With the success of Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot has become one of the most recognizable faces on the planet. But now, the Israeli actress is the subject of some controversy after the internet has been forced to choose sides on whether or not Gadot, an Ashkenazi Jew of Eastern European descent, is a woman of color or not.
Many have weighed in on the issue that has seemed to cast an unexpected shadow over a film that has otherwise been cause for celebration, both in Hollywood, and when it comes to the issue of gender equality.
The dialogue began when writer Matthew Mueller at ComicBooks.com argued, "It might come as a shock, but there are people of color in the film, and one of them is in the lead role. Yep, with a quick Google search, it turns out that Gal Gadot is not actually Caucasian, but is in fact Israeli." He later adds, "LOOKING White, doesn't mean you ARE white," and quotes an article from The Times of Israel saying, "conceptualizing Jews as either 'white' or 'just a religion' as many of our detractors are wont to do, helps to perpetuate a culture of antisemitism on the anti-racist left."
While his argument is compelling, it was swiftly met with a retort from Noah Berlatsky, a writer at Forward who said, "The whiteness of 'Wonder Woman' doesn’t seem up for debate. And yet, some have decided to debate it. An argument has been bubbling underground on social media that Gal Gadot, who plays the title role, is actually a person of color." He even gives additional examples of other Jewish actors who are considered white, saying, "Gadot is Jewish and Israeli, but — like the Jewish Scarlett Johansson — Hollywood perceives her in terms of unspecified whiteness."
Many have taken to Twitter to express their opinion on the matter.
Claiming that Gal Gadot is a "person of color" is totally specious and an insult to people of color who need representation in media. >— S.I. Rosenbaum (@sirosenbaum) June 1, 2017
FOR THE RECORD: there are plenty of jews of color, INCLUDING arab jews, all over the world. gal gadot IS NOT one of them https://t.co/abg7ehWXQZ— mo 🏳️🌈 nsfr (@aIcibiades) June 3, 2017
Y'all are really out here tryna make the lily white looking likes of Gigi Hadid and Gal Gadot women of color whilst treating women not...— Zoé Samudzi (@ztsamudzi) June 1, 2017
Ashkenazi Jews are Schrodinger's white person. It depends on whether they're the evil oppressors or victims today. https://t.co/MjlgQab9Bh— Ashley Rae (@Communism_Kills) June 2, 2017
Israel colonizes Palestinians and systematically discriminates against Mizrahim and African Jews.— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) June 2, 2017
Gal Gadot is whitehttps://t.co/enNn18qEX7
You wouldn't think, "Gal Gadot, who is plainly white, is in fact white," would be a controversial point, but here we are.— Noah Berlatsky (@nberlat) June 4, 2017
I mean it's a very simple litmus test -- if Gal Gadot weren't white, there'd be Wonder Woman fans pissed off that she isn't white— Arthur Chu (@arthur_affect) June 5, 2017
My mom is of Polish Jewish descent. She's white af, and so is Gal Gadot. And Gadot is awesome, but she's not a POC. Delete this tweet.— Sophia Nasr (@Astropartigirl) June 1, 2017
You're not serious, are you? Being born in (or migrating to) Israel does NOT make you a PoColor. Gal Gadot is White. Period.— F.Corey (@cfgodwell) June 1, 2017
Interesting debate on what it means to be perceived as white versus your actual race. However, it should be noted the original Wonder Woman — Lynda Carter — was of Mexican descent. (Her mother was Mexican.)
See how Gal Gadot and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins think the superhero would feel about Black Lives Matter in our exclusive interview, above.
(Photo: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)