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Banning Spielberg in Lebanon

Banning Spielberg in Lebanon

Citing Spielberg’s nebulous “ties to Israel”, authorities have ruled that The Post cannot be shown anywhere in the country.

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Lebanon has banned Steven Spielberg’s new film The Post. Citing Spielberg’s nebulous “ties to Israel”, authorities have ruled that The Post cannot be shown anywhere in the country.

The Post isn’t the only movie Lebanon has banned. Lebanon’s Intelligence Agency also banned the new Australian drama Jungle. Jungle isn’t an Israeli movie, but it does star Daniel Radcliffe portraying the real-life story of Yossi Ghinsberg, an Israeli tourist who was lost in the Amazon jungle for several weeks in 1981 and survived despite overwhelming odds. It seems that anything remotely connected to Israel can get banned in Lebanon.

Wonder Woman might belong to an imaginary all-female race living on an invisible island called Themyscira, but since she was portrayed by Israeli actress Gal Gadot, that was enough reason for Wonder Woman and Justice League to be banned in Lebanon.

It’s unclear why The Post was banned. After all, Steven Spielberg is American, not Israeli. Over the last three years, at least five movies he either directed or produced have been approved for distribution in Lebanon, including such global hits as BFG and Bridge of Spies. And The Post is an all-American movie. Starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, it tells the nail-biting story of Katherine Graham, owner of The Washington Post, and her wrenching decision in 1971 to go public with the top-secret Pentagon Papers detailing government lying and malfeasance in the Vietnam war. There’s nary an Israeli – real or imagined – in sight.

Spielberg was formally placed on an Arab League blacklist of sanctioned individuals in 2006 after donating money to the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and to the Israeli New Israel Fund in order to help Israelis left homeless by fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement. But he has faced few repercussions until now. Most Arab movie-goers seem more eager to enjoy Spielberg’s world-class films than enforce a nebulous boycott. Lebanon’s recent boycotts seem to have changed that.

The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the boycott might be “due to (Spielberg’s) Oscar-winning Holocaust film Schindler’s List, which shot some scenes in Jerusalem,” as if that might justify boycotting The Post and other movies. The Washington Post noted that Spielberg is Jewish, wondering if that had anything to do with Lebanon’s boycott.

Lebanon’s government has encouraged this anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred through the years. Lebanese law prohibits any contact between Lebanese and Israeli citizens, even in a third country. If a Lebanese citizen socializes with an Israeli in New York or Australia, he can face jail at home in Lebanon. In 2015, Miss Lebanon, Saly Greige, posed for a photo with Miss Israel, Miss Japan and Miss Slovenia, causing a huge outcry. Miss Greige was allowed to keep her title only after bizarrely claiming that the offending picture was taken against her will.

Lebanon is a nominal democracy, with greater human rights and press freedoms than many other Arab states. The human rights tracking organization Freedom House rates Lebanon 44 out of 100 for overall freedom, ahead of Saudi Arabia (10), Jordan (37), Syria (1), and Iran (17). That is why it is so troubling to see it ban movies including The Post, which is a stirring story of overcoming government censorship and uncovering lies and government duplicity.

As Lebanon bans this movie and continues to slander and incite hatred against the Jewish state, Lebanese moviegoers need to hear The Post’s stirring message of freedom more than ever, that truth should never be feared, that we should all think for ourselves and not be blindly led into war or conflict or hatred.

ADDENDUM: On January 17, 2018, Lebanon's Interior Ministry took the unusual step of overruling the General Security Agency's decision to ban "The Post", and announced that the film would be screened in Lebanon in the coming weeks. No change was announced to the ban on "The Jungle", "Wonder Woman" and other movies deemed to have ties to Israel; Lebanon remains formally at war with Israel.

January 16, 2018

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The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 6

(5) Pamela, January 17, 2018 2:40 PM

Lebanon ???

What? Who cares what those little idiots wanna ban, they’re nothing!! Such ugly little haters ! Lebanon, really?? I don’t think anyone in the world cares about what they think. They’re Fools.

(4) Gail, January 17, 2018 5:17 AM

Speilberg’s “ties to Israel” is a useful excuse.

Why The Post was banned is very clear. It is banned for the exact reason that it is so important.

Wonder Woman was banned because it shows a woman who thinks, acts, leads, has confidence and is powerful on her own. She is a woman who knows freedom.

Overcoming government censorship, revealing government lies, thinking independently - all parts of a simple message that will destroy what the Lebanese government wants their citizens to hear or see or learn.

As you point out, The Post is a message of freedom. That is why it is banned.

Nancy, January 19, 2018 12:25 PM

To commenter #4 Gail

Yes to everything you have written!!

(3) Mike, January 17, 2018 12:56 AM

Maybe the Lebanese government feels threatened by a movie in which journalists expose government lies. It might start the people of Lebanon thinking about their own government. As long as Arab governments can convince their citizen's that Israel and Jews are responsible for their problems, those citizens won't take a close look at the real cause of their misery--their own governments!

(2) Nancy, January 16, 2018 3:23 PM

Also, google Sam Levenson

Sam Levenson wrote a similar piece to the article written by David Kiliminick. However, Sam Levenson's essay was written in either the late '40s or early '50s. Nothing is new under the sun. :-( Btw--I agree with Yvette Alt Miller's assessment of the movie The Post.

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