Gal Gadot to play Cleopatra, Twitter cries foul because she’s Israeli

The Twitter backlash was swift, as users complained that Gadot, as an Israeli of European background, should not play a historical figure from a north African country.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Israeli actress Gal Gadot announced on her Twitter account Monday that she will play ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra in an upcoming film, helmed by Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.

“As you might have heard I teamed up with @PattyJenks and @LKalogridis to bring the story of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, to the big screen in a way she’s never been seen before. To tell her story for the first time through women’s eyes, both behind and in front of the camera,” she wrote.

The Twitter backlash was swift, as users complained that Gadot, as an Israeli of European background, should not play a historical figure from a north African country.

“Which Hollywood dumbass thought it would be a good idea to cast an Israeli actress as Cleopatra (a very bland looking one) instead of a stunning Arab actress like Nadine Njeim?” tweeted former Russia Today journalist Sameera Khan.

“And shame on you, Gal Gadot. Your country steals Arab land & you’re stealing their movie roles.”

Others suggested that the role be played by Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o or former Disney child star Zendaya, who is biracial.

Screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis appeared to address the controversy by reminding the public that Cleopatra was ethnically Greek.

“Incredibly excited to get the chance to tell the story of Cleopatra, my favorite Ptolemaic Pharaoh and arguably the most famous Macedonian Greek woman in history,” she tweeted.

“Never thought I’d have the opportunity to tell a story like this, with women who have inspired me beyond words.”

“People are upset because Gal Gadot, who isn’t Black, is playing Cleopatra, who wasn’t Black either,” tweeted journalist Ian Miles Cheong.

“I’m going to say this once and I’m not going to say it again, Cleopatra was Greek,” tweeted one user.

“Yes, she was an Egyptian ruler but she was Greek with Persian and Syrian ancestry. The people who are reacting negatively to this are uneducated and uninformed. Gal Gadot deserves this role.”

Others criticized the casting of Gadot because of her military service and continued support for the IDF.

Former professor and outspoken BDS advocate Steven Salaita tweeted, “Whatever you think of her being cast as Cleopatra, never forget that Gal Gadot proudly served (and continues to support) a colonial army notorious for maiming and murdering civilians.”

“Not only is she responsible for participating in war crimes and whitewashing the army that committed them; she also should have her wealth seized and distributed to Palestinian refugees,” he added in a follow-up tweet.

Gadot previously faced backlash for a 2014 Facebook post during clashes between Gaza and Israel, in which she praised IDF troops.

“I am sending my love and prayers to my fellow Israeli citizens. Especially to all the boys and girls who are risking their lives protecting my country against the horrific acts conducted by Hamas, who are hiding like cowards behind women and children,” she wrote.

“We shall overcome!!! Shabbat Shalom!”