Many netizens say they are shocked to see a ‘Zionist’ character joining the Marvel Galaxy
The announcement last week that Israeli actress Shira Haas would be cast in the blockbuster ‘Captain America: New World Order,’ in which she will play the role of Sabra, an Israeli superheroine, sparked anger and outrage in the Arab world.
Many have indeed claimed to have been shocked to see a “Zionist” character joining the Marvel galaxy.
First appearing in The Incredible Hulk comics in 1981, Sabra, whose real identity is Ruth Bat-Seraph, is a mutant with superpowers working for the Mossad, who fights in a white and blue suit, struck by ‘a Star of David on the chest
Trained in a kibbutz, Sabra is immune to bullets, can lift tanks and run past cars. She has access to Mossad files and knows the secret identities and personal histories of a number of superheroes. Above all, she fiercely defends the rights of Jews and mutants.
The screenwriters of the time concocted a tragic fate for her: her son, Jacob, was killed by Palestinian terrorists who attacked a school bus full of Israeli children. The government insisted that she not intervene in the investigation, but Sabra went to Bethlehem anyway, where she arrested the perpetrators of the attack.
Admittedly, she is not a major character in the superhero universe. But we could still see her fight alongside the X-Men, and especially face the Hulk, whom she wrongly believed to be in cahoots with Arab terrorists operating in Israel.
Join Israel and Hollywood, nothing like to attract the wrath of opponents of the Jewish state. Gal Gadot has again paid the price recently, with the boycott of “Wonder Woman” films in certain Arab countries.
And the announcement of Sabra’s presence in the next Captain America, slated for release in 2024, was no exception, sparking outcry from those who say they fear such a character could spread offensive stereotypes. on the Arabs and participates in the “dehumanization” of the Palestinians in the cinema.
Critics claim that many of the Arab characters she interacted with in the comic are portrayed as misogynistic, anti-Semitic and violent, and question whether the disturbing portrayals of Arabs will be the same in the film.
Separately, pro-Palestinian organizations have waged a social media protest campaign under the hashtag #CaptainApartheid, accusing Marvel of Zionist propaganda and supporting the “Israeli occupation”.
Worse, the Institute for Middle East Understanding, a pro-Palestinian NGO, denounced Sabra’s presence in the film, saying that “by glorifying the Israeli military and police, Marvel is encouraging Israel’s violence against Palestinians and allows the continued oppression of millions of Palestinians living under Israel’s authoritarian military regime.”
Another source of tension lies in the name “Sabra”, which in Hebrew designates a “Jewish citizen born in Israel”. This name is however considered as a provocation by the defenders of the Palestinian cause, who associate it with the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, two districts of Beirut, perpetrated by Christian militias, then supported by Israel, during the war in Lebanon.
However, the announcement of the presence of the Israeli superheroine took place a week before the fortieth anniversary of the tragedy. It was enough for calls for a boycott of the film to burst out on social networks.
Marvel tried to calm things down, recalling that Sabra was first introduced in the comics over 40 years ago, and assured that “the filmmakers are going to take a fresh approach” to the heroine.
“Characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe are always freshly reimagined to fit today’s cinema and audiences,” a studio spokesperson told CNN.
On the Israeli side, the presence of a superheroine member of the Mossad is seen as a victory in terms of public relations for the agency.
Avner Avraham, a former intelligence officer and founder of the Spy Legends agency, which advises on films and TV shows featuring Israeli spies, told US media that this new portrayal of Sabra will empower the younger generation to get to know the Mossad better.
“It’s the ‘TikTok’ way, the ‘cartoon’ way of talking to the new generation. They’ll learn the word ‘Mossad’,” he said. According to him, such exposure can even help the Israeli secret service to recruit sources in other countries.
A woke influence?
However, the “progressive” thinking in the Marvel galaxy raises concerns about how the hero will be treated.
Israeli cartoonist Uri Fink, who created a character called Sabraman in 1978, told Channel 12 that he’s not sure Marvel’s portrayal of Sabra “is positive in the woke times we’re going through right now.”
“Those who work at Marvel today are all kinds of progressives. I have nothing against them, but we won’t have the most accurate portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said.
“I suggest that Shira (Haas) read the script carefully, and make sure that the character is not portrayed too problematically,” added the designer.
With her fifty feet, her frail figure and her blond and straight hair, the Israeli actress is physically far from Sabra who, in the comic, has thick black curls and is 1.80 meters tall.
But that didn’t put Marvel off, seduced by the undeniable talent of the 27-year-old actress, revealed in the “Unorthodox” mini-series, broadcast on Netflix, for which she was nominated for the Golden Globes 2021, in the “best actress”.
By accepting the role of Sabra, Shira Haas is offered a unique opportunity to achieve international star status, and follow in the footsteps of her compatriot Gal Gadot.
If it is still far too early to know what sauce Sabra will be eaten in the next opus of “Captain America”, its presence on the screen will in any case be a nice snub to the militants of the boycott of Israel . Especially since we can predict, without taking too many risks, that the film should be a hit in theaters around the world, with or without controversy.