JERUSALEM: Gal Gadot has leapt to defend a fellow actress who was chided by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for challenging his party’s treatment of Arab citizens. Netanyahu and his Likud party have been accused of using scare tactics and demonising Israel’s Arab population ahead of the April 9 elections, in a bid to motivate their right-wing base.
“Love your neighbour as yourself,” Israeli-born Gadot wrote on Instagram late on Sunday, after popular Israeli model and television actress Rotem Sela received online abuse from the public and a personal reprimand from Netanyahu.
“This isn’t a matter of right or left, Jew or Arab, secular or religious,” the Wonder Woman star posted. “It’s a matter of dialogue for peace and security and of our tolerance of one towards the other.”
Sela fired off an angry Instagram post late on Saturday, after watching right-wing firebrand culture minister Miri Regev on television. “When will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens and that all people were created equal?” Sela wrote. “Even the Arabs – believe it or not – are human beings and the Druze and the gays, by the way, and the lesbians and – shock – leftists.”
Netanyahu answered with an Instagram message of his own, addressed to “Dear Rotem.” He wrote, “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the basic nationality law we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people – and only it.” He was referring to a deeply controversial law passed last year, declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people and downgrading Arabs’ status as an official language.
Israeli Arabs make up around 17.5% of the population but would be extremely unlikely to be part of any coalition government after elections. These are Palestinians who remained on their land after the 1948 creation of Israel and are largely supportive of the Palestinian cause.
Gadot’s message showed a re-post of Sela’s comment in the background. “Rotem, sister, you’re an inspiration to us all,” she wrote.
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