; Wonder Woman’s release coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War.
June 5th marks the beginning of the conflict; a conflict which only lasted until June 10th yet in those six days the power balance of the Middle East was drastically altered. Compared by many to the victory of David over Goliath, the Israeli army defeated the joint forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and moved to occupy the land it holds to this day. Yet, as remarked by the prime minister Levi Eshkol at the time, the Jewish people may have ‘won the war and received a nice dowry of territory but it came with a bride whom [they] don’t like’ (The Week). In laying claim to additional territory, the Jewish State ‘found itself ruling over 1.1 million hostile Palestinians’ (The Week) particularly on the West Bank. ‘Fifty years into the occupation, Israel controls the Gaza Strip and the West Bank through repression, institutionalised discrimination, and systematic abuses’ (Aljazeera).
This tension between the Israelis and Palestinians is well known to most people. It may in fact be too well known – we have now come to accept that the situation is impossible to solve and thus have turned our gaze away from a situation which desperately requires attention and care. Yet, on this 50th anniversary, the spark has once more been struck. Amnesty International has marked the occasion by launching a ‘ new campaign calling on states across the world to prohibit settlement goods from their markets and to prevent their companies from operating in settlements or trading in settlement goods.’ (Amnesty International). The end goal of this campaign is to ‘put an end to the multimillion dollar profits that have fuelled mass human rights violations against Palestinians’ said Amnesty International.
Progress has also been made by other organizations. The International Criminal Court’s ongoing preliminary examinations into the crimes committed in Palestine and Israel are aimed at establishing reasonable basis for a further investigation. If this comes to fruition, the ICC will be the first international body with the power to criminally sanction Israeli government officials for transferring Israeli civilians into the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as both Palestinian and Israeli military leaders implicated in war crimes. Furthermore, the EU has begun to label settlement goods – France in particular issued special regulations in 2016 – and preferential trade agreements with the settlements have been ended. These measures, amongst many others, have been described by Human Rights Watch as ‘the few bright lights of hope—at least for justice, and the promise to deter, one day, the ongoing Israeli crimes of land and resource theft as well as the unlawful Israeli and Palestinian attacks on civilians that characterize every outbreak of war’ (HRW). The latter statement perhaps best embodies what our aims should be, as we turn our gaze once more to Palestine; innocent civilians are at risk, in part because of our neglect. Although this preliminary steps taken by Amnesty, the EU, the ICC and HRW are a start, we must attempt to turn those ‘few bright lights of hope’ into full-blown rays of sunshine. After all, as Wonder Woman says ‘[We] cannot stand by while innocent lives are lost’ (Wonder Woman).
O’Grady, Jeremy, ed. “The Six Day War.” Week 20 May 2017: 11. Print.
Pulliam Bailey, Sarah. “How the Jewish Identity of ‘Wonder Woman’s’ Star Is Causing a Stir.” Washington Post. Washington Post, 7 June 2017. Web.
Whitson, Sarah Leah. “Chipping Away at 50 Years of Occupation.” Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch, 5 June 2017. Web.
“HRW Condemns Israel’s ’50 Years of Occupation Abuses’.” Aljazeera. Aljazeera, 4 June 2017. Web.
“States Must Ban Israeli Settlement Products to Help End Half a Century of Violations.”Amnesty International. Amnesty International, 7 June 2017. Web.
Wonder Woman. Dir. Patty Jenkins. Perf. Gal Gadot, Matt Damon. DC Films, 2017. Film.
[Picture Source: Warner Bros]