After banning Spielberg, Lebanon pulls drama about Israeli

The decision by Lebanese authorities to ban Steven Spielberg's upcoming political drama "The Post" is unlikely to go through, a source from the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Though "The Post" had initially passed the government's normal screening procedures, the Campaign to Boycott Supporters of Israel-Lebanon (CBSIL) put pressure on the government to block the film over its director's ties to Israel.

The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday quoted a source involved with movie's global distribution who said the drama was presented to the Lebanese censorship board, which nixed it, citing a "boycott Israel" list that includes Spielberg due to his Oscar-winning Holocaust film "Schindler's List". The Post, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep and focusing on the publication of the Pentagon Papers, was scheduled to premiere in Beirut on January 18. It is only now that the board is invoking Spielberg's inclusion on the "boycott Israel" list. The matter has now been transferred to Lebanon's Minister of Interior and Municipalities, who could still overturn the decision. After all, Steven Spielberg is American, not Israeli.

All of Spielberg's prior films had been banned from Lebanese cinemas as the director was blacklisted by the Arab League in 2007, according to a leaked US State Department memo from 2007, for his $1 million US dollars donation to Israel during its war with Lebanon in 2006. The case in point: the movie called "The Post".

But the decision was made entirely on the basis of Spielberg's interactions with Israel, Hanoun said. Many free-speech advocates in the country noted the irony of banning a movie whose plot promotes press freedoms.

"This is an incredible development, and to the best of my knowledge, unprecedented in Lebanon", Gino Raidy, of the anti-censorship group March, wrote on his blog.

Last year, Lebanon banned Hollywood blockbuster "Wonder Woman" because lead actress Gal Gadot had served in Israel's military.

"Jungle" is a survival drama about Israeli adventurer Yossi Ghinsberg, who got lost in an uncharted part of the Bolivian Amazon in 1981.

Spielberg is not an Israeli citizen. ". This is a great day for freedom of expression in Lebanon".

  • Tracy Klein